Get Strong, Feel Amazing: A Beginner’s Guide to Weight Lifting for Weight Loss

Created by Sydney Evans

Last Updated: January 6, 2023

Everyone knows that weight lifting is one of the most effective muscle-building methods. But did you know it can also play a central role in weight loss? 

Many people, particularly women, have been made to believe that weightlifting will make them excessively bulky and brawny. However, while consistent years of dedicated practice may lead to such results, it shouldn’t be a concern for those getting started with weight lifting for weight loss.

Conversely, you should get excited about the many benefits you’ll get from including weight loss in your fitness plan.

Weight lifting adds load to your workouts, driving the body to burn more calories, even at rest! It can also alleviate anxiety and depression and increase the production of essential hormones like dopamine and serotonin. 

If you’re looking for a challenging but highly effective way to lose weight, here is your comprehensive beginner’s guide to weight lifting for weight loss. 

(This post includes affiliate links for which I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase)

How Weight Lifting Promotes Weight Loss

Let’s start with the basics. How does weight lifting influence weight loss? Well, when it comes to burning fat through strength training, several factors are at play. 


An acronym for Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption, EPOC is also known as Oxygen Debt. It refers to the rate calories are burned after a workout session ends

During a weight-lifting session, metabolism naturally spikes, and oxygen consumption increases. These factors enable the body to burn fat beyond the fitness session itself, thus facilitating faster weight loss. Other EPOC  contributing factors include: 

  • Elevated heart rate 
  • Increased production of hormones such as adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine 
  • Improved ventilation 
  • Higher internal body temperature 
  • Elevated neurotransmitters
  • Re-oxygenation of red blood cells 

These processes contribute to the faster burning of fat cells even after completing your workout. Resistance training exercises such as weight lifting also have other benefits, such as improved movement control, cognitive abilities, and even the prevention of type 2 diabetes. 

Lunges are an example of a compound exercise and an excellent weight lifting for weight loss choice.

2. Lean muscle promotes faster fat burning 

The more lean muscle you have, the more calories you can burn daily. This is because muscle is a metabolically hungry tissue. Therefore, your body burns more calories when your muscle size increases. 

Because weight lifting is such an effective strategy for building muscle, it can play a critical role in how much faster and more efficiently your body burns through unwanted fat cells. However, those muscles need to be engaged regularly for this result to make a difference. 

And last, when you lift sufficiently heavy weights, the muscles undergo hypertrophy. Hypertrophy is the microscopic tearing and rebuilding of muscles to grow bigger and stronger. Alongside fat loss, this will help shape your body and give you the toned look you’re after.

If you want to do weight lifting for weight loss, focus on compound exercises which give you more bang for your buck.

How to Make Weight Lifting Work For You 

Just like starting any new form of exercise, you must adjust your weight lifting program to suit your lifestyle and body to be optimally effective. What works for one person may not work for the next. This is why developing a customized weight lifting regime is essential for reaching your weight loss goals. 

Compound Lifting Versus Isolation Lifting – Which Is Better? 

Compound lifting is the most effective lifting style for weight loss. Instead of using isolated lifting methods to focus on specific muscle groups, compounding lifting involves engaging multiple muscles at once for more rounded, full-body results. 

Compound exercises play a crucial role in the outcome of your weight lifting journey. Besides, you probably already use them. 

Compound movements are natural movements used in everyday life. They work around more than one joint and use large portions of muscle mass. Compound exercises offer a high value in terms of “bang for your buck” and can allow you to complete short yet effective workouts.

Pulldowns are a compound exercise and an excellent choice if you're looking to do weight lifting for weight loss

Remember that the body works as a whole, so compound exercises are better for functional fitness and superior for facilitating natural movement. Most people looking at weight lifting from a weight loss perspective should focus on compound exercises. 

Examples of compound exercises include:

  • Push-ups
  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Dips
  • Lunges
  • Pull-ups

All these exercises use more than one joint and utilize large portions of muscle mass, giving you a deeper workout that strengthens the body in a multi-faceted way. By making compound lifting the foundation of your weight lifting for weight loss journey, you’re more likely to reach your fitness goals.  

When to use isolated exercises

Isolated lifts have their merits. They are often used when trying to correct a post-injury imbalance. Bodybuilders also use them for sculpting specific muscles.

You may also think that isolated exercises are best if you want to work on a specific muscle group, such as the glutes or upper arms.

However, it makes more sense to do a functional exercise like a squat, which engages multiple muscles, rather than choosing, say, a leg extension. Leg extensions focus on the quadriceps, yet you’d work your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves in a squat.

In saying that, carefully combining isolated and compound lifts can also be an effective long-term weight loss and strength training strategy. 

Isolated exercises can help prime specific muscles before your compound lifts. For example, if you can’t usually feel your glutes during a squat or lunge, a set of hip (glute) raises before your compound lift can be hugely beneficial.

Performing isolated exercises such as one-legged hip raises can help you prime your muscles before doing sets of compound exercises.

2. Learn and perfect the basics 

Learn a handful of foundational movements and master them before moving on to more complex actions. Doing so gives you the foundation to make the most of every lift. You’ll also perfect your form, reducing the chance of injury that can occur when lifting is not done correctly. 

[Check out these awesome low-impact workout ideas for beginners].

3. set realistic goals (and stick to them)

You must set realistic goals to track progress and stay consistent with your training. Take a moment to consider what you’d like to achieve month by month for the next year or so and develop a plan for how you will get there. 

You can set goals based on how much weight you want to lose or how much you’d like to lift in the future. For example, if you can lift five-pound dumbbells right now, aim to lift six in a month’s time, and seven by the next. Give yourself incremental milestones to work towards. 

[Find out whether setting rewards will help you achieve your goals].

When it comes to weight lifting for weight loss, you can set personal goals to work torward and increase your weights gradually.

4. Develop a healthy eating plan

No weight lifting for a weight loss regime is complete without a proper healthy eating plan. You will not see the results you want if you go to the gym each day, but you lack the protein, nutrients, and carbohydrates needed to help you sustain that lifestyle. 

The best diet for weight loss is high in protein and low in calories. Most experts recommend eating at least 0.8 g of lean protein daily for every kg of body weight. That, plus a diet focused on complex carbs, whole grains, and mixed fruits and vegetables, should come to roughly 2400–3000 calories per day, depending on body weight. 

[Check out these awesome tips for healthy eating and these top weight loss foods].

Quinoa and vegetable dish in a pan - a healthy meal to assist you with your fitness goals

Other Benefits Of Weight Lifting

Weightlifting has a fast-growing fan base. It’s becoming increasingly popular in colleges, at gyms, and as a regulated sport. Part of the reason for this increase in popularity is that lifting weights positively impacts the mind and body. While strengthening the body, it also strengthens the mind. 

Physical strength training helps support brain health and prevent cognitive decline. This is due to the mental discipline needed to maintain a consistent weight-lifting regime for substantial periods. It also triggers the production of healthy hormones, which make you feel happier. 

Dopamine is the hormone responsible for your sense of accomplishment, pleasure, and reward, and serotonin is the hormone that makes you feel stable, happy, and calm. Both hormones have been closely linked to high-intensity strength training exercises like weight lifting. 

Lift Your Way To Weight Loss | In Conclusion

All in all, weight lifting has consistently proven to be an effective tool for facilitating healthy weight loss in men and women. It can burn calories beyond your workout and help shape your physique. Anyone with persistence and consistency can use weight lifting for weight loss purposes. 

If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to read about NLP and spiritual response therapy for weight loss success. It’s also crucial to check you have the right weight-loss mindset and know about the 80-20 principle for winning at weight loss.

Finally, when it comes to exercise and weight loss, it’s helpful to understand the value of incidental exercise.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these recommended service provider links, like an insurance broker, or a travel agent, I may earn a commission – at no extra cost to you. [For my full disclosure, please see my DISCLAIMER page]

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