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Weight Training For Weight Loss


By Bianca Carew, Personal Trainer at PureGym Cambridge Leisure Park

If weight loss is your goal, including weight training into your exercise routine can help you to effectively reach your goals, and provide added health benefits too. 

How to achieve weight loss

To achieve weight loss your body will need to be in a calorie deficit (expending more energy than you put in). You can achieve a calorie deficit by reducing how much you eat and/or by increasing how much you move. It's important to make small adjustments by focusing on implementing healthy behaviors so that you aren't compromising your health and so your weight loss journey is sustainable.

Why should I weight train if I'm trying to lose weight?

When you lose weight, you will likely not only be seeing fat loss but  you'll be losing muscle mass too. This will impact how much energy you burn at rest (your basal metabolic rate). In simple terms, the more muscle mass you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate, which is why keeping this number high where you can, through retaining as much muscle as possible by including weight training into your weekly exercise routine, becomes important.

Plus, weight training provides a range of health benefits too. From improved bone density, to improved posture and muscular strength, there are many great health benefits to lifting weights. In fact, the NHS recommends adults (aged 19 to 64) to do muscle strengthening activities that work all the major muscles at least twice per week, so it's a good idea to lift weights for general wellbeing, if you haven't already started.

Set some goals

The first step before you start weight training for weight loss is to set some clear goals. Ask yourself what is it that you want to achieve. Do you know how much weight you want to lose? Do you have an idea of when you might like to achieve these by? Are there any things you'd like to be able to do better, such as being able to lift and carry your young kids? Whatever you want to achieve, make sure your goals are realistic and achievable, so that you have a real focus for your training moving forward. You can check out our guide on How to set fitness goals to help you with this.

Training Considerations

How many times should I be lifting weights?

If you're new to weight training, a good place to start is training 2-3 times a week with weights.  You'll be likely to experience some muscle soreness (also known as DOMS) as your body adapts to weight training, so having rest days in between your sessions is a good idea. This will give you plenty of time to recover, which is vital for growing and building muscle. As you get stronger and more comfortable lifting weights, you can always increase the frequency if needed. 

What exercises should I be doing?

Learning proper technique is essential when it comes to lifting weights. The main lifting movements when it comes to weight training are: squats, hinge (deadlifts), row, press and push and pull.

A personal trainer can help you to learn weight training exercises and perform them with good form, as well as put a training programme together that is tailored for you. If you have any questions, don't be afraid to come say hi to us as we're more than happy to help you!

You can also join one of our fitness classes which are led by qualified instructors like myself, and are included in your membership. Out of the fitness classes we run in our gyms, Pump, Tone and Kettlebell classes, are ones you will use be using weights.

For more weight training tips for beginners check out our guide What training for beginners: what you need to know.

Nutritional considerations

Whilst weight loss and fat loss can be achieved by moving more if it puts you in a calorie deficit, it's a good idea to look at your diet and see where you can potentially make improvements to help optimise your results and general wellbeing.

For nutritional advice, you should make sure to seek advice from a qualified health professional like a dietician or qualified nutritionist. For basic guidelines a personal trainer might be able to help you with this.

Here are some things you may wish to consider:

  • Staying hydrated: You may find you need to increase your water intake when you start exercising, so bringing a water bottle with you to the gym is a great way to keep yourself hydrated. Considering 70% of our bodies are  made up of water and most of our cells need water to function properly, keeping hydrated is also important for general functioning of the body. 
  • Meeting protein intake requirements: When it comes to lifting weights, protein will help your body to repair and grow muscle tissue, so it's important to make sure you're getting enough protein in your diet. How much protein you need will depend on the individual. According to the British Nutrition Foundation, the Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) is set at 0.75g of protein per kilogram body weight per day in adults, for a rough guideline.
  • Getting adequate carbohydrates: Carbs are not the enemy - they can be a great source of energy to fuel your workouts, but it's important to note that many processed foods can be high in  refined carbohydrates, so you may want to consider your carbohydrate sources, and whether you want to substitute refined carbs with whole carbohydrates.

Other Considerations

Physical Activity Outside Of The Gym

Another way to increase your energy expenditure to help you achieve the calorie deficit that is required for weight loss, is to look at your activity outside of the gym.

Changing your habits, no matter how small, can accumulate and lead to some big lasting changes. Simple things like getting the stairs instead of the lift, going on a morning or lunchtime walk or going on a bike ride. These actions don’t have to be big or leave you tired and out of breath but if you continue to do them and make them a part of your lifestyle they will definitely help you reach your weight loss goals quicker. For tips on making healthy habits stick check out our guide on how to build healthy habits.

Rest & Recovery

Resting is just as an important, but overlooked part of your weight loss journey. It is through rest that your body can recover and repair itself, and allow your body to get stronger. Having less sleep can also cause you to have higher stress hormone levels (cortisol), which in turn can cause cravings for carbohydrate and sugar-rich foods. Over time, this can lead to long-term weight gain. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a day to help you feel fully rested to approach your day and workouts full of energy!

For more tips on getting a restful good night's sleep check out our Sleep You Way To Success guide.

Find plenty more tips on weight training for beginners in our starting out in the gym guides.

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