Weight Loss with Weights

weight training squats


Losing Weight with Weights

Although many people don’t know it, weight training can be a fantastic means of exercise for weight loss if it is done in a specific way. Along with the weight loss, it can enhance cardiovascular fitness, strengthen all of the muscles of the body, enhance athletic performance, and improve your appearance. In order to get a weight loss effect from weight training, it is important to use it in a specific way that will help you achieve your goal of losing weight. By learning the seven keys to weight loss with weight training, and putting those keys into practice, weight training can be a great tool for helping you to burn off extra fat while preserving and building your lean body tissue. 


7 Keys for Losing Weight with Weights

  1. Use exercises that emphasize the use of the biggest muscles of your body as bigger muscles tend to burn the most calories during exercise.
  2. Exercise more than one muscle group at the same time.
  3. Using a large range of motion for your exercises.
  4. Use the right amount of resistance to burn fat and build muscle.
  5. Keep rests to a minimum by using a circuit of exercises or by using barbell and dumbbell complexes.
  6. Turn on all energy systems to burn calories and activate fat burning hormones.
  7. Exercise at least three times per week.


 For more explanation of each of the 7 keys, continue reading and refer to the videos and pictures that accompany the explanations. 


Key #1

Use exercises that emphasize the use of the biggest muscles of your body as bigger muscles tend to burn the most calories during exercise.

Squats are King For Burning Fat

Your legs and gluteus muscles of your behind represent the biggest muscle group of the body that is capable of producing the most energy and burning the most calories. Focusing on leg exercises is one of the keys to burning a lot of calories for weight loss.  Leg exercises like barbell squats and lunges use all of the upper leg and gluteus muscles, whereas exercises such as leg extensions and leg curls use only part of your leg muscles. For this reason, squats and lunges are far better for burning calories and promoting weight loss than leg curls and leg extensions.  Squats will also burn more calories than leg presses because squats engage the support muscles of the back. Engaging more muscle groups means that more calories will be burned so squats are king of leg exercises, and perhaps king of all exercises when it comes to burning calories.

Use Pushing and Pulling Exercises for Your Upper Body

Your chest muscles are a powerful muscle that it capable of producing a lot of energy, and your back muscles consist of a huge muscle complex that is also capable of generating a lot of energy. Pushing motions such as the bench press will exercise the chest muscles along with the shoulder muscles and triceps muscles of the arms. Pulling motions such as bent over barbell rows and pull ups exercise your back muscles, rear shoulder muscles, and the biceps muscles of the arms. These exercises are good for burning calories and dead lifts are even better as they force your whole body to move from one position to another and engage the legs, glutes, hips and back muscles.  

 By emphasizing squatting, pushing, pulling, bending and straightening exercises during your workouts, you will also be emphasizing the leg, back, and chest muscles that tend to burn a lot of calories. However, if you focus on exercises such as barbell and dumbbell curls, wrist curls, triceps extensions, calf raises, and various types of dumbbell raises to the front, or side, or back; these exercises use smaller muscles that will not use up nearly as many calories. Weight loss will come much slower and be much more difficult if you focus on those type of exercises.

Video demonstrations of how to perform squats, deadlifts, bnech press and bent over barbell rows:

How to do Squats



deadlift technique



How to bench press



bent over rows



Key #2

Exercise more than one muscle group at the same time.

Use Compound Exercises

 The good thing about the squatting pulling, and pushing exercises discussed in the previous weight loss key, is that recruit both the biggest muscles while including  smaller muscles at the same time. Exercises that utilize movement from more than one joint and more than one muscle group are called compound exercises. When more muscle groups are being used at the same time while performing an exercise, more calories are burned than when exercising just one muscle group at a time. Barbell curls, triceps extensions, wrist curls, calf raises, leg extensions, leg curls and dumbbell raises to the front, side or back are designed to use only one muscle group at a time so avoid using them if your emphasis is on weight loss. If you look at the exercises below, you can see the exercises that burn more calories as opposed to the exercises that do not burn many calories and are not effective weight exercises

Effective exercises for burning calories and promoting weight loss



Exercises that DON”T burn as many calories.

Avoid focusing on them if weight loss is your goal



Combination Exercises

Combination exercise are where you actually perform two or more exercises within the same motion. This is generally done by doing a leg exercise at the same time that an upper body exercise is being done. An example of this would be what I refer to as a long pull to press exercise. This is actually three exercises combined into one motion and begins with the starting position of a deadlift position with dumbbells. From there the motion moves into an upright row and straight into over-head press. This is just one example. There are several examples of combination exercises in the videos below that activate almost all of the muscles in your body and burn huge amounts of calories. These exercises should not be done with heavy weight, even though the people in the video demonstrations are using substantial weight. Instead, I recommend using less weight and doing more reps and sets.

Video Demonstrations of Combination Exercises

Dumbbell squat  to overhead press Combo


Dumbbell Curl and Lunge Combo


Dumbbell bench press plus crunches combo


Dumbbell swings



High dumbbell swings with both arms and one dumbbell



Deadlift to high pull to front squat to over head press to back squat  combo.  Very exhausting but a great calorie burner



Key #3

 Using a large range of motion for your exercises

If you were to lift had to lift a weight a few inches, it would be much easier than if you have to lift that same weight four to six feet. Another thing that causes you to burn energy is to move your whole body. For example, exercises like squats require your whole body to move up and down and will require more energy than the bench press where only the bar moves, but your body is stationary. The farther you move your body, and the farther you move an object, the more work your muscles will do and the more calories you will burn. You will find that when you use light weights with a large range of motion for several repetitions, you will burn calories and facilitate fat loss. The combination exercises that were discussed in key # 2 are also great for using a large range of motion. Some people use a short or partial range of motion for their weight training exercises, while this may facilitate strength, it doesn’t burn as many calories. 


Key #4

Use the right amount of resistance to burn fat and build muscle.

If your only concern is to build muscle and gain strength, then using heavy weights can help accomplish that goal. However, heavier weights can’t be lifted as many times and require more rest time between sets. You can do a lot more work and burn a lot more calories by using weights that are between 30-40 percent of the maximum weight that you can lift for a basic weight training exercise. If you have not been exercising on a regular basis, start out with three or four sets of 10 reps per exercise, and work your way up to at eight to ten sets per exercise using basic exercises such as the barbell squat, bent over rows, deadlifts, and the bench press. You can also include combination exercises for sets of ten reps.

 As you progress, you should shoot for a minimum of 24 sets and a maximum of 40 sets when you add up all the sets of all of the exercises for the entire workout. If you want to put a little more emphasis on strength, do use a heavier weight range for at least three sets when doing exercises such as squats, bent over rows, bench presses, and dead lifts.  The heavier weight that is used for these exercises should be roughly 60 percent of the maximum weight that you can lift for a single rep. Only do five reps for the heavier sets instead of 10 reps that is done when working out with just 40 percent. .  


Key #5

Handsome young man resting after workout in gymKeep rests to a minimum by using a circuit of exercises or by using barbell and dumbbell complexes.

Keep Rest to a Minimum

Rest does not burn very many calories. Exercise is what burns calories. Even though it is common to go into a gym and see lifters sitting and resting a lot between sets, if your main goal is to burn calories, you want to keep rest times between sets to a minimum. The best way to do this is to be organized and have your barbells and dumbbells set up ahead of time with the right amount of weight and move directly from one exercise to the next exercise.

Move Quickly through a Circuit of Exercises and Do Not Use Straights Sets

Do not do straight sets where you do all of your sets for the same exercise before moving on to a different exercise. Instead, do just one set of an exercise of each exercise that you have selected moving quickly from one exercise to the next. Once you have completed one set of each exercise, you have just completed one full circuit of each exercise. I recommend selecting three to five exercise that make up a circuit. It is important that you move quickly from one exercise the next with little or no rest if your primary goal is to burn fat and lose weight. While the exercises I have discussed so far have been in reference to the use of barbells and dumbbells, circuits can be also be done with kettlebells resistance bands, body weight, or weight training machines. 


Example of a Weight Training Circuit: Squats- bent over rows- deadlifts- and bench press


Start with Short Workouts and Work Your Way up to Longer Workouts

If you haven’t been exercising on a regular basis, start out with three or four circuits and add on a circuit every week or two until you have worked your way up to eight to ten circuits (I recommend that your circuits add up to between 24 to 40 sets total). If you are using the right amount of weight, you will be able to move from one exercise to the next and from one circuit to the next with little or no rest between sets and circuits. Training in this manner is the way to lose weight with weights training.

Barbell and Dumbbell Complexes

Another variation of circuits is called barbell or dumbbell complexes. The difference between a circuit and a complex is that a circuit consists of different exercises that often require more than one barbell, or dumbbells that are different weights. Circuits also may require a different rack to hold the equipment, such as the bench press stand for bench presses, and a squat rack for squats, and the use of floor (usually with a mat or padding) for dead lifts. This necessitates that the person exercising move from one piece of equipment to another.

What makes barbell or dumbbell complex different is that only one barbell (or one set of dumbbells) is used with the same amount of weight for several different exercises. Since there is no need to switch from one piece of equipment to another, there is zero rest between different exercises. One of the disadvantages of complexes is that the weight does stay the same for all exercises even though you may be much stronger at some exercises than others. Because of this, the exercise that you are weakest at will be the measure of how much weight you use for all of the exercises. After completing a complex, you will probably need to rest for thirty seconds to a minute before repeating it. You can see an example of a barbell complex in the videos although I recommend using much lighter weight so that you can repeat the complex several times before without having to substantially slow down or do less reps as you repeat the complex.


Demonstration of a Barbell complex: cleans -overhead press- bent over rows- deadlifts


Barbell complex: Bent rows- High pulls- overhead press- back squat-reverse lunges


Combining Circuits and Complexes

Instead of just repeating the same circuit for a whole workout, or just repeating the same barbell or dumbbell complex for a while workout, you may decide to do four or five  with basic exercises, and then repeat three or four complexes for the remainder of the workout. You can do any ratio of circuits to complexes that you choose, but I would recommend that you circuits with basic exercises first, followed by the complexes instead of the other way around.


Key #6

switch buttons with controlsTurn on all energy systems to burn calories and activate hormones

Aerobic Exercise with Weights

Your muscles contain three energy systems that enable you to move your body. One energy system is called the aerobic system. This system will be activated if you exercise at the right pace. If you have to keep on stopping to rest because you are short of breath, you are using too much weight and should reduce the weight until you can train almost continuously. The ability to exercise continuously without having to stop and rest is what will enhance your aerobic system specifically within your cardiac muscles. The skeletal muscles that do the lifting will be using other energy systems.

The Creatine Phosphate System

A second energy system is called the creatine phosphate system. This system is utilized when you exert a lot of force or strength into a lift. This is why I recommend fast reps as opposed to slow reps because you will be doing more reps in the same amount of time and you will stress your creatine phosphate system. If you become fatigued and you find that your rep speed keeps slowing down at the end of your sets, then you are using too much weight. You should be able to complete each set using a nice even rep rhythm that is maintained for entire set on every set, with the exception of your last set (more on the last set later). Exerting force into each rep will tend to help stimulate more testosterone which is good for building muscle and burning fat. Just make sure that fast reps are not done in a sloppy manner with jerking, bouncing, and poor control. Use excellent, smooth, rhythmical exercise form.

The Lacate System

A third energy system is called the lactate system. The lactate system is used when your muscles grow fatigued. I don’t recommend fatiguing your muscles until near the end of the workout. The workouts are designed to have an aerobic effect on your cardiac (heart) muscles, and an anaerobic effect on your skeletal muscles that are doing the lifting. If you fatigue your muscles by pushing too hard at the start of the workout, you will have to keep stopping to rest and ruin the aerobic effect, and you will be too tired to push the weights with speed and force, which will ruin the effect of stimulating your creatine phosphate system. If you’re going to push a set hard to the point where fatigue sets in and your rep speed slows down more and more at the end of a set, save it for the either the last set of an exercise, or the second to last set of an exercise. This last hard set will turn on the lactate system which activates growth hormone. Along with this, insulin sensitivity will be increased.  Growth hormone and increased insulin sensitivity will helps to burn fat, and this is what we want. You don’t have to push hard on every exercise that you have selected at the end of the workout, but you need to push on at least one, and it’s best to change which exercise you push hard on from one workout to the next. .

It will probably take at least three weeks to a month of consistent proper exercise to turn on your metabolism, but follow this advice and you will succeed at activating all of the energy systems in your muscles and activating fat burning hormones.


Key #7

Words Burn FatExercise at least three times per week

People who train with weights often train each body part only twice per week, and some lifters only train each body part once per week to gain strength and size. However, if you want to burn more calories and lose weight, you need to work out more rather than less. This means training at least three times per week. If you don’t have any choice and can only work out twice per week, or a conflicts cutting into your workout schedule, then take advantage of the workouts that you can do by doing them. However, anytime it is within your control to workout at least three times per week, it’s better to do so.

You may have head that you should never exercise a body part more than three times per week with weights. This is true if you wipe your muscles out and exhaust them when you work out. However, I don’t recommend that you do that. Remember that most of your sets should be done with a rep rhythm that stays the same through the entire set without having to slow down. You can only do this if you are not exhausting your muscles. If you are grinding out slow labor some reps that you are struggling to lift, you are lifting too hard. The only exception is on your last set of an exercise. If you follow these guidelines, then you can workout three, four, five, or six times per week. If you workout more than three times per week and you start feeling as though you are sluggish and very tired from your workouts, you can cut back to three times per week, or you can keep training the same number of days per week and  reduce the total amount of set you do per workout.

  I believe that you are generally better off doing only 24 sets per workout three or four times per week than doing 40 sets per workout only twice per week. Doing shorter workouts less often is generally a better weight loss strategy compared to doing longer workouts less often.