Does Weight Lifting Burn Fat? – Acheiving Maximum Fat Loss

I remember when I was growing up whenever the topic of losing weight came up at home my parents would always tell me to go run if I wanted to lose weight. What they probably should’ve told me was to go lift some weights. But my parents like many other people associate weight lifting with getting big huge muscles.

While your muscles getting bigger and stronger is something that naturally happens when you are weightlifting, but weight lifting holds many benefits other than just getting bigger and stronger muscles.

One of those benefits is that it helps your body burn more fat. While the topic is highly debatable some might say that doing a weight training program is better at burning fat than cardio is. You might be asking well your just lifting weights how does weightlifting burn fat? Well at the end of the day in order to lose fat we need to burn more calories than we intake in a day.

And you’ve heard the phrase muscle burns more calories than fat? Well let me explain:

Sustained Calorie Burn

After you go through a weightlifting session there is a physiological effect that is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or also known as EPOC. This effect is not determined by the duration of your workout but the intensity of your workout.

Whenever you are doing cardio the calorie burn is intense during the session but immediately drop off right after you are done. While when you are lifting weights the calorie burn continues for long after you are done working out, some have said it could last over 30 hours.

Let’s just say for example it burned an extra 10 calories an hour over the next 24 hours. While 10 calories might not seem as much after 24 hours that is 240 calories. That is 240 extra calories that you have burned for doing absolutely nothing.

As you get stronger your workouts will continue to get more intense the sustained calorie burn could increase and be even more beneficial to you.

Increase in Metabolic Rate

Your body’s basal metabolic rate, or also known as BMR is the number of calories (energy) your body needs to keep working at rest in a 24-hour period. This is the baseline of energy that is needed to support all your vital body functions if you were to be laying down in bed doing nothing for the entire day.

That being said the biggest factor that affects your metabolic rate is your entire body mass. The more weight you are the higher your metabolic rate is, the more energy that is needed to support you. Whenever you lose weight, your body needs less energy to support those same body functions.

If you break that down a little bit further experts over the years have settled on the fact that every pound of muscle burns roughly 6 calories per day while the same pound of fat burns 2 calories per day.

You might be thinking well that doesn’t sound like very much at all 4 measly calorie difference.

Well, that is 6 calories per pound of muscle and on average the body is made up of about 30 to 40 percent skeletal muscle. So someone that is about 200 lbs will have roughly 70-80lbs of muscle. Now that number could vary if you are weightlifting and building more muscle. So if you replace 10 pounds of fat with 10 pounds of lean muscle then your body will be burning an extra 40 calories a day.

While 40 calories a day might not seem much if you add this to the increased metabolic rate you get from weightlifting, well now these calorie numbers are starting to add up.

So What Kind of Weight Lifting Burns the Most Fat?

Well, there are more than just one variable that affects the amount of fat you burn when you are weightlifting. Variables such as intensity, type of exercise and how your going about doing those exercises.

The intensity of your workout is affected by a number of factors including how heavy the weights are, how many repetitions you are doing, how long rest periods you’re giving yourself if you’re doing supersets, even the type of exercise that you’re doing. High-intensity weight lifting will burn more calories overall than low-intensity weightlifting. If you do supersets (no rest and move to a different exercise immediately) you can ramp up your intensity even more and burn more calories.

Exercises that use more than one muscle group burns more calories as well. These exercises use more energy because they are exercises that require more than one muscle group to perform. Examples of these exercises include bench press, squats, power clean and press, and more.

Should You Be Lifting Heavy Weights or Light Weights?

If your goal is to ultimately lose fat than lifting heavy weights burns fatter than lifting light weights. The heavier the weight is the more intense each repetition is, therefore, more calories burned.

Not only do you burn more calories when you are lifting heavier weights but heavier weights also help you build more muscle and remember what I was saying about having more pounds of muscle? It burns more calories overall throughout the day so at the end of the day your overall calorie burn will be higher. As you get stronger your overall strength will be improved and the more you do it the more you are going to be able to lift and see where I am going with this? You burn more calories.

It’s not saying that if you decided to lift with lighter weights your not going to get stronger or burn calories, there is just more of the EPOC effect afterward when you are lifting heavier and more intense.

Remember there is truly no wrong way to lift weights. Lifting heavy weights and light weights just do different things so depending on what your goal is you could be using lighter weights. If you are just starting out and want to test out how it feels between working out with heavy weights and light weights you should do them on separate days. You wouldn’t be able to get a feel for each one if you were switching back and forth on the same day.

Final Thoughts

So do you have to add a super intense weight lifting routine to burn fat? No, but if your goal is to burn fat and lose weight then adding a weight lifting routine to your workout might not be such a bad idea.

Adding more lean muscle to your overall body mass will not only make your physique look better but with the added muscles your body will burn more calories overall.

To maximize on your fat loss pairing up both weightlifting and a good cardio routine will help you burn the most fat. Let’s not forget that a properly balanced diet with the correct amount of protein for your weight should be included for you to truly maximize on your fat loss goals.

And for the women out there that are afraid of lifting weights because you might get too bulky, your not going to get bulky doing some weight training will help you tone up a lot faster than if you are just doing cardio.

What do you currently do to maximize your fat loss? What do you think about weight lifting for weight loss? Let me know below!

As always thank you for reading if you have any comments, concerns, or suggestions comment below and I will get back to you as fast as I can.






About Tony 40 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 when he is not at the gym working out, or at the movie theater watching the latest Marvel movie.


  1. Hello,

    I remember when cardio was all the rage and then the benefits of weights started to be discussed more. It all made sense to me but it is funny to see how many people just insist on running and running and running even as it destroys their knees etc.

    I can’t really do cardio anymore due to health problems and I look forward to starting with weights.

    Thanks for explaining the math here and how it all adds up.


    • Hello Jessica, Thank you for reading! I remember myself when running was all the crazy. If you wanted to lose weight everyone would just tell you cardio. Which consisted of running at the time. Its funny how some time and a bit of research could change so much.

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