It sounds impossible at first. The idea that you can burn fat and build muscle at the same time has long been debated among gym goers; losing fat requires a caloric deficit, while gaining muscle requires a surplus of energy going into your body.
However, increasingly it’s becoming apparent that, with the right resistance training and a healthy diet, it’s 100% possible.
Once upon a time, weight training was reserved for those seeking to build large muscles and bulk up. Today, weight lifting for fat loss is becoming ever-more popular, thanks to the range of health benefits it provides and its effectiveness in bringing fast, visible results.
Why strength training to lose weight works so well
Aerobic exercises such as running and cycling will certainly see you shedding fat (assuming you’re eating a healthy diet). The downside is that they can also cause you to lose muscle mass at the same time. The reason for this is simple: when you’re burning more energy than you put into your body in the form of calories, your body needs to find other ways to fuel itself, and begins utilising its fat reserves for energy.
Also Read: How To Beat The Dad Bod Without Weights
At the same time, however, it burns through existing muscle mass. If you’re trying to build your strength and muscle size, this is naturally a big no-no.
Resistance training, on the other hand, has been shown to reduce body fat while simultaneously increasing both muscle size and strength. High-intensity workouts increase the body’s oxygen intake long after the workout has finished.
These high levels of post-exercise oxygen consumption increase our body’s ability to break down fat and carbohydrates—and the longer and more intense the workout, the more impactful this is.
How resistance training sheds fat – permanently
Your resting metabolic weight (RMR) is how many calories your body needs at rest for basic functions; up to three quarters of your daily calorie requirement is used in this way.
Your muscle mass plays a large part in determining your RMR, as our bodies prefer to burn fat over muscle as a source of energy. This means, therefore, that if you begin weight lifting for fat loss and keep it up, your body will enjoy a boosted metabolism – making it far harder for you to gain fat (assuming you eat a balanced, healthy diet too!).
Done correctly, your resistance training programme should target large muscle groups and involve multiple joints. It should include heavy weights, high volume of reps, and should increase in intensity over time as you progress.
Ideally, you should always feel as though you’re being pushed to your limit. Training to failure—where you cannot do one more rep after a set has finished—is the best way to push your muscles into overdrive and burn the most fat possible.
5 bodyweight exercises to get you started
Obviously, lifting in the gym works wonders when strength training to lose weight (fat weight, that is). However, since we’re all still in lockdown, for now let’s take a look at five bodyweight exercises that’ll expand your sleeve size and slim your waistline…
Planks are great for more than just your core—they also improve the strength of your neck, your back, your chest and your shoulders. If you’re just starting out, you may not be able to hold a plank for very long. Aim to increase this time each week, and before you know it you’ll find you’re shedding fat and your core muscles are stronger than ever before.
How they’re done
When getting into position on your elbows, don’t hold your body too low or too high from the ground. You want your pelvis to be tucked in, so your abs are engaged, and for your body to be held aloft in a straight line. Look straight down at the ground so as to keep your neck in line with your spine, and hold this pose for as long as possible.
2. Press ups
Press ups are the classic bodyweight exercise, targeting your triceps, chest and shoulders, as well as strengthening your core and lower back. Form is crucial with press ups; it’s better to do ten well than fifty badly.
How they’re done
To perform the perfect press up, get into a plank position and ensure your hands are directly below your shoulders and your back is straight in line with your legs.
When you lower yourself down, keep your elbows tucked in, and be sure to concentrate not only on your chest and arm muscles, but also on your abs and thighs.
Make sure you have a full range of motion too—no cheating by only lowering yourself halfway down.
Nobody likes burpees; just the name alone can send a shudder running through a gym class. But there’s a reason they’re tough: they work.
Whatever your fitness level, burpees will present you with a high-intensity challenge. Even just a minute is enough to leave most people panting.
How they’re done
Begin standing with your feet shoulder width apart, then drop down to the ground and place your hands palm-down on the ground outside of your feet. In the same movement, jump your feet back out behind you, so you end up in a plank position.
Once there, perform one full press-up, before jumping your feet back up between your hands, then jump up into the air, with your arms extended above your head.
Squats utilise virtually all your lower body muscles, and done correctly they can increase your strength, build muscle, increase your stability, and of course, burn fat. Maintaining great form when performing squats is key to maximising your gains!
How they’re done
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your back and neck in alignment. Squat down as if sitting on an imaginary chair, pushing your hips back and ensuring your knees don’t go beyond your toes.
Your hips and thighs should be parallel to the floor. From here, returned in a controlled manner to your standing position, with your arms outstretched ahead of you for balance.
5. Pull ups
Pulls ups are fantastic for building muscle and burning fat. If you don’t have a pull-up bar in your home, there’s more than likely an outdoor gym in your local park; all you need is to find somewhere with a bar and you’re all set.
Pull ups not only increase your grip strength, they build your core and arms, as well as helping you shed fat and increasing your lats, forearms and shoulder muscles.
How they’re done
The width of your grip can vary, however having your hands too wide apart can cause your elbows to go out at an awkward angle and can lead to injury.
Always aim for a full range of motion when performing pull-ups, and perform them in a slow, controlled manner rather than swinging your legs or using momentum to lift yourself.
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