By Jonathon Stavres MS, ACSM-EP-C
Resistance training is a method of exercise that improves muscular strength and endurance, and increases muscle mass. This is generally linked to weight gain as opposed to weight loss. However, resistance exercise shouldn't be neglected as part of a weight loss program. Adding resistance training to an existing aerobic exercise program or diet can enhance weight loss.
A study by Avila et. al (2010) examined the effect of adding resistance exercise to a caloric-restriction weight loss protocol in twenty-seven older adults. Results indicated that adding resistance training to the diet plan increased lean mass while significantly decreasing fat mass and overall weight. This suggests adding resistance exercise to a caloric-restriction weight loss program to promote preferential fat loss as opposed to loss of lean mass.
There are a number of benefits to preserving lean mass
For one, lean mass is thermogenic, which means that it burns energy during rest. Therefore, increases in lean mass may increase resting metabolic rate, which is a major component of weight management. Increases in strength also benefit weight loss programs in a number of ways. Increases in strength allow for an increase in the absolute intensity of submaximal exercise.
For example, improvements in maximal leg strength might allow for an increase in the power output during submaximal cycling. However, this would need to be performed in combination with aerobic and endurance exercise to allow for sustained submaximal exercise.
Add resistance training into a weight loss program through circuit training
Circuit resistance training is resistance exercise that is performed at light intensities with very short rest periods and exercises performed in a rotating order. This type of training combines the anaerobic and aerobic metabolic pathways associated with exercise and can mesh strength training with endurance training.
Also, by performing exercise at a lighter intensity the volume of exercise can be increased, and therefore so can the caloric consumption association with exercise. Ultimately, when designing a weight loss program, it is very important not to overlook resistance training.
*For more examples of other variations/exercises look under Multimedia-VDF Exercise Tips
**Consult with a physician and/or medical healthcare provider before starting any exercise regimen
Avila, J. J., Gutierres, J. A., Sheehy, M. E., Lofgren, I. E., & Delmonico, M. J. (2010). Effect of moderate intensity resistance training during weight loss on body composition and physical performance in overweight older adults. Eur J Appl Physiol, 109(3), 517-525. doi: 10.1007/s00421-010-1387-9