woman stepping out of bed onto a scale

lift weights to lose weight

This has been drilled into my brain from childhood: lift weights to lose weight. I used to love working out to my mom’s old fitness VHS tapes, and one of my favorites was titled, you guessed it, Lift Weights to Lose Weight starring Kathy Smith. Little Caitie would even play “workout instructor” for fun. Resistance training is my swole-mate workout and, no matter your goals, it’s yours too – you just need to let me introduce you two 😉 While I try to help people break out of the mindset of obsessing over losing those last L.Bs., I’ll meet you there and prove that pumping some iron is the solution to your weight loss woes. Once you get started, you’ll start to appreciate this workout modality for all the other ways it loves on you – mind, body, and soul.

How it works

A weight-training session minute-for-minute burns less calories than a cardio workout of the same intensity during your workout, but the magic happens afterwards. Have you heard of EPOC? That’s excess post oxygen consumption, and this phenomena occurs in your body after moderate to high-intensity resistance training workouts. For hours to days after a strength-training session, EPOC gives your metabolism a huge boost to the tune of 6-15%. Huge. Imagine if you workout every other day? You’ll basically be in a perpetual state of EPOC. Killer. And it doesn’t stop there… 

Muscle burns calories. It doesn’t hurt that it also looks pretty dang sexy. If you’re just worried about collecting miles on the treadmill, sure, you’re burning calories. Did you know some of those calories you’re burning are precious muscles? When we say lift weights to lose weight, that weight is in fat. For our appearance, fitness, and metabolism we want to keep that muscle and lose that flab… I mean fat. If you can add a bit of muscle versus simply maintaining, all the better. Think higher metabolism and strength to push harder in your workouts (cardio and otherwise) to burn even more calories and get more of that afterburn (EPOC). 

BONUS: Weight lifting specifically helps you to melt away more belly fat than does cardio alone. That intra-abdominal fat is the most dangerous fat to your health, not just what you see in the mirror.

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Convinced? Here’s how to get the most bang for your buck if your goal is lifting to lose…

How to lift weights to lose weight

If you search Pinterest or Google for a workout for weight loss, you’ll get an overwhelming amount of results. Gahh! The reason = there’s SO many effective ways to work out. Lifting weights can bring you the weight loss results you’re after, but how do you know what to choose?

There’s a lot of variables in creating a workout program: which/how many exercises you’ll do, how long you perform each exercise and the workout overall, how challenging each movement is, how much rest you’ll take between exercises, and then some other things that matter less (tempo for example). Before I give you guidelines for each, let me first say this: If you can’t do a workout because it doesn’t make sense for your lifestyle or it’s like your least favorite thing ever, there’s a 100% chance you’ll get 0 results. Worry less about choosing something perfect and choose something that works for you. Weight lifting works, and consistency is the number one factor in successfully reaching your goal and having lasting results. The following guidelines will just help you to get more max-efficient if pursuing fat loss, ramping up that EPOC and intra-workout calorie burn:

Challenge yourself more by increasing resistance (weights) even if that means doing each movement for less time or less repetitions. Form is paramount, do not go heavier if you have to compromise your form to do so.

Move more of your body at once by performing compound movements versus isolating a single muscle group. Examples: deadlift, squat, front lunge with twist.

Circuit train or take less rest between each movement or each set to get a two-fer: cardio workout while weight lifting. When you make a shift to focusing on gaining muscle strength and/or size, you’ll want to add more rest periods back in

Tracking progress

I didn’t want to spoil the surprise, but the phrase “lift weights to lose weight” is pretty inaccurate and misleading. Gaining muscle in conjunction with losing fat with leave you with a more tight, toned physique, but you’ll probably want to ditch the scale. It will deceive you*. Muscle is more dense than fat, and weight lifting will also increase your bone density which might mean you’ll see a bigger number on the scale. Take photos and measurements. What to measure? Here’s what I track for my clients.


There you have it. If you’re a skimmer, let me tell you this in case you missed it: lifting weights is the way to go exercise-wise if you want to get max-efficient about fat burning. From there, you can get a little more efficient with how to do it in the best way to reach that particular goal. Consistency is the most important component.

Thanks for reading!


P.S. *If you don’t believe me, just do an image search on Google for “screw the scale”. Or just click here, because I did it for you.

P.P.S. Still not motivated to stay consistent? Tired of skipping all the workout programs you start? Here’s the solution.


Lemmer, J T, et al. “Effect of Strength Training on Resting Metabolic Rate and Physical Activity: Age and Gender Comparisons.” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 2001, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11283427.

Schuenke, Mark D., et al. “Effect of an Acute Period of Resistance Exercise on Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption: Implications for Body Mass Management.” SpringerLink, Springer-Verlag, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00421-001-0568-y?LI=true.

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