Can You Lose Weight Lifting Weights? – Lift Your Way to a Better Body

Girl Lifting Weights on Bench

Everyone is looking for some way to lose weight these days. People want to be able to look slimmer and fit but they want to be able to do it fast. People are always all over the latest trend which can be anything from a “magic” pill to some “magic” wrap, or some crazy workout routine that will just “melt” the weight off your body.

Why is everyone looking for something like that? Well, let’s be honest who REALLY likes to do cardio? Some people think that you have to spend hours jogging or on the elliptical machine to lose weight, but that isn’t true.

When I first started on my journey to get more fit the ONLY thing I was doing was weight lifting. My parent kept saying to me “can you even lose weight lifting weights? You’re just going to get all big and bulky like those wrestling guys”. Ha, my parents were funny, anyways I did end up adding some cardio to my workout routine but it was cardio on a punching bag not running, but that is a story for another day.

Many people still believe that weightlifting is only for people who want huge bulky muscles, but more recent research has shown that having a good weight lifting routine can be very beneficial to your weight loss goals. It might even be arguably even more beneficial lifting weights for fat loss than cardio is.


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When you are on a good weight training program, naturally, your muscles are going to get bigger and stronger as you progress. Having more muscle mass not only fills out those shirts your wearing but having more muscle mass means that you are going to be burning more calories overall.

Let’s take a look at how you can lose weights by lifting weights.

How You’re Body Loses Weight

First, let’s take a stop at the basics and revisit how your body actually loses weight. So when you hear about losing weight the first thing you ever hear is eating fewer calories than you burn each day.

If you are calorie counting then it is important to know that one pound of fat is roughly 3500 calories. So in order to shed off a pound of fat, you need to burn an excess of 3500 calories more than you eat, not in a single day of course.

You can always adjust your calorie intake by eating healthier food, but that isn’t the only way to lose weight.

This is where exercise comes in, whenever you exercise you are burning more calories than your usual BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). You’re BMR is the amount of energy (calories) that your body needs over the course of the day to support all your other vital body functions.

Adding some sort of physical activity to your day regularly increases the number of calories expended helping you lose weight and is beneficial to your health.

This doesn’t mean you can go eat two cheeseburgers after your workout and still expect to lose weight though.

Muscle Burns More Calories Than Fat

Muscle naturally burns more calories than fat when you are sitting there doing nothing. Having more muscle mass on your body means that your BMR will naturally be higher on a daily basis.

Have you heard the phrase muscle burns more calories than fat? Well, it is most definitely true, one pound of muscle burns about 6 calories per day. If that same pound in your body was fat, one pound of fat only burns 2 calories per day.

So for example, if you were to say lose 20lbs of fat and replaced it with 20lbs of muscle.

  • Muscle: 20 lbs x 6 calories = 120 calories
  • Fat: 20 lbs x 2 calories = 40 calories
  • Difference: 80 calories

So you can see that if you were to lose 20lbs of fat and replaced those 20lbs with muscle mass your body would naturally burn 80 more calories a day. Well, you might say that 80 calories are hardly anything but if you add it up for the entire week it totals up to 560 calories.

That is an extra 560 calories your burning per week without doing anything extra.

Afterburn Effect

After you workout, your body goes through a physiological effect that is called “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” or also known as EPOC. EPOC is basically an oxygen debt that is owed back to your body after your workout. When you are working out your body is depleting its stores of oxygen. After you are done working out your body is consuming oxygen at a greater rate for a while until it can restore your body’s oxygen levels back to normal. This effect is determined by the intensity of your workout and not the duration of your workout.

Research has shown that high-intensity interval training is the best way to create this afterburn effect. Much more effective at creating the afterburn effect than if you were to just be running at a steady pace and stopped.

On the other hand if you were running in an intense short burst with short rest periods than this would create the best afterburn effect, you could do things such as sprints for 30 seconds, or if you are cycling short burst of pedaling for 30 seconds fast followed by a lower pace pedaling for 15 seconds and keep repeating 10 times and you’ve completed it.

Studies have shown that lifting heavy weights may be the way to keep the afterburn effect going long after your workout has ended. Putting up fewer reps using heavier weights could mean a longer afterburn effect than if you were to lift lighter weights for a higher amount of reps.

When you are weight lifting one thing to consider also is the amount of body mass you used to do that single exercise. This is a variable that not a lot of people consider when seeing which exercises create a longer afterburn effect.

When you combined weight lifting with a high-intensity cardio routine you will achieve the greatest afterburn effect. This is all highly debatable though, there are fitness experts that lean both ways.

What Kind of Weight Lifting Burns the Most Fat?

If you are looking to burn more calories using lower repetitions and heavier weights is the way to go. Although you may feel like you are doing a lot using lighter weights and higher reps your muscles are not getting challenged enough.

Compound exercises are also a great method of getting the calories burning. Compound exercises use multiple groups of muscles during one exercise. Examples of compound exercises include but are not limited to:

  • Bench Press – The bench press works out multiple different muscle groups in different ways. Muscles including the Pecs, Deltoids, Triceps, even your biceps, and lats are used to help stabilize the weight as you are lowering it.
  • Squats – Squats works out multiple different muscle groups as well. It works out all the muscles that make up your hamstrings and your quads. With squats, you could turn this exercise into a full body compound exercise easily by adding an overhead press to the squat.
  • Deadlift – The deadlift works out a ton of different muscle groups, everything to your glutes, quads, hamstrings, traps, obliques and more. The deadlift can also be compounded even more to make an even more intense workout if you add a clean and press to it.

Those are a few examples of exercises that use multiple different muscle groups to perform and is the most efficient at burning calories when you are performing them.

Final Thoughts

Weightlifting isn’t the only way to burn the fat off your body, but it is a darn good way to do it. There is a lot of evidence out there that suggest it is better to have a good weight training program included in your workout to most effectively lose weight.

And remember it is not the duration of your workout that matters but it is the intensity if you are looking to raise your oxygen deficit to get the most out of the afterburn effect.

What is your favorite weightlifting workout? Let me know below, and as always thank you for reading and if you have any comments or concerns leave them in the comments below and I will get back to you.

 

 

 

About Tony 38 Articles
Tony is a California based health and wellness writer who has a passion for weightlifting, fitness, and nutrition. You can find him frequently publishing on IronBeginner.com when he is not at the gym working out, or at the movie theater watching the latest Marvel movie.

6 Comments

  1. Very cool! So much valuable information and direction. I did a little bit of weights training a few years back when I was still living back in Sydney, and I didn’t really know what I was doing at all. But it still felt good. I ended up spending a lot of time running on the treadmills, which actually I really kind of enjoyed. But still I really want to bookmark this article to read later and digest some.
    I’m actually far from overweight right now, but still, even aside from weight loss, it seems like this article, and I can only imagine your other content would probably really give good advice and guidance if I ever chose to get back into weight training in the future.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Steven

    • Hi Steven, Thanks for reading. I tried running on treadmills or just running altogether and I never could get into running. I would always use the bike and cycle if I really wanted to do cardio. I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Thanks again.

  2. WOW! I had no idea that you could lose weight while building muscle. I have been trying to lose these last 20 pounds from my pregnancy but no matter how much I run, jump rope, or chase my toddler, I just can’t get rid of my belly! Everything else is fine. I guess, I just want to go back to the way my body was before. I had a really high metabolism, but not so much anymore. I mean, what if you are postpartum and just had a baby? What kind of weight training could I do to focus losing weight primarily in my mid section. Also, what if I do not have gym membership and just have two regular dumbbells, and household items, like water bottles and heavy books and such. How do you suggest I use what I have to my advantage to reshape my figure?

    • Hello Sophia! Thanks for reading! My girlfriend had a baby about 5 years ago and it took her a bit of time to shed off the baby weight as well. She didn’t do any weights whatsoever but mainly focused on building up her core muscles through various exercises. It can be done a number of ways though, weights would definitely help you reshape your figure, Dumbbells are definitely enough to be able to provide you with a full body workout. There are tons of exercises you can do. I will be posting up some exercises for dumbbells shortly if you follow this page. Thanks again for reading!

  3. Great weight loss and fitness article!
    I love weight lifting, although I definitely don’t do it as often as I should. For me, it’s a fun challenge that just happens to be burning calories and gaining muscle, too!

    Some really great tips here for anyone interested in losing weight or getting fit.

    Thanks!

    • Hello there! Thanks for reading!. Yeah, that is the part that I enjoy the most is the challenge of weight lifting and the fact that its burning calories as I’m doing it and for a time after I’m done doing it. I honestly did nothing but lift weights when I first started my fitness journey and I shed off a ton of weight doing it while my friends that were only doing cardio were getting stuck.

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