Can You Lose Weight With Only Strength Training

by Daisy

Losing weight is a common goal for many individuals, and while traditional approaches often emphasize cardio, strength training offers an effective alternative. Strength training not only helps in weight loss but also improves overall body composition and boosts metabolic health. This article will delve into the mechanisms behind weight loss through strength training, explore how it enhances metabolic rate, discuss muscle maintenance during weight loss, provide dietary suggestions, and offer a sample strength training plan.

Strength Training and Weight Loss

Strength training, also known as resistance training, involves exercises that improve muscle strength and endurance. This type of training is not just for bodybuilders; it is a powerful tool for anyone looking to lose weight. Here’s how it can help:


How Strength Training Reduces Body Fat

Strength training reduces body fat by increasing muscle mass. Muscles are metabolically active tissues that burn calories even at rest. By increasing muscle mass, strength training raises the body’s basal metabolic rate (BMR), leading to more calories burned throughout the day. This process is known as the “afterburn effect,” where the body continues to burn calories after a workout.


Improving Body Composition

Body composition refers to the proportion of fat and non-fat mass in the body. Strength training improves body composition by reducing fat mass and increasing lean muscle mass. Unlike cardio, which may burn both fat and muscle, strength training primarily targets fat, preserving and building muscle mass. This results in a leaner, more toned appearance.


Metabolic Rate Improvement

Increasing Resting Metabolic Rate

One of the key benefits of strength training is its ability to increase the resting metabolic rate (RMR). The RMR is the number of calories your body needs to maintain basic physiological functions while at rest. Here’s how strength training boosts RMR:

Building Muscle Mass

Muscle tissue requires more energy to maintain than fat tissue. Therefore, the more muscle you have, the higher your RMR. Strength training exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses are effective in building muscle mass, which in turn increases your RMR.

Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption

After a strength training session, your body goes through a recovery process that requires energy. This post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) leads to additional calorie burning even after the workout is over. The intensity and duration of the strength training session can significantly influence the extent of EPOC.

Muscle Maintenance

Avoiding Muscle Loss During Weight Loss

When losing weight, it’s crucial to maintain muscle mass to prevent a decrease in metabolic rate. Here are some strategies to maintain muscle mass during weight loss:

Progressive Overload

Progressive overload involves gradually increasing the weight, frequency, or number of repetitions in your strength training routine. This continuous challenge to your muscles prevents muscle loss and promotes growth.

Adequate Protein Intake

Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth. Consuming enough protein helps maintain muscle mass during calorie deficits. Aim for 1.6 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

Balanced Training Program

Incorporate a variety of exercises targeting all major muscle groups. A balanced training program ensures comprehensive muscle development and maintenance.

Diet and Strength Training

Combining a Healthy Diet with Strength Training

A healthy diet is a cornerstone of effective weight loss. When combined with strength training, the results can be significantly enhanced. Here’s how to optimize your diet for weight loss:

Caloric Deficit

To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn. However, the deficit should not be too large, as this can lead to muscle loss. A moderate caloric deficit of 500-750 calories per day is recommended.

Macronutrient Balance

Ensure your diet includes a balance of macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Carbohydrates provide energy for workouts, proteins aid in muscle repair, and healthy fats support overall health.

Timing of Nutrient Intake

Nutrient timing can impact your workout performance and recovery. Consume a balanced meal containing carbohydrates and protein 2-3 hours before your workout. Post-workout, have a protein-rich snack to aid muscle recovery.

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Sample Strength Training Plan

A well-structured strength training plan can set you on the path to successful weight loss. Here’s an example plan:

Weekly Training Schedule

Day 1: Upper Body

  • Bench Press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Dumbbell Rows: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Overhead Press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Bicep Curls: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Tricep Dips: 3 sets of 12-15 reps

Day 2: Lower Body

  • Squats: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Deadlifts: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Lunges: 3 sets of 12-15 reps (each leg)
  • Leg Press: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Calf Raises: 3 sets of 15-20 reps

Day 3: Rest or Light Cardio

Day 4: Upper Body

  • Pull-Ups: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Incline Bench Press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Lateral Raises: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Hammer Curls: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Skull Crushers: 3 sets of 12-15 reps

Day 5: Lower Body

  • Leg Extensions: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Leg Curls: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Bulgarian Split Squats: 3 sets of 12-15 reps (each leg)
  • Hip Thrusts: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Seated Calf Raises: 3 sets of 15-20 reps

Day 6: Core and Cardio

  • Planks: 3 sets of 1 minute
  • Russian Twists: 3 sets of 20 reps
  • Bicycle Crunches: 3 sets of 20 reps
  • Mountain Climbers: 3 sets of 1 minute
  • Light Cardio: 20-30 minutes

Day 7: Rest or Light Cardio


Strength training is an effective and sustainable way to lose weight and improve body composition. By increasing muscle mass, it boosts the resting metabolic rate, leading to more calories burned even at rest. Combining strength training with a balanced diet optimizes weight loss while preserving muscle mass. Following a structured strength training plan ensures comprehensive muscle development and maintenance. Embrace strength training as a core component of your weight loss journey for lasting results.

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