Resistance Training has long been researched and promoted as a means to get lean, toned, and burn fat.  For many people, incorporating a resistance training routine not only helps them gain strength and endurance, it also helps them burn off unwanted fat and achieve their desired results.  On the other hand of the spectrum, there are people out there who spend countless hours at the gym.

They do try every method of resistance training. They hire a personal trainer who tries everything they know to help them.  For some reason, they just don’t lose weight.  They don’t tone. It can be an incredibly frustrating and long process.  Now, recent research may have found a link tying why some people see results from resistance training, while others may not.

According to a recent research study, some women may actually be resistant to resistance training due to 21 “genetic variations”.  These “genetic variations” are said to help the bodies prevent fat loss and actually even help the bodies maintain their weight, despite resistance training.


What this means is if you are one of the unfortunate ones with this genetic code, your body is basically working against your goals.

Despite your hardest efforts, your body is holding onto the fat stores you have and preventing you from losing weight.

The study looked at 148 women between the ages of 35 and 60over the course of a year.  The women’s genes were tested and divided into three groups (low, intermediate and high risk), based on their weight and how many genetic variations they had.   The participants were asked to complete three 75 minute resistance training sessions each week for a year.

The researchers tested the strength of the women periodically to ensure they were following the program and progressing appropriately.  The results found that women who only had a few of the genetic variations (low and intermediate risk groups)overall responded appropriately to the resistance training part of the study, meaning their body fat decreased.   The women who have more of the genetic variations (high risk groups), however, did not respond to the resistance training by decreasing body fat, although they still did gain strength from the program.

These results point to a reason as to why you may not be seeing the results you expect with your program.   That being said, while these results are surprising, they certainly do not mean that women who would fit the “high risk” profile would never be able to lose weight.   It may just be harder for them.  If you fall into this category, you may have to try different types of routines or change up your nutritional program in order for you to see the results you seek.

woman building muscle

If you have not been seeing results from your current program, I would first suggest changing things up.   Our bodies do get used to exercise, and if it’s been a while since you’ve changed your routine, I would consider that step one.  This goes not only for the actual exercises you do, but also your repetition schemes, and resistance training system.

For example, if you always lift for 15 reps, try to increase the weight on exercises and only do 12 reps.  If you always do a circuit style training system, see how your body responds to a few weeks of a split routine (working different body parts on different days).   You could also try seeing a personal trainer.  People often will push themselves harder when working with a personal trainer than when working on their own.

This could make a significant difference in your current program.  Personal trainers should also be experts and creating individualized exercise programs.  When you meet with your trainer, the trainer should put you through a number  of fitness assessments to see your current fitness status and determine the best approach to tackling your goals.

Despite changing your routine, if you still think you may be encountering some genetic issues that are preventing you from losing weight, I would strongly suggest you go see your doctor.  Your doctor could refer you to a specialist who can discuss with you what the best plan of attack may be for your individual situation.

My bottom line recommendation with this research: continue to do weight training, even if you fear you would be considered “high risk” due to your genetic profile. Weight training will still offer you many benefits, even if it does not help you achieve your weight loss or fat loss goal.  Weight training helps you to gain endurance and strength, and can help to improve activities of daily life, particularly in the later stages of life.  It would be well worth your time to continue your weight training routine!

This article was based on information from the article “Pumping Iron Failing to Make You Leaner?  Blame Your Genes” by Melissa Healy in the Los Angeles Times, 5/31/2015.

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