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Is resistance training a good way to burn fat?

At the beginning of every consultation I take with a potential client, I’ll ask them about their goals, and 9 times out of 10 their reply will be “I want to lose weight, and tone up”.

I have a problem with the wording of both of these goals, and I try as quickly as I can to break each one of them down into a more relevant, healthier goal.


Losing weight is not the be all and end all of fitness, as it doesn’t get to the root of why you’re unhappy with your body, and want to change it. It’s not weight which is the issue with most people, it’s body fat %. If your body fat % is too high, it can be a problem for you health wise, as well as destroying your body confidence. At the end of the day, having a high body fat % is not healthy, and although people should not judge their self worth on their appearance, it’s in their best interest health wise to get their body fat down to a reasonable level to avoid complications such as type 2 diabetes, and heart failure. For these very reasons, I replace the goal of “losing weight” (which includes muscle mass) with “losing fat”.


So what does this have to do with resistance training anyway?


The beauty of lifting weights whilst attempting to “lose weight” is that it’ll change the ratio of muscle:fat in regards to the weight that you lose.


For example:


Person A -


  • Requires 2500 calories per day to maintain weight

  • Does no weight training

  • Does cardio 5 times per week

  • Eats 2000 calories per day

  • Loses 5kg at end of programme


At the end of this persons training programme, they have lost 10kg. However, out of the 10kg they have lost, 5kg is muscle, and 5kg is fat, as they did not include any resistance training during this time.


Person B -


  • Requires 2500 calories per day to maintain weight

  • Does 3 resistance training sessions per week

  • Does cardio 2 times per week

  • Eats 2000 calories per day

  • Loses 5kg at end of programme


At the end of this persons training programme, they have lost 10kg. However, out of the 10kg they have lost, 1.5kg is muscle, and 8.5kg is fat, this is due to the introduction of weight training into their programme.


Who would you rather be?!


Although weight training will not necessarily help you to lose anymore weight, (as long as calories in vs calories out stay the same) the quality of weight loss will be much better. You will lose a higher proportion of fat, compared to muscle, and the beauty of this is the change in your bodies basal metabolic rate.


Having more muscle on your body means your body requires more calories in order to fuel it, if you continue to eat the same amount of food as you did before building this muscle, your body will use fat reserves to feed it. Meaning you get more bang for your buck.


At the end of the day, cardio is fine, but resistance training is king.


Don’t focus on weight loss, focus on fat loss.



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