Which Type Of Exercise Is Best For Weight Loss?


Fitness, Weight Lifting, Dumbbells, Exercise, Gym


Obesity and it’s co-morbidities are epidemic. The rise in the rate of obesity and obesity-related diseases over the past half-century has led to a variety of therapeutic interventions to address this epidemic. This has resulted in a multibillion-dollar weight loss industry consisting of weight loss products, fad diets and exercise programs, in addition to the medical costs associated with managing these diseases.

Despite this, reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified that fewer than 21% of US adults meet the general recommendation for exercise behaviors and that only approximately 51% of US adults meet the recommendation for aerobic (endurance) training while only 29% meet the recommendation for strength (resistance) training each week.

Energy in/Energy out

It is well accepted that a calorie deficit is necessary for changing body composition.  The effectiveness of using diet and endurance exercise to create this deficit has been called into question regarding the efficacy of this combined approach for changes in body composition and markers of metabolic diseases, as compared to other forms of exercise, i.e. Resistance and Interval Training

Can You Lift Your Fat Away?

A meta-analysis by Clark, J. E. (2015) identified that resistance training (RT) was more effective than endurance training (ET) or the combination of RT and ET, for loss of body mass, retention of fat free mass and reducing total cholesterol triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins.

Additionally RT was more effective at reducing fasting insulin levels than ET or ET and RT,  indicating that focus for weight loss and metabolic changes should be on producing a large metabolic stress (as induced by RT or High-Intensity Interval Training) rather than an energetic imbalance, commonly prescribed in the form of steady state aerobic exercise, for adults who are overfat.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to fat loss and changes in metabolic markers of disease, exercise interventions are essential for fat mass reduction in addition to dietary intervention. In addition within exercise methods, the use of RT will provide a stimulus that induces a greater effectiveness for change in body mass change (reduction in Fat Mass with retention of Fat-Free Mass) than ET.

RT exercise also provides a stimulus that is more effective than any diet intervention at reversing hormone and adipokine/cytokine (inflammation) signals to normal “healthy” ranges.

Lastly,  RT  matches the effectiveness of ET for both altering hormone and adipokine/cytokine signals and  changing blood lipids, while increasing lean body mass and strength, both of which have been shown to enhance longevity and quality of life.

Are You Ready to Adapt?

Any form of exercise will result in an adaptation. These adaptations are specific to the demands placed on your body. In other words, you get what you train for. That being said, when the goal is to metabolically stress the body, lose weight and increase lean body mass, there are several considerations to consider with Resistance Training:

  1. Frequency
  2. Intensity
  3. Types of exercises (e.g Compound vs Isolation; Free weight vs Machine)
  4. Repetition range
  5. Tempo (how you perform each repetition)
  6. Periodization (planned changes that optimize stress and minimize over training)
  7. Other factors: Diet, sleep, supplements


Clark, J. E. (2015). Diet, exercise or diet with exercise: comparing the effectiveness of treatment options for weight-loss and changes in fitness for adults (18–65 years old) who are overfat, or obese; systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders, 14, 31.

About the Author

Dr. Geoff LecovinNaturopathic Physician/Chiropractor/Acupuncturist/Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist/Corrective Exercise Specialist/Performance Enhancement Specialist/Certified Sports Nutritionist/View all posts by Dr. Geoff Lecovin