Preprint has been published in a journal as an article
Preprint / Version 1

The effects of training load during dietary intervention upon fat loss

A randomized cross-over trial


  • Luke Carlson Discover Strength
  • David Gschneidner Discover Strength
  • James Steele Solent University
  • James P. Fisher Solent University



body composition, muscle size, resistance training, strength, supervision, diet


To date no studies have compared resistance training loading strategies combined with dietary intervention for fat loss. Thus, we performed a randomised crossover design comparing four weeks of heavier- (HL; ~80% 1RM) and lighter-load (LL; ~60% 1RM) resistance training, combined with calorie restriction and dietary guidance, including resistance trained participants (n=130; males=49, females=81). Both conditions performed low-volume, (single set of 9 exercises, 2x/week) effort matched (to momentary failure), but non-work-matched protocols. Testing was completed pre- and post-each intervention. Fat mass (kg) was the primary outcome, and a smallest effect size of interest (SESOI) was established at 3.3% loss of baseline bodyweight. Body fat percentage, lean mass, and strength (7-10RM) for chest press, leg press, and pull-down exercises were also measured. An 8-week washout period of traditional training with normal calorie interspersed each intervention. Both interventions showed small statistically equivalent (within the SESOI) reductions in fat mass (HL: -0.67 kg [95%CI -0.91 to 0.42]; LL: -0.55 kg [95%CI -0.80 to -0.31]) which were also equivalent between conditions (HL – LL: -0.113 kg [95%CI -0.437 kg to 0.212 kg]). Changes in body fat percentage and lean mass were also minimal. Strength increases were small, similar between conditions, and within a previously determined SESOI for the population included (10.1%). Fat loss reductions are not impacted by resistance training load; both HL and LL produce similar, yet small, changes to body composition over a 4-week intervention. However, the maintenance of both lean mass and strength highlights the value of resistance training during dietary intervention.


Metrics Loading ...


Shojaa M, von Stengel S, Kohl M, Schoene D, Kemmler W. Effects of dynamic re-sistance exercise on bone mineral density in postmenopausal women: a sys-tematic review and meta-analysis with special emphasis on exercise parame-ters. Osteoporos Int 2020;31(8):1427-1444.

Abrahin O, Moraes-Ferreira R, Cortinhas-Alves EA, Guerreiro JF. Is resistance training alone an antihypertensive therapy? A meta-analysis. J Hum Hypertens 2021;35(9):769-775.

Nagamatsu LS, Handy TC, Hsu CL, et al. Resistance training improves cognitive and functional brain plasticity in seniors with probable MCI: a 6-month random-ized controlled trial. Arch Intern Med 2012;172(8):666–668.

Gordon BR, McDowell CP, Lyons M, Herring MP. The Effects of Resistance Exer-cise Training on Anxiety: A Meta-Analysis and Meta-Regression Analysis of Ran-domized Controlled Trials. Sports Med 2017;47(12):2521-2532.

Gordon BR, McDowell CP, Hallgren M, Meyer JD, Lyons M, Herring MP. Associa-tion of Efficacy of Resistance Exercise Training With Depressive Symptoms: Me-ta-analysis and Meta-regression Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. JAMA Psychiatry 2018;75(6):566-576

Gallardo-Gómez D, Del Pozo-Cruz J, Noetel M, et al. Optimal dose and type of exercise to improve cognitive function in older adults: A systematic review and bayesian model-based network meta-analysis of RCTs. Ageing Res Rev 2022;76:101591.

Tsutsumi T, Don BM, Zaichkowsky LD, et al. Comparison of high and moderate intensity of strength training on mood and anxiety in older adults. Percept Mot Skills 1998;87(1):1003–1011.

Martino E, Fisher JP, Wink B, et al. "Lift Big-Get Big": The Impact of Images of Hyper-Muscular Bodies and Training Information. Res Q Exerc Sport 2021;92(3):500-513.

Fisher J, Sales A, Carlson L, Steele J. A comparison of the motivational factors between CrossFit participants and other resistance exercise modalities: a pilot study. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 2017;57(9):1227-1234.

Lopez P, Radaelli R, Taaffe DR, et al. Resistance Training Load Effects on Muscle Hypertrophy and Strength Gain: Systematic Review and Network Meta-analysis. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2021;53(6):1206-1216.

Fisher JP, Steele J, Androulakis-Korakakis P, et al. The strength-endurance con-tinuum revisited: a critical commentary of the recommendation of different loading ranges for different muscular adaptations. J Trainology 2020;9(1):1-8.

MacKenzie-Shalders K, Kelly JT, So D, et al. The effect of exercise interventions on resting metabolic rate: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Sports Sci 2020;38(14):1635-1649.

Ratamess NA, Alvar BA, Evetoch TK, et al. Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2009;41:687- 708.

Choi PY. Muscle matters: Maintaining visible differences between women and men. Sexualities, Evolution & Gender 2003;5(2):71-81.

Dworkin SL. “Holding back”: Negotiating a glass ceiling on women's muscular strength. Sociol Perspect 2001;44(3):333-50.

Hunter GR, Byrne NM, Sirikul B, et al. Resistance training conserves fat-free mass and resting energy expenditure following weight loss. Obesity 2008;16(5):1045-51.

Donnelly JE, Sharp T, Houmard J, et al. Muscle hypertrophy with large-scale weight loss and resistance training. Am J Clin Nutr 1993;58(4):561-5.

Avila JJ, Gutierres JA, Sheehy ME, et al. Effect of moderate intensity resistance training during weight loss on body composition and physical performance in overweight older adults. Eur J Appl Physiol 2010;109(3):517-25.

Longland TM, Oikawa SY, Mitchell CJ, et al. Higher compared with lower dietary protein during an energy deficit combined with intense exercise promotes greater lean mass gain and fat mass loss: a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2016;103(3):738-46

Srikanthan P, Karlamangla AS. Muscle mass index as a predictor of longevity in older adults. Am J Med 2014;127(6):547-53.

Farinatti, PTV, Simão R, Monteiro WD, et al. Influence of exercise order on oxy-gen uptake during strength training in young women. J Strength Cond Res 2009;23:1037–1044

Scott CB, Leighton BH, Ahearn KJ, McManus JJ. Aerobic, anaerobic, and excess postexercise oxygen consumption energy expenditure of muscular endurance and strength: 1-set of bench press to muscular fatigue. J Strength Cond Res 2011;25(4):903-8.

Brunelli DT, Finardi EAR, Bonfante ILP, et al. Acute low- compared to high-load resistance training to failure results in greater energy expenditure during exer-cise in healthy young men. PLoS One 2019;14(11):e0224801

Dhurandhar EJ, Kaiser KA, Dawson JA, et al. Predicting adult weight change in the real world: a systematic review and meta-analysis accounting for compensa-tory changes in energy intake or expenditure. Int J Obes 2015;39(8):1181-7.

Miller T, Mull S, Aragon AA, et al. Resistance Training Combined With Diet De-creases Body Fat While Preserving Lean Mass Independent of Resting Metabolic Rate: A Randomized Trial. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2018;28(1):46-54.

Baechle TR, Earle RW. Essentials of strength training and conditioning. Human Kinetics; 2008.

Whisenant MJ, Panton LB, East WB, Broeder CE. Validation of submaximal pre-diction equations for the 1 repetition maximum bench press test on a group of collegiate football players. J Strength Cond Res 2003;17(2):221-7.

LeSuer DA, McCormick JH, Mayhew JL, et al. The accuracy of prediction equa-tions for estimating 1-RM performance in the bench press, squat, and deadlift. J Strength Cond Res 1997;11:211-3

Fisher JP, Carlson L, Steele J, Smith D. The effects of pre-exhaustion, exercise or-der, and rest intervals in a full-body resistance training intervention. Appl Phys Nutr Metab 2014;39(11):1265-70.

Fisher JP, Carlson L, Steele J. The effects of breakdown set resistance training on muscular performance and body composition in young men and women. J Strength Cond Res 2016;30(5):1425-32.

Fisher J, Steele J, Smith D. High-and low-load resistance training: interpretation and practical application of current research findings. Sports Med 2017;47(3):393-400.

Dempster PH, Aitkens SU. A new air displacement method for the determina-tion of human body composition. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1995;27(12):1692-7.

Steele J, Fisher J, Giessing J, Gentil P. Clarity in reporting terminology and defini-tions of set endpoints in resistance training. Muscle Nerve 2017;56(3):368-374.

Dankel SJ, Jessee MB, Mattocks KT, et al. Training to Fatigue: The Answer for Standardization When Assessing Muscle Hypertrophy? Sports Med 2017;47(6):1021-1027.

Donnelly JE, Blair SN, Jakicic JM, et al. American College of Sports Medicine Posi-tion Stand. Appropriate physical activity intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2009;41(2):459-71.

Bates D, Mächler M, Bolker B, Walker S. Fitting Linear Mixed-Effects Models Us-ing lme4. J Stat Soft 2015;67(1):1-48.

Wilkinson GN, Rogers CE. Symbolic description of factorial models for analysis of variance. J Royal Stat Soc: Series C (Applied Statistics) 1973;22(3):392-9.

Pinheiro JC, Bates DM. Linear mixed-effects models: basic concepts and exam-ples. Mixed-effects models in S and S-Plus 2000:3-56.

Lenth RV. emmeans: Estimated Marginal Means, aka Least-Squares Means. R package version 1.6.1. 2021.

Gardner MJ, Altman DG. Confidence intervals rather than P values: estimation rather than hypothesis testing. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986;292(6522):746-50.

Cumming G. The new statistics: Why and how. Psychological science. 2014;25(1):7-29.

Amrhein V, Trafimow D, Greenland S. Inferential statistics as descriptive statis-tics: There is no replication crisis if we don’t expect replication. Am Stat 2019;73:(Suppl. 1):262-70.

McShane BB, Gal D, Gelman A, et al. Abandon statistical significance. Am Stat 2019;73:(Suppl. 1):235-45.

Carlson L, Gschneidner D, Steele J, Fisher JP. Short-term supervised virtual train-ing maintains intensity of effort and represents an efficacious alternative to tra-ditional studio-based, supervised strength training. Physiol Behav 2022; 249:113748.

Wickham H. ggplot2: elegant graphics for data analysis. Springer; 2016.

Pedersen TL. Patchwork: The composer of plots. R package version, 1(0). 2020. Available online at: (accessed February, 2022).

Dwan K, Li T, Altman DG, Elbourne D. CONSORT 2010 statement: extension to randomised crossover trials. Brit Med J 2019;366:l4378

Fisher JP, Steele J, Smith D. Intensity of effort and momentary failure in re-sistance training: Are we asking a binary question for a continuous variable? J Sport Health Sci 2022; online ahead of print:

Schoenfeld B, Fisher J, Grgic J, et al. Resistance training recommendations to maximize muscle hypertrophy in an athletic population: Position stand of the IUSCA. Int J Strength Cond 2021;1(1).

Ahtiainen JP, Pakarinen A, Alen M, et al. Muscle hypertrophy, hormonal adapta-tions and strength development during strength training in strength-trained and untrained men. Eur J Appl Physiol 2003; 89(6):555-63.