More and more women are choosing to weight train over traditional cardio exercises because it is more effective at helping them achieve their goals.

Previously, cardio was the recommended activity for losing weight while becoming fit. However, this changed when social media and government organizations started promoting weightlifting instead.

As social media has grown, it has given women a way to break free from the old ideas about cardio exercise. Joy Cox, Ph.D., a body-justice advocate and weight-stigma researcher at Rutgers University, says that people are sharing their stories and experiences online, which has allowed people of all sizes and shapes to be seen doing all sorts of things.

It’s easier than ever to find motivation to work out with all the fitness influencers on Instagram and TikTok. Plus, lifting weights has more benefits than just building muscle. It also helps with your bones and body composition.

Getting fit does not require going to the gym. With some extra space and dumbbells, you can start achieving new personal bests without going to the gym.

Are you interested in learning about weight training for weight loss? Here is a guide that covers the basics, from how it works to how to get started.

Why Weight Training Is Key For Weight Loss

Though cardio provides several benefits, weight lifting can help develop muscle, strengthen bones, and more, explains exercise physiologist Stacy Sims, PhD. Additionally, older theories about weight loss used to suggest doing a lot of cardio and delaying meals. However, this kind of plan often raises cortisol levels—(a stress hormone that regulates metabolism)—which “backfires and makes people put on weight,” she explains.

According to Sims, resistance training is less taxing on the body than other types of exercise, so it won’t cause the cortisol levels to spike. This makes it an effective way to change your body composition.

As you lift weights over time, your muscles become more efficient. This is one reason why weightlifters are often said to eat a lot, according to Sims. When your muscles are working overtime, they need all the fuel they can get.

Sims says that in the beginning, you may not notice a significant weight loss. However, you will start to notice changes in your clothes, you will feel fitter, and you will start to look toner.

Sims explains that you lose fat while gaining muscle mass because muscles are very dense. They are packed with lots of different elements that help to speed up your metabolism, as opposed to body fat which is just fat.

Don’t give up if you don’t see an immediate change in your weight. The effort will pay off in the long term.

5 Tips To Build A Weight Training Regimen For Weight Loss

  1. Assess your mobility. Before you pick up any weights, it’s a good idea to understand what your body’s mobility and stability look like, according to Alex Silver-Fagan, CPT, RYT, nike master trainer and creator of Flow Into Strong. Try hanging on a bar, holding a plank, or sitting in a squat. “If you can’t hold your body in those places, I wouldn’t add load to those movements,” she says. Keep working at your tough-for-you exercises with your body weight until you feel more in control.
  2. Master the basics. Silver-Fagan adds that there are four functional moves you should be able to conquer before starting your weight training routine: squat, push-up, deadlift, and horizontal or overhead row. Having these under your belt will help prevent injuries in the future. Not sure how your firm stacks up? Consider working with a trainer for even just a few sessions (virtual or IRL) for feedback and guidance.
  3. Gather your equipment. To start, Silver-Fagan suggests finding three sets of dumbbells: a light, medium, and heavy pair. Usually, these sets only need to be 5 to 10 pounds apart (unless a trainer says otherwise). You should be able to easily lift the lightest ones with little to no effort, while the heavy ones should be tougher. Sometimes, even your body weight can be enough, she adds—start where you’re most comfortable.
  4. Eat plenty of protein. Sims says protein contains amino acids, which are what help build up your muscles. They also “keep signaling your body to build the lean mass and lose the body fat,” she explains. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends eating at least 0.35 grams of protein per pound of body weight every day if you’re sedentary. But if you’re active and looking to build muscle and lower your body fat percentage, aim for more than 0.73 grams of protein per pound of body weight, per the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
  5. Listen to your body. Pay attention to how you’re feeling while lifting weights. “There’s a difference between pain and discomfort,” Silver-Fagan notes. “If something is painful, then you should be backing off. If something’s uncomfortable, you have to ask yourself, ‘Is this because I haven’t done it? Is it hard?’ ” Plus, remember that you can always take a break in between reps.

Is Lifting Weights Good for Weight Loss?

So, the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn even when you’re at rest How does lifting weights help lose weight? First, it is a great form of exercise and an excellent way to burn calories. Additionally, lifting weights can help you maintain and build muscle mass. The reason that this is such a benefit to someone trying to lose weight is the fact that muscle tissue burns more calories than fat. So, the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn even when you’re at rest.

Although muscle tissue is more dense than fat, this does not mean that you will weigh less if you have more muscle. One pound of muscle takes up the same amount of space as one pound of fat, meaning that although you may look thinner, you will not necessarily weigh less.

They have lost weight and look how they wanted to when they set their goals, but the number on the scale is higher than they expected. Do not worry! When you decrease your body fat percentage and increase muscle mass in a strength training program, it is normal not to see the number on the scale drop dramatically.

Which Weight Training Is Best for Weight Loss?

The NASM OPT model has two phases that are both effective in helping you lose weight by burning calories and increasing muscle while decreasing body fat.

Phase 1

A circuit during stabilization endurance training usually consists of going from one exercise to the next with little to no rest in between, which helps to keep the heart rate elevated and increases the caloric burn during the session.

Phase 2

Strength Endurance Training uses supersets in which two exercises are performed back-to-back with little to no rest between sets. The purpose of this type of training is to build stability and strength as you work toward your weight loss goals.

The Best Weight Lifting Exercises for Weight Loss

Compound exercises are better than other exercises for people who want to lose weight. Compound exercises involve moving several joints at the same time, which means that more than one muscle or group of muscles is used. This causes more calories to be burned during the exercise, and it means that people don’t have to do as many exercises to work out their whole body.

Besides doing compound exercises, it’s beneficial to choose a diverse range of exercises to help you build a complete workout routine. Here are some Phase 1 and Phase 2 examples of these movements:


Start in a upper plank position with your hands below your shoulders and feet hip-width elsewhere. Your body should be in an even line from your head to your toes, and it should stay that course during the entire movement. Keep your abs and glutes tense as you move your elbows to lower your chest towards the ground. As you press up to the original position, exhale.

This means that you should take four seconds to lower yourself down, stop at the bottom for two seconds, and then press up in one second.

Start by doing push-ups on a wall, countertop, or bench. The lower you go, the more challenging this move will be!

Suspension Trainer Row

Face the anchor and hold the straps with your palms facing in toward one another. Start with your arms straight, with tension in the rope, and walk your feet forward until you’re standing at an angle leaning back. Your body should be in an upright position with a straight back.

While holding onto the anchor, use your arms to pull your body upwards. Keep your elbows close to your body and row until your wrists are next to your rib cage. To complete the move, squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top then slowly return to the starting position.

One second to row up, four seconds to lower back to the starting position, and two seconds to squeeze and hold at the top.

Place your hands on the floor. To make this move harder, walk your feet forward toward the anchor and place your hands on the floor.

Glute Bridge

Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart. Place your palms on the floor beside you with your fingers pointing upwards. Use your gluteal muscles to lift your hips off the floor until your hips, knees and shoulders are all in one straight line. Slowly lower your hips back to the floor and repeat.

The tempo for this exercise is one second to bridge up, squeeze and hold for two seconds at the top, and four seconds to lower back to the starting position.

To make progress in the movement, lift one leg at the top. The hips should remain neutral throughout the entire movement.

Ball Squat

To do the move, start by leaning against a ball on a wall. The ball should be on your lower back. Next, sit your hips straight down into a squat until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Finally, push through your heels and squeeze your glutes to stand.

The tempo is 4 seconds to lower into the squat, 2 seconds to pause at the bottom, and 1 second to stand.

To progress to a free-standing squat with good form, make sure that you are not leaning too far forward or arching your back.

Step-Up to Balance

Choose a starting step that is 8-12 inches off the ground. Step up and raise the opposite knee to hip height while keeping the standing leg’s glutes squeezed. Step all the way back down to the starting position.

The tempo is one second on the way up, two seconds for balance and four seconds for descent.

As you get more comfortable with the exercise, you can make it more challenging by gradually increasing the height of the step, or by changing the plane of motion (forward, side, or rotating).

Pall of Press

The movement: hold a cable or resistance band with your arms at a 90 degree angle to the band, feet hip-width apart, good posture, tight glutes and abs. Pull the handle close to your body and press it away without allowing your body to rotate.

The recommended tempo for this exercise is 4 seconds pulling the handle close to you, 1 second pressing it away, and 2-second hold with your arms straight.

As you become more comfortable with the press, you will be able to raise one foot off the ground and still maintain your balance. Begin by narrowing your stance and then progressing to standing on one foot. The foot that you will raise off the ground should be the one that is closest to the anchor.

How Often Should One Lift?

The CDC recommends that Americans get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week, as well as strength training two or more days per week.

The following are great starting recommendations for general health and for anyone trying to lose weight.

If you lift weights 2 or 3 times a week, you will be able to recover sufficiently between strength-training days while still making progress towards your goals.

The key to weightlifting is finding a schedule that you can stick to! Whether that means lifting weights twice a week or three times a week, consistency is key to seeing results.


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About Rhoda ...

Rhoda is an award-winning dietitian, mature age model, and CEO of Sayvana Women.  

She is the creator of the Elegant Eating Solution, an affordable program that helps women avoid weight regain and feel great about themselves, without restrictive eating.

Elegant Eating is based on the science of protein leverage and follows the unique R.E.M.A.P approach to successful aging.

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