What Weight-Lifting Exercise Burns the Most Fat?

Weight lifting might not be high on your list when it comes to fat loss, but it definitely should be. Along with a healthy, calorie-reduced diet and interval cardio sessions, lifting weights can help you build muscle, which can help you shed excess body fat.

Weight lifting builds muscle, which might just help you burn more fat throughout the day.
Image Credit: DeanDrobot/iStock/Getty Images

So which weight-lifting exercise is the best for fat loss? Well, there are a lot of factors at play. The most important is the intensity of the exercise, which determines the amount of energy you use to do it and whether or not the energy burned primarily comes from carbohydrate or fat stores. Next, you'll want to choose a compound exercise, which uses more than one muscle group.

Burn More Calories From Fat vs. Carbs

The higher the intensity of the exercise, a larger percentage of calories are burned from carbohydrate stores. High-intensity weight training typically will burn most it calories from carbohydrate stores during the weight-lifting set or even the entire session.

However, keeping your heart rate elevated throughout your session can help increase the percentage of calories burned from fat stores. Although lower-intensity exercises do burn a larger percentage of calories from fat, higher-intensity exercise burns more total calories.

Additionally, high-intensity weight-lifting sessions are more effective at keeping your metabolism elevated post-workout than lower-intensity weight-lifting sessions, essentially burning more total calories and more calories from fat stores.

Read more: The Best Low-Impact Exercises That Burn the Most Calories

Increase Your Workout Intensity

Intensity is also affected by the resistance, duration or repetitions and rest periods performed or used during the exercise. Vigorous-intensity weight lifting will burn more calories than moderate- or lower-intensity weight-lifting sessions when performing the same exercise or exercises.

A vigorous-intensity weight-lifting exercise might be performing the deadlift using a heavy weight at 85 to 95 percent of your one-repetition maximum (1RM, the most amount of weight you can lift just once) for two or three repetitions, or to muscle failure, resting two minutes before repeating for four or five sets. It could also mean deadlifting at moderate intensity 75 to 85 percent of your 1RM for six to eight reps, resting 60 seconds between sets.

Additionally, including supersets (two or more exercises performed back to back without rest) in your routines will also increase the intensity and help to burn more calories. The elimination of rest periods significantly increases the intensity, because it keeps your energy demands up and your heart rate elevated, thus burning more calories.

Add More Compound Exercises

Compound exercises are the most energy-demanding weight-lifting exercises. These exercises are multi-joint movements that require numerous different muscle groups to perform, such as:

  • Bench press
  • Pull-ups
  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Snatch
  • Power clean and press

These are high-energy exercises because they work nearly every major muscle group in the body. The more muscle groups involved in the movement, the more energy is required.

Read more: 10 Compound Moves for Greater Pump in Less Time

Try This Weight-Lifting Workout for Fat Loss

A sample high-intensity weight-lifting workout will involve mostly compound exercises performed using a moderately high resistance and repetition range with minimal rest periods. A sample workout might look like this:

  • 5 pull-ups every 30 seconds for three minutes
  • 5 sets of 10 repetitions of dead lifts at 70 percent of your 1RM, resting 60 seconds between sets
  • 3 sets of 10 push-ups
  • 3 sets of 10 jump squats
  • 3 sets of 10 bench presses
  • 3 sets of 10 shoulder presses

Don't rest between exercises, only rest one minute after each set.

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