What is the Effect of Weight Training on Belly Fat?
Can you lose stomach fat by lifting weights?
You might think that only vigorous aerobic exercise like running can melt your body fat.
However, research and anecdotal evidence show that weight training is a great way to combat too much visceral body fat.
This article will reveal the answer to two questions:
Why is lifting weights is an excellent and even preferred way to melt body fat?
What is the best type of weightlifting for reducing belly fat?
The Magic of Muscle Mass
The more muscle mass you have, the more calories your body will burn, even when you are not working out.
While aerobic activity like walking does burn body fat, it does little to increase your resting energy expenditure.
And intense cardio can result in muscle loss.
Think of a long-distance marathon runner’s body composition.
Lifting weight, on the other hand, will give you long-term benefits because of your muscle gains.
Research suggests that muscle can burn up to three times the amount of calories as does fat. (American Council on Exercise – Dr. Cedric X. Bryant)
Too much walking on the treadmill and too little resistance exercises will rarely change your physique.
On the contrary, you can lose more muscle if you only walk and do zero resistance training.
More muscle will not only make you look and feel better, but it also functions as a furnace that burns fuel all day long.
If you have been hitting the gym for years and still have a triple muffin around your waist, isn’t it time for a new approach?
Weight Training Research
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health who analyzed the physical activity and fat loss for more than 10,000 men over 40 and older concluded that:
“Aerobic exercise is not enough to fight belly fat. Instead, weight training is also key to fighting the battle of the bulge.
Dr. Rania Mekary, the study’s lead author, found that healthy men who did 20 minutes of daily weight training had less of an increase in age-related abdominal fat than men who spent the same amount of time doing aerobic activities. Also, engaging in weight training or, ideally, combining it with aerobic exercise could help older adults lessen abdominal fat while increasing or preserving muscle mass.” (Harvard School of Public Health) ¹
Anecdotal Evidence – My Experience
Consider my before and after photo before weight training and six months after weight training:
Most remarkable is I did not do hours of weight lifting every day, or even three times a week.
Nor did I do 8 or 10 different strength training exercises.
Instead, I did one type of weightlifting, neither using weight machines nor doing dumbbell shoulder presses.
I began to do one full-body resistance exercise week in and week out.
To my surprise, I lost eighteen inches of excess belly fat after only six months without doing cardio.
I walked the treadmill for decades and did the typical upper body exercises like curls and triceps press downs.
I read many diet books that focused on creating a calorie deficit as the best way to get rid of body fat.
So I did plenty of physical activity and calorie counting, but nothing helped until I began lifting weights in a certain way.
My neighbors still called me a fat bastard despite all the years I was on diets and went to the gym.
“What was I doing wrong? How can you work out, diet, and do regular exercise for decades and still be a fat bastard?” I asked myself.
Can you relate to that problem?
Is there a right type of exercise that excels at fat burning?
What Exercise Burns the Most Belly Fat?
No one exercise is the best for everyone.
The best exercise to lose stomach fat is the one you enjoy and stick with for the long term.
However, not all forms of exercise will vanish your abdominal fat, no matter how long you do them.
To figure which exercise is best, try this experiment:
Look at yourself in the mirror.
What are the most significant areas of muscle that you can see?
Your Anterior and Posterior Chain Muscle Groups
You see that your thighs and chest are the largest muscles on the front (anterior) of your body.
And when you compare your thighs to your arms, it is easy to see which muscles cover the most area.
Now, imagine taking a look at the back of your body.
You know that the back (posterior) of your legs, your glutes, and your back are the most massive muscles.
And the muscle you are sitting on, your glutes, is the largest of all your muscles.
These muscles on the backside of your body, also known as the posterior chain, take up most of the area.
Now think about what specific exercises can hit your legs, glutes, back, and abdominal muscles at the same time?
Choosing the most effective weightlifting exercises
Will you get the best results by doing leg raises?
While you will build up your quadricep muscles, that will not help you build your hamstrings and glutes.
Even worse, leg raises, a favorite weight training machine in gyms, is the worst exercise you can do for your gluteal muscles.
It is because you are sitting during the exercise!
But, what about doing arm exercises?
Will the biceps curl will help transform your physique?
Focusing on the small biceps muscle alone does not make much sense, especially when you have limited time to work out.
Therefore, the best type of exercise for building muscle uses the most significant number of muscle groups.
What Type of Weightlifting Burns Belly Fat?
As mentioned above, it is not enough to lift weights.
It would help if you lifted weights in a certain way.
And that way is by doing full-body compound barbell weight training.
Barbell exercises that work your entire body include:
- Power Clean
- Clean and jerk (Olympic weightlifting)
- The Snatch (Olympic weightlifting)
For example, the squat is a great candidate.
Squats hit the front and back of your legs, your abs, back, and your glutes, the most massive muscle in your body.
True, squats are certainly one of the best for overall body development.
However, I could not squat (at that time) with a torn medial meniscus.
And you might have a similar lack of mobility if you need to lose stomach fat.
Though Olympic weightlifting can build a powerful physique, there is a steep learning curve to perform them safely and effectively.
Not to mention that they require a lot of flexibility, especially the Snatch.
And while the bench press is a popular weightlifting exercise, it fails the test for an activity that focuses on the lower body.
Compared to a set of squats or deadlifts, the bench press is like taking a little vacation.
While the bench press is challenging, few exercises match squats and deadlifts for the title of the King of all Exercises!
So, where does that leave you?
Deadlift to Lose Stomach Fat
I first read about a free-weight exercise called the deadlift at the age of 55.
The claim that deadlifts work most of your body’s muscles piqued my interest.
“Why should I go to the gym and do only biceps curls – I’m not even hitting the biggest muscles of my body,” I thought.
But, with the deadlift, I could exercise the most significant muscles, such as; quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, erectors (lower back), abdominal muscles, latissimus dorsi (upper back), and even my grip.
Plus, I would not have to squat, which seemed impossible at that time because of my torn meniscus.
Because deadlifting is within the mobility range of most people, even older adults, I wanted to try it.
The free weight area
So one day, despite being embarrassed, I went to the free weight area of the Y late one night before closing time.
I was terrified of deadlifting like any other sane man my age because I had already had my first experience of lower back pain closing the door to my apartment!
How ridiculous was the idea to try to deadlift when I could not even close my apartment door without back pain years before?
On the other hand, I had high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and my doctor told me that I was a prime candidate for cardiovascular disease.
Also, I could barely walk up the hill to my apartment because of my weight.
The fear of health conditions like heart disease and diabetes was more frightening than the fear of hurting my back by deadlifting.
Besides those warnings, feeling fat and depressed did not make my day any happier.
Plus, I was sick of hiding in oversized clothing to mask my obesity.
So I felt like I must try something like the deadlift to help me lose weight.
I was desperate.
Six Month Transformation
After six months of deadlifting, my 50-inch stomach turned into a 32 inch.
At most, I did about 30 minutes of daily weight training.
Deadlifting, compared to the former types of weight lifting I did, is hard work!
But I loved it.
I could feel immediate results.
Not only could I sense that my whole body has a great strength workout, but I had less depressive thoughts as well.
So, when I walked out of the gym after a deadlift workout, I felt great, and the results were visible within months.
Also, I was not lifting heavy weights per se; instead, I continue to progress to heavier weights for me. I am not a powerlifter by any stretch of the imagination, but I am a guy that finally lost his stomach fat at the age of 56!
The good news is that losing belly fat is one of the most critical health and fitness benefits of lifting weights.
Okay, so you are probably asking yourself, what should you do for a deadlift workout to lose your belly?
Disclaimer: Please consult with your physician beforehand to ensure that exercise will not exacerbate any medical issues.
A Sample Deadlift Workout
Because I was concerned about the risk of injury, I focused on lightweights, lower volume, and good form from the very beginning.
I didn’t want to burn myself out, so I trained two to three times a week.
At first, all I did was Romanian deadlifts with an Olympic barbell.
In the Romanian deadlift, you hold the bar while you are standing and then push your hips (butt) back towards the wall and lower the barbell to a bit lower than your knees.
Then, push your hips forward to stand up.
Do three sets of 8 repetitions using the barbell alone for a couple of weeks if necessary.
As you feel more comfortable, add weight onto the barbell.
You can use a bit more weight because you are doing the second half of the deadlift movement, meaning lifting the bar from your knees to an upright position. Once you can do the Romanian deadlift with 10-pound bumper plates on each side of the bar, you should be able to start lifting from the floor.
From now on, start with the barbell and at least two bumper plates on the floor.
Focus on Your Form
- Place your feet below the barbell about your shoulder-width apart.
- Line up the bar over midfoot.
- Take a deep breath and think long arms, straight and tight, while you push your hips back (hip hinge) and lower yourself to the bar.
- Grab onto the bar with a firm grip, exhale entirely and take another deep breath as you lift your chest and touch your shins to the bar.
- Think of bending the barbell across your shins to help engage your lats.
- If you are deadlifting at home, you do not need to wear flat-soled or deadlift shoes, but at the least wear over-the-knee deadlift socks under a pair of sweats or even jeans to protect your shins.
- Tighten your entire body, especially your core; this is called bracing. At this point in the deadlift setup, your back should be perfectly flat.
- To deadlift the barbell, think of pushing the ground away from you with your feet. The barbell should remain in contact with your shins as the bar lifts off the floor, and when you reach your knees, drive your hips forward to stand up straight.
- Do not attempt to lift the barbell with your arms. Just maintain a tight grip on the barbell.
- Do not round your back; keep your entire core tight with intra-abdominal pressure and your back flat.
Can You Lose Belly Fat Lifting Weights? Deadlifting at 64
Warm-up with several sets of deadlifts using 2 to 5 repetitions. Rest for 3 minutes between warm-up sets.
Do three sets of 5 repetitions using your selected weight.
If you can deadlift all three sets with five repetitions using good form, increase your weight the next time you lift.
Deadlift two to three times a week with a full day off between workouts.
If you are not getting stronger, take more time off and make sure you get enough sleep to help your body build the lean mass it needs to continue progressing in your strength training.
This goal of losing your stomach fat brings you to eating right, which could be the most important thing you must do if you want to get leaner and stronger than you ever thought possible.
Nutrition to Lose Belly Fat
When you start deadlifting, a healthy diet is more important than ever if you intend to get great results. After a good deadlift workout, you will not want to ruin all of your hard work by wolfing down a big fat blueberry muffin.
Unless you are eighteen years old and still burning calories like a furnace because you are still growing, it is impossible to out-train a bad diet.
A healthy diet means just that; see the food you eat as the fuel for your body to build muscle and burn fat.
The best foods are natural foods that grow in nature, such as; vegetables, lentils, beans, whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, animal sources like eggs and lean meats. Stay away from fast food, processed food, and junk foods like the plague.
Can You Lose Stomach Fat by Lifting Weights – Final Thoughts
Weight training vs. Aerobics
Full-body compound weight lifting is one of the best ways to build muscle mass.
Because muscle tissue has a higher metabolic rate than fat, it burns three times more calories than fat, even after you finish working out.
As a result, lifting weights will help you burn body fat, including your stubborn belly fat.
Aerobic exercise, on the other hand, burns fat but also can result in muscle loss.
When you are obese or overweight, you are likely limited to the types of exercises and sports you can do.
For example, it might be challenging to do push-ups on the floor if you are overweight.
While you can likely use dumbbells or a barbell to bench press.
Similarly, while running a mile may be too challenging, you could probably lift a weight from the floor.
Therefore, weight lifting is an effective way to build muscle mass and promote fat loss.
However, not all types of weight lifting are equal.
You can lose stomach fat lifting weights, but on several conditions:
Do full-body compound free weight training like squats;
- power cleans
- clean and jerk,
- the snatch, and
If you cannot squat, the deadlift is an excellent strength training option.
Not only will the deadlift work all of your body’s major muscle groups, but it is also one of the most accessible exercises for exercisers of all ages.
And even better, the deadlift is one of the most effective exercises for blasting overall body fat.
While you cannot lose body fat from a specific area, you can lose stomach fat by lifting weights with a consistent program of deadlifting and excellent nutrition.
- Weight Lifting for Weight Loss: Strength Training to Lose Weight
- Compound Exercises for Weight Loss; The Best Workout Plan
- 7 Mighty Deadlift Muscles Worked: WHY Deadlifts Are Great
- 37 Remarkable Benefits of Deadlifts to Unleash Your Fitness Fast
- How Deadlifts Change Your Body in 27 Powerful Ways
- The Simplest DIY Deadlift Platform You Can Set Up at Home