Use resistance training as the cornerstone of your fat loss programming as opposed to steady-state low intensity exercise. Work every muscle group hard, frequently, and with an intensity that creates a massive metabolic disturbance that leaves the metabolism elevated for several hours post-workout.
That means doing full-body workouts in a superset, tri-set, barbell or kettlebell complex, or circuit format with non-competing exercises that create the biggest metabolic demand. But it must be done in a rep range that generates lactic acid and pushes the lactic acid threshold. Training legs, back, and chest will burn more calories and elevate metabolism more than an isolated approach training one of them. The rep range that works the best is the 8-12 hypertrophy range.
1 Researchers used a circuit training protocol of 12 sets in 31 minutes.
EPOC (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption) was elevated significantly for 38 hours post-workout. That's a significant timeframe for metabolism to be elevated. If you trained for one hour on Monday morning, you'd still be burning more calories (without training) at midnight on Tuesday.
2 Researchers assigned overweight subjects to three groups: diet-only, diet plus aerobics, diet plus aerobics plus weights.
The diet group lost 14.6 pounds of fat in 12 weeks. The aerobic group lost only one more pound than the diet group. Their training was three times a week starting at 30 minutes and progressing to 50 minutes over the 12 weeks. Nothing special. But the weight training group lost over 21 pounds of fat. That's 44% and 35% more than diet and cardio-only groups respectively. The addition of aerobic training didn't result in significant fat loss over dieting alone. Thirty-six sessions of up to 50 minutes is a lot of work for one additional pound of fat loss. But the addition of resistance training greatly accelerated fat loss results.
3 Researchers had one group do four hours of cardio per week and another group weight train three times per week.
The second group's weight training program was 10 exercises made up of 2-4 sets of 8-15 reps. Both groups lost weight but the resistance training group lost significantly more fat and didn't lose any lean body mass, even at only 800 calories per day. The resistance training group actually increased their metabolism compared to the cardio group, which decreased theirs.
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- Bryner RW et al. Effects of resistance vs. aerobic training combined with an 800 calorie liquid diet on lean body mass and resting metabolic rate. J Am Coll Nutr. 1999 Apr;18(2):115-21.
- Tremblay A et al. Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism. 1994 Jul;43(7):814-8
- Talanian JL et al. Two weeks of High-Intensity Aerobic Interval Training increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise in women. J Appl Physiol. 2006;102(4)