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Obese people who want to exercise will gain most benefit from combining cardio (or endurance) training and strength training. Researchers at the University of Vienna reach this conclusion in a meta-study in which they gathered the results from the 15 best studies they could find and re-analysed them.

Obese people who want to exercise will gain most benefit from combining cardio (or endurance) training and strength training. Researchers at the University of Vienna reach this conclusion in a meta-study in which they gathered the results from the 15 best studies they could find and re-analysed them.

Thirty years ago sports scientists and trainers were still convinced that fat people needed to do endurance or cardio training. Longer periods of exertion would burn more calories than the shorter bursts typical of strength training, was the reasoning.

Trainers and scientists have meanwhile adopted a more nuanced view. Strength training helps build muscle mass, and every pound of muscle gained boosts calorie burning. This effect is greater in the long term than the couple of hundred calories you burn while doing cardio or endurance training they now realise.

Many trainers who help overweight people have therefore switched to a combination of cardio and strength training. The Austrian meta-study confirms that they are on the right track.

The researchers looked at the effects of cardio training, strength training and a combination of the two on body weight, waist measurement, the ratio between waste and hip measurements, fat mass and lean body mass.

The figure below is a summary of the results. A score of 1 indicates that a training type scored worst, and that the positive effect of this type of training on the parameters was weaker than the other types of training. A score of 3 indicates that the type of training was more effective than the other types of training.

1

2

Strength training was the best way to build up lean body mass, but when it came to the reduction in bodyweight, fat mass, waste measurement and the waist-hip ratio, the combination of strength and cardio training scored best. If you add up all the scores for each type of training, it’s as clear as day that combining the two types of training produces the best results. The figure above shows this.

Overweight is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, so the researchers also looked at the effect of the different types of training on the concentration of ‘good cholesterol’ HDL and triglycerides in the blood, and maximal oxygen uptake [VO2max]. They discovered that cardio training [Ca] had as much positive effect on cardiovascular health as the combination of cardio and strength training [Co] did.

3

4

“Combination training is the most efficacious exercise modality in the prevention and treatment of overweight, and obesity and should therefore recommended whenever possible”, the researchers conclude.

Impact of different training modalities on anthropometric and metabolic characteristics in overweight/obese subjects: a systematic review and network meta-analysis.

Schwingshackl L1, Dias S2, Strasser B3, Hoffmann G1.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The aim of this systematic review of randomized controlled trials was to compare the effects of aerobic training (AET), resistance training (RT), and combined aerobic and resistance training (CT) on anthropometric parameters, blood lipids, and cardiorespiratory fitness in overweight and obese subjects.

METHODS:

Electronic searches for randomized controlled trials were performed in MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Trial Register. Inclusion criteria were: Body Mass Index: ?25 kg/m(2), 19+ years of age, supervised exercise training, and a minimum intervention period of 8 weeks. Anthropometric outcomes, blood lipids, and cardiorespiratory fitness parameters were included. Pooled effects were calculated by inverse-variance random effect pairwise meta-analyses and Bayesian random effects network meta-analyses.

FINDINGS:

15 trials enrolling 741 participants were included in the meta-analysis. Compared to RT, AET resulted in a significantly more pronounced reduction of body weight [mean differences (MD): -1.15 kg, p?=?0.04], waist circumference [MD: -1.10 cm, p?=?0.004], and fat mass [MD: -1.15 kg, p?=?0.001] respectively. RT was more effective than AET in improving lean body mass [MD: 1.26 kg, p<0.00001]. When comparing CT with RT, MD in change of body weight [MD: -2.03 kg, p<0.0001], waist circumference [MD: -1.57 cm, p?=?0.0002], and fat mass [MD: -1.88 kg, p<0.00001] were all in favor of CT. Results from the network meta-analyses confirmed these findings.

CONCLUSION:

Evidence from both pairwise and network meta-analyses suggests that CT is the most efficacious means to reduce anthropometric outcomes and should be recommended in the prevention and treatment of overweight, and obesity whenever possible.

PMID: 24358230 [PubMed - in process] PMCID: PMC3866267

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24358230

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