Why is strength training important for weight loss?

Strength training is truly important for weight loss. While cardio training helps to create a caloric deficit, and is also fundamental; strength training helps to build muscle which not only provides shape to the muscles, but also has the ability to increase your base metabolic rate. Muscle demands energy at rest; burns energy at rest. Strength training can give you an edge in weight loss for that very reason. Give your body a one- two punch, cardio and strength together will make you an unstoppable machine.

Strength training is important for weight loss because it increases muscle mass (lean body mass) and EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) which will burn more calories at rest (and after a workout). The more muscle mass your body has, the more calories it will burn while exercising and at rest.

A great exercise program for weight loss will include strength training as well as cardio vascular exercise.  Strength training can help you lose weight for many reasons:

  1. Muscles at rest require calories, while fat cells at rest do not, so the greater your lean body mass, the more calories you will burn throughout the day, including when you are sleeping. 
  2. The body will burn more calories in the 24 hours after a strength training workout than a cardio one, so while the calories burned during exercise might not be as much as a good cardio workout, you’ll continue to burn calories after you stop working out.
  3. Strong muscles will help you be more efficient with your cardio workouts, and in everyday life, increasing your caloric burn for both.
Strength training is just one part of your weight loss progress.  Not only does strength training help you burn calories but also the sculpt and tone you look for.  Strength training also helps you increase your metabolism as well.  Each pound of muscle you put on can help your body burn an extra 30-50 calories per day.  So this is why strength training is important for your weight loss goals.
Jara Soost , NASM Elite Trainer
Athletic Training Specialist

Strength training is very important for weight loss. Muscle is an active tissue in our body that burns calories. So in a sense--more muscle equals more calories burnt. Muscle tissue runs on the philosophy of "use it or lose it". It only takes a few days to start to lose muscle, so to go from flab to fab, keeping that tissue moving and working will be to your benefit. Remember you can strength train without getting ready for your next body building competition. It’s all in the variables you choose to use. Also, muscle weighs more than fat, so have your personal trainer measure you to make sure you are gaining muscle and losing the fat.

Strength training also tends to burn more calories per work out than other forms of exercise. So don't be afraid to make those muscles work--they will work in your favor.

If you want to lose fat, or change your body composition, one of the most important things one can do is do some form of training, whether it will be calisthenics training, free weight training, or machine weight training. Diet and cardio are equally important, but when it comes to changing how your body looks, strength training is by far the most important.

The benefits of strength training are:

  • It can help raise your metabolism. Muscle burns more calories than fat, the more muscle you have, and the more calories you will burn.
  • Strengthens bone density
  • Makes you stronger to perform daily, recreational, or sporting activities
  • Help you avoid injuries

Strength training is important for weight loss because the only way too really increase your metabolism is by increasing your muscle mass or challenging the muscle mass that you already have. The only way to challenge your muscles is through strength/resistance training. Cardio vascular work, for the most part, does not provide enough resistance to create that break down repair cycle that is needed for muscles to increase. Since muscle burns more calories than fat, as your muscle mass increases so does your metabolism.

As you build up your lean muscle mass your body becomes a more efficient machine. You will burn more calories per hour, around 60 kilocalories per hour for ever pound of lean muscle tissue.

Strength training helps you lose weight in two ways. First weight training, especially intense weight training burns large amounts of calories both during and after the workout. Secondly, strength training helps you build and maintain the muscle you have, which helps keep your metabolism from slowing down. 
Jonathan Penney
Fitness Specialist

All too often individuals get caught up in the thought that in order to lose weight, I must do cardiovascular activity all the time.  But strength training will truly add to your chances of weight loss.  The answer is simple, strength training will help increase your lean muscle mass, with increase lean muscle mass you will have an increased metabolism, with a higher metabolism, the easier it will be to burn calories and lose weight.


Luis Alonso, NASM Elite Trainer
Fitness Specialist

Along with aerobic exercise and a sensible, well-balanced diet, strength training is a very important component of any fitness and weight loss program! Any weight loss program is less effective when any one of those components is ignored. They work in tandem to not only help you lose the weight that you want, but really help you make a lifestyle change that can add quality years to your life!

These are just some of the ways that strength training can contribute to healthy weight loss:

  • It increases our ability to burn more calories from fat at rest by boosting your resting and exercising metabolism from the increased amount of “metabolically active” muscle you have trained.
  • If you strength train, you can be assured that more of the weight that you lose is coming from fat, and NOT lost muscle mass.
  • Stressing your muscles will strengthen your tendons as well as your bones, so it can help guard against bone loss.
  • Muscles that are conditioned can more easily enable you to perform your activities of daily living with less chance of injury.
  • Conditioned muscles have a greater ability to convert and store sugar as glycogen inside them, instead of storing the excess sugar as fat.
  • Regular strength training can even help you sleep better, since your body will naturally want to rest after the positive stress of exercising.
  • Strength training provides a great outlet to help you channel the negative stress of your day.
  • Conditioned muscles help improve your self esteem; Toned muscles look better than unconditioned muscles…you look better, so you feel better about yourself and you project that confidence to others around you!

As you can see, adding a well structured strength training program to your weight loss regimen is a smart and healthy thing to do! 

Joan Roth, NASM Elite Trainer
Fitness Specialist

Both cardio and strength training are key components of a balanced workout program and successful weight management. However, a regular strength training program can help you increase your lean muscle mass, reduce your body fat, and burn calories more efficiently.

We lose muscle mass as we age and if we don’t continue to perform resistance training our percentage of body fat will increase.  Remember, as you gain muscle, your metabolism gets a lift and burns more calories –even at rest!  This improved efficiency can result in weight loss. You'll also have better endurance for other activities.  Overall, the more toned your muscles, the easier it is to control your weight. 

So be sure to include strength training as part of your workout focus!

Eric Olsen
Fitness Specialist
Resistance training maybe the most effective exercise for weight loss because, more than any other type of activity, it appears to elevate the metabolism and keep it elevated longer, even at rest. You may burn the same number of calories during 30 minutes of brisk walking or jogging as you will during 30 minutes of resistance training, but overall, thanks to the postexercise metabolic boost, you'll probably end up with a greater caloric deficit as a result of resistance work. Plus you will enjoy the important benefits of greater overall muscle gain, including improved strength, better posture, improved appearance, and more.
Lifefit: An Effective Exercise Program for Optimal Health and a Longer Life

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Lifefit: An Effective Exercise Program for Optimal Health and a Longer Life

An easy-to-follow programme for lengthening and improving lives. More than an exercise guide, this text is an effective tool for making meaningful lifestyle decisions to benefit long-term fitness. In...
Andrea Metcalf
Fitness Specialist

Strength training is key to weight loss because:

  1. burns calories.
  2. increases lean muscle mass resulting in higher metabolic output - more calories burned while resting.

And, personally, it feels better to me and is less boring than just walking on a treadmill.

Strength training is very important for weight loss. Strength training uses resistance methods like weight machines, resistance bands, free weights, or a user’s own body weight to build muscle and strength. Strength training burns calories and will assist with keeping your metabolic rate high under a good nutrition program. Another benefit of strength training during weight loss is muscle toning and increased health. Strength training strengthen joints, improve quality of sleep, and help lower cholesterol levels.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.