Strength Training for Weight Loss: Feel Fabulous in 2019 Part 2

Strength Training for Weight Loss

Welcome back to The Science of Fat Loss Hints, Tricks, and Tips: Part 2 learn how to benefit from strength training for weight loss speeds up your metabolism and helps to sculpt your body. Being a holistic personal trainer and nutrition coach in Los Angeles for the past 17 years has given me some interesting and key insights into healthy eating and exercise. We will start by discussing how muscle mass, weight lifting, strength training and exercise play an integral part of your fitness program.


Muscle Mass and Metabolism

You can boost your metabolism by gaining muscle. When you increase your muscle mass, you boost your resting metabolism. A pound of muscle can burn anywhere from 10 to 50 extra calories per day – the range depends on activity level. Muscle tissues use more than half the energy we burn at rest. What’s the best way to gain muscle? Strength training with weights and interval training are hands down the two best ways to increase metabolism and muscle mass.

Women, don’t worry, you will not get big! This idea is one of the biggest myths that I come across. According to an article in the International Sports Sciences Association, “Women have about 15-20% less concentration of testosterone in their body than men do. Without that extra testosterone, ladies can’t biologically build the big muscles like men.” It’s science so stop worrying.  If a woman does appear to be looking bulky while following a strength training program, it has more to do with poor diet than lifting weights.  What ends up happening is that performing any exercise program, this will increase overall appetite.  If you are already eating poorly, due to an increase in appetite because of the exercise program, you could end up gaining weight due to an increase in hunger.  However, if you couple strength training and a sound nutritional program, weight loss or fat loss will follow in addition to an increase in muscle.  The most important point is that there is a synergy between healthy eating, strength training, stress management and good quality sleep – all of these points are equally important.

Simply put, strength training and weight loss go hand in hand and women and men should weight train to tone up! This always needs to be coupled with a good nutrition program.  To learn more about nutrition, please see my free grocery list.

Also, interval training or very short high-intensity cardio workouts are also productive and are fantastic for body sculpting and toning up. More on interval training later.

A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in April 1999 showed how powerful strength training for weight loss could be when compared to long bouts of cardio training. The study observed two sets of groups; both sets were obese. One group was put on a cardio exercise program (running, biking or jogging four times per week). The other group did strength training three times per week and no cardio. At the end of the study, the aerobic group lost 37 pounds and the strength training group lost 32 pounds. But here is the kicker, the cardio group lost 10 pounds of muscle, but the strength training group gained muscle. When they looked at each groups’ metabolism or their Basil Metabolic Rate, the cardio group was burning 210 fewer calories per day (slower metabolism), and the strength training group was burning 63 more calories per day (faster metabolism).

It’s not only about losing weight. When it comes to muscle weight versus fat weight, a pound of muscle and a pound of fat weigh the same, but muscle takes up less surface area. The focus should be on the ratio of fat to muscle that is lost during the duration of a fitness program. The cardio group lost 27 pounds of fat and 10 pounds of muscle. In general, this is not a good ratio. Here’s another example, I have a male client that I’ve been working with for about a year. He lost around 4 inches off of his waist, but his body weight is the same; he’s still approximately 190 pounds, which is an example of someone who has lost a tremendous amount of fat (up to 20 pounds) but yet gained muscle at the same time.

Approximately, one inch off your waist (a measurement around the belly button) is about 3 to 5 pounds of body fat. Most of my clients lose a combination of fat and gain muscle; usually about 1 to 2 pounds of fat per week and 1 to 2 pounds of muscle per month. Much of this depends on a variety of factors. Muscle is what gives your body the sexy and toned look you are aiming for because building muscle has to be a priority in any health program. You also want to make sure you’re eating an adequate amount of protein. Eating more protein can boost your metabolism. Low protein diets can cause you to lose muscle.

I came across this study in the book “The Adrenal Reset” by Dr. Alan Christianson. “A group of 25 people was overfed 1,000 calories per day for eight weeks. They were divided into a vegetarian diet group getting 5% of their calories from protein, an average American diet group with 15% protein; and a high protein group with 25% from protein. Throughout the study, each group gained weight, but the typed of weight gained differed. The low-protein group lost 1.5 pounds of muscle, even though they gained fat. On the other hand, half of the weight gain in the high protein group was muscle.”


Strength Training and Hormones

Strength training is the most effective method for fat loss and muscle gain compared to other forms of exercise such as yoga, Pilates, boxing, and many others. These different forms of exercise do have their unique benefits; strength training is still the gold standard for body sculpting and toning. Strength training utilizes compound movements such as squats, leg press, bench press, row, and lat pull downs. Larger muscles burn more calories and fat, so using compound movements can assist in achieving your fitness goals sooner.

According to National Center for Biological Information, “Anabolic hormones such as testosterone and the superfamily of growth hormones (GH) have been shown to be elevated during 15-30 minutes of post-resistance exercise providing an adequate stimulus is present.”

People with Type 2 diabetes also benefit from strength training because when you increase lean muscle mass, you boost your base metabolic rate which causes you to burn calories at a faster rate, and according to Sherin Joseph, MPH, “Burning these calories help keep your blood sugar in check.” When your body’s fat-to-muscle ratio decreases, it reduces the amount of insulin you need in your body to help store energy in your fat cells.  Also, strength training is the best way to reduce your A1c which is a measurement of insulin sensitivity.  Whether your diabetic or simply wanting to look great naked, getting this test below 5 is ideal for fat loss and overall health.

A1C results and what the numbers mean

Diagnosis* A1C Level
Normal below 5.7 percent
Prediabetes 5.7 to 6.4 percent
Diabetes 6.5 percent or above



Strengthen Your Bones, Ligaments and Tendons

Strength training for weight loss also helps the body if a fall or injury occurs. According to Jacque Ratliff, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise, “If someone falls, the more strength in their muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments, the less likely they are to be injured.”



Compound Movements in Strength Training

The following are tips to help you on your bridge to body sculpting.

strength training for weight loss routine, best personal trainer los angeles | Shawn Phillips Personal Trainer

  • Squats – When you perform a squat, you are mainly working the whole body. An estimated 200 muscles are being activated during a squat movement, but the primary muscle group being used are the quadriceps. Other muscles involved include the hamstrings, glutes, and calves.
  • Leg Press – The primary muscle group is the quadriceps, and the secondary muscle groups are hamstrings and glutes.
  • Bench Press – This exercise has a few variations including flat, incline and decline but they all are considered compound movements and can be done with barbells or dumbbells. The primary muscle group being worked is the chest, and the secondary muscles include the shoulders and triceps.
  • Row – Performing a row can be done with a machine, barbells or dumbbells and primarily works the muscles of the back but also works the biceps and forearms.
  • Lat Pull Down – This exercise works the muscles of the back as the name implies, the latissimus dorsi, but it also works the biceps and forearms.

When doing compound exercises, you train multiple muscles at the same time. You get more bang for the buck doing compound movements. The ideal time for strength training should be around 35-45 minutes not including warm-up. For videos that go thru various exercises, see the video page: Exercises Videos


Strength Training for Weight Loss Routine: What to Expect

Once you’ve started a comprehensive strength training for weight loss program, usually you should start seeing results in about 3 to 4 weeks. Your clothes should be looser and your shape should be changing – waist getting smaller and muscles looking more toned.  Also, make sure you couple this with a good nutrition program – I know I’m sounding repetitive on this point, but this is extremely important.  Your nutrition program most focus on 1)healthy eating and 2) healthy eating to lose fat.

If you stop strength training, you will start to lose your gains in about 2 to 4 weeks – this is called atrophy.  It is best to be consistent with your program; 7 to 10 days would be the maximum days you could miss before you may start losing your gains or simply becoming marginally deconditioned.  The more time goes by without training, the more you lose.

I would recommend performing strength training two to four times per week and on the other days perform some type of cardio (aerobic, interval, or walking).

What is and is NOT Standard Strength Training

What is strength training:

    • Rest times between sets are about 1 to 3 minutes
    • Lifting heavier weight about 60 to 85% intensity
    • 6 to 12 reps for each set
    • Total sets per workout can range from 12 to 20 sets

What is NOT strength training

    • Circuit Training: No rest times and doing back to back exercises
    • Taking a class, lifting 2.5 pound dumbbells and doing 40 to 50 repetitions


Strength Training and Body Proportions

male statue, holistic training program | Shawn Phillips Personal Trainer

Make sure that when choosing your strength training exercises, focus on the exercises listed above.  Back and Leg muscles should be prioritized for the following reasons:

    1. Focusing on back and legs is the easiest way to put on muscle, raising your metabolic rate.
    2. Back and legs are the best way to shape your body; the most important measurements are the chest measurement, hip measurement and the waist measurement.  To create the ideal physique, focus on getting the hip and the chest measurement to about the same circumference, while leaning out and making the waist that much smaller.
    3. Working these muscles are great for sports.
    4. Working out these muscles will make you look great in clothes!


Train according to how big a muscle is: the bigger the muscle, the more time you should spend on that muscle and focus on training big muscles at the beginning of a workout when you have the most energy.  For example, you would work out back (big muscle), before chest (small muscle).  Another example, workout legs (big muscle) before abs (smaller muscle).

Guys, don’t train to look like a tree – big upper body and small legs and calves.  The overemphasis on upper body, specifically chest and arms is problematic.  Proportion is the key!  Look at Greek and Roman statues or pictures of Steve Reeves in the 1950s, they had perfect proportions!  This is what you should shoot for.

Steve Reeves in the 1950s, holistic training los angeles | Shawn Phillips Personal Trainer

For more on weight training tips, weight training misconceptions and rest times in between sets, check out my article page here: health and fitness articles.



What is Interval Training

Interval training is a great way to speed up fat loss and boost and optimize hormone production.  Interval training essentially is short bursts of high intensity cardio with subsequent breaks in between bursts.  For example, after a 10 to 15 minute warm up, performing high intensity bursts on the elliptical.  It would look something like this:

    • 10 to 15 minute warm up – very important, this lubes up your joints and getting your nervous system ready for work!
    • 30 second burst
    • 1:30 (minute and a half) going slow and recovering
    • 30 second burst
    • 1:30 going slow and recovering
    • 30 second burst
    • 1:30 going slow and recovering
    • 30 second burst
    • 1:30 going slow and recovering
    • 30 second burst
    • 1:30 going slow and recovering
    • 30 second burst
    • 1:30 going slow and recovering
    • 30 second burst
    • 1:30 going slow and recovering
    • 30 second burst
    • 1:30 going slow and recovering

You can perform intervals on the treadmill, elliptical, rowing machine, step machine, bike, and/or sprinting at the park or beach.

It’s ideal to switch up your interval training and use different machines – mixing it up keeps your body guessing, over time the body will efficiently adapt to using the same machine.


When you should NOT do intervals

    • When you are extremely out of shape – build up to intervals
    • If you are under a lot of work or life stress – do walking instead and focus on meditation and stretching – Holistic Training Approach
    • Have serious injuries – consult a doctor and a physical therapist
    • Have serious health conditions

Interval training is an advanced method for body sculpting and fat loss.  If you can, find a personal trainer near you to advise you on a comprehensive fat loss program and given your health assessment possibly incorporate interval training.



Strength Training and Weight Loss: 5 Tips to Power-Up Your Workout

    • Stay Hydrated – Lack of water can impair your performance as well as hindering your workout. When you exercise you sweat and lose not just water but vital electrolytes. According to the guidelines from the American Council on Exercise, you should “Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours before you start exercising. Drink 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes before you start exercising or during your warm-up. Drink 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise. Drink 8 ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise.”  My recommendation is simply drink half your body weight in water in ounces.  A thirsty body performs less well at the gym and has a tendency to have more food cravings – give your body what it needs, more water!
    • Increase Your Flexibility – Incorporating stretches into your routine before and after your workout will not only help prepare your muscles for the task at hand but it will also help prevent injuries along the way.
    • Have a Healthy Diet Plan – You can workout all you want, but if you don’t implement a healthy nutritional program into your lifestyle, it will hinder your results. To help get you started on a healthy nutrition plan, click here.
    • Perform Compound Exercises – By incorporating multi-joint exercises like the ones mentioned above, you will not only build more muscle mass, you will also burn more body fat in the process.
    • Make Sure to Include Protein – Protein is essential for developing and maintaining muscle, and protein also helps you stay full longer than carbs. Your diet should consist of 25% to 30% protein.
    • Drink a cup of coffee, tea or take 200mg of a caffeine supplement – This is a great way to boost your workouts and increase the fat burning factor.  However, if you’re under a lot of work or life stress, this could really burn out your body’s energy systems.  Only use this tip if you are well rested and under moderate to low stress.  Also, if you workout past 3PM, this tip could affect your sleep; make sure to pay attention to any issues with falling asleep or staying asleep.

Getting the body you want is no longer a dream, it is a reality. Get started with my 8-week makeover.

By knowing what to eat and what workouts to include can help make you look and feel fabulous. Supercharge your strength training routine to get the maximum body sculpting benefits. If you need any help with your program, feel free to contact us today! For the complete nutrition and body makeover, click here.

To learn more about holistic personal training, click here: Personal Trainer Los Angeles or Nutrition Coach Los Angeles



Weight Loss is the #1 Health Goal in America

Weight Loss is the #1 Health Goal in America.  And, there is a strong correlation between belly fat or a large belly and degenerative disease.  Whether you want to look great naked or simply just want to live longer, getting leaner and healthier has to be one of your priorities in life.  If you interested in learning more about getting lean and healthy, please check out my 10 part series on the science of weight loss.

Part 1 – Metabolism and Weight Loss

Part 2 – Strength Training and Weight Loss

Part 3 – Gut Health and Weight Loss

Part 4 – Stress and Weight Loss

Part 5 – Insulin and Weight Loss

Part 6 – Testosterone and Weight Loss

Part 7 – Sleep and Weight Loss

Part 8 – Brain Health and Weight Loss

Part 9 – Sunlight and Weight Loss

Part 10 – Detox and Weight Loss


Biography: as a Certified Personal Trainer Los Angeles, Shawn Phillips is a well-known Health Practitioner and Fat Loss Expert specializing in body sculpting, nutrition, lab testing, and exercise coaching. For a FREE consultation call him at (310) 720-8125.


  • Michael Chase
    February 19, 2019 at 7:36 pm

    Shawn ,

    I am very impressed by how much information you have provided here in the blog. I’m grateful to have stumbled upon this posting ! Your advice is spot on with biology and science. Best of all it’s free . Thanks for being such a wealth of knowledge

  • Kimberly Hunt
    February 25, 2019 at 11:47 pm

    Thank you for another informational article. I am a little confused about spot training versus interval training versus HIIT. I have certain areas regardless of what I do, I cannot tone. How do I know which is more advantageous to get rid of the lower belly fat in time for bikini season?

  • Carlos Durana Ph.D., M.Ac.
    March 10, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    This is a superb, concise and practical guideline for my clients. Thanks!

  • weight loss programs
    March 21, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    Good information. Lucky me I discovered your site by chance (stumbleupon).

    I’ve saved as a favorite for later!

  • Manny Moreno
    November 30, 2020 at 5:50 pm

    Hi Shawn,
    Are you doing your powerbuilding programs again? The variable split system? Those were the best programs I have ever used?

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