Resistance Training for Lowering the Percentage of Body Fat

Compound exercises, such as squats, can help you burn fat.
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Everyone has body fat. Indeed, every man and woman needs some body fat. The trick, of course, is to keep that fat to a reasonable percentage of your overall weight -- 15 percent is about right for a healthy woman. If you’re looking to shed excess fat, resistance training can help trim some calories and, as a nice bonus, your new muscle will burn more calories than the fatty tissue it replaces.

Step 1

Combine resistance training with dieting. If you go on a diet in which you burn more calories than you consume, but don’t perform any strength training, your body will draw on both your fat stores and muscle mass to replace the calorie deficit. Combining resistance training with dieting allows you to burn fat while maintaining, or perhaps increasing, your muscle mass.

Step 2

Perform circuit training. A circuit is a series of exercises performed consecutively with very little rest between activities -- typically 30 seconds or less. By exercising almost continuously, you keep your heart rate elevated and burn more fat. Select six to 15 exercises for your circuit and don’t work the same muscle twice in a row. For example, you can begin with a lower body exercise, such as a squat or leg press, and follow it with a back exercise, such as a row. Perform 10 to 25 repetitions of each exercise at 40 to 70 percent of your maximum effort. Rest for a few minutes after you complete your circuit, then do the circuit again, if possible. Work out at least twice per week for a minimum of 30 minutes per session, but not on consecutive days.

Step 3

Lift a challenging amount of weight, if you’re not performing a circuit. Strength coach Nia Shanks recommends doing five to 10 repetitions of compound weight-training exercises -- activities that move multiple joints and involve more than one major muscle group -- using sufficient weight to make your final reps difficult. You’ll work harder and build stronger muscles via high-intensity workouts. Shanks adds that intense resistance training will strengthen a woman’s muscles without making her bulk up.

Step 4

Combine resistance training with a cardio workout. Perform 20 to 30 minutes of intense, compound exercises -- examples include squats, deadlifts, chest presses, pushups, lunges and pullups -- then perform a cardio workout in which you maintain your heart rate at about 65 to 75 of your maximum. The resistance workout should burn the glycogen you’ve stored from eating carbs, allowing the cardio session to trim more fat.

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