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Weight Training for weight Loss - How lifting helps you slim down and tone up

Posted on July 4th 2022 by

Weight Training for weight Loss - How lifting helps you slim down and tone up

So, you’re looking to drop a few dress sizes but have always steered clear of Weight Training in the fear that you’ll get “bulky”.

Or you may feel that the quickest way to lose those love handles is endless bouts of cardio and the most up-to-date “scientifically proven” dietary fad.

You may just not see the point of lifting heavy things in the first place when your main goal is to get rid of the additional “heaviness” that you already carry around


It’s likely you’ve told yourself that this time you’re “really going to do it”…. if only you can just stick to the early morning runs and 1200-calorie daily allowance. Unfortunately, you’ve been saying this for the last 5 years!

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."

No, Albert Einstein DIDN’T actually say that, but whoever did was clearly pretty bright too. This means that essentially if you’re not getting the results you want, it may be that you’re repeating the same training mistakes and not looking in the right place for answers.

The problem, however, is that with such a wealth of health, fitness, and dietary advice available, cutting through the noise can be baffling. This often leaves people either too unfocused in their training (jumping from one fad to the next) or too confused to know where to even start.

As a result, many of us choose to tune out this overwhelming amount of advice and instead fall back on our failed routines. Often these routines either simplify or totally ignore the value of Weight Training for losing fatincreasing muscle tone, and greatly improving body composition.

Do you worry you’ll get big and bulky from using weights?

Let’s briefly investigate the origins of this common concern and why it truly is the Number 1 Fitness Myth!

The 1970s and 80s saw a huge surge in the popularity of weightlifting.  Documentaries like Pumping Iron introduced many people to a world of bodybuilding, represented by the likes of 3-time Mr Universe Arnold Schwarzenegger. Squats, Deadlifts, and Bench Presses became understood through the context of giant men with muscles on top of muscles and seen as a medium to get “big”, with little other beneficial application.

Around the same time, dance-based aerobics had become a popular alternative at the other end of the spectrum. The Jane Fonda 1982 workout video took this fitness movement global as the optimum method for weight loss and toning. This equated to cardio combined with high volume, low resistance bodyweight exercises.

The positions these two movements staked out in the fitness industry created a polarising opinion of strength training, with lifting seen as an intense, male-dominated landscape. It became widely assumed and accepted that heavy weights, therefore, equated to large muscle and size whereas high repetitions involving minimal resistance led to a slim and toned physique. One way to look like Arnie, the other to look like Jane!

This misconception continues to this day, but the good news is that there’s so much more to strength training and the benefits that you’ll get.

Muscle growth to the extent you see in bodybuilders requires high levels of Testosterone, heavy Protein consumption, and often additional supplementation, such as Creatine and Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s).

Given that Women have significantly less Testosterone than men, they will struggle to build size but instead generate solid, lean muscle instead. In fact, even most men find it hard to build muscle size without deliberately supporting their muscle growth with the right high Protein-rich diet.

So, don’t worry. You won’t get “big”, unless you’re deliberately training, and eating, for that purpose.

Weight training for fat loss

When most of us say we want to lose weight, what we really mean is we want to lose Fat, and appear slim and lean when looking at ourselves in the mirror. So, the concern with heavy lifting (more muscle = more bulk) is what generally puts many off training this way. However, the reality is that the same weight of muscle is significantly smaller than an equal weight of fat. (diagram)

This means that someone weighing 11 stone but with a higher percentage of lean muscle will generally appear slimmer than someone of the same weight but with a higher body fat percentage.

In short, more muscle won’t automatically make you look like The Incredible Hulk.

But still…how can regular weight training help you actually lose belly fat and get rid of those love handles? Isn’t cardio the only way to really burn it off?

When we carry out a consistent and progressive resistance program correctly, the stimulus we place on the muscles encourages them to change. Heavy lifting, in the form of pulling and pushing movements, creates tiny micro-tears in the muscle fiberinspiring them to heal back stronger. With a good amount of rest and a healthy supply of Protein to fuel growth and recovery, this new lean muscle not only gives your body more solidity, definition, and tone but increases the rate you burn calories.

This is because muscle is a metabolically active tissue, which means that it uses up more calories for energy than fat. As a result, it also requires a greater amount to be maintained, so the more muscle you have, the quicker your metabolism will be.  

It goes without saying that this is a huge day-to-day advantage when you want to lose weight (or more specifically Fat). As you continue to strength train and build more muscle your metabolic rate improves further, which also gives you extra leeway with your diet.

By comparison, while you may burn calories slightly quicker if your session simply involves steady cardio, once you leave the gym that’s generally “game over”, as your metabolism quickly returns to normal. It’s also very easy to put the weight back on with a couple of glasses of wine, so training this way can often feel like one step forward and one step back!

Therefore, by placing a real focus on building muscle, your efficiency at burning fat will be greatly improved in the long term!

In the next article, I'll be exploring how to get the most out of your training, both inside and outside the gym so stay tuned 


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