You’ve probably already heard that cardio alone only does so much, and that it’s better to combine strength and cardio to burn the most fat.
However, new research from Duke University put that theory to the test and found that for weight loss, cardio alone is still the most effective route to weight loss.
The researchers, reporting in the Journal of Applied Physiology, randomly assigned more than 200 overweight adults to one of three, 8 month workout programs: Some performed vigorous cardio alone, others stuck solely to weight training, while others did a combination of both. At the end of the study, the cardio group lost both fat mass and overall weight. The strength-training group? Not so much. Yes, they gained muscle, but didn’t lose any fat mass or weight. Those who combined cardio and strength training—meaning they performed three days of cardio plus three days of strength training ever week—didn’t lose more fat or weight than those who did cardio alone.
Willis and her colleagues aren’t dismissing the value of strength training, she notes. But because the majority of American adults could reap significant health benefits from reduced body fat, researchers suggest that the best option may be to focus more on aerobic training.
“When you lose fat, it is likely you are losing visceral fat,” Willis says. “Which is known to have great health benefits.”
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