Beginner’s Guide: How to Perform Strength Training to Lose Weight

Beginner’s Guide: How to Perform Strength Training to Lose Weight

Why Strength Training?

A common misconception about strength training is that it is only for those who want to build large muscles and look muscular.

The truth is that weight training is a vital part of any workout routine. That goes for whether you want to lose weight and fat, or bulk up and gain muscle.

Incorporating the right strength training plan into your workout routine will stimulate improved weight loss results and push you much closer to achieving your fitness goals.

Here are the biggest benefits of strength training:

  • Burn more fat: Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so the more you have, the more calories you burn all day.
  • Avoid injury: Building strong muscles means an overall stronger body, which can withstand more stress and usage.
  • Tone muscles: Your skin and body will look tighter and toned, instead of being loose skin.

Basics of Weight/Resistance/Strength Training

First and foremost, here are two essential words to know about strength training:

  • Repetition (or rep for short): A singular instance of an exercise. For example, if you were to squat down, and come back up, that is considered one repetition.
  • Set: The number of repetitions performed sequentially. Usually, multiple sets (2 to 4) are performed for a given exercise.

If you haven’t ever performed strength training (or haven’t for a long time), you will want to start small, exercising 2 to 3 non-consecutive days per week. Ideally, you would do exercises in which you can perform around 10 to 12 reps without rest.

As your muscles are not conditioned for heavy usage, you will need to slowly build a foundation for your muscles to grow.

This period can take anywhere from one to three months, during which you will experience a major improvement in your muscular endurance.

Once you feel your muscles have developed enough to handle increased intensity (weekly frequency & amount of weight), you can restructure your workout routine to better suit your goals, whether that is weight loss/gain, muscle building, or endurance building.


Muscle Groups You Should Target

Your workout routine should comprise of exercises that involve all muscle groups. Balancing your exercises between your various muscles will prevent under-developing a specific body part, and lead to improved body composition.

Here are the primary muscle groups:

  • Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Arms
  • Back
  • Abdominals
  • Legs

One very important thing to note, is that you cannot target fat by focusing exercises on one body part. For example, performing abdominal exercises will not contribute to the loss of belly fat specifically, but rather the loss of all fat.

Therefore, your workout routine should involve all muscles to develop your body equally.


How Many Sets, Reps, & Weight To Use

Depending on your goals, you will change the number of sets and reps you perform, as well as the amount of weight you lift.

This is because the intensity of your exercise determines how your muscles should be used.

For example, curling 20 repetitions of 10lb dumbbells has a far different effect on your muscles than lifting 5 repetitions of 30lb dumbbells.

Exercising with lighter weights triggers your “slow twitch” muscle fibers, which are endurance-based and slower to fatigue.

On the flip side, exercising with heavier weights triggers “fast twitch” muscle fibers, which have more power, but fatigue quickly.

Understanding this, the way you perform your exercises will vary if you want to:

  • Lose weight/fat: Use weight with which you can complete 8 to 12 repetitions in a set, for 1 to 3 sets per exercise, resting for one minute between sets.
  • Gain muscle: Use weight with which you can complete 6 to 8 repetitions in a set, for 3 to 4 sets per exercise, resting for 45 seconds between sets. If you’re a beginner, give yourself weeks of conditioning before you exercise at this level.
  • Build endurance: Use weight with which you can complete 12 to 16 repetitions in a set, for 1 to 3 sets per exercise and 30 seconds of rest between sets.

To determine the initial amount of weight you should use, start at a light weight, and perform a few reps. If it feels like you could do more than the desired number of reps, increase the weight.

Repeat until you reach a weight you can do just the right amount of reps. Your last rep should be difficult, but not impossible.


Sample Workout Programs

As a professional, it can be hard to find the time to exercise amongst all of your responsibilities. However, the physical and mental benefits of exercising are too great to pass up.

Begin performing strength training together with cardio exercises and you will maximize your performance in all areas of your life.

It can take as little as 30 minutes, twice a week to build a foundation for your fitness goals. As your strength improves and you start to plateau, you can increase the intensity, frequency, and specificity of your workouts.

For the following exercise splits, perform each exercise according to your goals as explained in the previous section.

  • Lose weight/fat: 8-12 reps x 1-3 sets
  • Gain muscle: 6-8 reps x 3-4 sets
  • Build endurance: 12-16 x 1-3 sets


Two Day Split

If you’re a beginner, or have very little time each week, here is the most basic yet efficient weight training schedule. This “split” takes about 30 minutes per day to complete.

Day 1 (Upper body):

  • Dumbbell chest press
  • Dumbbell bicep curls
  • Dumbbell triceps extensions
  • Pull-ups

Day 2 (Lower body):

  • Barbell squats
  • Dumbbell lunges
  • Leg extensions
  • Leg curls


Three Day Split

If you have another day you can take for strength training, we advise performing a Push/Pull/Legs split. This kind of split will place more focus on muscle groups in your upper body with similar motions.

Perform this split once per week if you’re a beginner, or twice per week if you are experienced (with 1 day of rest in between).

Day 1 (Push):

  • Dumbbell chest press
  • Dumbbell overhead press
  • Dumbbell flies
  • Dumbbell triceps extensions

Day 2 (Pull):

  • Pull-ups (or cable pulldowns)
  • Dumbbell rows
  • Bicep curls
  • Dumbbell triceps extensions

Day 3 (Legs):

  • Dumbbell chest press
  • Dumbbell overhead press
  • Dumbbell flies
  • Dumbbell triceps extensions


Five Day Split

If you are experienced, and have five days available to perform strength training, we advise exercising with more specificity. This means exercising a specific muscle group each day of your routine. Perform this split once per week.

Day 1 (Chest):

  • Dumbbell chest press
  • Incline dumbbell press
  • Cable flies
  • Chest press machine

Day 2 (Back):

  • Pull-ups (or cable pulldowns)
  • Dumbbell rows
  • Back extensions
  • Rear deltoid flies

Day 3 (Arms):

  • Dumbbell bicep curls
  • Barbell bicep curls
  • Triceps dips
  • Dumbbell triceps extensions

Day 4 (Shoulders):

  • Dumbbell shoulder press
  • Dumbbell lateral raises
  • Dumbbell front raises
  • Dumbbell shrugs

Day 5 (Legs/Abs):

  • Dumbbell chest press
  • Dumbbell overhead press
  • Dumbbell flies
  • Dumbbell triceps extensions


Strength Training Will Change Your Life

We know strength training can seem daunting at first, and can seem like it is more effort than what it’s worth.

However, if you put into resistance training the same consistent drive and effort you put into your family and career, as time progresses you will experience decreased muscle pain, increased strength, and a more toned body.

Strength training, whether you’re a man or woman, underweight or overweight, will develop your physical abilities while also building your mental endurance.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published