Last Updated on January 3, 2018 by Michael Brockbank
Lifting weights develops muscle mass which enhances your physical strength. However, being able to toss 100 pounds like it was a sandwich baggy doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll lose fat. In fact, you’ll see all kinds of strong people who still have more than a spare tire around their bodies. How can you induce weight loss by lifting weights?
Losing Weight While Lifting Weights
I know people who can dead lift twice my body weight who still have a barrel gut. It’s very possible to still be considered fat while having immense strength behind it.
Luckily, there are many ways available that can help you slim down while increasing your overall strength. It all centers around how you lift.
Low Weight, High Reps
Building lean muscle mass has a basic principle: low weights, high reps. This means you use lower weights and increase the number of repetitions you perform. This also means you are expending energy over a longer period of time.
The more you sustain any activity, the more calories you’ll burn in the long run. In a case study of myself, I found I burned far more calories lifting 30 pounds over a span of 10 minutes than if I did 50 pounds in less than five.
The purpose of lifting weights to lose weight isn’t to turn yourself into “The Rock.” However, it will vastly improve how you perform activities by creating dense muscle instead of bulking up.
Using Weighted Wearables
Weighted items like gloves, wrist bands and ankle weights are an incredible bonus when it comes to strength and calorie burn. I watched my workouts in front of the Xbox Kinect improve tremendously just by adding weighted gloves when playing a half-hour of tennis.
Yes, the sweat was pouring.
A single pound of added weight to your hands or wrists may not seem like a lot. That is, until you use them consistently for 30 minutes. It increases the amount of energy your body burns as muscles compensate for the added resistance.
Items like this can easily add strength training to just about any physical activity you can think of. Walking, jogging, riding a bike and even sweeping or mopping your floors can all work as lifting weights while being active.
One of the best purchases I’ve ever made was a $10 set of weighted gloves from Walmart.
Working on the Core
An important factor to consider when lifting weights to lose weight is working on your core. Bicep curls, dead lifts, bench presses and military presses don’t exactly put a lot of pressure on the abs.
In other words, you’re not going to look like Captain America by centering purely around machine bicep curls.
An easy way to add weight to core workouts is by using things like ankle weights. For instance, strapping an extra pound or two to your ankles and performing a few sets of lying leg raises will add definition to your core.
Keeping your core tone doesn’t just mean you’ll start to develop a six-pack. It will help in a myriad of day-to-day activities, promote resistance to injury and help heal damage quicker.
At my peak, house chores seemed less like “chores.”
It’s extremely difficult to say you’ll lose “X” amount of weight by doing “Y” set of exercises or weights. This is because everyone’s physiology is different. What works for one many not work for another.
As a result, you need to set your own goals for lifting weights and losing weight. But, here are a few things I center around when determining my own workouts and such.
Increasing the Weight Over Time
I start by finding my maximum capabilities without hurting myself. Then, I’ll do one-third of the weight to reach the maximum total.
It works like this:
- Let’s say I lift 110 pounds on a machine bicep curl for 5 reps before my arms say, “no more.” That’s a total of 550 pounds in a single set.
- I divide the 110 pounds by three and round-up to give me 40 pounds. In order to reach the same 550 pounds, I would need to do nearly 14 reps. However, I am comfortable doing 20.
- Each month, set another record for the maximum lifted weight and start the process all over again.
Of course, this was a couple of years ago when I started using the machine bicep curl back in 2015.
Why does this work for losing weight? Because I am expending more energy to do 20 reps than I am at five. The calorie burn was recorded using a Fitbit Charge HR at the time. This is aside from the fact that I also worked up more of a sweat after three sets of 40 pounds than when I tried it at 110.
I plan on doing more case studies in the very near future.
Don’t Focus on the Scale
The most important part of setting goals is to not center purely around the scale. Your weight will fluctuate rapidly in the short-term for various reasons. Water retention, regular bowl movements, the type of food you eat and more will all play a part.
Don’t get me wrong, the scale is still kind of important. But weigh yourself every week or month to get a better idea of how much you’re losing.
I prefer two other methods when determining if I am losing weight through lifting weights: pictures and a measuring tape. In fact, I can see a profound difference in my YouTube videos between now and two years ago.
Measuring various parts of your body will demonstrate if you’re losing mass. However, muscle development will eventually cause the measurements to increase after the fat has been melted away. This is when pictures in front of the mirror become beneficial.
Why don’t I step on the scale every day? Because people often get discouraged when they don’t see an immediate change. As a result, many will quit. The truth is muscle weighs more than fat. So the scale can easily be misleading, especially in the short-term.
I didn’t think I was losing much weight until I realized my belts were all too large for me and I had to retie my pajama bottoms twice.
Keep the Heart Rate up
The bottom line is you need to keep doing activities that will keep the heart rate up. Prolonged activity burns more calories over time, and sticking with lower weights gives you the energy to keep going. When focusing on losing weight, it’s not about how much you can lift all at once. It’s how much you can lift over a period of time.