5 Tips for Strength Training to Lose Weight

5 Tips for Strength Training to Lose Weight

5 Tips for Strength Training to Lose WeightStrength training is important if you’re trying to lose weight. Many people focus too much on cardio when trying to lose body fat but that approach is short-sighted. You want to lose body fat, not metabolically-active muscle tissue. Why is strength training so important? Having a greater proportion of muscle to fat subtly boosts your metabolic rate. Muscle is definitely your friend when you’re trying to shed body fat. Ultimately you need a fitness program that balances cardio with strength training. Here are some tips for strength training when you’re trying to lose body fat.

Focus on Compound Strength Exercises

Compound strength exercises are ones that target more than one muscle group at a time. They include such exercises as squats, pull-ups, bent-over rows, bench press and deadlifts. The more muscle groups you use during a strength training exercise, the more calories you’ll burn. Plus, using more muscle groups has a greater metabolic effect. That means there’s greater activation of fat-burning hormones like growth hormone, testosterone and catecholamines.

Isolation exercises that work only one muscle group are still important for shaping muscles and building symmetry but they burn fewer calories and have less of a metabolic effect relative to compound exercise. If your goal is weight loss, focus on strength exercises that use more than one muscle group at a time. Make your strength moves compound and dynamic. When doing lunges, combine them with bicep curls. With squats, do an overhead press. Use as many muscle groups as possible. This will burn more fat.

Work Large Muscle Groups

You burn more calories when you target the larger muscle groups in your lower body rather than your arms and shoulders. A compound movement like the squat targets large lower body muscle groups and burns significantly more calories than upper body isolation exercises like biceps curls or triceps kickbacks. Don’t neglect your upper body but focus more on compound, lower body exercises to increase the calorie burn and activate fat-burning hormones.

 Lift Heavy

Some people who are intent on losing weight are afraid to lift heavy because they think it will make them bigger. It’s hard for females to build enough muscle mass to look bulky. Lifting heavy, especially using your lower body, turns on fat-burning hormones and revs up your metabolism. On the other hand, lifting light weights will have little impact on your metabolism or the shape of your muscles. The most it will do is build muscle endurance. You can suck up a lot of time lifting light weights and get very little return. Go for the challenging weights and stop worrying about getting bulky.

Make a Portion of Your Cardio High Intensity

Just as lifting heavy weight and targeting multiple muscle groups helps you burn more fat so will high-intensity cardio. Short periods of high-intensity cardio forces your body to work harder during and after a workout. After your workout is over, there’s an after-burn effect that makes your body burn more energy for hours afterwards. You don’t get that when you do cardio at a comfortable pace. Losing fat is all about breaking out of your comfort zone. Think high-intensity interval training when you’re trying to lose body fat. You’ll accomplish more in less time.

 Circuit Training

One or two days a week, do circuit strength training. With circuit training you do strength training sets with little or no rest between exercises. Moving quickly from exercise to exercise without rest burns more calories and maximizes the amount of volume you can do during a single training session. That means it’s a timesaver too. It’s the ultimate in cross-training since you’re building strength while keeping your heart rate up since you’re not stopping to rest. Research shows circuit training causes greater release of growth hormone. That helps mobilize fat. Plus, circuit training has cardiovascular conditioning benefits as well.

 The Bottom Line?

Strength training should be a part of your fitness program even if your primary goal is to lose body fat. Make sure you’re not putting strength training on the back burner to focus on cardio.



Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. (2011) Sept. 25(4). 2519-2527.

IDEA Fitness. “New Insights into Circuit Training”


6 thoughts on “5 Tips for Strength Training to Lose Weight

  1. Hi Cathe. Can’t wait to try out your newest DVD I’m sure I will love them!
    I’ve been doing STS series when it first came out (2009) it is still in my workout rotation weekly!! I hope you well do another STS heavy weight training series or Hardcore weight training. I own ALL your DVDs you are the BEST I’ve be doing your workouts since Step-Motion!!!

  2. Some great advice here! You must always focus on compound exercises. Squats and dead lifts are a most for any strength training program.

    One thing I would add is to make sure you’re not eating too much if you’re looking to lose weight. A lot of people think exercise requires to eat more. Not true. The whole key to losing weight is eat less so much sure to stick to a calorie restriction.

  3. wow, you hit the nail on the head with this article! i am actually focused lately on my cardio in order to lose weight but i have had difficulty gaining momentum. I try dead lifts too to build strength. Now I know better, thanks for sharing these tips. Trully appreciate it. 🙂

  4. Thanks cathe for sharing with us such important information explained in such simplistic way :-). I will be revisiting STS soon and this article has put my mind at ease in terms of planning my rotation.
    Hope you come up with a pure lifting mini series focused on strength and containing compound moves 🙂 🙂

  5. Thanks for the share. The key to all of this is to definitely keep the workout at a high level of intensity. Simply doing 8 reps and then waiting 2 mins is not going to cut it. The free weight loss program I follow calls for high reps (normally 12-14) of low weight in rapid succession and so far I have seen great results.

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