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How Women Lift Weights to Lose Weight

author image Eric Brown
Eric Brown began writing professionally in 1990 and has been a strength and conditioning coach and exercise physiologist for more than 20 years. His published work has appeared in "Powerlifting USA," "Ironsport" and various peer-reviewed journals. Brown has a Bachelor of Science in exercise physiology from the University of Michigan and a Master of Science in kinesiology from the University of California, Los Angeles.
How Women Lift Weights to Lose Weight
A woman is weight training. Photo Credit: prudkov/iStock/Getty Images

Women can use a variety of lifting programs and methods to lose weight, including heavy resistance training, conditioning work and barbell complexes. You can use various programming techniques within a workout to increase the number of calories burned, allowing you to build muscle while burning fat. Consult your physician before beginning any diet or exercise program.

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Intensity and Speed

Train heavy with short rest periods, using at least 75 percent of your one-repetition maximum. If you are new to lifting, take time to work up to this, slowly adding weight without sacrificing good technique. Keep your rest periods short, no more than 90 seconds. This allows you to gain a muscle-building boost of hormones, such as testosterone, from your endocrine system while avoiding an increase in hormones that cause muscle wasting and increase fat storage, such as cortisol. This will also increase bone mineral density.


Instead of set after set of the same exercise, you can perform what is known as "super sets" where you do an exercise for one muscle group then, without resting, do an exercise for another muscle group. A good example would be squatting, which really works the quadriceps, or the front of the thigh, followed by leg curls which work the back of the thigh, or hamstrings. Take a rest after you have performed the two sets. Drop sets are another method of burning additional fat, where you execute an exercise until you cannot lift any more, then drop the weight 20 percent and keep going. You can repeat this once or twice more.

Barbell Complexes

Complexes, while difficult, help burn fat for weight loss. Moving quickly from one exercise to the next, perform a series of at least three, perhaps as many as five exercises, in quick succession, then do the entire series again. Each time through the series is a single repetition. An example would be starting with the bar hanging in front of you at arm's length, then power cleaning the bar to your shoulders. From here, perform a front squat, then press the bar to arms length over head. Lower the bar to your shoulders and perform a squat, then stand up and press the bar back over your head. Lower it to your starting position once again. This is one repetition, and if you can manage seven to eight repetitions, you are doing well. If you can get 10 reps in, it is time to raise the weight.


The Tabata protocol is performing a full-body exercise for a set time, usually 20 seconds. This is followed by a 10-second rest period. Repeat this seven more times, with the goal being eight sets of as many repetitions as you can manage in each 20-second interval. A good exercise to use is the front squat, as you can just stand there in the rack in between sets, as you have no time to do anything else. This training method can be used with squat, deadlifts, power cleans or any other exercise that stimulates multiple muscle groups, and you will burn far more fat than you do with conventional training methods.

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