Does Strength Training Burn Fat?
Sport & Activity
Check out the benefits of lifting weights to reach your personal goals.
What Burns More Calories: Cardio or Weightlifting?
Certain types of exercise burn more calories than others. With some types of workouts—mostly high-intensity types, like kettlebell swings or sprints—your body can benefit from the afterburn effect. When this happens, your body continues to respond to the spike in heart rate, offering a host of perks including prolonged increased metabolic rate and some fat loss, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
But high-intensity workouts aren't necessarily the same thing as weightlifting—and it's important to distinguish between the two. While high-intensity interval training (HIIT) demands quick spurts of effort, weight training can be more methodical, with longer rest periods between sets, like deadlifts or squats. Each approach can be beneficial.
For example, a 2000 study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that lifting weights increased female participants' basal metabolic rate (BMR) by 4.2 percent. When measured again a day later, their BMR remained elevated, as well as their resting fat oxidation. This suggests that weightlifting also invoked similar responses to the afterburn effect, though most likely lower.
How Building Muscle Boosts Your Metabolism
Weightlifting causes micro-tears in your muscles that strengthen during the repair process. This process also has benefits for weight loss, due to its effect on your metabolism.
Your BMR is based on various factors like your height, weight, age, gender and body composition. The more muscle mass you have, generally the higher your metabolic rate. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, meaning it requires more energy to maintain. A 2001 study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that after 24 weeks of weight training, male participants increased their BMR by 9 percent.
Why You (Maybe) Should Lift Heavy Weights
While many types of strength training are beneficial, heavy lifting offers a range of benefits, including the development of lean muscle mass, which can foster heightened fat loss. When you lift heavy weights, you kickstart the gluconeogenesis process, which converts your body's glucose into fuel as you call on your muscles to lift weights. And when you burn through the existing glucose, your body changes fat to more glucose to keep you going. It's also important to note that though lean muscle alone doesn't burn fat, it does have a correlation to your resting metabolic rate, or how much fat your body burns while it's chilling.
How to Lose Body Fat with Weight Training
So, how can you use all this information to burn fat most efficiently?
Start lifting. If you're new to strength training, progress from bodyweight moves once or twice a week before lifting heavier or trying complex movements. What's more, make sure you try a variety of exercises that tap into all movement planes.
Track your progress. To continue building muscle, it's key to continuously introduce stimulus that encourages ongoing adaptation and muscle growth.
Download the Nike Training Club App to access a variety of strength-training workouts designed to build muscle and burn fat.