But a recent review of the literature, led by Dr Mandy Hagstrom of the University of New South Wales, Australia, suggests that strength training’s equally good as cardio work at burning fat.
Analysis of past studies showed that, on average, subjects lost round 1.4% of their bodyweight through strength work alone, which, said the researchers, was comparable to longer, lower-intensity sessions.
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The research team focused on measuring how much the total body fat percentage – that is, the amount of your body that’s made up of fat mass – changed after strength training programmes.
This measurement showed fat loss appears to be on par with endurance work, despite the endurance groups generally losing more weight. “But the scales don’t tell the full story, as the strength group replaced fat with muscle,” said Hagstrom.
For triathletes, we’d still suggest the bulk of your off-season training’s endurance-led, but it’s heartening to see you can still cut extra fat during gym sessions.
Illustration: Daniel Seex