How Often Should I Strength Train to Lose Weight?

Strength training includes doing any kind of exercise that places a demand on your muscles to work against a weight or resistance. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least two sessions of resistance training in addition to three, 20-minutes sessions of vigorous cardio for minimum fitness. To lose weight you can gradually work up to lifting weights three to four times weekly.

A man lifts weights at the gym. (Image: Minerva Studio/iStock/Getty Images)

Divide Your Workouts

Beginners to weightlifting can benefit by learning the basics of resistance training with a knowledgeable friend or certified trainer. Doing that will help prevent injuries. To lose weight, do at least two sessions a week and after three months of consistent training, consider doing three to four times a week. Split your workouts into upper and lower body exercises so you give each time for recovery. For example, do chest and back on Monday, legs and abs on Wednesday and body weight exercises with a Swiss or medicine ball on Friday.

Circuit Training

All resistance training increase the amount of lean muscle tissue you have, so you are burning more calories to speed weight loss. It's possible to lose weight by resistance training only, but you would need to circuit train to get your heart rate up. Circuit training is doing at least 8 to 12 repetitions for one to three sets and moving on to the next exercise with little or no extended rest.

Super Sets

After you have laid a foundation of resistance training you can increase your weight loss by increasing the difficulty of your workouts with super sets. A super set is two or more different exercises that work the same group of muscles. For example, for a leg workout, consider walking lunges with dumbbells, seated leg extensions, hamstring curls and standing leg press. You can take a reasonable amount of time to rest, unlike circuit training which emphasizes little rest. Super sets are not for beginners.

Designing Your Exercise Routine

Remember to warm up before all resistance training workouts with at least 10 minutes of cardio such as walking or skipping rope. For all weightlifting workouts, exercise opposing muscles groups. For example, on chest and back days, work the pecs of the chest, latissimus, trapezius and rhomboids of the back. Also work the biceps and triceps of the arms, and front and back of the deltoids or shoulders. This prevents creating muscles imbalances. You will also burn more calories this way. Include at least five to 10 minutes of stretching all the muscles you worked to help reduce muscle soreness the next day. Engage in at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise weekly, in addition to your strength training, to encourage further weight loss.

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