Credit: Flickr/Penn State

Does aerobics really trump weight training for fat loss?

Headlines around the world were promoting the results of a recent Duke University study on exercise and burning fat that compared the effectiveness of aerobics vs. weights

Researchers divided 196 obese or overweight people into three groups and put them through an eight-month exercise program.

One group did aerobic training only, working out for about 2 1/4 hours on treadmills, stationary bicycles or elliptical machines. A second group did weight training only, doing about three hours of exercise per week. And a third group did a combination workout program that included both the aerobic and weight training program each week for almost six hours of weekly exercise.

Aerobics Trumps Weights

The aerobic group lost an average of 3.8 pounds of bodyweight; the weight training group lost 1.8 pounds and the combination group lost 3.6 pounds. In terms of body fat percentage, the aerobic people lost 1.01%, the weight training participants lost 0.65% and the combination exercisers lost 2.04%.

This lead the researchers to conclude that aerobic exercise was the best in terms of time commitment if you want to burn fat.

What the Researchers Missed

I'm underwhelmed at these results. Losing less than four pounds of weight over eight months of training while working out over two hours per week? Really? My clients could get the same result in two weeks working out less than two hours per week.

This study shows the importance of nutrition if fat loss is one of your goals. Exercise by itself, while providing many benefits, isn't the best method to improve body composition (i.e. lowering body weight and decreasing body fat).

The programming of the exercise was also substandard. Both the aerobic and weight training routines were pretty old school and I don't mean that in a good way.

To make your exercise program time efficient, perform three to four resistance exercises in a mini-circuit and combine two to three of these mini-circuits together. This will give you the benefits of both resistance training and aerobic training. And they'll take a lot less time than the combination program that was done in this study.

Use this simple lifestyle hack to burn fat without spending hours per week exercising or following some fad diet.