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The Effect of Resistance Training in Healthy Adults on Body Fat Percentage, Fat Mass and Visceral Fat: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Abstract

Background

Resistance training is the gold standard exercise mode for accrual of lean muscle mass, but the isolated effect of resistance training on body fat is unknown.

Objectives

This systematic review and meta-analysis evaluated resistance training for body composition outcomes in healthy adults. Our primary outcome was body fat percentage; secondary outcomes were body fat mass and visceral fat.

Design

Systematic review with meta-analysis.

Data Sources

We searched five electronic databases up to January 2021.

Eligibility Criteria

We included randomised trials that compared full-body resistance training for at least 4 weeks to no-exercise control in healthy adults.

Analysis

We assessed study quality with the TESTEX tool and conducted a random-effects meta-analysis, with a subgroup analysis based on measurement type (scan or non-scan) and sex (male or female), and a meta-regression for volume of resistance training and training components.

Results

From 11,981 records, we included 58 studies in the review, with 54 providing data for a meta-analysis. Mean study quality was 9/15 (range 6–15). Compared to the control, resistance training reduced body fat percentage by − 1.46% (95% confidence interval − 1.78 to − 1.14, p < 0.0001), body fat mass by − 0.55 kg (95% confidence interval − 0.75 to − 0.34, p < 0.0001) and visceral fat by a standardised mean difference of − 0.49 (95% confidence interval − 0.87 to − 0.11, p = 0.0114). Measurement type was a significant moderator in body fat percentage and body fat mass, but sex was not. Training volume and training components were not associated with effect size.

Summary/Conclusions

Resistance training reduces body fat percentage, body fat mass and visceral fat in healthy adults.

Study Registration

osf.io/hsk32.

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Correspondence to Amanda D. Hagstrom.

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Funding

No funding was received for this project. Michael Wewege was supported by a Postgraduate Scholarship from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, a School of Medical Sciences Top-Up Scholarship from the University of New South Wales and a PhD Supplementary Scholarship from Neuroscience Research Australia. Imtiaz Desai was supported by a Scientia PhD Scholarship from the University of New South Wales. Hayley Leake was supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.

Conflict of interest

Michael Wewege, Imtiaz Desai, Cameron Honey, Brandon Coorie, Matthew Jones, Briana Clifford, Hayley Leake and Amanda Hagstrom declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this review.

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The data used in this study are available on the Open Science Framework (osf.io/hsk32). All R packages are available via the Comprehensive R Archive Network.

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The R script used in this study is available on the Open Science Framework (osf.io/hsk32).

Author contributions

ADH was responsible for the review design and team management, the literature search and drafting of the manuscript. All authors participated in screening and data extraction. MAW conducted the statistical analysis and reported its results. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

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Wewege, M.A., Desai, I., Honey, C. et al. The Effect of Resistance Training in Healthy Adults on Body Fat Percentage, Fat Mass and Visceral Fat: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-021-01562-2

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