To Lose Weight, Lift Weights

By Temma Ehrenfeld  @temmaehrenfeld
August 01, 2023
To Lose Weight, Lift Weights

Aerobic exercise combined with weight training, for at least 30 minutes 5 days a week, can produce more weight and fat loss and cardio fitness than either alone.  

When you decide to lose weight, or keep it off, don’t skip the exercise. 

You’ll hear people say exercise doesn’t help a weight program. Many find, for instance, that they eat more before or after workouts, and the exercise doesn’t do enough to overcome the extra food. It’s also common to skip strength training, and favor aerobics. Women especially may choose yoga or a dance class over barbells.

The best strategy, however, is to add strength training to your aerobic program. One study analyzing the results of a 12-week training program on a group of overweight and obese adults, mainly women, found that moderate intensity aerobics combined with weight training, for at least 30 minutes 5 days a week, produced more weight and fat loss and cardio fitness than either alone. 


YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Our Strength Training Section


When you eat less, your metabolism slows down, making it hard to maintain weight loss. Your body adjusts, with the goal of getting you back to your old weight. People hope that exercise will boost their metabolism to counter that effect, but the evidence is mixed. One study published in the Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, however, concluded that it does.

Researchers convinced 10 men, ages 22 to 33, to participate in what sounds like a very unpleasant experiment. To measure their resting metabolic rate, the men had to spend 24 hours in a metabolic chamber, a small room that measured the calories they burned while inside. They sat perfectly still in a chair except to eat meals sent in through an airlock and to do a series of hourly two-minute stretches, before bedtime at 10:30 p.m.

The men left early the next morning, having burned 2,400 calories, on average, on this entirely sedentary day.

Two days later, they returned to the chamber and repeated the experiment. At 11 a.m., however, they rode a stationary bicycle quickly for 45 minutes. That exercise burned 420 calories. Over the next 14 hours, the participants burned an extra 190 calories, on average. Altogether, the 45-minute workout increased their calorie burn by 37 percent.

Looking further out, that metabolism boost may fade. The results may also be different for women, who typically have a harder time losing weight than men do.

In a study of pre-menopausal women, 40 minutes of aerobic exercise at 80 percent of their maximum heart rate boosted metabolism as many as 19 hours later — but then it fell back down. The women in the study lost more than 26 pounds.

Those who didn’t exercise or did only aerobics ended up with a slower metabolism a month after the weight loss, as most people do. But women who did strength training three times a week — including squats and sit-ups — maintained their pre-dieting metabolism rate and kept off more fat. 

Weight-training is also good for overweight youngsters. An overview of 34 high-quality studies with children and teens concluded that their body mass index dropped 28.8 percent, on average, when they did aerobic exercise alone, and 31.5 percent when they added strength training.

Getting started, as with most challenges, may require a strategy. Consider setting up as many sessions with a trainer as you need to learn proper form. You’ll love lifting weights once you experience the high, just as you do running.

Hearing music during exercise helps. Find a gym that feels welcoming and exciting or a pleasant spot in your home. Sunshine is better than a dark, cramped basement. Don’t be afraid to grunt, wince, and breathe loudly. Experiment and don’t let it get stale. 

The right trainer will keep you motivated and help you progress without making you feel bullied. Do your part and show up on time, ready to work, not sleep-deprived. Eventually you’ll need to provide your own encouragement. Imagine yourself looking buff or any other visual fantasy that motivates you. You can even say aloud, “You can do it; burn, baby, burn.”


YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Our Aerobic Exercise Section


August 01, 2023

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN