Does weight lifting help you lose weight?

Woman measuring waist with a tape measure

Weight lifting has long been associated with building muscle and improving strength, but its effectiveness for weight loss has been a topic of interest and debate. So what are the potential benefits of weight lifting in supporting weight loss efforts?

Increased muscle mass and metabolism

Weight lifting plays a crucial role in increasing muscle mass. When individuals engage in resistance training, their muscles adapt and grow stronger over time. The development of lean muscle mass has the potential to increase resting metabolic rate, as muscle tissue requires more energy to maintain compared to fat tissue. Consequently, an elevated metabolism can contribute to weight loss by burning more calories even at rest.

Calorie expenditure during and after exercise

Weight lifting is a form of physical activity that expends calories during exercise. While it may not burn as many calories as high-intensity cardio exercises like running or cycling, weight lifting can still contribute to energy expenditure. Additionally, resistance training has a post-exercise effect called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), or the "afterburn effect." This refers to the increased calorie burning that occurs after exercise as the body works to recover and restore metabolic balance. EPOC can contribute to weight loss by providing an extended period of increased calorie expenditure.

Body composition changes

Weight lifting can lead to favourable changes in body composition, even if the number on the scale doesn't change significantly. As individuals engage in resistance training, they may experience a decrease in body fat percentage and an increase in muscle mass. This can result in a leaner and more toned appearance, even without a substantial decrease in overall body weight. Body composition improvements are important for achieving a healthier and more aesthetically pleasing physique.

Increased strength and functional fitness

Weight lifting enhances muscular strength and functional fitness, which can positively impact overall physical performance and daily activities. As individuals become stronger and more physically capable, they may be more inclined to engage in other forms of exercise or physical activities that contribute to weight loss. Additionally, increased strength can facilitate the completion of daily tasks and improve overall quality of life.

Psychological benefits

Engaging in weight lifting can provide various psychological benefits that support weight loss efforts. Regular exercise, including resistance training, has been associated with improved mood, reduced stress levels, increased self-esteem, and enhanced motivation. These psychological factors can contribute to a positive mindset and adherence to healthy lifestyle choices, including nutrition and overall weight loss goals.

The bottom line

Weight lifting, as a form of resistance training, can be a valuable component of a comprehensive weight loss program. It contributes to increased muscle mass, which elevates metabolism and facilitates calorie burning. The combination of calorie expenditure during exercise and the post-exercise "afterburn effect" contributes to weight loss efforts. Lifting weights also promotes favourable changes in body composition, improves strength and functional fitness, and provides psychological benefits that support sustainable weight loss. When incorporated alongside appropriate dietary modifications, weight lifting can be an effective strategy for individuals aiming to lose weight and improve their overall body composition. However, it is important to consult with a fitness professional or healthcare provider to ensure safe and appropriate implementation of weight lifting exercises in line with individual goals and abilities.