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How Weight Lifting Can Help You Lose Weight

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Weight lifting is the commonly accepted way to increase strength and get bigger muscles. It’s also a great way to fight back against anxiety and depression. What is less known is that lifting weights can also contribute to weight loss.

Yep – it’s true!

While successful weight loss requires much more than simply pumping iron, weight lifting can nevertheless play an important part in the effort.

To lose weight, a person must use up more calories than they take in. The burning of fat stores occurs when the body runs out calories obtained from food. It is true that aerobic exercise uses up calories at a faster rate than lifting weights.

However, that doesn’t mean that lifting weights isn’t worthwhile — instead, it simply means that doing both is important. The more exercise a person engages in, the better their hopes for weight loss.

Gaining muscle by pumping iron speeds up the body’s metabolism, which means calories will naturally be burned at a faster rate. Muscle tissue actually requires more calories for basic maintenance than most other tissue in the body.

Even when at total rest, a muscle cell uses up calories at far greater rate than (for example) fat cells — so more muscle equals more expended calories.

Weight lifting also triggers the release of various hormones that make losing weight easier. Anabolic growth hormone not only spurs muscle growth, but also boosts the rate at which fat is metabolized into energy.

Lifting weights also causes the adrenal glands to kick into gear, secreting hormones that help the body turn fat and sugar into energy. Lifting also can counteract insulin resistance, which again will make fat burn more efficiently.

What about the fact that lifting weights leads to bigger, heavier muscles? This fact makes the idea that weight training can aid weight loss seem counterintuitive.

However, any weight gained from lifting will be nearly negligible. Besides, weight loss is only valuable to the extent that actual fat is being reduced — for example, losing five pounds of fat while also gaining five pounds of muscle is better than only losing five pounds of fat.

Weight lifting can also help counteract one of the most destructive aspects of weight loss efforts: loss of muscle tissue and tone. Unfortunately, many people trying to lose weight only pay attention to the number on the scale, which can lead to destructive behavior.

Consuming an insufficient amount of food will result in weight loss — it just won’t be healthy weight loss. Lifting weights while attempting to lose weight can help to maintain muscle mass and encourage healthy behavior.

Successful weight loss necessarily involves healthy eating and cardio exercise. However, weight training can also be an immense help.

People who want to lose weight should consider taking up weight lifting as well. Those who are already lifting weights should keep up their habit as they attempt to drop the excess pounds.

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How Weight Lifting Can Help You Lose Weight

John D. Moore, PhD

Described as folksy and down to earth, Dr. John Moore infuses current events and pop culture into his posts as a way of communicating wider points on issues related to wellness and goal attainment. His work has been featured in nationally syndicated media, including Cosmo, Men's Fitness and CBS Market Watch. He is a consultant to a number of Fortune 500 companies and institutions of Higher Learning. Dr. Moore is author of Confusing Love with Obsessionand Editor in Chief at: Guy Counseling.

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APA Reference
Moore, J. (2017). How Weight Lifting Can Help You Lose Weight. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 21, 2020, from


Last updated: 20 Oct 2017
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