Can Strength Training Reduce Belly Fat? A Scientist Weighs In
While we know that cardio is an excellent way to burn fat, we wanted to know how working with weights can contribute to a whittled middle and washboard abs. So how can we blast belly fat with strength training?
Nicole Aurigemma, physiologist at the Penn State Muscle Biology Lab, told us not only how to burn more calories during a workout (in part by doing some weight training first), but she also gave POPSUGAR insight into how we can flatten our stomachs with some deadlifting, leg presses (crazy, right?), and general resistance training.
Here are four major benefits that come with working with weights and training with some resistance!
- More resistance training, more fat burning. "It has been shown that energy expenditure, as well as fat oxidation, increases after multiple sets of resistance exercise, particularly when larger muscle masses are exercised," said Nicole (larger muscle groups are located in the legs — think glutes, quads, etc!). "Think leg press versus chest press," she said. Who knew that a flat belly starts with the legs?
- Your body is burning more calories. "Post-exercise, your body is using up more of its fuel stores, therefore burning more calories," she explained. So even after you're done with a sweat-sesh in the weight room, your body is burning, burning, burning up the calories!
- Your body uses fat while you're resting, too. "Since resistance exercise increases post-exercise fat oxidation," (fat oxidation = your body breaking down fat into energy) "your body is using more fat. This is very favorable for weight loss." Because, when you say you want to lose weight, you really want to be losing fat and gaining metabolism-boosting muscles.
- You'll see results quickly. Nicole noted that the fat oxidation and fat loss happen quickly, "even after just one gym session." She told POPSUGAR that "increased energy expenditure [burning calories] and fat oxidation [burning fat] last at least 24 hours after [even one session of] exercise, so imagine how much fat you could be using and calories you'll be burning if you have regimented resistance training!"
So let's get this straight, more fat burning, more calorie burning, burning even when you're resting . . . and fast results? Let's grab those weights!
Before you get burnin', a couple things to keep in mind: "You could actually gain a little muscle mass before you start to lose weight," said Nicole, "but this doesn't mean you aren't losing fat mass." She also said it's important to note that "You could lift all you want, but if you eat crap, you won't see results." So while a flat belly is made in the weight room, it's also made in the kitchen. Need some inspiration? Try our flat-belly salad and flat-belly smoothie.