Strength Training for Weight Loss: More Than Just Weights!

Table of Contents

Introduction – Understanding the Power of Strength Training for Weight Loss

           To start this blog of I want to mention that when I say strength training, I ultimately mean resistance training. For example, the body has to use more energy to move a certain object, whether it’s your own body weight such as body weight squats, press ups, pull ups, or an added weight such as a barbell, dumbbell, resistance bands.

            In this blog I’m going to discuss the importance of the added resistance we put on our bodies to burn extra calories in usually a shorter amount of time. For a cardio aspect I like to walk uphill on the stair master, or exercise with a weighted vest whilst I do my bodyweight exercises or walk uphill. The added resistance will help you achieve your goals of burning more energy in a shorter amount of time.

The Science Behind Strength Training and Fat Loss
Can I only do Strength Training to lose weight?

            For this question I am going to assume, from my years in the fitness industry dealing with this question. Most men who strength train are focusing on a body part per day (commonly known as the bro split) or the push/pull/legs split. Aiming for 5 exercises with 3 to 4 sets per exercise and 8-12 reps per set. With these in mind, and without being very focused on making sure your nutrition is on point or a low carb diet it is unlikely.

            However, I would use a multi-level approach, implementing many different aspects such as supersets and circuits in your strength training, HIIT sessions to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time, resistance-based cardio to build up your cardiovascular strength, and focus on quality nutrition, preferably high protein.

Does Strength Training Burn Belly Fat?

            This is one I get a lot, so I wanted to cover it in here. Losing body fat in a specific area of your body is a bit of a myth. It’s called spot reduction where you try and do exercises for a certain body part in hopes of losing the body fat from that specific area. Training a specific area or muscle with strength training is going to strengthen and build muscle in that area, which is good, but it will likely not burn the body fat from that part of the body.

            We’re all different we put on weight in different areas more than others, some build muscle more than others, some are slimmer, some are bigger, some are stronger. So, you may put body fat on your stomach first, which usually means, from my experience. That you are most likely going to burn that of last. Using the common analogy first on last off.

The Role of Diet and Other Fitness Strategies

            Yes, strength training, depending on the split you are doing and how many times per week you are training. You are going to burn extra calories, which is good for your goal of losing that body fat. But a balanced diet is crucial for to supporting what you are doing in the gym.

A high protein meal plan is going to help your body recover better and gain some extra muscle, usually a high protein diet means you have a lower percentage of unwanted carbs and fats that you are consuming daily. From experience most people’s diet has 50-60% carbs and 10% protein. Adjusting this is ultimately going to help with your goal.

Key Strength Training Exercises for Maximum Weight Loss
Is it Better to Lift Heavier or More Reps for Weight Loss?

            Both lifting heavy with less reps and lifting lighter with more reps are both going to burn calories, use some of your stored energy, and increase the strength and size of your muscle. When it comes down to which is better, comes down to the physique that you want. Please remember food also has a major effect on this.

            It is common practice and has been confirmed in many studies that 1-6 reps Increases strength, 6-12 reps are more muscle hypertrophy, and 12+ reps are for more endurance training.           

            Personally, I like to incorporate all 3 of these in my training regime, depending on which plan I am on at the time. That way I get the benefits of the increase in strength as well as the hypertrophy and more of an aesthetic look for the bodybuilder physique.

            The use of supersets and drop sets are so useful when it comes to incorporating 2 or more of these rep ranges. For a drop set I can go heavy on a barbell chest press and hit 4 reps at my 90% RPE, and then take off 20-30% and within 20 to 30 seconds I will finish the set with another 10-12 reps.

Effective Exercises for busy schedules…

            If you’re someone that has limited time to get to the gym, or a limited number of days. The use of Full body days, combined with compound exercises and HIIT sessions can be a lifesaver, and something I give to my clients regularly.

            For example, if you can only do 2 to 3 days and an hour per day. I would Recommend (depending on your ability, strength, and mobility) that you cover the 3 major compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench press. Then add some accessories around those so you can fully train every major body part per week. Aim for 2 to 3 exercises, at 3 to 4 sets for each body part.

Incorporating Cardio and High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Does Lifting Weights Help You Lose Weight Better Than Cardio?

            I’m going to start by saying a combination of the 2 would be the most effective way of losing that dreaded body fat. But here is how each can help.

Strength training is crucial for building muscle and increasing your metabolism, so overall will help with your body fat % as you gain muscle and lose the body fat. But please remember that muscle is denser than fat, so you may lose inches around your waist, drop in body fat %, but you weight can stay the same or slightly increase in places. But your overall physique will improve.

            Cardio plays an important role in burning excess calories and improving your heart and cardiovascular health, which is an added bonus. From what I’ve see, different people like different pieces of cardio equipment, and we all prefer to do what we like.

I recommend a form of resistance cardio such as walking uphill, the Stairmaster, or a bike where the resistance can be increased over normal running, mot only do the burn more calories in the same amount of time, they support muscle building, joint health, and a reduced impact on your knees and hips.

Can High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Workouts Help?

            There are many ways to set up a HIIT session, I like to run a HIIT session with a 40 work/20 rest split, and around 5 to 8 exercises depending on my client’s ability. But it can be set up on a rep or distance and a certain rest in between.

            I tend to use a mix of cardio, Bodyweight, and weighted exercises to raise your heart rate, get you sweating, and burn some calories.

            So yes, High Intensity Interval Training workouts can help to achieve your goal along side weight training and resistance-based cardio. I personally would do the hit session before your weight, and steady state cardio after weights.

Nutrition and Recovery: Essential Components of Your Training Programme
The Importance of Nutrition in Weight Loss

            I’m not going to go into too much depth, I want to try and keep this part short but effective. Nutrition plays a massive part in you achieving your weight loss goals, it is true when they say you can’t out train a bad diet. It is widely known that achieving your goal is on average 70% nutrition, 30% workout.

            When we say this, it includes the amount of food you are eating, and the types of food. To lose weight you need to use more energy than you consume, and a nice balanced diet of Protein, Carbs, and Fats. The amount of each depends on you, how tall, heavy, active you are, you can find this information on by searching for a TDEE calculator and putting your information in.

I’m personally not a fan of crash diets or diets you wouldn’t be likely to stick to after completing it. I would find out your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), multiply it by your activity level, then give you a slight deficit, and adjust until we find out what works for you, because everyone is different.

Recovery: An Integral Part of Your Workout Plan

            For me recovery is definitely up there with how important the workout and nutrition are for you goal. Overlooking this can lead to burnout or injury. We wouldn’t want you to push through and hinder your progress and potentially go backwards.

            When I say rest, I don’t mean skip the gym because you’re a little tired, work has been a bit tiring and you haven’t trained much this week, I mean if you’ve been training 3 to 4 times a week and you have earnt that rest, then take it! Theres nothing wrong with skipping a day and making it up later if you’re going to be able to perform better the next day. Instead of training, go for a walk, do some relaxing yoga and chill.


          With all these things in mind, I would personally include all of them in your weight loss journey, losing some excess body fat and gaining some muscle to re shape your body instead of just being skinny, be strong with it.

            Its never too late to start, adding these 5 key sections into your lifestyle will only improve your overall health, help you lose a bit of weight, gain some strength, and hopefully improve your physique. The key to success is not massive and drastic changes in any part, but small changes carried out week after week, the key to success in this is consistency.

            I hope this helped and you learnt something from it, if you have any question or want any help with what to do with this information. Maybe someone to keep accountable to, feel free to send me a message, and thanks for reading.