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Want To Lose Stubborn Belly Fat? Here's How Heavy Your Weights Should Be

A CSCS-certified coach breaks down how to choose the optimal weights for your workouts.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Weight loss, particularly targeting stubborn belly fat, is a common motivation for hitting the gym. You have your exercises all planned out to enhance fat loss, but how do you determine the ideal weight for your goals? Allow me, a CSCS-certified coach with over a decade of high-level expertise, to provide guidance for choosing the optimal and appropriately challenging weights for your workouts. If you want to lose belly fat, I'm breaking down how heavy your weights should be.

There's no denying strength training is crucial for reaching weight-loss goals and providing an amplitude of health benefits. Integrating strength training into your routine enhances lean muscle mass, boosts muscular endurance, amps up metabolism, and elevates your body's fat-burning capabilities. Having a better idea of the right weights to choose can significantly boost the effectiveness of your workout routine, propelling you closer to your fitness goals.

Let's dive deeper into the crucial factors for selecting the right weights to maximize your success at the gym. Remember to train smart, prepare for each workout, check that recovery box outside of the gym, and be consistent. If you're unsure of where to start, check in with a fitness professional for guidance, and always consult your healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise routine.

How heavy should your weights be to lose belly fat?

fit woman holding dumbbell with measuring tape around waist, concept of ways to get a leaner body

Selecting the right weights for your workouts depends on a multitude of factors, including your fitness level, training experience, and the exercises in your workout program. If your goal is weight loss, choose a weight that will allow you to perform eight to 12 repetitions and occasionally up to 15 reps! Training with moderate to high repetitions can promote muscle growth and endurance, calorie burning, and achieve a higher metabolic rate, all contributing to weight loss.

To keep progressing, switch up your exercises every four to six weeks and embrace progressive overload. Increase either the weight, sets, or reps in each workout. This variety of exercises, paired with changes in workout volume, keeps your routine exciting and enables continuous improvement for your body.

Pro tip: Always prioritize good form over heavier weights to avoid injury. The last thing you want to do is push the weight too fast too soon, resulting in a setback. Starting with a lighter weight will improve form, enhance motivation, and keep you excited to hit the gym.

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How is lifting weights beneficial for belly fat loss?

woman doing barbell overhead presses

It's easy to get stuck in the same routine of cardio, cardio, and more cardio when attempting to shed stubborn belly fat. Look to include weight training in your workout routine, coupled with cardio and a balanced diet, as a recipe to success for your weight-loss goals.

Lifting weights will help you increase lean muscle mass, improve your overall fitness level, and make your body more efficient at burning calories. Post-weight training, your metabolism stays high for hours, thanks to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. This extended calorie burn aids in reducing belly fat, including around the abdomen.

While lifting weights may not specifically target belly fat, it contributes to an improved body composition by reducing overall body fat percentage and increasing lean muscle mass. You'll take note of the positive effects as you lose fat throughout your body, including the abdomen.

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How to choose the right weights for you:

man grabbing dumbbells from rack at gym, close-up

Choosing the right weights involves careful consideration of your fitness level, exercise goals, and maintaining proper form while allowing room for progress.

I always recommend that beginners should start lighter to nail down form, strength, and confidence. Master the basic exercises before jumping into complex movements, and be consistent. Beginners will inherently see quicker progress when starting a fitness routine, so take advantage of this time to prepare yourself for the journey!

Next, understanding the specific goal of each exercise assists in determining the appropriate weights to use. Tailor weights based on goals: higher reps for endurance (15 to 20 reps), moderate for muscle building (eight to 12 reps), and lower reps for strength (three to five reps) For proper form, select weights that you can comfortably and confidently knock out each rep with, ensuring control throughout the exercise.

Remember, the gym is a learning process. Listen to your body—it's your best guide. If a weight feels too heavy, prioritize perfect form, and drop the weight. If it's too light, amp it up for that challenge. It's all about experimenting to find that sweet spot where the weight pushes you without compromising your technique.

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Tips when weight lifting for belly fat loss:

woman lifting weights, concept of 75 Hard Challenge workout

1. Warm up.

Always start your weight training sessions with a proper and effective warm-up to prepare your body for working out. Take a full-body approach focusing on movement, mobility, and muscle engagement. Preparation is key!

2. Prioritize compound exercises.

Center your workout routine around compound exercises, like squats, deadlifts, presses, rows, and lunges that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously, enhancing your calorie burn and ramping up your metabolism. If you're unsure of where to start, consult a fitness professional!

3. Consider progressive overload.

Simply put, lift a little more weight or perform a few more reps and sets over time. This will challenge your muscles, stimulate lean muscle mass, and boost your fat-burning to reduce belly fat.

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4. Target your core.

While you can't spot reduce belly fat, you can perform exercises like crunches, planks, and sit-ups that'll strengthen your core muscles and build that tone and tightened midsection. Pro tip: Engage your core muscles any time you are performing a lift.

5. Keep in mind that recovery is key.

Combine weight training with a balanced diet, hydration, and mobility for effective weight loss. This approach boosts performance, speeds up recovery, reduces injury risks, and ensures consistent workouts, all crucial for getting stronger and shedding stubborn belly fat.

Jarrod Nobbe, MA, CSCS
Jarrod Nobbe is a USAW National Coach, Sports Performance Coach, Personal Trainer, and writer, and has been involved in health and fitness for the past 12 years. Read more about Jarrod
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