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Bala Cynwyd 610-664-6464

Feasterville 215-355-2700

Radnor 484-840-4500

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woman doing strength training to lose weight

Lift to Lose: How to Lose Weight with Strength Training


Strength training, also called resistance training, is one of the best things you can do to lose weight. But you probably knew that already unless you are totally new to the fitness world. However, a study from the American College of Sports Medicine showed precisely how to lose weight faster with strength training compared to traditional cardio exercises like moderate running/jogging.

In the study, the researchers point out how previous studies and new data demonstrate that adding more lean muscle mass with resistance training can increase your metabolism, which acts as a 24-hour calorie burner. And a resistance training session doesn’t need to be as long as say an hour on the elliptical or treadmill. A shorter workout session might mean you’re more likely to stay on track with your workout plan and ultimately reach your weight loss goals.

Below, we go through the research’s findings to help make sure your strength training will torch your body fat and build lean muscle.

How much resistance training you should do

Recommendations from the study say doing between two to four sets of each strength exercise is ideal, while resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets. For strength training newbies, muscle groups are often underworked, so starting off light might be best, and gradually building up your reps and sets. But know this: weak and underused muscles grow faster than strong muscles. So, you can easily build calorie-torching muscle by targeting your weaker areas. For women, it’s often shoulders. For men, often legs are underworked.  Starting off with lighter workouts, however, will still get you on the path to weight loss. Previous research shows that even one set of a strength exercise will give you results, especially when you’re new to resistance training.

How often you should strength train

For those with a history of giving up on workout regimens, you’ll like this: according to the study, resistance training only two days a week gets similar results as training 3 days a week. Most people can commit to two days per week, and a doable schedule is half the battle when it comes to a weight loss plan. So, aim for two strength sessions per week where you work on all of your major muscle groups – lower body and upper body.

If you need help figuring out which strength exercises to do, start a Free 30 day gym trial at any AFC location, including the brand-new AFC Fitness in Radnor. New members receive two complimentary personal training sessions on us. A trainer can help you begin a workout routine designed just for you. Trainers also help with proper technique so you can get started quickly and safely.

How much weight you should lift

The American College of Sports Medicine, which is the leading authority in the physiology and personal training fields, recommend starting out each strength training exercise with 60% to 70% of maximum weight. That means you should be able to do a resistance exercise about 10 times. When at least 10 reps are too easy, aim for 15 reps with the same weight. When you’ve reached more than 15 reps, increase the weight to a level where you can lift 10 reps again.

Losing weight with strength training

As you gain lean muscle mass with strength training, which averages out to about 1 pound of added muscle per month, take note that strength training also burns fat at about the same rate of 1 pound per month. That equals no pounds lost in a month’s time. So, don’t just look at the number on the scale. Use measurements and how you look and feel in clothes as a measuring stick. A pound of fat-burning muscle is welcome over a pound of fat.

Start a free 30 day Trial at any AFC location, including the all-new AFC Fitness in Radnor and begin reaching your weight loss goals today!