While the benefits of exercise are clear, many unresolved issues surround the optimal exercise prescription. Many organizations recommend aerobic training (AT) and resistance training (RT), yet few studies have compared their effects alone or in combination. The purpose of this study, part of Studies Targeting Risk Reduction Interventions Through Defined Exercise-Aerobic Training and/or Resistance Training (STRRIDE/AT/RT), was to compare the effects of AT, RT, and the full combination (AT/RT) on central ectopic fat, liver enzymes, and fasting insulin resistance [homeostatic model assessment (HOMA)]. In a randomized trial, 249 subjects [18-70 yr old, overweight, sedentary, with moderate dyslipidemia (LDL cholesterol 130-190 mg/dl or HDL cholesterol ≤ 40 mg/dl for men or ≤ 45 mg/dl for women)] performed an initial 4-mo run-in period. Of these, 196 finished the run-in and were randomized into one of the following 8-mo exercise-training groups: 1) RT, which comprised 3 days/wk, 8 exercises, 3 sets/exercise, 8-12 repetitions/set, 2) AT, which was equivalent to ∼19.2 km/wk (12 miles/wk) at 75% peak O(2) uptake, and 3) full AT + full RT (AT/RT), with 155 subjects completing the intervention. The primary outcome variables were as follows: visceral and liver fat via CT, plasma liver enzymes, and HOMA. AT led to significant reductions in liver fat, visceral fat, alanine aminotransferase, HOMA, and total and subcutaneous abdominal fat (all P < 0.05). RT resulted in a decrease in subcutaneous abdominal fat (P < 0.05) but did not significantly improve the other variables. AT was more effective than RT at improving visceral fat, liver-to-spleen ratio, and total abdominal fat (all P < 0.05) and trended toward a greater reduction in liver fat score (P < 0.10). The effects of AT/RT were statistically indistinguishable from the effects of AT. These data show that, for overweight and obese individuals who want to reduce measures of visceral fat and fatty liver infiltration and improve HOMA and alanine aminotransferase, a moderate amount of aerobic exercise is the most time-efficient and effective exercise mode.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00275145.