New Study: Running is Better than Weight Training for Losing Belly Fat

An important part of my business is keeping up to date with the trends and developments relating to both running and weight loss.

So today I’d like to explain some interesting findings from the latest research study about using running to lose weight and body fat…

Plus, I’ll summarise the results and what you should do about it.

The study was published in the American Journal of Physiology on 25th August. It compared running and weight training to assess which is the most effective for losing unhealthy belly fat.

What was tested?

The study was carried out over an 8 month period. Overall 196 overweight and sedentary adults aged 18 to 70 years old were split into these 3 different groups…

  • Aerobic training (running)
  • Weight training
  • Or a combination of the two

The aerobic group carried out the equivalent to 12 miles of jogging per week at 80 percent of their maximum heart rate.

The weight training group performed three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions three times per week.

What were the findings?

The overall main finding was that aerobic training like running is the most efficient and most effective way to lose the dangerous belly fat that’s stored on your body.

This dangerous fat, known as visceral fat and liver fat, is the fat that’s deep within your stomach and fills the spaces between your organs.

It’s the type of fat that’s been associated with increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and various types of cancer which is why it’s more dangerous than the fat that lies just underneath your skin.

As well as being the most effective at reducing this type of fat, it was also found that aerobic training like running was better than weight training at improving insulin resistance, and reducing liver enzymes and triglyceride levels. These are all are known risk factors of heart disease and diabetes.

Another finding of the study was that aerobic training burned 67 percent more calories compared to weight training.

What was the summary from the study?

The findings from this study resulted in Cris Slentz PhD, the lead author of the study, saying that…

"If you are overweight, which two-thirds of the population is, and you want to lose belly fat, aerobic exercise is the better choice because it burns more calories."

He also said…

"What really counts is how much exercise you do… and how many calories you burn. If you choose to work at a lower aerobic intensity, it will simply take longer to burn the same amount of unhealthy fat".

So the key points to remember from this study are that running is great for burning calories and losing weight. Plus, it’s a great help in reducing the dangerous fat that’s deep within your stomach and around your organs.

The other thing to note is that the intensity of your running is VERY important which is what I’ve been saying for many years…

Yes, you can run slower and for longer distances, but it WILL take you much longer to get the weight loss and fat loss results that you can get by running with a higher intensity.

Should you use running or weight training?

Most people tend to use running to lose weight, or weight lifting to lose weight, while ignoring the other. However, using both together can help you get better results overall because they complement each other and have their own advantages.

As shown with this latest study, running is the most effective for reducing the amount of dangerous fat on your body and reducing your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and various types of cancer.

Running also burns more calories and is great for improving your health and fitness. Plus, the fitter you become through running, the more calories you can burn, and the easier you’ll find it to lose weight.

On the other hand, weight training is great for maintaining more muscle as you lose weight, especially on your upper body. Also, because muscle burns plenty of calories, weight training helps you to lose weight and makes it easier to keep the weight off over the long term.

So although running may seem the obvious choice for losing weight, and it should certainly be a major part of your weekly training plan, it can also be very beneficial to include weight training.


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8 Responses to New Study: Running is Better than Weight Training for Losing Belly Fat

  1. Donna says:

    Great info, but nothing new. I donot need any studies to know that running has more fat burning benefits that weight training. Why? Because I have tried it on my own body… not that I am totally discounting weight training ,because I am not. But running ,whether fast or slow WORKS!!! at least for me, especially HIIT. I see physical changes in my body when I do HIIT consistenty. Now my problem is consistency and motivation. If I could just stick to my workout!!!!! God!!!!!

    • James says:

      Consistency and motivation is a common problem for many runners Donna.

      It’s one thing knowing what to do, whether it’s with running or weight training, but another thing altogether to make yourself do it. Hopefully my advice and tips will help you with that.

  2. Jean says:

    Hi James

    Thanks for the infor. I too just need the motivation to start running again.
    At the moment, I am not doing any and can tell the differrence on my body and conifdents.

    What advice have you to get me running again

    • James says:

      For free advice Jean there’s plenty of information about motivation throughout this blog that I think you’ll find useful.

      If you would like more detailed advice covering all areas of motivation and other related aspects you should consider putting your name down for Run Without Limits.

  3. Rhiannon says:

    Hi James,
    Some very interesting information, thanks.
    I was wondering if you could shed some light on a problem of mine? Am new to running and taking it step by step, following a programme to increase my fitness. I’m also running to lose weight but seem to have gained. I have not changed my diet as I am a healthy eater (yet don’t eat excessively). I was wondering if my problem was normal and how long would it take before the pounds begin to shed?

  4. Harley says:

    Hi James.

    I must say I enjoyed reading your article, but I did have a quick question to ask..

    When you said that the aerobic group trained at 80% of their heart rate, is this referring to HIIT training (high intensity interval training)? I am assuming this is what it means, but I was a little unsure, which is why I am asking this question.

    Jogging for a long distance with a heart rate of over 70% is possible for only a few. For example, I am fit 19 year old. My maximum active heart rate is 201 (220 – my age). Generally, after a jog for 25 mins, by heart rate at the end will be around 140-145, which is around 65-70%. Anything higher than 70% I couldn’t sustain for longer than say a minute or so

    I am assuming that the 80% aerobic test in your article was part of individuals performing HIIT training (Intense bouts of aerobic exercise with breaks, and then repeated). Please confirm this if you could mate, and thanks for your time. Cheers!

    • James says:

      I’m glad that you enjoyed the blog post Harley.

      I don’t have all the details from the study, only the main things involved and the main results and conclusions. However, I don’t think they were using HIIT because of several reasons.

      They were training at 80 percent of their maximum heart rate which would be too low for HIIT. Also they said that it was an aerobic group whereas HIIT is an anaerobic exercise.

      Just one other thing. The formula you used to calculate your maximum heart rate is only an estimate. It varies for different people. So if your maximum heart rate is lower you may already be running nearer to 80 percent rather than 70 percent.

  5. Jeannie says:

    In the tests, the weight trainers only did three sets of 8-12 reps three times a week? That’s hardly any exercise. I could get that work done in 10 minutes each session. The runners ran 12 mi. a week, that seems like much more exercise to me! Especially if they had to run at 80% of their maximum heart rate, that’s hard!