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Which Exercise is Better for Weight Loss
Strength vs Aerobic Exercise

by Aimee Weber, BS, Exercise Physiologist

If weight loss really boils down to calories-in vs calories-outthe logical question on the calories-out side is how do we burn the most calories? The answer exercise.  (Click here to read Dietitian Tom Jordan's article "Why Diets Fail")

But that may be only half the answer. So the next logical question is which is better for weight loss strength training or aerobic exercise? First off all exercise is great and burns extra calories. But research gives strength training the upper hand in this argument.

Aerobic exercise (treadmills, elipticals, rowing machines, etc) burns a lot of calories during the activity and keeps our metabolism up for a period of time after the exercise session has ended.

Strength exercises (weight lifting, resistance machines, bands, etc) burn calories during the activity but with strength training the calorie burn continues long after stopping the activity at times even days after. WHY?

First, your body is simply working overtime to replenish the fuel - oxygen and blood sugar - you used up in your workout.

But second, your body is also burning calories while working to rebuild the muscle broken down in the strength workout.

Does this mean abandon aerobic exercise? Absolutely not! Aerobic has all sorts of healthy benefits and works different muscle groups. Aerobic exercise is extremely heart healthy. So the answer we have is do both. Split your routine or better yet develop a program that combines both simultaneously.

So what do we do while training our clients? We want our clients to feel the energy that aerobic exercise imparts plus see the firming and shaping that strength training delivers. We use a system developed here at First Health called RECS (Resistance Exercise in a Cardiac State).  RECS combines both strength and aerobic training and is a prime reason we have been successful in our Largest Loser Fitness Challenges.

Here's another tip: Add a little extra protein from high-protein snacks or a paleomeal shake to encourage your body to work even harder on that second part.

Want to learn more about how to burn more calories and get a better workout?  Read Tom's articles on "Sport Performance Nutrition".