A recent study followed dieters who lost 21 pounds from either performing pure cardio or strength training. For the cardio group, six of those pounds that they lost came from muscle; while the lifters who advocated strength training for weight loss lost almost all 21 pounds of pure fat. Needless to say, they probably fit into their skinny jeans better because of it.
Why is that the case? Strength training is the number-one way to build more muscle. And for every three pounds of muscle you gain, you can expect to burn an extra 120 calories a day without moving a single one of those muscles compared to cardio where you have to move to lose weight. So, now that we have established the benefits of strength training for weight loss, here are 6 of the best moves for maximum weight loss.
Do this all-over strength workout 2–3 times per week, leaving at least a day’s rest in between.
Each move is a “compound” exercise, meaning it targets multiple muscle groups, so you get a really big bang for your strength-training buck! Rest for 30–60 seconds after each set.
1. Squat to Overhead Press
Areas Worked: quadriceps, hamstrings, butt, abs, shoulders
A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, elbows bent, a 5-pound weight in each hand at shoulder height, palms forward. Lower into a squat (don’t let knees go past toes); hold for a moment.
B. Push through heels to stand up, pressing weights overhead. Return to starting position. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.
2. Single-Leg Dumbbell Row
Areas Worked: back, shoulders, biceps, abs, quadriceps, hamstrings, butt
A. Stand holding a 5- to 10-pound weight in left hand. Hinge forward so back is flat and almost parallel to floor; rest right hand on a chair or low shelf for support. Extend left arm toward floor, palm facing in; lift straight left leg behind you, so body forms a T.
B. Slowly bend left elbow and draw weight up until elbow is even with torso; hold for a moment, then lower weight. Do 15 reps, then switch sides and repeat. Do 3 sets.
3. Step-Up With Bicep Curl
Areas Worked: quadriceps, hamstrings, butt, abs, biceps
A. Stand with left foot on a sturdy bench or step, a 5-pound weight in each hand.
B. With weight on left foot, lift to standing on the step, right thigh raised so it’s parallel to floor; at the same time, curl weights up toward shoulders. Return to starting position. Do 15 reps, then switch sides and repeat. Do 3 sets.
4. Dolphin Plank
Areas Worked: back, abs, shoulders
A. Lie facedown with toes tucked. Keeping forearms on floor, pull bellybutton in toward spine, and raise hips to come into low plank position.
B. Inhale while lifting hips further so body forms an inverted V; pause, then slowly return to starting position. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.
5. Curtsy Lunge
Areas Worked: hips, butt, quadriceps, hamstrings, abs
A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, hands on hips. Take a giant step diagonally back with left foot and cross it behind your right; bend knees (as if curtsying) as you reach your left hand toward floor on the outside of your right foot.
B. Return to starting position. Do 15 reps, then switch sides and repeat. Do 3 sets.
Areas Worked: the back, butt
Lie facedown with arms and legs extended, toes pointed, palms down. Inhale while raising arms and legs as high as you can; pause, then exhale while slowly returning to starting position. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.