Can You Lift Light Weights Daily to Lose Weight?

Combined with a healthy diet, light weight training daily will help you lose weight and gain lean muscle mass. At the same time, incorporating rest days is an important part of your fitness routine. Be strategic with your weight lifting and rest periods for optimal results.

Lifting weights every day results in greater lean muscle mass, which can help you burn calories and lose weight. Credit: Mireya Acierto/DigitalVision/GettyImages

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Lifting weights every day results in greater lean muscle mass, which can help you burn calories and lose weight. Incorporate a healthy diet and an active rest day for optimal results.

Daily Strength Training Routine Basics

Begin your sessions with a warmup of about five or 10 minutes, such as a quick spin on a stationary bike or a few dynamic stretches. Just get your body moving so you can warm and prepare your muscles to work without getting injured.

Your daily strength training routine should include resistance exercises that make your muscles work harder by overloading them. Lifting weights every day results in muscle growth as you add resistance to different movements.

Some people choose to strength train one muscle group at a time — for instance, training legs one day and upper body the next. Another option is to perform whole-body strength training and work out all your muscle groups in one session. A general guideline is to perform three sets of an exercise with eight to 12 repetitions per set, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Whatever routine you prefer, just make sure you strength train each major muscle group at least twice a week, per the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. If you enjoy your training, you'll be more likely to stick with it — so choose the types of strength training workouts you like.

Light Weight Versus Heavy Weight

When it comes to strength training, there are two different types of techniques: lifting lighter weights for a high number of reps, or lifting heavy weights for fewer reps. Generally speaking, light weight training daily with higher reps builds muscle endurance, while heavy weight lifting builds strength.

There are different schools of thought on whether it's best to use lighter weights and high reps or heavier weights and low reps for weight loss. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) advises using heavy weights for weight loss and gradually increasing your load as you get stronger. The increase in weight will build strength and muscle mass, boosting your metabolic rate and helping you burn calories and lose weight.

Meanwhile, in a small study published in July 2016 in the Journal of Applied Physiology, 49 male subjects lifted weights to the point of muscle fatigue — one group with heavy weights and low reps and one group with light weights and high reps. At the study's completion, researchers found that the gains in muscle mass and muscle fiber size were nearly identical for the two groups.

Push to Failure

The Journal of Applied Physiology research supports the idea that that as long you fatigue the muscle, it doesn't matter whether you use light or heavy weights to gain muscle mass. The idea is to push yourself with any exercise to the point where you barely complete the last rep.

In the case of heavier weights, you'll get to that point of failure more quickly. As you reach the point of muscle fatigue, you'll be tearing down muscle fibers, forcing your muscles to adapt, change and grow as they undergo protein synthesis. With lighter weights, failure will take longer in order to stress your muscles enough and cause growth.

Note that your daily strength training routine need not be longer than 30 to 45 minutes. In fact, you can get it done in 20 minutes if you're efficient, says ACE. One way to maximize your time is with supersets, which involve doing two or more exercises back to back that target the same muscle group. Likewise, hybrid sets combine two or more movements in one exercise, such as a squat with an overhead press.

You can also incorporate circuit training, where you move quickly from one exercise to the next and rest in between circuits. Each circuit should include about three or four different exercises that target different muscle groups — you can include hybrid exercises, too. The benefit of circuits, hybrids and supersets is not only time efficiency, but also added intensity, which can help you elevate your heart rate, burn calories and lose weight.

Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Supersets, Tri-Sets and Giant Sets

Include Rest Days

Although heavy or light weight training daily may help you lose weight, it's not necessarily advisable to work out every day. Incorporating rest days into your routine is vital to your long-term weight-loss success.

When you rest, you give your body a chance to recover from a weight lifting session. The microscopic tears in your muscle fibers will heal and cause your muscles to grow bigger and stronger. Without that rest, you risk injuries and overtraining to the point where your muscles are overworked and unable to perform at the same level.

Aim to take at least one day off from weight training per week for optimal results. In addition, you may wish to rest each muscle group for a day before working it again if you've stressed the muscle enough to cause protein synthesis.

You can make it a productive rest by including some type of light activity, such as walking, yoga, cycling or swimming. Keep it low-impact so you'll be able to rest your muscles while boosting your heart rate — and your mood, notes ACE.

These active rest days also help your body deliver nutrients to your muscles as they recover. The increased blood flow associated with light activity makes it easier for nutrients to travel where they're needed.

Read more: How Scheduled Rest Can Really Help Your Body Recover Outside the Gym

Eat a Healthy Diet

Even if you're lifting weights every day, results depend largely on the food you're eating. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends a balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats to fuel your workouts. Incorporate the following macronutrient suggestions into your daily diet as you work to build muscle:

  • Protein — Eat lean proteins such as chicken, turkey and fish, comprising about 10 to 35 percent of total calories.
  • Carbohydrates — To fuel your muscles, about half of your calories should come from healthy carbohydrates, such as whole grains, low-fat milk, fruits and vegetables.
  • Fats — Healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado and walnuts should make up 20 to 35 percent of your calories for overall health and muscle strength.

It's also important to get enough calories without overeating. Muscles need calories to grow, yet you need to create a caloric deficit to lose weight.

Knowing your basal metabolic rate (BMR) will help you estimate how many calories you should be eating based on your activity level. Your BMR tells you how much energy you need just to exist and is based on your age, gender and other factors.

For example, a 35-year-old woman who is 5 feet, 5 inches and weighs 150 pounds has a BMR of 1,331 calories per day. If she is active three or four times a week, her daily calorie needs jump to 2,063. As such, if she wants to lose weight, she needs to take in fewer than 2,063 calories, which can be accomplished by eating less and exercising. Note that these numbers are only estimates and may vary from person to person.

Stay consistent with a healthy diet, and it will help support your daily strength training routine. It'll also allow you to achieve the weight-loss results you desire.

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