Losing weight by decreasing body fat can be a struggle for some people, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re struggling to lose fat, it might be because you’ve been told things that just aren’t true. For example, you may have been told that all you need to do is start walking more often and you’ll get slim in no time. Or, perhaps you’ve been told that running is the best way to burn fat.
If you’ve been walking for miles and miles, or if you’ve been running yourself to exhaustion and you’re not seeing results, there’s a reason: you won’t easily burn fat with cardio. Truth be told, you need to start lifting heavy weights to slim down.
Lifting heavy is the secret to fat loss
The general misconception is that high levels of activity will “burn” fat faster, and that means you need to run or walk more often to achieve your goal. However, if your fat loss strategy centers on cardio, you won’t get far.
When your goal is to lose fat, lifting heavy will be your secret weapon. Lifting heavy with low reps to failure, and taking five-minute breaks between sets will burn far more fat than light, high-rep, short rest workouts.
Here are the top 4 reasons to choose low-rep, heavy lifting over high-rep, light lifting:
1. High reps leads to cortisol production
For heavy weight sets with low reps, the ideal rep range is around 2-10, and sets are done to complete muscle failure. High rep sets are considered to be in the range of about 20-40 reps, and aren’t done to failure.
If you can perform more than 20 reps, you’re likely not creating enough of a load to engage your stronger fast-twitch muscle fibers. When you only engage your weaker, slow-twitch muscle fibers, you’re actually signaling to the body to produce cortisol, and suppress fat-burning testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH).
You might feel like you’re doing more work by performing more reps, but you’re just spinning your wheels.
2. You won’t build muscle mass with light weight
There’s a reason people with a high body fat percentage gain weight fast when they eat less healthy foods, meanwhile, fit athletes can eat anything they want for a few days and not gain an ounce of fat. It’s all about having a high resting metabolism.
When you have more fat than lean muscle, your resting metabolism is slower, which means you burn fewer calories when you aren’t exercising. On the other hand, when you have more lean muscle, you’ll burn more calories when you’re at rest.
Having more muscle mass will increase your resting metabolism, but you won’t build muscle mass by lifting light weights. On the contrary, light weight, low-rep workouts will decrease your muscle mass by training your body into eliminating muscle. This is why endurance athletes, like runners, have lean frames with almost no visible muscle mass.
If your goal is to burn fat, you don’t want to train like an endurance athlete – you need to build muscle mass, which means you need to lift heavy.
3. Heavy, low-rep lifting burns more sugar
Sugar is necessary to sustain life, but not in excess quantities. Too much sugar is unhealthy and will keep you overweight. If you want to lose fat, your body needs to be able to access and effectively burn through stored sugar. This requires insulin sensitivity.
You can actually improve insulin sensitivity by lifting heavy weights with a decently long rest period between sets. Lifting heavy will deplete your muscles of glycogen stores, which will kickstart the process of refilling those stores. This process will train your body to use stored sugar as energy, rather than stored as fat.
4. You don’t need to feel the burn to get results
If you’ve ever done a low-rep, heavy weight workout, you may have noticed you didn’t break out a sweat. You probably didn’t even get sore. There’s a myth in fitness that says you should “feel the burn,” and while that’s sometimes true, feeling the burn isn’t a progress indicator.
Although high-rep, low weight lifting will burn more Calories during the workout, that’s all you’ll get. With heavy weights, your body will continue burning Calories after your workout. Also, since heavy weights stress the muscle tissue more, your body will need to use more energy to repair your muscles, which means burning even more calories.
5. High reps with heavy weight increases testosterone
Producing more testosterone will help you burn fat. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or if you’re male or female – you can raise your natural testosterone levels by lifting heavy and resting for about two minutes between sets.
On the contrary, lifting light weights with low reps will decrease your testosterone levels. By sticking with light weights, you’re depriving yourself of plenty of fat burning opportunities.
Busting the myths about lifting heavy weights
You might be hesitant to lift heavy weights because you don’t want to get bulky. Not everyone wants to look like a bodybuilder, and that’s understandable.
However, you won’t get a bodybuilder’s physique simply by lifting heavy. In fact, if you look at most powerlifters, they’re not bulky at all – and they’re often much stronger than bodybuilders.
Building bulky muscles and getting stronger are two separate activities, and you don’t need to get big to get strong.
Start your fat loss journey right with DeMetz personal training
Starting a fat loss journey can be intimidating when you don’t know where to start. Hiring a personal trainer will help you get the results you want. No matter what your fitness goals are, we can customize a personal training program just for you.
We want to see you succeed in your fat loss journey, so don’t wait to get started. Check out our online fitness coaching program to see what we offer, and contact us if you have any questions. We’d love to help you reach your goals!
Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, Utah State University, and the ISSA College of Exercise Science.
Nathan has 20 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.
To work with Nathan directly on your personal training goals, contact him today!