When it comes to losing fat, training plays a very important role in the process.
With so many different types of training out there, you may be wondering “what’s the best way to train to lose fat?”
In this article, we’ll answer that question and more. We’ll cover what kinds of training leads to burning the most fat, the role of nutrition, and even cover some frequently asked questions.
Welcome to the Ultimate Fat Loss Training Guide!
Table of Contents
Training for Fat Loss
Training to lose weight means you want to accomplish two things: you want to train in a way that helps you lose weight, and makes sure that the weight you lose is fat.
While there are many different ways to accomplish these two goals, one of the most efficient ways to do this is to incorporate resistance training and aerobic training (cardio) into your fitness program.
Resistance training will help your body to retain muscle, and aerobic training will help burn extra calories and make it easier to lose weight
We’ll break down both of those styles of training here, and how they can maximize fat loss.
Resistance training is another way of saying training with weights, resistance bands, or some form of extra resistance.
Multiple studies show that resistance training is a great way to tell your body to not burn muscles while you’re losing weight.
To retain muscle, you want to stick to a resistance training plan that hits as many muscle groups as possible. With the right training plan, studies show that untrained individuals can even grow muscle while losing fat!
If you’re wondering how to create that sort of of resistance training plan, you can check out our step 3 in our Muscle Growth Journey, but we’ll quickly summarize the basics here:
- Try to keep your intensity, or how heavy you lift, in the range of 60-80% of your one rep maximum. This translates to a rep range of between 8-20 repetitions per set.
- The ideal weekly volume, or how many reps of any given exercise you perform per week, is in the 40-80 repetitions range when it comes to muscle growth and retention.
- You want your frequency, or how often you hit any muscle group per week, to be 2-3 times per week for optimal muscle growth and retention.
As you are losing weight, you want to make sure all of your lifts are either maintaining strength or going up to ensure you aren’t losing any strength or muscle while losing fat. So if you were benching 100 pounds for 6 reps before you started dieting and losing weight, you would want to make sure that you keep benching 100 pounds for 6 reps as you lose weight.
The only downside to resistance training when it comes to fat loss is that it does not burn as many calories as other types of exercise (such as running). While how many calories you burn will vary based on what exercises you choose, in a typical 1 hour resistance training session, you’ll burn around 300 calories, or the equivalent of just a single donut. Not as much as you may have thought.
With that in mind, you’ll want to combine resistance training with the type of exercise that does burn lots of calories: aerobic exercise.
Aerobic exercise is a type of exercise that relies on oxygen in your bloodstream. This type of exercise typically gets your heart rate up, and on average, burns more calories than resistance training. Knowing this, aerobic exercise is perfect to add before or after your resistance training in order to burn extra calories and make it easier to stay in a caloric deficit!
It’s important to note that research has shown aerobic training before resistance training can compromise your lifts. So, keep any rigorous cardio for the end of your workout if you don’t want your lifts to suffer.
In case you are in need of some ideas for aerobic styles of training, here are some of our favorite aerobic exercises that will help you to burn lots of calories in a short amount of time!
Walking is one of the easiest aerobic exercises you can use to burn calories.
How many calories you burn while walking will depend on how heavy you are and how fast you walk, but a 150 pound person burns around 75 calories walking for just half an hour. To see how many calories you could burn walking, you can check out this calculator!
That means a leisurely walk around the neighborhood could make a sizable dent in your calories burnt during the day!
Running is also a terrific way to burn extra calories. Of course, you’ll burn even more calories running than you do walking.
How many calories you burn while running will depend on how heavy you are and how fast you walk, but a 150 pound person burns around 450 calories running for just half an hour. To see how many calories you could burn running, you can check out this calculator!
That means a quick jog on the treadmill before or after your workout could afford you much more wiggle room in your fat loss diet!
High Intensity Interval Training
High intensity interval training is another fantastic way to burn calories.
HIIT workouts generally combine short bursts of intense exercise with periods of rest or lower-intensity exercise. This can sometimes include resistance training, so you can use HIIT training to burn calories and retain muscle at the same time.
How many calories you burn while HIIT training will depend on how heavy you are and what exercises you choose, but a 150 pound person burns around 250 calories while exercising with HIIT for just half an hour.
While it may not be as much as a more “pure” form of cardio like running, HIIT training is a great way to burn calories and maintain muscle simultaneously if you’re crunched for time.
Biking is another great way to burn extra calories, and can be much easier on the joints than something like running. How many calories you burn while biking will depend on how heavy you are and how fast you bike, but a 150 pound person burns around 250 calories biking for just half an hour.
To see how many calories you would burn biking, you can use this calculator!
For more information on biking, feel free to check out our more in depth article on biking for fitness and exercise.
Jumping rope is yet another great way to burn calories.
Since you can do it just about anywhere, it is relatively low impact, it can also make for a great warmup for a workout. Jumping rope is also great for building coordination and timing throughout your body.
How many calories you burn while biking will depend on how heavy you are and how quickly you skip rope, but a 150 pound person burns around 400 calories jumping rope for just half an hour. You can use this calculator to see how many calories you would burn jumping rope.
For more information on jumping rope, check our article on How to Jump Rope Like Floyd Mayweather.
Swimming also makes for a great way to burn calories and keep you in a caloric deficit. Swimming also comes with numerous benefits, such as increased lung capacity, while being easy on the joints.
Like the other exercises, how many calories you burn will depend on your weight and technique, but to give you an idea, a 150 pound person would burn around 400 calories working on their backstroke for an hour. You can use this calculator to find how many calories you would burn swimming!
For more information on swimming, check out our article on swimming for fitness and fat loss.
An Example Fat Loss Workout
To illustrate everything we’ve gone over so far, we’ll walk through an example workout that satisfies all of the above criteria!
First, you’ll want to start your workout with a light aerobic warmup, perhaps a 15-25 minute walk on the treadmill. This will help burn extra calories while leaving you with plenty of energy to lift weights.
After warming up, you’ll then want to do some sort of routine that will preserve muscle. We pulled this workout for day 1 of our 3 Day Maximum Muscle Growth Workout Plan as a great example.
This is a great example of a workout that will help retain and even build muscle while you lose fat.
It satisfies all of the basic requirements of a workout that will help retain muscle:
- You can see that rep count for each exercise falls within the 8-20 rep range, which corresponds to a 60-80% intensity which will lead to optimal muscle retention.
- Each of the muscle groups involved is hit with optimal volume (which in this case are primarily chest, shoulders, and triceps). For example, if we consider that the bench press, seated dumbbell overhead press, and lateral raise all hit the shoulders, the total volume would be about 66 reps, and that's well within the ideal 40-80 range.
- While performing this workout once per week would certainly aid in muscle retention while burning fat, we can optimize the frequency variable by performing it twice per week.
To finish things off, you can add a 15-25 minute jog at the end to burn extra calories. Between the warm up walk, the workout itself, and the jog at the end, you can expect to burn roughly 600-700 calories. That’s enough to afford you an entire meal in your daily meal plan!
That concludes our Ultimate Fat Loss Training Guide! With the information above, you should now know exactly how to design your training plan to maximize fat loss, retain muscle, and achieve your ideal physique! In this article, we covered:
- Resistance training is the best way to preserve muscle while losing weight, which helps you burn pure fat.
- Aerobic training burns more calories than resistance training, so it is perfect to add to a resistance training plan in order to burn extra calories and stay in a caloric deficit.
- There are many types of aerobic training that will help you to burn extra calories. Find one that fits your preferences and lifestyle!
For the next step in your fat loss journey, be sure to visit our Fat Loss Journey page!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about fat loss training!
Can you explain how fat loss occurs?
To lose body fat, you first have to take in less calories than you burn. This puts your body in a caloric deficit, meaning it has to find energy from a source other than the food you take in. We explain this in more detail in our Basics of Nutrition article, but we’ll briefly summarize what you need to know here.
Since you are not providing energy from an outside source (food), your body is forced to convert something of its own for energy in order to function. That will typically be either fat or muscle.
I’m following all the rules to train for fat loss, but I’m not seeing results. What gives?
While training for fat loss is a big part of the equation, it's not the whole picture. Nutrition and sleep also play a huge role in fat loss, and you need to dial those in if you want to guarantee results. For more information on that, be sure to check out our Fat Loss Journey page!
Can you burn fat just with resistance training/lifting?
Absolutely! While working aerobic exercise into your routine will help you burn a few extra hundred calories (leaving room for that donut that's calling your name), it is not necessary to maximize your fat loss. Resistance training will burn calories and help you retain muscle, you just won’t burn the extra calories if you skip your cardio.
Can you burn fat just with aerobic training/cardio?
Absolutely! If you were to just incorporate aerobic training/cardio into your routine and stick to a high protein diet that puts you in a caloric deficit, you would still lose more fat than muscle.
With that said, studies have clearly shown that you retain more muscle if you incorporate some sort of resistance training, so resistance training is highly encouraged if you want to burn as much fat as possible.
References and Useful Research