Weight training should definitely be a part of your female members’ exercise regimen, if they are trying to lose weight. A new study, published in Exercise & Science in Sports & Medicine (33:932-938, 2001), found that resistance training resulted in fat burning for up to two hours after the exercise session.

The study included 10 women, ages 24 to 34, who regularly lifted weights but weren’t “super fitness enthusiasts,” says Carol A. Binzen, lead author of the study. The women were initially assessed for cardiovascular fitness and maximal strength, then, on separate days, underwent a resistance exercise session and a control session where they simply sat without exercising, with two nonexercise days in between. Energy expenditures were measured for 20 minutes before each session, during each 45-minute session and for two hours after each session. During the resistance exercise session, participants performed nine exercises (chest press, shoulder press, leg squat, leg extension, leg press, seated row, lat pull-down, biceps curl and triceps extension) for three sets of 10 repetitions at 70 percent of their maximal strength, plus abdominal crunches.

On average, the women burned 155 calories during weight training, compared to 50 calories during the control session. By comparing measurements of blood lactate, VO2 max and respiratory exchange ratio, the researchers concluded that, after resistance exercise, 79 percent more fat was burned during the last 30 minutes of the two-hour recovery period than after the control session.

Binzen points out that, in addition to decreasing body fat and increasing lean body mass, metabolism and bone mineral density, “an acute bout of a typical resistance exercise session also facilitates a small increase in fat oxidation in moderately trained young women.” The researchers suggest that the results may be more pronounced in previously sedentary women who begin a strength-training program. Binzen concludes, “To get the maximum benefit, women need a combination of cardiovascular workouts and resistance training.”