Resistance training triggers a unique process that helps you burn fat

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Grabbing the free weights appears to be helping you burn fat in a very specific and unique way, a new study reveals. Researchers at the University of Kentucky say resistance training benefits the human body by triggering changes at the molecular level.

In a study of mice and humans, the team discovered that mechanical loading (or weight-bearing exercises) causes muscle cells to release particles called extracellular vesicles. These particles provide fat cells with genetic instructions to enter “fat-burning mode.”

Initially, scientists believed that extracellular vesicles helped the body get rid of certain proteins, fats, and RNA. However, new studies reveal they also play a key role in the communication between different cells.

The new findings add a new layer to the evidence that skeletal muscles communicate by using these vesicles. Moreover, extracellular vesicles appear to play a unique role in how resistance training triggers weight loss through burning off fat.

“To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of how weight training initiates metabolic adaptations in fat tissue, which is crucial for determining whole-body metabolic outcomes,” says John McCarthy, Ph.D., study author and associate professor in the UK Department of Physiology, in a university release. “The ability of resistance exercise-induced extracellular vesicles to improve fat metabolism has significant clinical implications.”

If big, heavy weights aren’t for you, there are other forms of resistance training that do the same thing. These exercises include using weight machines, suspension equipment, and resistance bands — giant rubber bands that provide resistance when you stretch.

You can even use your own body weight in resistance training by doing squats, push-ups, and chin-ups.

The findings appear in the FASEB Journal.

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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