There are several misconceptions around the topic of weight lifting. Some of the most common include the idea that lifting adds bulk and that it’s only for men who want muscles that have muscles. In all reality, though, there is no better form of exercise than lifting weights to help you lose weight and get lean and toned. If you are still skeptical, though, keep reading to learn exactly how weight lifting works for weight loss and how you begin effectively incorporating it into your routine to reach your weight loss goals and more.
How Does Weight Lifting for Weight Loss Work?
When most people want to lose weight, the first thing they do is cardio. While the aerobic activity is great for your heart and lungs, can help you clear your mind and reduce stress, and even lose some weight initially, cardio alone isn’t the key to weight loss.
There is actually a lot more to losing weight than just running. To effectively lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat and remain in a calorie-deprived state long enough that your body starts using its own tissue as fuel. Once you start doing that, you’ll begin to see the number of the scale go down. But the problem is that you won’t know how much of that is fat and how much is muscle. And losing muscle mass can actually sabotage your weight-loss efforts.
That’s where weight lifting for weight loss comes in. Muscle contraction is a primary component of fat loss. The more muscle mass you have to contract, the more calories your body is able to burn. Additionally, strength-training workouts that work large muscle groups into a state in which they will release hormones that function to reduce fat in the body. So it’s an effective strategy to incorporate resistance training into your routine to lose fat and maintain as much lean muscle as you can.
In fact, if you are able to get enough protein in your diet, you may even be able to gain more muscle while you restrict calories and lose fat. This approach is particularly effective because the added muscle then keeps your metabolism burning effectively, even as your restricted calorie intake would typically slow it down.
How to Do Weight Lifting for Weight Loss?
It is important to understand that there is a fine balance between weight lifting and weight loss, particularly if weight loss is your primary goal. Lifting will help you lose weight over time; however, many individuals experience a slight increase in their weight initially when starting a new lifting routine because of muscle growth and development.
The most effective way to begin using weight lifting as a component of your weight loss approach is to follow a circuit training regimen. This will incorporate elements of weight lifting with cardiovascular exercise to help you burn the maximum amount of calories in the shortest amount of time. This type of training regimen is characterized by a combination of several resistance-training exercises intermingled with short, intense bursts of aerobic activity. In most regimens, there is little to no rest between exercises, and most routines last anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes.
This approach may help individuals burn as much as two times as many calories compared to weight lifting alone. For example, a 155-pound person can burn roughly 298 calories after a half hour of circuit training while a 185-pound individual would burn close to 355 calories. With changing nothing else, this approach can support a weight loss of 2.5 pounds after a month of exercise.
The Most Effective Weight Lifting Exercises for Weight Loss
Some of the most effective weight lifting for weight loss exercises include those that work multiple muscle groups at once, such as:
- Squat to Overhead Press;
- Single-Leg Dumbbell Row;
- Step-Up with Bicep Curl;
- Full Body Plank;
- Weighted Curtsy Lunge.
The Disadvantages of Weight Lifting for Weight Loss
As with any exercise regimen, you need to take the necessary precautions and understand the drawbacks associated with this kind of exercise to protect your body. It’s also important to keep in mind that working out and taking care of your body is a marathon, not a sprint. In other words, you need to constantly train your body to grow stronger and healthier rather than just thinking a short burst of exercise periodically will help you achieve the results you are looking for.
Some of the most common drawbacks of weight lifting for weight loss include:
- Muscle soreness. Sore and aching muscles come with the territory if you are going to start lifting weights. It is important to be aware of this but to also prepare your muscles before a workout and to give them time to cool down after a routine. You should also work within a comfortable time frame and slowly increase your weight and repetitions to prevent issues involving overuse.
- Stress fractures. Stress fractures are tiny fissures in the bone that are caused by overuse and repetitive force, such as repeated jumping or lifting. The issue is sometimes more common in women than men and often presents in weight-bearing bones, such as the lower legs. Again, it is important to start weight training slowly and to be sure to warm up and cool down properly before working out to reduce your risk of injury.
So no matter how you look at it, weight lifting is an important part of the weight loss puzzle. And when it is incorporated effectively may actually help you lose significantly more weight than just cardiovascular training alone. The most effective training regimens combine weight lifting with interspersed cardiovascular exercises to help you burn the most calories and to keep your metabolism gunning long after your workout has ended.
It is also important to prepare your body for this type of exercise and to start slowly and work your way up into heavier and more challenging exercises to avoid injury. Making sure you are incorporating enough protein and eating a balanced diet is also an important piece to the weight loss equation, especially as you are incorporating more weight lifting for weight loss.