Best Strength Workout For Weight Loss

Last Updated on 2022-08-17 by Ibrahim Lydia

The best strength training workout for weight loss is one that makes you feel like you’re actually getting stronger. And one that helps you build muscle, which helps you burn fat.

You can’t just do three sets of bicep curls to get results—you need a full-body, well-rounded workout routine to really get your metabolism revving and keep it going for days after your sweat session is over.

We don’t want to tell you what kind of exercises or how many reps or sets you should be doing—that’s up to you and your goals. But we do want to give you some guidelines that will help you create a workout routine based on science and experience so that the results are consistent from week to week, month to month, year after year.

Right here on Buy and Slay, you are privy to a litany of relevant information on strength training for weight loss female, strength training for weight loss without equipment, strength training to lose weight at home, and so much more. Take out time to visit our catalog for more information on similar topics.

Best Strength Workout For Weight Loss

Sure, cardio workouts like the treadmill, spin bike or elliptical machine can blast calories, but strength training can be just as — if not more — effective for long-term weight loss.

“Cardio burns more calories in the moment, but resistance training torches more fat overall,” says Laura Micetich, fitness coach at Plankk Studio. Why? Because strength training builds muscle, which increases your resting metabolism. “Resistance training increases your body’s calorie-burning ability at rest, not just in movement.”

That means, while you’re at home relaxing after a long workout, your body is still working — i.e. burning calories — to build and recover your muscles.

This doesn’t mean you should ditch your cardio workout completely. Instead, Micetich suggests combining weight training with cardio movements for maximum effect. Add movements like walking lunges, jump rope, toe taps, box jumps and air squats in between sets to keep your heart rate up and your body in calorie-burning mode.

Doing a superset-based workout — alternating sets of two different muscle-building moves — three times a week can be incredibly effective, and you can get the whole workout completed in about 30 minutes. For each exercise, she suggests starting with a nice light set and pyramiding up in weight each set until the reps are challenging.

For example:

  • Leg extensions (hold the first rep in the extended position for 30 seconds, then do 15 reps) for four rounds; superset with seated hamstring curls (20 reps)
  • Four rounds of barbell squats (12 to 15 reps each) with 20 air squats in between sets
  • Four rounds of walking lunges (10 to 12 reps per leg) with box step ups (10 per leg)
  • Four rounds of 10 burpees superset with 10 kettlebell swings.

The Best Strength-Training Exercises for Weight Loss

1. Squat

Squats are one of the most effective strength-training workouts for weight loss. “I’m a huge fan, and they will seriously kick your butt,” Micetich says. There are many variations of the simple compound move that work multiple muscle groups at the same time. These include front squats, barbell back squats, goblet squats, air squats and sumo squats.

Tip

Put your weight on your mid-foot and in your heels to take the pressure off of your knees when you squat.

2. Burpee

Nobody loves burpees, the exercise that combines push-ups and squat jumps into one physically demanding activity, but they work! “They’ll get your heart rate up right away and wipe you out,” says Micetich. She suggests keeping your core tight while squeezing your butt during the active part of the movement to get the most bang for your buck. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to catch your breath between sets.

3. Deadlift

Deadlifts are another great exercise in the compound movement arsenal, according to Micetich. Just like with squats, the variations are endless — sumo, conventional, Romanian, trap bar, kettlebell or dumbbell — to name a few.

They’re also a perfect solution for any weight-training routine because they work with almost any equipment, including barbells, kettlebells and dumbbells. In most variations, you want to keep your chest lifted and your back and spine neutral throughout. When you are ready to lift the weight, squeeze your glutes and focus on driving your legs through the floor as if you could push the floor away rather than pulling the weight up.

4. Push-Up and Pull-Up

Push-ups and pull-ups may not be easy, but Micetich warns against shying away from the simple but fundamental strength-training moves, which you can do pretty much anywhere. “Having control of your own body is one of the greatest signs of athleticism,” she explains. “These movements can be challenging, but they’re incredibly scalable for any ability level, making them perfect in most workouts.”

5. Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell swings are an old favorite of nearly every trainer, as they engage your whole posterior chain, working your butt off (literally). Micetich explains the key to executing a perfect kettlebell swing is all in the hips. “Keep your back neutral with your weight in your heels and midfoot, not your toes,” she says. “Focus on driving your hips forward in a hinge motion until the bell feels weightless, and then let it smoothly return to the starting position.”

Sample Weight-Training Workouts to Slim Down

How do you use these moves to effectively blast calories? Designing a strength-training routine for weight loss isn’t a case of simply switching your running and cycling to burpees and squats. For the best results, pick exercises that work multiple muscle groups to burn more calories. Micetich put together a few examples of calorie-blasting resistance workouts.

1. Kettlebell Blaster

Move 1: Kettlebell Front Squat

  1. Pick two kettlebells of the same weight that feel comfortable. Bring them to your chest and let them rest on your shoulders, forearms and biceps in a neutral wrist position.
  2. Set your feet shoulder-width apart with toes straight or turned slightly out.
  3. Unlike other squats, which focus on sitting “back” with your hips, in this one you are going to sit straight down, keeping your chest high and elbows up.
  4. Press the ground away to stand up.
  5. Complete 4 rounds of 15.

Move 2: Kettlebell Deadlift

  1. Position your feet in a deadlift stance, with the kettlebell directly under your center of mass (between your feet).
  2. Place your hands on the kettlebell and keep your back neutral.
  3. Drop your hips and tighten your shoulders, hips and core.
  4. Drive through the feet and push your hips forward.
  5. Repeat for 4 rounds of 10.

Move 3: Kettlebell Swing

  1. Keep your back neutral with your weight in your heels and midfoot, not your toes.
  2. Drive your hips forward in a hinge motion until the bell feels weightless. (Your arms will reach about a 90-degree angle out from your body.
  3. Let the kettlebell smoothly return to the starting position and repeat for 6 rounds of 10.

Move 4: Light Kettlebell Jump

  1. Place a light kettlebell between your feet with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Reach down as though you’re going to deadlift, but instead, drop your hips into a squat, drive through the midfoot and explode into a jump.
  3. Complete 3 rounds of 10.

2. Calorie Torcher

Move 1: Front Squat

  1. Place the barbell across the front of your shoulders, with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width. Make sure you can safely and comfortably lift the bar before adding weight.
  2. Set your feet shoulder-width apart with toes straight or turned slightly out.
  3. Sit your hips back, bend your knees and push your knees out to lower into the squat. Keep your chest and elbows up throughout the rep.
  4. Continue bending your hips and knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  5. Press the ground away to stand up.
  6. Repeat for 5 sets of 5 reps.

Move 2: Burpee

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, weight in your heels, arms at your sides.
  2. Lower your body into a squat, placing your hands on the floor directly in front of your feet.
  3. Shift your weight onto your hands.
  4. Jump your feet back and lower yourself into a plank position, forming a straight line from your head to your heels.
  5. Jump your feet back up to your hands, landing just outside of your hands.
  6. Jump up into the air, reaching your arms over your head.
  7. Repeat for 5 sets of 5 reps.

Move 3: Pull-Up

  1. Grab the pull-up bar with your arms shoulder-width apart and your palms facing away from you.
  2. Hang with straight arms and your legs off the floor, then pull yourself up by pulling your elbows down toward the floor until your chin passes the bar.
  3. Lower yourself slowly and with control until your arms are straight again.
  4. Complete 10 reps.

Tip

Use an assisted pull-up machine or a long loop resistance band if you can’t do a full pull-up yet, or work your upper body similarly with a cable machine pulldown or TRX row.

Move 4: Push-Up

  1. Start in a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart, or a bit wider.
  2. As you bend your elbows and lower toward the ground, your elbows should be at about a 45-degree angle to your body. Remember to keep your core engaged and back flat. Your body should be one straight line.
  3. Complete 10 reps.

Tip

Scale back your push-ups by dropping to your knees or elevating your arms onto a sturdy surface like a bench. Elevate your toes on a box or a bench if you’re looking for more of a challenge.

Strength Training For Weight Loss Female

There is a lot of debate in the fitness world over what type of exercise is best for fat loss.  But my question is: why do we have to choose just one? Can’t we simply program an intelligent combination of modalities like high intensity cardio, moderate intensity cardio, and strength training for optimal results?

Strength training is one of the absolute best ways to promote body fat loss when programmed correctly and coupled with an intelligent nutrition program. So what does that program look like? There are three main components:

1. Pure Strength Training (3 days/week)

This part of the program is designed specifically to gain strength and to slightly gain, or at the very minimum maintain, muscle mass. This is critical because if you lose too much muscle mass in the quest to lose body fat, you’ll slow your metabolism and often end up a smaller and softer version of yourself, instead leaner and more firm.

What this set/rep scheme looks like will depend on your training age and ability level, but in general, more advanced trainees can get away with doing much heavier, lower-rep work, while intermediate trainees should stick to moderately heavy loads, and beginners needs to master movements first and foremost, and then they can begin adding weight.

2. Metabolic Resistance Training/Interval Training  (2 days/week)

The different types of metabolic resistance training (MRT) or interval training (often called HIIT) can get very confusing, but just know this: they include periods of intense work, followed by periods of rest, and are performed for a relatively short period of time (generally 4–20 minutes). These can be absolute game-changers when it comes to fat loss if programmed and performed correctly.

However, you do need to be careful when performing these workouts, so make sure you follow these smart tips:

  • Use smart exercise selection. An example of not smart exercise selection would be doing overhead squats after you’ve done handstand push-ups to failure. Your shoulders are completely exhausted and then you want hold weight over your head and squat? I don’t think so!
  • Respect your ability level. If you’re brand new to learning barbell snatches, do you think it’s a good idea to choose a workout that calls for doing several sets of them while under fatigue? If you answered no, you are correct.
  • Choose the right tool for the job. There are a number of ways to perform MRT/interval training. You can use bodyweight, kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells and more.  There might be times when you’re traveling and all you have access to is your bodyweight, so it’s your best bet to use that. If you have access to a full gym, choose a workout that takes full advantage of what the gym has to offer.

3.  Moderate Intensity Cardio (2 days/week)

Although traditional, moderate-intensity, “aerobic” cardio (heart rate in the 120–140 bpm range) has been demonized in the fitness industry in the last 10 years, it’s still very valuable and has its place.

It’s fantastic for improving your aerobic base, which allows you to recover more quickly in between exercises during strength training or high intensity interval training, so you can use more weight or shorter rest periods. It’s also great for improving your overall recovery throughout the week so you can feel more fresh and rested for every workout.

Finally, it can help decrease stress and anxiety. Many of us walk around in a very sympathetic nervous system dominant state where we constantly feel stressed out, anxious, or hyped up. This moderate intensity cardio can help us switch over to a more parasympathetic nervous system dominant state, allowing us to relax more, feel less anxious, and even sleep better.

Here’s the catch: when most of us think of this traditional cardio, we think of slogging away on a treadmill or elliptical for 30 minutes, but that doesn’t have to be the case. In this instance, the heart is kind of a “dumb muscle” and as long as your heart rate is in the 120–140 bpm range, you’ll be reaping the benefits.

So what would this program look like?

This is written for an intermediate lifter; adjust as necessary for your ability level.

Monday – Upper Body + MRT
Tuesday – Moderate Intensity Cardio
Wednesday – Lower Body + MRT
Thursday – OFF
Friday – Full Body
Saturday – Moderate Intensity Cardio
Sunday – OFF

Make sure you include a dynamic warm-up before every workout.

Monday (Upper Body + MRT)

1. Chin-Up (assisted if necessary): 3–4 x 6–10 reps

2. Palm-In Dumbbell Bench Press: 3–4 x 6–10 reps

3a. Face Pull: 3 x 10–12 reps
3b. Push-up (incline if necessary): 3 x AMAP (as many as possible, stopping when you could still do 1–2 more)

4a. Band Pull-Apart: 3 x 12–15 reps
4b. Pallof Press: 3 x 10

End with 4–15 minutes of Metabolic Resistance Training

Tuesday

Moderate Intensity Cardio for 30–40 minutes with your heart rate in the 120–140 bpm range

Wednesday (Lower Body + MRT)

1. Front Squat: 4 x 6 reps

2. Romanian Deadlift: 3–4 x 6–10 reps

3a. Hip Thrust: 3–4 x 10–12
3b. Split Squat: 3–4 x 8–10 reps

4. Band-Assisted Leg Lowering: 3 x 6–10 reps

End with 4–15 minutes of Metabolic Resistance Training

Thursday

OFF

Friday (Full Body)

1. Conventional Deadlift: 4 x 4–6 reps

2a. Single-Leg Squat to Box: 3–4 x 8–10 reps
2b. One-Arm Dumbbell Row: 3–4 x 8–10 reps

3a. Kettlebell Swing: 3–4 x 8–12 reps
3b. Tall-Kneeling Lat Pulldown: 3–4 x 8–12 reps

4a. Slow Mountain Climber: 3–4 x 8–10 reps
4b. Heavy Suitcase Carry: 3–4 x 10–15 yards each side

Saturday

Moderate Intensity Cardio for 30–40 minutes with your heart rate in the 120–140 bpm range

Sunday

OFF

Program Notes

  • Exercises listed with just a number (i.e. 1 or 2) are performed alone. Exercises with a number and letter are performed in a superset (i.e. Slow Mountain Climber and Heavy Suitcase Carry), meaning you perform one set of the Slow Mountain Climber, then move on to one set of the Heavy Suitcase Carry, then go back to the SMC until all sets are complete.
  • If the exercise is performed alone, rest 90–120 seconds between sets.  If it’s performed in a superset, rest 30–60 seconds between exercises.
  • Make sure you’re always challenging yourself weight-wise, but always leave 1 to 2 reps “in the hole,” meaning you could have done 1 to 2 more reps with good form.

Strength Training For Weight Loss Without Equipment

This month’s plan is designed over a 30-day period — we’re giving you today off to recover from last night’s festivities. The workouts are separated into three categories: Upper body, lower body and core. The upper body exercises focus on the arms, chest and muscles of the upper back and shoulders. The lower body exercises focus on the legs and glutes. The core exercises focus on the muscles that run along the spine, the inner and outer thighs, hips and the abs.

As a certified personal trainer, I recommend doing all of the exercises from these categories twice a week, along with two cardio sessions a week of your choice. You can combine them or split them up however you’d like depending on your schedule. The only rule is to avoid doing the upper body or lower body back to back two days in a row. Since these muscles are larger than your core muscles, they need at least one day off to rest and repair.

I recommend completing 30 repetitions of each exercise throughout the workout. So on the upper body day, for example, you could complete 10 reps of each exercise, and then repeat the entire circuit three times.

Download your printable calendar here. Hang the calendar on your fridge, or keep it in your purse or car, for easy reference. Remember, this is just a sample of how you can structure your workouts! The only requirement is that you complete two workouts (with 30 reps of each exercise) from each category every week.

Day 1: Upper Body

Day 2: Lower Body

Day 3: Core

Day 4: Cardio

Day 5: Upper Body & Lower Body

Day 6: Cardio & Core

Day 7: Rest

Day 8: Cardio & Core

Day 9: Lower Body

Day 10: Upper Body

Day 11: Rest

Day 12: Cardio & Core

Day 13: Upper Body & Lower Body

Day 14: Rest

Day 15: Core

Day 16: Rest

Day 17: Upper Body, Lower Body, Core

Day 18: Cardio

Day 19: Core & Upper Body

Day 20: Lower Body – try an advanced move!

Day 21: Rest

Day 22: Upper Body – try an advanced move!

Day 23: Core & Lower Body

Day 24: Cardio

Day 25: Rest

Day 26: Upper Body & Lower Body

Day 27: Core & Cardio

Day 28: Rest

Day 29: Upper Body

Day 30: Lower Body

Upper Body Exercises

Tricep Dips

To work the backs of your arms, tricep dips are an excellent option. Start seated on the floor, and place your hands down so that your fingers are facing towards your body. Press down through the palms of your hands and come up onto your feet so that your knees are in the air directly over your ankles. Bend the elbows and lower your butt down to tap the ground, and then straighten the arms to come up. Repeat this 10 times.

Advanced modification: Instead of having the legs bent for tricep dips, straighten the legs out in front of you to perform this exercise.

Push Ups

Starting in a plank position with your abs pulled in and your shoulders over your wrists, bend the elbows out to the sides, lowering your chest to the ground, and then press back up to a plank position. Repeat 10 times.

Beginner modification: Perform this exercise on your knees.

Advanced modification: Perform this exercise with one leg in the air (be sure to alternate between both legs).

Side Plank

From a plank position, turn your body to the left, reaching your left arm up into the air towards the ceiling. Stack your left foot on top of the right, and pull your right waistline up away from the ground to work the entire right side of your body. Come back to plank, and repeat 10 times. Perform the same exercise to the right.

Beginner modification: Perform side plank with the bottom knee propped up on the ground.

Advanced modification: Perform side plank and lift the top leg up off of the bottom leg.

Plank Ups

Starting in a plank position on your knees, lower down onto your right forearm and then your left forearm. Now you’re in a forearm plank. Then, press your right palm down and then your left palm down to press you back up into a plank. Repeat this 5 times with your right hand leading, and then 5 times with your left hand leading.

Advanced modification: Perform this exercise on your toes (full plank position).

Lower Body Exercises

Squat

Start standing with your feet open shoulder-width. Pull your naval in towards your spine, and bend your knees reaching your butt back as if you’re sitting in a chair. (Look down to make sure your knees are not reaching past your ankles). Press down through your heels, and then stand back up to the starting position, squeezing the glutes at the top. Repeat this 10 times.

Beginner modification: Only squat halfway down before returning to the top.

Advanced modification: Squat and then jump to come up, landing softly with bent knees. Straighten the knees returning to the top position, lower down into the squat again, and jump back up. Repeat this 10 times.

Side Lunge

Standing with legs hip-width apart, step your right foot a few feet to the right and bend the right knee, sitting the right glute back as if you’re trying to sit it down into a chair. Keep the left leg straight. Press down through the right heel to return back to the starting position. Repeat 10 times to the right, and then switch to the left for 10 repetitions.

Beginner modification: Only bend the knee halfway.

Advanced modification: When you come back to center, lift the lunging leg up and out to the side to work the outer hip before moving on to the next rep.

Back Lunge & Lift

Start standing with your feet as wide as your hips. Then, step your left foot back and lower down into a lunge. Press down through the right heel as you lift the left leg straight up behind you to work the hamstring and glute. Then lower back down into the lunge. Repeat this 10 times and then switch sides.

Beginner modification: Take out the leg lift and perform a standard backwards lunge. If you need extra support, hold on to a railing or a table to help with balance.

Curtsy Lunge

Standing up, step your left foot backwards and to the right and bend both knees into a curtsy position as if you’re taking a bow. Then come back to center and repeat on the other side. Complete 10 reps on each side.

Beginner modification: Only curtsy halfway down, then come back to the starting position.

Calf Raises

Standing upright, come up onto your tip toes and then lower back down. Repeat 10 times.

Wide Leg Open-Toe Squat

Start with your feet open wider than your hips, and turn your toes out to the sides. Pull your abs in, and then bend your knees. Track your knees over your second toes as you lower down into the wide leg open toe squat. Stand back up by pressing down through your heels to come up. While lowering down into the squat, hold the dumbbells by your sides and then raise them up out to the sides just as high as your shoulders. As you stand up from the squat, lower the weights back down to your sides. Repeat 10 times, for 3 sets total.

Core Exercises

Superman

Lying on your stomach, pull your naval in towards your spine. Reach your arms in front of you, relax the shoulders, and squeeze the glutes. Then, lift your legs, arms, chest and head off the ground, and slowly lower back down. Repeat 10 times.

Beginner modification: Break the Superman up into two separate movements by first lifting the legs and then lowering them down. Next, lift the arms and chest and then lower them down.

Cobra

Lying on your stomach, place your hands on the floor next to your chest. Pull the abs in, and then press down through your hands to lift yourself up into a cobra position. Make sure to keep the shoulders down and not tilt the head up too far. Repeat this 10 times.

Advanced modification: From the Cobra position, lift the hands up off of the ground so that you’re only using your upper back to keep you lifted.

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