Is Lifting Weights Good For Weight Loss?
If anyone asks me whether they should go for a run or lift some weights if they only had 30 minutes a day to exercise, I will always recommend lifting weights. Even if their goal was JUST weight loss. And this might be counter intuitive to what we are fed on the internet. The cardio bunnies you see on your instagram swear by cardio.
Before I go on, let me preface this with I am NOT anti cardio at all! Cardio is so important for heart health, bone health, mental health and the list goes on. But I find that people neglect weight lifting for cardio when given the option, and in my opinion weight lifting is more important than cardio alone.
Spoiler alert: You can get a cardiovascular workout WHILE lifting weights. Weight lifting therefore gives you more bang for your buck! I will elaborate on that below.
Let me first list the benefits of weight training just in case you are on the fence about including it into your weekly training.
- Decreasing your risk of injury
- Protects your bones by keeping them strong
- Helps maintain your current muscle mass
- Increases your strength
- Helps you have that ‘toned’ look
- May help reduce or prevent cognitive decline as you get older
- Improves posture
- Makes you stronger
- Helps you maintain your weight easier- as you gain muscle, your body burns more calories when at rest.
- Improved sleep quality
Weight training supports weight loss by helping you burn calories during and after your workouts. To add to that, building and preserving muscle mass will prevent your metabolism from slowing down. The more muscle you have the faster your metabolism is, which means the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off.
This is because muscle tissue burns more calories when you’re just resting compared to fat tissue. Disclaimer: you still need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, but weight training helps you burn calories during and after exercise.
Will you get bulky?
It is VERY hard to get bulky lifting weights as a female, we just don’t have the hormonal profile to do so. However, some women do gain muscle easier than others which can make certain muscles grow faster, and if they haven’t lost all their weight yet they might feel like they are looking ‘bulky'. But once they lose the weight they will have that ‘toned’ look from building the muscle underneath the adipose tissue (fat).
There is also one exception to the rule, which are those woman who do bulk up when lifting, if this is you and you don't like that look then that's fine! You do you! I would try to still see what exercises you can do that will stimulate your muscles without making them appear bigger.
You might also notice your weight on the scale might plateau or even go up when you start lifting weights. Don’t stress, this is due to changing your exercise routine and increasing muscle mass. This will stabilise, and your weight will start reducing again. Read more here about why there is an increase in your scale weight when you change your exercise routine and how long to expect it to happen.
If so, here is a little guide for starting as a beginner.
Choose a weight (or just use your bodyweight) you can lift 12 times. By the time you get to the 12th rep you should be struggling, and if I asked you how many more you can do it should only be 2-3 more before your can't lift it anymore. Don’t go to failure!
Start with 1 set of each exercise, and choose 4-5 exercises (one for each muscle group). Wait 1-2 minutes between each set.
Then slowly work your way up to 2 to 3 sets by adding a set each week.
After doing that for 4-6 weeks and increasing the sets each week, add more weight to each exercise.
Keep progressing. Once you’ve done that a couple of times (12-15 weeks) change up the exercises or reduce the rest time between sets.
What about heart pumping weight sessions?
Now let me explain how you can integrate cardio and weights. There are a few ways to do this. One way is to add cardio exercise during your rest period for example star jumps between sets.
Another way is to do a set of an upper body exercise then go straight into a lower body exercise then rest for the next set. This will get your heart rate pumping!
A third way is to add plyometric exercises such as jump squats to your program.
I hope this has convinced you about the importance of weight training!