For more than 20 years, we have been teaching fitness coaches how to work with clients all over the world.
A question we are commonly asked is “how can I use weight lifting for weight loss?”
So, to help coaches and clients like you answer this question, here is how to use the silver bullet of weight lifting for weight loss.
Table of Contents:
First, let’s talk about weight lifting and why it is the best method for weight loss. When we say weight lifting we are referring to resistance training: performing muscle contractions with resistance.
We prefer weight lifting for weight loss because of the prolonged thermogenesis. Lifting weights causes metabolic stress and breaks down muscle, which increases the metabolic rate and burns calories. This increased metabolism doesn’t stop when the workout is over, and the body continues to burn calories as the muscles repair. This is unique to weight training, and cardio does not provide the same level of post-workout calorie burn.
As a secondary benefit, weight lifting increases lean muscle mass. Having more lean muscle mass will also increase metabolism, as muscle requires more energy than body fat to maintain.
Now let’s look at how you can use weight lifting for weight loss.
Before we talk about weight lifting we must cover the most important part of weight loss, a quality lifestyle. It is tough to lose weight. Your body needs to be as low stress as possible and in an environment that’s conducive for growing muscle.
To lower stress on your system you need to live a great lifestyle. Make sure you get enough quality sleep, drink plenty of water, chew your food thoroughly, consume the recommended amount of protein, and have a clear purpose for why you are working out.
These six characteristics of a great lifestyle are the OPEX Basic Lifestyle Guidelines (BLGs). These guidelines are the foundation of any fitness journey, and for weight loss, they are a prerequisite to counting calories or tracking macros. Learn a more detailed version of the BLGs in this free coaching course.
Now with your lifestyle sorted it’s time to pick a training split. How long you’ve been consistently exercising, that is, your training age, will determine the best split for you.
If you haven’t trained consistently for more than 2 years, then you are a beginner. For your split train your full body 3 to 4 days a week.
If you have trained consistently for 2 to 5 years, you are intermediate or advanced. Divide your training days up into upper and lower body days and train 3 to 4 times a week.
Now that you have your split, it’s time to design your training days.
Beginners will train their full-body every training day. During each session beginners will train the six movement patterns (Lunge, Squat, Bend, Push, Pull, Core). These can be designed as a circuit or in supersets.
Since beginners are new to exercise, keep the repetitions high (from 10 to 20). Perform three sets and keep the rest time in between sets at one minute. Lastly, use a slow tempo to make sure that time under tension is high.
Here’s what a beginner weight lifting workout for weight loss looks like.
A1) Split Squat @ 3030 tempo, 15 reps x 3 sets; 60 seconds rest
(Lunge Movement Pattern)
A2) Single Arm Cable Row @ 3032 tempo, 15 reps x 3 sets; 60 seconds rest
(Pull Movement Pattern)
A3) Glute Bridge, Hold for 1 Minute x 3 Sets; 60 seconds rest (Bend Movement Pattern)
A4) Single Arm Dumbbell Bench Press @ 3231 tempo, 15 Reps x 3 Sets; 60 seconds rest
(Push Movement Pattern)
B1) Plank, Hold for 1 Minute x 3 Sets; 60 seconds rest (Core Movement Pattern)
B2) Farmers Carry, 100m x 3 Sets; 60 seconds rest (Core Movement Pattern)
Intermediate and advanced individuals need to divide their week into upper body and lower body training sessions. Perform one to two main lifts, with the option to superset, and select accessory exercises per session
Keep the repetitions moderate (from 6 to 12). Perform between 3 to 5 sets, keep the rest time higher, (between 1:30 to 2 minutes), and use a moderate tempo.
Here’s what an advanced weight lifting workout for weight loss looks like.
A1) Bench Press @20X1 tempo, 5-6 reps x 4 sets; 2 minutes rest
(Push Movement Pattern)
A2) Weighted Pull-Up @20X1 tempo, 5-6 reps x 4 sets; 2 minutes rest
(Pull Movement Pattern)
B1) Landmine Press @20X1 tempo, 8-10 reps x 3 sets; 90 seconds rest (Push Movement Pattern)
B2) Dumbbell Row @30X1, 8-10 reps x 3 sets; 90 seconds rest (Pull Movement Pattern)
C1) Barbell Drag Curl @3030 tempo, 10-12 reps x 3 sets; 90 seconds rest (Pull Movement Pattern)
C2) Cable Rope Tricep Pushdown @30X0 tempo, 10-12 reps x 3 sets; 90 seconds rest (Push Movement Pattern)
C3) Weighted Front Leaning Rest, 1-minute x 3 sets; 90 seconds rest (Core + Push Movement Pattern)
To get weight-loss results you need to focus on the quality of movement over the quantity of movement.
The fitness industry preaches high intensity and doing a lot of repetitions. But oftentimes these high-intensity workouts aren’t effective.
They aren’t effective because they are not activating the intended muscle group to effectively build lean mass. So to make sure you see results, slow down the pace and train mindfully. Focus on each repetition and make sure that you are engaging the muscle. Or as we like to put it, focus on intent over intensity.
Finally, couple your weight lifting with low-intensity aerobic training, such as walking or biking, to promote blood flow, recovery, and increased metabolism. Aim for a 30-60 minute walk every day.
Using weight lifting for weight loss is simple, but far from easy.
It requires a great lifestyle, consistency, and focus. These skills are all tough to master in their own right, and together can seem overly daunting.
That’s why people all over the world need fitness enthusiasts like you. They need guidance on their fitness journey from someone that has been there before.
Do you love health and fitness? And do you want to help people reach their goals? If so sign up for our free fitness coaching course today and get a taste of what it’s like to be a fitness coach.