When it comes to fat burning workouts, most people turn to cardio exercises like running, cycling, and elliptical training. Put a hundred weight loss seekers in a gym and I can almost guarantee that ninety will flock to the cardio machines and put in an hour-long session in hopes of burning off excess fat. You may even be one of these people. Being an avid runner I’m certainly guilty!
But, one things for sure, every hour of cardio I put in is equally matched with a good dose of weight training.
Believe it or not, regular weight training is one of the best ways to maximize your body’s fat burning potential and lose weight at a faster rate. This is largely due to its effects on muscle and metabolism. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate tends to be, which essentially means you’ll burn more calories during any type of activity, even rest.
However, to really rev up your body’s fat burning potential with weight training, there are certain important strategies to follow. In the following paragraphs, I’ll discuss these strategies in detail.
Strategy 1: Establish a full body weight training routine.
Building a solid full body weight training routine is of the utmost importance for maximum fat burning. Equally important is that you actually stick to it. This means you’ll have to consistently work each of your body’s major muscle groups (chest, back, shoulders, arms, lower body and abs) as opposed to simply focusing on vanity muscles like the butt and abs, as many do.
Following this strategy is especially important if you regularly engage in prolonged bouts of cardio (60 minutes or more), as muscle loss is an inherent side effect of doing so. Losses in muscle are even greater if you’re on a calorie restricted diet. This is one of the reasons why people who abstain from weight training during weight loss have a tendency to look flabbier and “fatter”.
So, whether you choose to target all your major muscle groups during a single workout, split them over the course of 3-4 days, or even work on a single muscle group each day, just be sure they are all thoroughly and adequately taxed—Both during and after weight loss. Check out the following links for sample routines.
- Quick, Easy, Anywhere Full-Body Kettlebell Workout
- 3-Day Weight Training Workout for Women
- Tone Up in 10 Minutes at Home
Strategy 2: Train at moderate-to-high-intensities on a regular basis.
In addition to establishing a full body routine, for maximum fat burning effectiveness you should constantly challenge yourself with moderate-to-high-intensity workouts. Higher intensities of weight training are associated with the greatest improvements in metabolism and body composition (the body’s relative amounts of fat and fat-free weight).
The overall intensity of your weight training routine is largely determined by the amount of load (weight/resistance) you use and the number of repetitions (or reps) you perform for any given exercise. Generally speaking, the higher your loads the more intense your workouts.
In relation to reps (the number of times you repeat an exercise), your loads should fatigue your muscles within a planned number of repetitions. For maximum fat burning benefits, staying within a repetition range of 8 and 15 is generally a good practice. So, you’ll need to use loads that adequately fatigue your muscles within this range.
For instance, if you plan to perform 15 reps, your muscles should start to fatigue somewhere between 12 and 15 reps. In other words, 12 should feel like you can’t make it to 15 but light enough for you to get there. Simply use this as a guideline when selecting loads for any weight lifting exercises you perform and continue to increase your loads as they become easier to lift.
As a rule of thumb, higher repetitions (12-15) should be reserved for larger muscle groups like those in the lower body while lower repetition ranges (8-12) are most ideal for relatively smaller muscles (shoulders and arms).
Strategy 3: Use a multiple set training (high-volume) approach.
As implied by the name, multiple set training is simply the act of performing two or more sets of any resistance exercise in a single session. This type of training is known to boost metabolism and enhance fat burning, leading to the greatest improvements in body composition. The more sets performed, the higher the workout “volume” and higher volume workouts are most effective.
In fact, moderate-to-high-intensity, high volume weight lifting workouts (8-10 exercises 3-4 sets) can rev up your metabolism by as much as 5-8% for up to three days after exercising. This essentially means that you’ll burn an additional 100 or more calories a day in a rested state and even more when you’re active.
The simplest ways to implement multiple sets during weight training involve performing supersets, trisets, and circuit sets. Each of these methods can be equally effective. The choice of which method depends on your specific goals, preferences, and general time constraints.
Supersets and trisets essentially involve performing sets of either two (“super”) or three (“tri”) different exercises back-to-back, without resting. For instance, you could alternate a bench press with a lat pulldown for a superset or add a squat to make the sequence a triset. In either case, you’d then repeat the sequence 2-4 times.
Now, circuit sets generally involve going through a series of 8-10 exercises with relatively brief rest time between sets (30 seconds) after which the sequence can be repeated 2-3 times. Due to the greater number of exercises and limited rest periods involved, performing circuit sets has the most powerful ‘cardio-like’ effects.
You may even find it beneficial to incorporate quick bursts of high-intensity cardio exercises like rope jumping, speed sprints, and mountain climbers into your circuit sets to really optimize the fat burning effect.
And there you have it! Three strategies for revving up your body’s fat burning potential with weight training.
Hopefully, you’ve gained some valuable insight here.
Now, if you’re not familiar with this type of training, I’ve written extensively on the topic in Leaving Your Fat Behind. I’ve also summarized the bulk of what you need to know in “Weight Training 101: What You Need to Know Before You Lift”.
Not only does weight training improve the body’s natural ability to burn fat, but it can also negate muscle loss and other potentially negative effects of long duration cardio and/or dieting. Start today and you’ll notice a significant change in your appearance in as little as a few weeks.