Weight training is an often-overlooked and underestimated way to burn fat. A weightlifting workout doesn’t necessarily burn as many calories as a cardio workout of the same duration, but it’s the metabolism factor that really makes weight training a force against body fat. In short, the more lean muscle you have from weight training, the more calories your body burns, even while at rest. Certain weightlifting methods are more efficient than others at jumpstarting your fat-burning furnace, so these are the ones you should focus on.
Circuit training is a weight-training plan consisting of about 10 different weightlifting stations you complete with little or no rest in between each one. It helps burn more calories than traditional weight training because your body is getting less rest in between exercises, helping to keep your heart rate elevated. Choose up to 10 weight-training exercises that collectively target each major muscle group, such as bench presses, squats, shoulder presses, biceps curls, triceps extensions, rows, crunches, calf raises and deadlifts. Use about 40 percent of your one-rep max for the weight at each station, and do 10 reps per station.
Alternate Cardio and Resistance Training
A six-day per week exercise program can attack fat very efficiently. This workout plan consists of three days of weight training combined with three days of aerobic exercise, such as jogging or elliptical training. The key is alternating weight-training days with cardio days. A 2003 study conducted at Dong-A University in Korea found that using this exercise regimen helped participants lose more body fat compared with those who did aerobic exercise alone.
Work the Lower Body
Don’t ignore your lower body in the weight room. Exercising your lower body actually burns more calories than exercising your upper body. A few effective lower-body weightlifting exercises include squats, leg presses, calf raises, leg extensions, reverse leg extensions and deadlifts. It’s not advisable to focus solely on the lower body, but definitely don't ignore your lower body at the gym.
Too many people, especially women, are afraid to lift heavy in the weight room because they don’t want to get bulky. Lifting heavy won’t make you bulky, but it will help you gain more muscle and burn more fat. Heavy lifting elicits growth hormone and other important hormones necessary to burn fat, while using lighter weights and dozens of reps doesn’t promote the release of these fat-burning hormones. Always do about eight to 10 reps per set, but use enough weight so the last couple of reps are difficult to finish.
- Mayo Clinic: Metabolism and Weight Loss - How You Burn Calories
- University of New Mexico; Calorie Burning: It's Time to Think "Outside the Box" -- 7 Programs that Burn a lot of Calories; Len Kravitz, Ph.D.
- Journal of Physiological Anthropology and Applied Human Science: The Effect of Combined Aerobic and Resistance Exercise Training on Abdominal Fat in Obese Middle-Aged Women
Joseph Eitel has written for a variety of respected online publications since 2006 including the Developer Shed Network and Huddle.net. He has dedicated his life to researching and writing about diet, nutrition and exercise. Eitel's health blog, PromoteHealth.info, has become an authority in the healthy-living niche. He graduated with honors from Kellogg Community College in 2010 with an Associate of Applied Science.