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Does Weight Lifting Burn Fat?

    woman lifting black and gray barbell

    While weight training is generally not considered a part of a “burning fat” and “losing weight” program, it may actually lead you to burn just as much fat, or even more, as cardio, leading to better health overall. This might sound counterintuitive, and of course, this depends on the type of resistance training, as well as the amount of cardio, but resistance training actually helps with fat burning.

    In fact, building muscle actually helps you to lose weight, increasing your metabolism rate, which helps you to burn more calories while at rest. Having more muscle on your body, with less body fat, increases your basal metabolic rate, meaning that you burn more calories while at rest, helping you over the long haul. Even if you are not planning on packing on mass, maintaining your muscle mass when losing weight is important, because if you just drop a couple of pounds, your basal metabolic rate could decrease because of how your body responds to your weight change.

    As mentioned, dieting while not lifting any weights cuts down both your body fat and your muscle mass, making you overall a weaker body. Lifting weights may, in some cases, actually be a more effective fat-burning strategy than cardio alone. Cardio helps weight loss, enhances cardiovascular health, and exposes muscles that you sculpted.

    While doing cardio may aid in fat loss goals, weight training is in many ways more effective, as well as giving you more ripped physique. That way, you have more energy to lift and you will have a better chance at maxing out your fat-burning potential while doing cardio.

    This might seem counterintuitive, but cutting back on how much weight you lift may help increase your rate of fat burn. This suggests strength training is better than cardio for helping people lose stomach fat, as whereas aerobic exercises burn fat as well as muscle, lifting weights burns fat almost exclusively. Weight loss requires strength training because this type of workout builds muscles, which are more heat-active than fat.

    Some powerlifting exercises demand the entire body to engage, burning calories while also building muscles. Because the muscle damage done in high-rep, low-weight types of training is so small, you are not getting those energy demands after training. When you are doing an intensive heavy-lifting workout, your body continues burning calories at higher rates for hours after training.

    It is true that cardio exercises may burn more calories during the exercise, but the benefits from lifting weights also continue even after the workout is finished in the gym. You might burn more calories in a one-hour cardio session than lifting for one, but one study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that women who lifted weights burned 100 more calories on average over 24 hours after the workout ended. More importantly, other studies show that HIIT-style workouts can burn roughly as many calories as traditional cardio, though it depends on how intense your exercise is. While weight-training sessions might not burn quite as many calories per minute in actual workouts (though that may be dependent on the intensity of weightlifting), the overall caloric-burning benefits that you get out of them generally exceed the benefits that cardio does.

    For instance, weight training is more effective at building muscle than cardio, and muscles burn more calories at rest than certain other tissues, including fat (3). Building muscle burns more calories than losing fat; 10 pounds of muscle burns 50 calories after exercise, while 10 pounds of fat will only burn 20 calories. When comparing the required vs. fat, which is a storage medium and therefore does not need calories to sustain, it is easy to see how a body with more muscles would naturally burn more calories at all times, including when resting. Working more separate muscle groups each session will also demand a higher energy expenditure post-workout as part of the recovery process for your body, so fat burning continues.

    When you calculate this at the monthly level, it becomes even more apparent how regularly engaging in resistance training really increases your ability to burn calories, and therefore fat. Based on studies, you can use your bodyweight to estimate how many calories you will burn through various types of exercises, including cardio and weight training. What weight training will allow you to do is to develop a high level of lean muscle mass, which will then basically act as the bodys calorie-burning powerhouse. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so the more you build, the more calories you will burn — and the better chance you have to keep the fat off, says sports physiologist Dr. Leigh Breen.

    Anaerobic exercises basically build muscle by cutting fat, and that is actually the ideal way to lose fat with training. Anaerobic exercises are perfect because they depend on the energy stored in your muscles instead of oxygen. While stationary aerobic exercises such as running are great ways to get lean, weight training has the added advantage of helping you reach your fat loss goals.

    The best way to get lean, shed body fat, and burn more calories is really lifting heavier weights with longer durations. One of the best ways to burn the most fat in your weightlifting sessions is by keeping your rest periods between sets to a minimum. Perform 30–60 seconds of heavy or bodyweight exercise, with a 30-second short rest in-between each exercise set, so that all of your muscles throughout your body get maximum blood flow and feel pumped — thereby increasing your chances of burning fat.

    Since you need to burn 3500 calories in order to lose a pound of bodyfat, if you perform enough of these cardio sessions, as well as making sure to keep a close eye on your macronutrient intake, the fat loss will happen. The first reason why we are going to give weight training the edge in the war for fat loss over cardio is because of the calories burned once you finish a workout.

    Weight training and building some muscle does not cause your metabolism to explode, but it can boost it a bit. More importantly, because weight training increases the number and size of calorie-burning muscle fibers that power your work capacity, weight training can actually help you burn more calories while doing aerobic exercise, says Perkins.


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