Why Should I Lift Weights for Fat Loss?

Lift Heavy Weight to Lose Fat

1. Lifting weight improves your strength, stamina, builds muscle and confidence, while improving overall health.

Weight training along with solid nutrition can help you retain or build dense muscle while cutting fat.

When in a caloric deficit, you will lose muscle mass if you do not lift weights resulting in a “skinny fat” body. Skinny fat is a condition where you have little muscle mass with fat to lose.

And when you do lose the fat, you will then just be skinny. Sure, losing fat without lifting will make you look better in clothes but will not get you beach ready.

Lifting weight with intensity while cutting helps preserve and possibly grow muscle leading to a lean body with definition at the end of your cut.  Lifting weight not only builds muscle, it burns fat too.

2. What Type of Weight Training Should I Do?

You should be lifting free weights when you go to the gym.  Free weights provide a better workout than machines because they recruit secondary muscles to stabilize weight being lifted. Cable machines can also be used since this equipment allows for secondary muscle stabilization.

Weight machines with a set range of motion do not recruit as many muscles when lifting. If you have an injury or physical condition that does not allow free weights to be used, you may substitute weight machines as necessary.

You have options to workout at a gym or at home. If joining a gym, seek out a facility with power racks and barbells to allow you to perform compound movements. You can accomplish most lifts without these items, but in the long run it is better to the right equipment available.

Strength Training for Fat Loss

Lift Heavy - Get Stronger - Bring Out Your Potential

3. Compound lifts are key to gaining strength

Compound lifts like bench press, overhead press, deadlifts, squats, pull-ups and rowing should be the focus of your lifting program.  Your gym time should be focused primarily on compound lifts that allow you to get stronger, faster.  

Spending hours to isolation exercises is a waste of time and energy.  If you have a solid lifting plan, you can hit your major muscle groups during your workout in under an hour.

Each gym session needs to target doing something better every time you lift.  Using progressive overload, your goal is to increase weight on the bar or add a repetition or two to each lift.  Adding small amounts of weight or repetitions allow you to get stronger and in turn put on more muscle.

High repetition “pump” training is to avoided and is only used for accessory movements where high volume works to fill in the gaps missed by compounds lifts.  Smaller muscle groups like deltoids and arms respond well to this type of training.


You only need to workout three times a week with a day off between lifting sessions. Some programs suggest lifting five days a week.  This is not necessary and does not allow you to recover from your workouts properly.  Especially if you are working to lose fat.  Being in a caloric deficit does not allow you to have the energy needed to perform back to back gym sessions.

Muscles grow due to stress created during lifting sessions. After each workout, you need time to recover and rebuild.

You should avoid adding gym sessions.  However, if you must train more often, you may perform abdominal training or light cardio on non-lifting days as this does not have a major impact on recovery.

You do not need to annihilate your muscles to see improvement.  It is tempting to add high volume to your lifting schedule. However, this makes it more difficult for you to recover,

Recovery is everything when building muscle. You go to the gym to damage muscle. Recovery is where you build muscle. Eat properly, hydrate, sleep and reduce stress as much as possible as these promote muscle building and fat loss.

5. Maintain Proper form and lift intensly

Working out with intensity while focusing on getting strong as possible maximizes muscle growth. Maintain proper form and concentrate on feeling muscles being worked, known as mind-muscle connection.

Do not use momentum to lift weights as this is inefficient and can cause injury.

Perform lifts with a full range of motion. Partial repetitions do not allow you to get the full benefit from your time and energy.

Do not take sets to failure where you cannot complete your last repetition. Leave one or two repetitions in reserve on each set. When lifting to failure, you tax your muscles and your nervous system which can hinder progress on following sets.

6. How much muscle can I grow?

If you are a new lifter or have taken off a long period of time, you can make “Newbie Gains”. This condition is the ability to rapidly gain strength and increase muscle size when starting out lifting or returning to the gym after an extended layoff. The major reason for this rapid progression is your muscles and central nervous system have not been stressed through heavy exercise and can quickly respond to new stimulus. Another reason for rapid gains is you are learning proper form which means you will become more efficient at lifting.

If you have lifted in the past and had a good muscle base, muscle memory will kick in making it possible to regain lost mass and strength in short order.

7. Use dumbbels Whenever Possible

Whenever possible, use dumbbells for lifts where there is an option instead of a barbell.

Dumbbells recruit secondary muscle groups to stabilize weight lifted and can help prevent or correct muscle imbalances where dominant muscles take over.

Muscle imbalances are commonly caused by being left or right side dominant, or participating in sports where throwing or other mechanics occur on one side of the body.

If you find that you are stronger on one side than the other, lift dumbbells for the same number of repetitions on each side, stopping when the weaker side is near failure. Over time, muscle strength and size imbalances may be corrected or eliminated by following this strategy.

Wrapping Up

When you are looking to build a better body and drop fat, you must lift heavy weight with intensity to get to your goal.  Without stressing your muscle when cutting fat, you can lose one quarter of your muscle mass.

By incorporating a solid lifting plan with proper caloric restriction, you can build the body that you are proud to show off.


Author: John Gray

John Gray is a fitness enthusiast who has first hand experience dropping over a hundred pounds of fat and putting on lean muscle. His weight-loss and strength gain journey began to improve performance in sports and has become a passion in his life. His mission is to help others to build a better version of themselves through education and support.