Strength Training for Women With Weight Loss Goals

women doing push-ups and lifting weights

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Are you frustrated with your current weight loss program? If you feel like you've been spinning your wheels (no pun intended) with cardio at the gym, it might be time to try strength training. Aerobic workouts are good for your heart, but strength training provides unique benefits that go beyond the effects of cardio—including benefits that can aid weight loss. Strength training promotes several metabolic advantages that burn fat both during and after working out.

Strength Training and Weight Loss

Lifting weights makes muscles stronger, increases endurance, and reduces the risk of injury. Along with the physical effects, getting stronger in the weight room can overlap into the rest of your life. It can boost your confidence levels, independence, and a sense of achievement.

Building muscle leads to:

  • More endurance and flexibility
  • Less joint pain
  • Stronger bones (which reduces fractures and degeneration with aging)
  • Higher energy level

Although weight loss is often associated with eating less and doing more cardio, strength training is an underrated way to increase your metabolism and rate of calorie-burn after your workout. These effects help set the stage for effective weight loss.

There is a myth that weight training makes you "bulk up." Without high levels of testosterone, weight training makes muscles stronger and better at burning body fat, not necessarily bigger.

Strength Training and Your Metabolism

The lasting impact of weight lifting encourages weight loss quicker than aerobic exercise alone. Resistance training increases excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (when compared to cardio), meaning you burn more calories after finishing your workout.

The benefits of strength training continue for hours after your workout, even when you're at rest. Your metabolism remains higher after a workout with weights. Instead of experimenting with questionable diet supplements that promise weight loss while you sleep, harness the power of strength training to deliver on that promise without any negative side effects.

Start Strength Training to Lose Weight

Do a simple strength training program at home with basic exercises that require little to no equipment. (Bodyweight exercises are a great place to start.) You can also do your own modified version of weightlifting with household items if you're not ready to invest in a set of dumbbells: soup cans, milk jugs, and laundry detergent containers all make great substitutes. Re-fillable plastic containers with handles are especially useful; you can fill them to your desired weight with water, sand, or rice.

Intermediate Strength Training to Lose Weight

Ready to kick it up a notch? Consider purchasing resistance bands or a dumbbell set. These strength training accessories are a great investment for your health. Some resistance band sets even come with videos that provide step-by-step instructions.

Once you have your equipment, it's time to ramp up your workout program. Check out free online workout videos or apps to try in the privacy of your home.

Advanced Strength Training to Lose Weight

Once you've maxed out your home workout, consider making an appointment at the gym or your local community center for a tour and strength training consultation with a personal trainer.

Ask a trainer to show you how to use each weight lifting machine, and take the opportunity to ask questions. But don't sabotage your progress by lifting too much, too soon. Exercising on weight machines incorrectly or lifting free weights with improper form can lead to an injury. When in doubt, get professional guidance.

How Much Strength Training Is Needed for Weight Loss?

To lose weight, just two to three days per week of weight lifting may be sufficient to do the trick, as long as you are also following a healthy eating program.

So which days are best for weight lifting? You can choose any days that you wish, but skipping a day between strength training sessions will give your muscles a rest, which is important for recovery.

To make the most of your exercise program, don't forget about your aerobic or cardio workouts. You can follow your cardio workout with some strength training every other day, and you should see visible results in a matter of weeks.

Don't panic if the scale shows a little bit of weight gain. It's not unusual for the number on the scale to stay the same or even go up a little bit when you begin a weight training program. You can tell that your body fat percentage has decreased based on your waist circumference or the way your clothes are fitting. Nonetheless, the benefits of resistance training extend beyond just bodyweight changes.

A Word From Verywell

Strength training can help you feel good about your body almost immediately. Don't be afraid to step away from the cardio machines and venture into the weight room. There's space for everyone in all parts of the gym, even beginners. Asking a friend to go with you can make it seem less intimidating if you've never exercised with weights before. Exercise doesn't have to be a big expense or time commitment. With a little extra effort at home, you can gain all the benefits of strength training in just a few days per week.

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Article Sources

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  1. McCall P. Myths about strength training for womenAmerican Council on Exercise (ACE). September 2014.