Strength Training For Weight Loss: Benefits & Sample Exercises [UK] 2023
If fat loss is your goal, you might be surprised to find out that heading to the weight room could be your best strategy! Why? Because strength training is scientifically proven to burn fat, both during exercise and at rest (by raising your metabolic rate). In fact, it boasts many other physical and mental health benefits that cardio alone simply can’t provide.
Not sure where to begin? No worries. We’ll give you the low down on which resistance exercises are best to lose weight (at home or the gym) for beginners and more advanced athletes. We will even start you off with a great strength training routine (that you can adapt as you progress-including the use of supersets), alongside sharing many other surprising benefits of weight training for females (including how it can help counter postmenopausal symptoms and painful periods).
Is Strength Training Good For Weight Loss?
First, can a beginner burn fat by incorporating strength training exercises into their routine? Heck, yes! In fact, a review in the medical journal Sports Medicine recently stated that strength training for fat loss is a great strategy, with exercisers shedding around 1.4%of their total body fat via strength training alone. For reference, that’s a similar poundage to how much we might expect to lose using aerobic exercise like swimming or jogging. So we can say definitively that lifting weights is great for losing weight and positively altering your body fat percentage.
Resistance training helps us play the long game regarding fat loss because the more muscle we have in our body, the higher our resting metabolic rate will be. Now, our resting metabolic rate, or RMR, is the number of calories our body needs to power it at rest. The more muscle we have (which we can increase via strength training), the higher our RMR will be. And the higher it is, the more fat your body is burning at rest. That ultimately means a leaner body, a faster metabolism, and a body that favors burning fat calories over storing them.
That’s exactly why a recent study found that lifting weights has been found to reduce intra-abdominal fat (improving the way we look AND feel!). And when strength training is performed using supersets (where sets and repetitions are performed with little to no rest in between), the fat-burning benefits increase even further!
We’ll get to how you can incorporate sets and supersets into your exercise routine in just a little bit, but first, let’s cover some of the additional health benefits of strength training.
Health Benefits Of Strength Training
First, strength training doesn’t just burn fat (although that’s a great reason, alone, to hit the weights more often!). It also plays a vital role in countering depressive symptoms, with resistance training subsequently recommended as an effective adjunct treatment for depression. Exercise sessions of forty-five minutes or less exhibited the most positive outcomes in terms of depression reduction.
Resistance training has also been identified as a potential therapeutic intervention in treating Type II diabetes and has been found to be as effective, in this regard, as cardio exercise. Researchers found that both muscular strength (hypertrophy)-focused exercise and muscular endurance-focused exercise helped mediate insulin levels and insulin sensitivity, lowered waist circumference and overall fat mass, increased lean muscle mass, improved the patient’s lipid profile, and lowered blood pressure. Strength training has also been proven to improve postmenopausal symptoms, with abdominal strengthening (core) exercises also recently shown in a 2022 academic study to significantly reduce dysmenorrhea. This means that females can benefit from a whole host of health-related benefits when they head to the weight room!
By boosting your metabolic rate and enabling calorie expenditure, lifting weights can also lower the risk of obesity, especially when combined with a healthy diet. For example, randomized clinical trials found that individuals incorporating resistance training into their exercise regime for one to two hours per week lowered their risk of obesity by as much as 30%.
Lifting weights doesn’t just build muscle. It also strengthens bones; a 2021 meta-analysis has shown strength training to be the most effective kind of exercise when it comes to improving total hip bone mineral density in patients with osteopenia and osteoporosis.
5 Best Strength Training For Weight Loss
Hopefully, we’ve now sold you the benefits of hitting the weights. But where to begin? The weight room can be an intimidating place.
Never fear. While the gym junkies amongst you might already have a great go-to weights routine, we’ve compiled a basic strength training program – with beginners in mind – that will get you results.
So if you’re looking to accelerate fat-burning goals and build more lean mass, check out our top five strength exercises for weight loss (below), then read on to discover how to incorporate them into a straightforward yet effective routine.
The squat is often regarded as the king of the weight room when it comes to strength training, and for a good reason. That’s because any compound posterior chain exercise like a squat (i.e., that hits multiple large muscle groups at once) will get great results. Squats work major muscle groups like your latissimus dorsi, core abdominal muscles, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves, and they have been shown to cause a significant decrease in body fat. They can be performed against a wall, with weights, as squat jumps, or as a bodyweight-only exercise.
Another powerful posterior chain exercise, the deadlift targets multiple muscles in the back, shoulders, core, and legs, increasing lean muscle mass and burning calories. Efficient compound strength exercises like the deadlift also boost post-exercise oxygen consumption far more than if you engaged in aerobic exercise (meaning that you’ll burn more fat while at rest).
For sculpted Michelle Obama arms, press-ups are a great choice, enabling you to show off your weight loss to the max. They target the pectorals (chest muscles), triceps, deltoids (shoulders), and many mid and upper back muscles.
While many people burn through countless situps in a bid to gain a six-pack, what they really should be doing is a plank. Why? Because a plank will cinch in the waist by targeting the internal abdominals (the transversus abdominis) – much like tightening a belt would do. The visual effect over time is a smaller waist, alongside the overall strengthening of the core.
The shoulder press is extremely efficient and could be considered the upper body equivalent of the squat regarding compound benefits. The shoulder press works out your deltoids (shoulders), pectorals (chest) muscles, and major upper and middle back muscles (including the latissimus dorsi, trapezius muscles, and rhomboids). As part of a strength training routine, the shoulder press will help you to efficiently enhance fat loss.
If you already know your way around a weights room, remember that you can maximize calorie and fat-burning results with supersets or by lifting heavier weights. You could also consider supplementing with creatine monohydrate to help you to build more muscle faster.
A Sample Plan
Impatient to get started and enjoy the fat-burning benefits? Here’s a great workout plan to get you started. It’s simple, effective, and based on our five top strength exercises listed above.
First, perform a simple warm-up (5-10 minutes). The aim of the warm-up is to stimulate blood flow to work muscles with light exercises such as walking, knee-bends, or light stretches.
Next, perform the routine below. Cycle through the entire routine (five separate exercises) three to five times. Perform 12 – 15 repetitions for each set, focusing on great technique (form).
- Squats (begin with bodyweight-only squats, performed as a wall sit or free-standing squat).
- Press Ups (wall or box press-ups, moving on to full press-ups when ready).
- Deadlifts (using a light barbell).
- Shoulder Press (using a light barbell or dumbbell).
- Plank (Hold for 10 – 20 seconds, with knees on the floor, transitioning to legs straight as you progress).
End with gentle stretches, focusing specific attention on the chest, back, shoulders, and legs. You should aim to hold stretches for around 12-20 seconds to gently release tension in the muscle and to disperse lactic acid as a means of minimizing the risk of stiffness one to two days after your workout.
Focus on perfect form and start with low weights. You may need a personal trainer or fitness professional to help you initially with technique. And remember, always consult your doctor if you’re beginning an exercise regime for the first time. Wear light, comfortable clothing, and stay hydrated!
Perform the routine every other day. Muscles need 24-48 hours to rest and repair. When you feel ready, slowly increase weights, &/or switch up the repetitions and sets listed here for supersets. Ready to switch up your routine for a wider range of exercises? Then check out our article on muscular endurance-based exercises to learn how to push your gains even further!
The bottom line is this. Work, study, school, and even a side hustle (or two) mean that your time is truly valuable. And with so many fitness fads around, you need to know that if you’re going to invest that time in working out, it needs to be 100% effective!
The great news is that science has proven the fat-burning benefits of strength training, so strength-based workouts can be considered a great investment of your time.
So the next time you hit the gym, consider heading to the weights room (or pick up a set of dumbbells from your local sports store for great home workouts!). It’ll accelerate fat burning during workouts and help your body burn more fat at rest. And it’ll make you stronger and even offer mental and physical health benefits.
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