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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Weight Lifting for weight loss

In my last post I talked about why I think cardio is less effective for weight loss. Still. I do believe in exercise, and in the next three posts I will cover exercises that I believe ARE effective: heavy weightlifting, HIIT and yoga

Weight lifting. I learned about heavy weightlifting from Jen, personal trainer friend. I was already lifting weights, but she taught me a whole new concept. Instead of lifting 8 or 10 or even 15 pound dumbbells over and over and over, she taught me to lift heavy weights with less reps (repetitions). When she introduced me to this concept, I was used to teaching the S.E.T. (Strength Endurance Training) class at 24 hour fitness. We would lift weights for 3 minutes straight (followed by 3 minutes of cardio endurance). I would use about 20 pounds when I was squating for 3 minutes. With Jen's help, I worked up to squating 105 pounds-- and I definitely don't do it for 3 minutes straight!

The whole point of weight training is to tear muscle fibers so you can rebuild a stronger muscle. These tiny muscle tears happen when you add resistance-- or in other words, it has to keep getting harder!
When I was lifting a lighter weight over and over and over, I was working my heart, I was sweating, but after a while, my muscles got used to that kind of a workout. I wouldn't even get sore! With heavy weightlifting, I am always sore afterward, if I do it right. That's because I progressively add weight, or add a few more repetitions.

Weightlifting builds muscle. The more muscle you have the more calories you burn, even at rest. Or in other words, more muscle means a faster metabolism. That's what we're going for, right? Building muscle turns our bodies into calorie-burning machines.
When I was teaching aerobics, people would always ask me which burned more calories: cardio or weightlifting. The answer I would give was that cardio burned more calories during the hour you were doing it (usually not by a huge margin), but weightlifting burned calories while you were doing it and kept on burning calories afterward to feed the muscle you just built.

Weight lifting increases your metabolism because you force your body to build more muscle.

If you have never lifted weights before, it would be a great idea to have a personal trainer, or someone at the gym show you how. You want to make sure your form is correct so that you don't injure yourself. If you have done a little weight lifting in the past, here is a very basic workout that works all your major muscle groups and can be done in about 20 minutes. This is the workout that I always come back to if I'm in a hurry. It works the largest muscles in your body, making it efficient AND effective.

Warm up:
Squat (with no weights), 5 reps.
Chest Press with 5 lb. dumbbells, 5 reps.
Bent over row with 5 lb. dumbbells, 5 reps.

When doing heavy weightlifting, you want to try to lift at a weight that you can maintain for 10-15 reps. If you can do more than 15 reps, your weight is too light. If you can't get to 10, take some weight off.

Squat with barbell., 10- 15 reps.
Chest Press with barbell, 10-15 reps.
Bent over row with barbell or heavy dumbbells, 10-15 reps each side.

Repeat this workout 2-3 times.

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays.


  1. this is spot on. I am doing the Rachel Cosgrove workouts, metabolic body weight drills alt days with heavy lifting. Cardio is only about 2 hours a week now. I am hoping to see much better results. I took SET and LIfT and Shift/lift at 24 hours for YEARS and got to a certain point and stopped there. Now they are doing a Super Pump class that does the same body part for SIX minutes at a time. I think I will take a pass.

  2. If you do that weight lifting workout and only allow one minute berween each exercise you wil get a the cardio effects while your lifting weights. This information come from a resistence work out program called Fat Burning Furnace. Bob

  3. @debbie, I have never heard of Rachel Cosgrove- I'l have to check that out.
    @ anonymous, weight lifting does help your heart, but for me, if doing the exercises too quickly makes me lift less weight, I;d rather rest more so I can lift heavier.

  4. Overall weights are a good way to work out. Millions of people use weights to do a daily work out. After one or two weeks you can start to feel your body becoming more and more toned. You can also feel the muscles in your body start to bulge a bit more then before. However safety will be the major concern to remember when you are using your weights. You must remember to stretch all the muscles in your body before you attempt to exercise your body. You have to get your heart pumping and when you are done remember to warm down so that your body knows that the workout is over. Warming down will prevent trapping any Lactic Acid in your body.