So you’ve started lifting weights in hopes of getting stronger and leaner.
After a few weeks of training, you notice significant increases in the amount of weight you’re able to lift. You look in the bathroom mirror and it seems like your triceps are popping a little more than before.
Excited by your progress, you decide to hop on a scale to see how much weight you’ve lost. With a grin on your face, you look down at the number and…
No change in your weight.
Although I’d argue that it should be an indispensable part of everyone’s workout routine, weight training alone will not necessarily lead to weight loss.
Weight loss is a product of being in negative energy balance, or burning more calories than you consume. Weight training, or any other type of exercise for that matter, does not take into account how many calories you’re eating.
In other words, you can train all you want, but your weight will stay the same (or go up) if you consume more calories than you’re burning.
You can still get some incredible benefits from weight training, such as increased muscle mass and metabolic rate, but your actual weight won’t budge unless you pay attention to your eating habits.
Another potential reason for your lack of weight loss has to do with the physiological response to weight training. As you’ve probably figured out, lifting weights is hard—it requires strenuous physical exertion. Your body is nearly depleted of stored sugar, which is the body’s preferred fuel, after a hard workout. This can lead to increased appetite in the days following said workout.
Many people don’t realize that they’re subconsciously eating more food as a result of doing more exercise. While it’s necessary to replenish stored sugar (glycogen) and protein for recovery, overconsumption will negate your weight loss efforts.
Lastly, just because you’re not losing weight doesn’t mean you’re not positively affecting your body composition. If you are new to strength training, your body may go through a process known as body recomposition. This means that you are building muscle while simultaneously losing fat. It’s very possible to lose body fat percentage and even slim down without losing any actual weight. This is why scales can be deceiving and many trainers advise clients to not obsessively weigh themselves.
Before You Abandon The Weights...
Weight training is a fantastic tool for those looking to lean out and lose weight. Having more muscle increases the amount of calories you burn at rest, which means you don’t have to starve yourself to drop body fat. You’ll also have a much more aesthetically pleasing physique, compared to those who lose weight with just cardio and diet.
If your goal is weight loss, pay attention to your nutrition and try to determine how many calories you’re eating. With just a few simple adjustments to your eating habits, you can continue reaping all the amazing benefits of weight training while also accomplishing your body composition goals.