Why Weight Training Speeds Up Weight Loss

Group of friends lifting weights in the gym.

When you think about wanting to lose weight by burning more calories, what is the first exercise that comes to mind?

Running might come to mind for most people, but the idea is not always pleasant for everyone. You know the runner image we all see: Red cheeks, sweat pouring down the side of our faces face, miserable, exhausted, but still slogging away to lose those extra pounds. It doesn’t seem fun, and it is no wonder running gets a bad rap when that is what we associate with our sport and calorie burning. We all know that running is one of the best ways to lose weight, as we burn around 100 calories per mile, but there is only so much running you can do.

Young couple enjoying in their workout together. They are wearing sport clothing. Enjoying in beautiful day by the river.

We have all had those injuries that bring our running to a sudden stop, and using the elliptical or indoor bike is just not bringing that same rush of endorphins (or calorie burn). So what can we do instead of running if we are injured, or in addition to running if we want to give our weight loss a boost?

How about weight training. Now, I know what you are thinking:
I am a runner! I don’t need to lift weights. I do not WANT to lift weights. I am trying to LOSE weight, not gain it!
Although it seems counterintuitive, if you want to reduce your body fat and replace it with lean muscle mass, adding weight training to your fitness regime could actually help you burn more calories, even if you substitute it for running.

It get’s better: Weight training does not just burn calories during exercise itself, but it gives your metabolism a boost that can last for hours afterwards, known as the afterburn effect or Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), which helps you to burn even more calories.
One study even found that you burn extra calories for up to 38 hours after high intensity, short duration exercises like strength training. And don’t worry, you won’t bulk up, unless you gulp down large amounts of protein shakes and take steroids.

group of friend lifting weights in the gym.

But you will transform some of your body fat  into lean muscle, so you will look leaner, and probably enjoy this kind of training more than you think, especially as strength training is so different from running. The variety and quick movements between exercises will be fun and exciting compared to your repetitive, slow movements you use in running, especially as you will see improvements so quickly. When it comes to strength training, there are a few ways to do it, depending on what you want to get out of it.

If you want to add weight training to work on specific weaknesses you know you have as a runner; those areas where injuries just seem to come up over and over again, this is the time you need to reach out to a professional, find a strength coach and work with them to target those muscles that have become lazy. I have been working with my strength coach, Drew Watts, for over two years, and have noticed significant changes in my muscle definition (in a good way), as well as improvements in performance.

young and handsome athlete with earphones running outdoors (with little motion blur)

After all, running involves the same motion that we repeat over and over again. We use the same muscles for hours on end, and never really develop any strength in those little muscles that would help us run faster. However, if you are wanting to use strength training to blast extra calories or improve your muscle tone, but cannot afford a personal trainer, bodyweight exercises may be just what you are looking for. You don’t have to pay for an expensive gym membership to see the effects. Bodyweight exercises are very effective, and the best part is, these exercises can be completed anywhere, and in just 20 minutes, you can work your body enough to give your metabolism a boost, meaning you burn more calories just getting on with your day.

There’s no excuse not to make bodyweight exercises part of your routine. In November 2015, Runtastic launched a bodyweight app, that gives you a bodyweight trainer in your pocket. Runtastic Results puts users of all fitness levels on a 12-week path to success through a variety of workouts utilizing instructional bodyweight exercise videos and a comprehensive Health & Nutrition Guide.

So whether you are in between meetings in your office, or in your hotel room while traveling, you can get your workout in, and feel good about the steps you are taking to be a healthier you.

Shot of an attractive young woman working out at the gym

As there is little or no rest between these bodyweight exercises, your heart rate can jump to up to 80% of your max, your heart rate can jump to up to 80% of your max, which will blast the calories in a very short amount of time. The more muscles that are recruited in an exercise, means the more calories you burn, and the more effective the exercise is. That means adding in lots of squats, lunges, burpees, push ups, and planks.

Bodyweight exercises also allow for a full range of motion in the joints, meaning that you feel better as you carry on with your day, which gives you more motivation to take the stairs instead of the lift, walk to the grocery store, and play with your kids, without feeling stiff or uncomfortable. If you have been a runner for a long time, your body has probably become pretty efficient at that one movement, and you burn a lot less calories than you think. There are many benefits of strength training for runners, and by adding some intensity to different muscles through bodyweight exercises, your body will thrive on the new challenge. Before you know it, a leaner, stronger you will emerge, who is less injury prone, and a better runner.

After the initial soreness leaves that is. But runners love that sore feeling of a job well done, so I have a feeling you won’t be mad.


Tina Muir As a former elite runner, Tina knows what athletes need to focus on in their training. "I'm an expert at improving your running." View all posts by Tina Muir