This isn't new information. If you've been following any fitness blogs the past few years you've surely heard people say "Strength Training can help you lose fat".
The underlying reasons might not be as obvious as you'd think. We've had people ask us a very good question: How does strength training help you lose fat? I don't sweat as much as when I do cardio, circuit training or HIIT.
We've got the answer for you.
There are many positive physiological effects strength training can have on fat loss.
Let's go over some of the most important positive effects:
1. Accumulating Stress via something called "Mechanical Tension" (which is just a fancy term for how much load is put on a muscle) has a huge effect on your metabolism. It causes lots of muscle damage and stimulates your body to repair and recover. This stimulation also increases your bodies metabolism, burning more energy throughout the day.
2. Increasing your relative strength can allow you to perform more reps at a higher weight than you could before. Let's look at an example:
If your 1RM (1 Rep Max) in the Back Squat is 185lbs.
That means you can hit 135lbs for about 10-12reps(1)(2) (based on a rep max calculation). In a high volume workout to lose fat you'd do something like 3 sets x 12 reps @ 135lbs that's 4,860lbs of total volume in that exercise.
Say you decide to add some maximal strength training in for a couple months. Your workouts consist of pure strength training, reps of 6 and under in order to improve your 1RM. After 3 months, let's say your 1RM went up a generous 40lbs to 225lbs. This means you can now pump out 3 sets of 12 reps @ 170lbs! That's 6,120lbs of total volume from just the squat alone.
6120 - 4860 = 1260lbs more volume. This adds up workout to workout, exercise to exercise. You're now burning more energy and working harder in the same time period. As opposed to cardio training where you literally have to run/bike/swim/whatever for a longer period of time just to attain higher amounts of caloric expenditure. With Strength training you can increase the amount of work you put in without having to spend more time on it. Wouldn't you like some more spare time?
3. Increasing Muscle Mass also has a huge effect on your metabolism. The more muscle you have, the more your metabolism burns. It costs your body a lot of energy to maintain or build muscle. Even just the process of it costs a lot.
Having said that, in order to build muscle, you generally have to intake more energy than you expend. AKA Eat more than you Burn. In this case, we're talking about fat loss so chances are you're in a caloric deficit, or at least, you should be. Don't get it twisted, when you strength train on a fat loss diet, you're unlikely able to build muscle, BUT the stimulation to "build/repair muscle" is what will keep that furnace like metabolism burning heavy.
Check out our Small Group Strength Class if you want to get some Strength in with an expert coach showing you the ropes and getting you strong!
4. There's a whole other side to the story that I haven't talked about yet... And it's simply because the terms Strength Training and Resistance Training get tossed around like they're snap, crackle and pop, when they're actually different terms.
I know I'm getting all technical and shit but it's important to know the different. Strength Training is the use of relatively heavy weights in order to improve one's overall strength.
Whereas Resistance Training is the use of external resistance to perform any type of exercise. In other words Resistance Training is the all-encompassing term. Strength Training, Endurance Training, etc all fall under this category.
So far all I've gone over is Strength Training. Meanwhile, other forms of resistance training can also have an equal or greater effect on fat loss!
If you want to learn more about Resistance training and click here to read more!
1. Brzycki, Matt (1998). A Practical Approach To Strength Training. McGraw-Hill.
2. Baechle TR, Earle RW, Wathen D (2000). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 2: 395-425.