How to train to lose weight

People who want to lose some weight are often recommended to do cardiovascular training for long periods of time at a low heart rate. With this training a large part of the energy your body uses comes from fat and that is exactly what you want to get rid of. And while this seems like very logic advice you have to understand that there are better ways to lose fat. Here we will explain what you can better do and why.

The most important part of your training for losing weight might come as a surprise: you should do weight training. Most people associate weight training with building muscles, growing bigger, and gaining weight but that is only possible when you eat enough calories on a daily basis. If you combine weight training with a diet that limits your calorie intake you will not become muscular like a bodybuilder. Your muscles might become a little bigger and you will become stronger, but to really put on mass you will have to eat a lot more than someone on a weight loss diet.

There is some confusion why weight training works so well to lose weight. Many people think it is because muscles use more energy than fat meaning that when you build muscle you will burn more calories throughout the day, even if you are doing nothing. While this is true the impact will be very limited: first of all muscles do not use that much more calories than fatty tissue and when you have a limited intake of calories you will not build much muscles anyways.

The real reason why weight training works so well is that it increases your metabolic rate. Your body will use more calories between 24 and 48 hours after your training because of a higher metabolic rate which is only for a very small part explained by a possible increase in muscles. Estimates of the amount of calories are often between 100–300 calories per day.

The best way to do weight training to lose weight, for both men and women, is by doing about 8–12 repetitions with a weight that exhausts you completely. Training with smaller weights and going for more repetitions defeats the purpose of weight training as it will come closer to cardiovascular training. Many women are afraid that lifting heavy weights will make them look more “bulky” and less feminine, but due to differences in hormone production between the male and female body this fear is ungrounded. Heavy weights are necessary to cause the necessary stress to your muscles to get the increase in your metabolic rate.

The second part of your training should consist of cardiovascular training. But unlike what most people think you should not do this at a very low pace for a very long time. While it is true that your body get a larger percentage of energy from fats when you train at a low pace, the total amount of calories burned will also be low. If you use 300 calories per hour and 50% of that comes from fat it means you use 150 calories from fat. But if you train at a higher intensity making you burn 600 kcal per hour and now only 40% comes from fat you will use 240 calories from fat. Besides, if you train more intensively you will also burn more calories after your exercise, similar as the increase in calories burned after weight training. This does not mean that training for longer periods of time is bad for you; it is just not the most effective way of burning fat.

If you have the ability to train twice a week we would recommend to always start with weight training followed by a short period of 15–20 minutes of high intensity cardiovascular training for each of your trainings. If you train 3 times a week you can do the same program 3 times or switch to 2 days dedicated to weight training and 1 day of cardiovascular training where you train at medium to high intensity for about 40–50 minutes. With 4 times training per week we recommend you to do weight training 3 times a week and dedicate one day to cardiovascular training. If you have the energy you can even end one of those weight training days with a short period of high intensity cardiovascular training.

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