Weight training to lose weight might sound mad, but pumping iron is a great way to torch calories and lower your body fat percentage. Weight training not only burns calories while you're doing it, but also ramps up your metabolism, meaning you carry on burning them long after the session has finished. Just two heavy weight training sessions per week can lead to a 3 percent reduction in body fat, writes personal trainer Charlotte Andersen in "Shape Magazine."
The best training schedule for losing body fat is a full body routine. You work more muscle groups in a full body workout than you would in an arms or chest session, meaning you burn more calories and get a bigger metabolism boost each workout, claims Rachel Cosgrove, trainer and owner of Results Fitness in California. Perform two lower body exercises and three to four upper body exercises per session.
Pick exercises that give you best value for your gym time. For instance, if you wanted to work your chest, shoulders and triceps you could do machine flyes, lateral raises and cable press-downs. Alternatively, you could perform bench presses and hit all three at once. The same goes for any other body part. Base your routine around squatting and lunging movements, deadlifts, presses, pushups, rows and chinups or pulldowns. These compound exercises work more muscles and burn more calories.
You should lift heavy for best results, advises strength coach Nia Shanks. If you can perform 15 or 20 reps with a weight, it's too light -- ideally, you should perform four tough sets of five to eight reps on each exercises. Don't worry about becoming too bulky. According to the American Council on Exercise, women lack the necessary muscle-building hormones to get too big. Train three times per week, leaving at least one day's rest between workouts.
Measuring Body Fat
The most accurate way to measure body fat is using hydrostatic weighing, but since the equipment needed for this is usually only found in university labs, you might need to find a different method. Calipers are your best bet, though you'll need the help of a trainer to use them and should take three readings at each site to maintain accuracy. You can also use a regular measuring tape and then input your measurements into an online calculator, or purchase a set of body fat measuring scales. These two methods are the least accurate, but should still give a good representation of progress.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.