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Lift heavy to burn fat and get lean.
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When it comes to weight loss, not only do you have to consider what type of routine to follow, carefully select your exercises and stick to a diet plan, but you also need to think about your rep ranges. Surprisingly, the advice you've previously heard on the best rep ranges for fat loss might not be the most beneficial and may even be harming your progress.
Dispelling the Toning Myth
Weight training for fat loss is typically associated with light weights and higher reps, the theory being that this tones the muscles, rather than making them bulky. This, however, is a fallacy. To tone a muscle, you need to lose fat to achieve a greater degree of definition and this has little to do with rep ranges, notes personal trainer Harley Grosser. The trouble with using light weights for sets of 15, 20 or even 50 plus reps is that it's unlikely to challenge you or burn a high number of calories.
Instead, Build More Muscle
Having more muscle can actually help progress your weight loss, according to coach Brad Gouthro. To ramp up your metabolism which can help you burn calories to lose fat, you need more muscle. This means training with a heavier, more challenging weight and working in the eight-to-12-reps-per-set range, Gouthro adds. Provided you're eating in a calorie deficit and not following a high-calorie, high-protein bodybuilder-style diet, you won't get bulky lifting in this manner.
Build A Strong Base
One way to make your weight-loss training program more effective is to build a base of strength when you're starting out. For this, Jean-Claude Vacassin of W10 Performance Personal Training in London recommends dropping your reps as low as four to six per set. While this may sound low, lifting heavy weights above 70 percent of your one-repetition maximum has a powerful after-burn effect, which can accelerate weight loss, according to strength coach Charles Poliquin.
Middle of the Road
If you're looking to break away from light weights and high reps but don't want to plunge into a low-rep routine just yet, trainer Alli Mckee of Girls Gone Strong suggests starting out with sets of eight to 12 reps. Once you're used to this, increase your workout volume to accelerate weight loss, either by adding more sets, lifting heavier or completing more total exercises each workout. Should you decide to increase the reps above 12, remember to keep your intensity high and use weights that challenge you.