Weight Loss

Keeping Workouts Varied Can Help Weight Loss

A new metananalysis of 81 trials, published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, has shed light on the benefit of multi-component exercise methods. The analysis evaluated a variety of exercise methods and included over 4,000 participants. Multi-component exercise programs were associated with greater improvements in measures of cardio metabolic health in people who were overweight or obese, compared to single-component exercise interventions. Beyond those findings, combined training methods were also found to lead to improved body composition, blood lipids, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cardio-respiratory fitness.

Five types of exercise were evaluated and their efficacy compared: continuous endurance training, interval training, resistance training, combined aerobic and resistance training, and hybrid-type training. Of that grouping, researchers found that the two exercises methods with the greatest positive impact on all components of cardiometabolic health among individuals who were overweight or obese were combined aerobic and resistance training, followed by hybrid training.

How to combine cardio and resistance training for weight loss

The meta analysis showed that the greatest impact when combining exercises was found to be a combination of aerobic and resistance training. Let’s review what those activities include and how to incorporate them into our daily routines.

Aerobic activity

There are different levels of aerobic activity, and each has its benefits. The CDC shares that if your activity falls into moderate-intensity or vigorous-intensity, it counts towards the goals for weekly activity. It is recommended that adults reach at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and 2 days of muscle strengthening activity per week, according to the current Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. How do you know whether your activity counts towards the total? If it falls into the two categories below, you’re working towards reaching your weekly activity goal:

Moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity means you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. One way to tell if it’s a moderate-intensity aerobic activity is that you’ll be able to talk, but not sing the words to your favorite song. Here are some examples of activities that require moderate effort:

  • Walking fast
  • Doing water aerobics
  • Riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
  • Playing doubles tennis
  • Pushing a lawn mower

Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity means you’re breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. You may use the Talk Test to gauge the intensity of your aerobic physical activity. If you’re being active at a vigorous level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. Here are some examples of activities that require vigorous effort:

  • Jogging or running
  • Swimming laps
  • Riding a bike fast or on hills
  • Playing singles tennis
  • Playing basketball

You can also reference the guide below, which shows physical activity recommendations based on age groups.


Research has found that steady-state aerobic exercise at moderate intensity is the ideal approach for a variety of reasons:

  • It an be done continuously for much longer than HIIT (high-intensity interval training) or vigorous aerobic activity.
  • You are less likely to develop injuries while exercising at a moderate intensity (such as brisk walking).
  • Trying to maintain an exercise regimen that is stacked with high-intensity activities can lead to burnout and lower motivation which can ultimately lead to decreased activity.

HIIT (high-intensity interval training), combines vigorous aerobic exercise with short rest periods. Many proponents of this method suggest the approach because it is very efficient (the workouts are generally shorter than moderate-intensity exercise), while burning a high amount of calories. A benefit of HIIT regimens is that they can include aerobic and resistance training in a circuit. For example, you can run in place and then shift to jump squats- you would benefit from the aerobic activity of both exercises, and also from the resistance of your body weight during the jump squats.

HIIT workouts have also been found to result in EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). After a hard workout, your body continues to use elevated amounts of oxygen even after you finish the exercise (sometimes referred to as “afterburn”), leading to more calories being burned up to 14 hours after the workout.

Resistance training

Incorporating resistance training is beneficial for a variety of reasons, even apart from the added benefit of increased weight loss when combined with aerobic activity. Resistance training can help:

  • Burn Calories: When you exercise with resistance training, you can increase the after-burn, adding onto the calories that are burnt from the exercise session itself.
  • Helps your metabolism: Studies have shown that weight loss efforts that are centered around diet only can actually decrease metabolism by up to 20% a day. Resistance training can help keep metabolism at a steady level, even if you have shifted to a calorie deficit in an effort to drop pounds. Please speak to your provider to discuss an appropriate calorie intake level for weight loss. Generally speaking, a healthy rate is losing roughly 1-2 pounds per week, or consuming 500-1,000 fewer calories per day.
  • Maintain Muscle Mass: While aerobic activity and cutting calories can result in weight loss, it can also result in losing muscle mass and the after-burn that muscles produce. This consequently can slow down weight loss efforts. To avoid that, incorporate resistance training.

For ideas on what resistance training exercise to incorporate into your workout regimen, checkout our weekly exercise archives. Keep in mind that resistance training can be achieved using only your body weight, often called plyometrics, (and includes exercise like yoga), making it accessible and achievable for everybody. It does not require any additional equipment, or a gym. Add in some moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, and you’re on your way to improved cardiovascular health, increased strength, and working towards and maintaining a healthy weight.








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