Can You Do Weight Training for Weight Loss?

Aerobic exercises have become popular in terms of exercises for weight loss. However, weight training can also make the numbers on your scale point downward. This article examines the effectiveness of weight training in helping you shed some pounds.

Can Weight Training Workouts Help with Weight Loss?

Like other exercises, weight training focuses on your body and increases calorie burn. Weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume over time. So, you could lose weight if you combine weight training with a moderate calorie restriction.

In terms of calorie burning, aerobic exercises win over weight training. According to Harvard Health, a 155-pound person loses roughly 108 calories in 30 minutes during general weight lifting. That same individual burns 252 calories, cycling at a moderate power for the same period.

However, Mike T. Nelson, Ph.D., said weight training could boost healthy weight loss beyond simple calorie burning. Research also suggests that weight training as part of a weight loss program has proven effective for obese and overweight adults. This is because weight training helps promote muscle growth and reduce overall body fat.

Gabrielle Lyon, D.O., said the real benefit of weight training for weight loss is in the maintenance of lean tissue. With weight training as part of your weight loss plan, the pounds you lose will likely come from fat mass, not muscle mass. This is the opposite of the weight loss plan that covers only calorie restriction or just calorie restriction and aerobic exercises.

What Does the Evidence Say?

You lose more fat mass than muscle mass when you add weight training to your weight loss plan because you are building muscle. Additionally, muscle is a metabolically active tissue that needs energy (calorie loss) to maintain.

Lyon said losing muscle can lower your resting daily calorie burn. She also said this can lead to weight gain over time unless you limit your calorie intake. According to past research, muscle loss is a primary reason for gaining weight as you age.

Dr. Nelson said weight training can help you maintain your metabolism and avoid unwanted fat gain. Lyon said the muscle you build through weight training helps your body use nutrients from food.


Research shows that weight training can boost your insulin resistance and help you regulate your blood sugar levels. You can use the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) physical activity guidelines to get started.