Guide to resistance training for weight/fat loss

Guide to resistance training for weight/fat loss

In our previous blog post, we talked about how to approach and structure a cardio training programme for the best weight/fat loss results. In addition to that, if we mix a resistance training programme with a cardio programme we have a powerful combination to achieve our weight/fat loss target. Let’s dive in.

As we have learned by now, RT or resistance training involves expending energy that should create a negative energy balance promoting fat loss (with the condition that energy intake does not increase). However, this may not work for everybody in the same way because scientists found that there are some psychological and behavioural mechanisms that can influence our energy balance and can explain why some people experience greater reductions in body mass than others during the same exercise regime. Those mechanisms are, based on scientific research, for example:

  • Secretion of hormonal mediators of appetite which causes increased energy intake.
  • Metabolic efficiency of exercise, for example if two people burn different amounts of calories for the same exercise volume or intensity.
  • Resting energy expenditure which is the amount of energy expended by a person at rest.

Since muscle has a higher metabolic rate than fat tissue which simply means that muscle requires more energy, increasing muscle mass through a resistance training can increase REE or resting energy expenditure. This is the primary reason why a resistance training can help with the fat loss.

Let’s get one thing straight.

Our goal with the complete weight/fat loss programme (CRT and RT combined) is not to decrease weight that you lose muscle mass as well. We want to keep the muscle mass but just remove the unnecessary fat, achieve the fat loss.

If we simply reduce our muscle mass that can cause a reduction in our resting energy expenditure which can cause a decrease in our physical activity energy expenditure and our total energy expenditure. Furthermore, this reduction in our total energy expenditure over time may lead to increases in body fat and we don’t want that to happen. See the chain of reactions that can lead our weight/fat loss goal pursuit in a wrong direction.

So, look at this way. RT promotes the maintanance or increase in the muscle mass for the purpose of achieving the weight/ fat loss target. RT balances with the cardio training.

I talked in our previous blog post that there are several types of cardio training methods. The same goes for resistance training. Which one is the best? That’s a wrong question because every individual is different and can have a different psychological adaptation response to the resistance training method. That’s why, we need to fully personalise a resistance training programme to an individual’s goals, preferences, fitness experience level and more.

There are many misconceptions about a resistance training for the weight loss. One of them is that many people think that just by doing a very large volume of low-load exercises, they will achieve their weight/fat loss target. This action will oftentimes produce the loss of a muscle mass and strength then the reduction in energy intake will follow. Also, this may cause a chain of reactions and cause a reduction in REE.

So, what we want is to keep some sort of moderate-heavy intensity in our resistance training programme. This way we will preserve strength and muscle mass while losing our body fat.

As I mentioned, an RT programme needs to be fully personalised, but as a general guidance, when we talk about the number of repetitions, 12-15 repetitions per set, with the loads less than 65 % of your 1RM. You can do a normal multiple set or as a circuit exercise sequence.

Producing more work in a short period of time, like a circuit training method, can expend/burn more calories than a regular multi-set. So, a circuit RT training method is a great option for a weight/fat loss.

What about the RT intensity for fat loss?

First of all, this too needs to be personalised towards a person’s training status and experience. For a someone who has been training for a few years, the most common and beneficial approach is a multiset with a moderate-load method (65-85 % of 1RM). This method tends to maximise energy expenditure.

However, if you are someone who is just starting out, starting with a low-load less than 65 % of 1RM is very prudent as you need first to establish the good exercise form.

It’s also a useful to include a circuit and a multi-set training methods in your personalised exercise programme. If you want to maximise your energy expenditure which is your goal during the weight loss programme then the multi-joint exercises which involve multiple muscle groups are recommended. This is because according to the research, energy cost of an energy is directly related to the volume of muscle involved. Interesting isn’t it?

What about the rest periods?

This again depends on a person’s fitness level and readiness but generally rest periods from 45-60 seconds between the multi sets are recommended when we talk about RT for the weight loss.

In conclusion, every person is different and we need to personalise the RT and cardio training programme to each individual. Furthermore, combination of RT and cardio training has been proven to have more success in achieving the desired weight/fat loss target than RT or cardio training alone. I hope you found some useful information in this blog post.

Until next writing,

Damir Pervan,

Certified personal trainer, Founder and CEO of TrainChampion

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