One of the most common myths about strength training for weight loss is that if you lift heavy weights, you’ll bulk up. There’s a lot more to building huge muscle than simply lifting heavy weights, especially if you are a woman. For one thing, women do not typically have the necessary testosterone levels to build big muscles. As such, if you’ve been shying away from lifting heavier weights because you’re afraid of growing huge muscles, you’ve actually been shying away from making your body stronger and losing fat.
Why Strength Training is Great for Weight Loss
Strength training does amazing things for your body. In fact, according to one study, eating a low-calorie diet for weight loss and engaging in resistance training may result in the greatest weight loss and most favorable shift in body composition compared to weight loss efforts combined with aerobic training or weight loss through diet alone.
Moreover, this form of fitness offers the body many benefits including:
- Increasing resting metabolic rate, which leads to burning more calories, even at rest. In fact, muscle that results from lifting heavy weights burns more calories a day than a pound of fat.
- Helping to slim down your body. Muscle takes up less space than fat.
- Enhancing stability and balance.
- Strengthening bone and connective tissue.
- Helping to lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
How Much Weight Should You Be Lifting?
According to science, lifting anywhere from 60 to 80% of your one-rep max is the optimal way to stimulate muscle growth; the type of muscle growth that helps you to lose fat. What’s your one- rep max? It is the maximum amount of weight that you can lift for a single repetition for a given exercise.
To start, its typically considered to be a good idea to keep your reps between 8 and 16 if you’re seeking to lose weight and not body build. The amount of weight you use is determined by both your fitness level and the number of reps you’re completing. Essentially, if you are doing 8 reps, you would lift heavier weights than you would if your goal is 16 reps.
Strength Training Tips for Beginners
- Pick a weight that you can lift only 16 times. The trick is to challenge your body without hurting it.
- Start with 1 set of each exercise and then gradually work your way up to 2 – 3 sets by adding a set each week.
- After 4 weeks, add more weight so that you can finish only 12 reps of your chosen exercise.
- Add a rep each week until you reach the max 16 reps. Then, increase your weight and drop your reps back down to 10 or 12.
Remember, strength training isn’t about lifting as much as you can as fast as you can. Take it slow, continue to challenge your body, and the muscle build and weight loss will occur naturally. If you’re not sure how to calculate your fitness level or how to properly perform exercises, never guess. Always consult a professional trainer for help. Additionally, if you have a medical condition, it’s a good idea to inform your doctor about your resistance training plans.