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How to Burn Fat Lifting Weights – 5 Techniques

July 7, 2020

Lifting Weights to Get Lean and Cut

Many believe that you have to do endless amounts of cardio to get cut and burn body fat. Cardio certainly has it’s placed, but I’m going to show you 5 ways lifting weights can help you burn fat, faster.

You’re going to learn specific weight training techniques that will help you build the chiseled physique you want. Even better, you’ll be building muscle while you burn more body fat.

Who This Article Is For: It’s important to understand that your goal is not to get skinny or merely lose weight. Your goal is to have a lean, ripped muscular body.

This post is going to guide you through building lean muscle and reducing your body fat via lifting weights so that your muscles are visible.

How Lifting Weights Helps You Burn More Fat

First, let’s talk about how lifting weights can help you get leaner and more cut

Body fat is accumulated by not burning enough calories on a consistent basis. In short, you’re not exercising or doing enough activity and/or overeating. For the most part, it’s that simple.

Lifting weights requires more energy expenditure therefore you’re going to burn more calories. And I’m going to show you some ways to make your workouts more intense so that you use more energy.

Secondly, having lean muscle tissue helps your body burn more fat, more efficiently. In fact, an article on WebMD from Elaine Magee, MPH, RD confirms this:

…muscle tissue burns more calories — even when you’re at rest — than body fat. According to Wharton, 10 pounds of muscle would burn 50 calories in a day spent at rest, while 10 pounds of fat would burn 20 calories

‘8 Ways to Burn Calories and Fight Fat’ by Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, WebMD.com

And it’s common sense that lifting weights builds muscle far better than any other type of exercise.

Next, I’m going to show you the 5 ways to make your workouts more effective. Not only will you burn fat, but you’ll also build more muscle tissue using these methods.

1 – Do Slower Reps

Cable flyes crossovers for ripped chest

One of the best ways to expend more energy during your workouts is to increase time under tension. You can do this by simply slowing down your rep speed.

How do slower reps burn more fat?

Interestingly enough, this technique helps you build more muscle. This happens more so on the negative part of the rep where you’re putting the muscle under more stress.

It’s a dual-benefit. You’re essentially increasing your activity level and energy expenditure, thus burning more calories. You’re also building more muscle tissue.

Remember what we said earlier – having more lean muscle turns your body into a fat-burning machine.

Below is an example of a leg workout using slower reps:

  • Squats: 4 sets x 10 reps
    take 4-5 seconds on the negative on the last 2 reps of each set
  • Leg Press: 4 sets x 12 reps
    do the first 6 reps taking 3-4 seconds on the descent, then pump out the remaining 6 reps
  • Stiff-leg Deadlifts: 4 sets x 12 reps
    take 4-5 seconds on the negative on the last 2 reps of each set
  • Leg Extensions: 4 sets x 15 reps
    do the first 10 reps taking 3-4 seconds on the descent, then pump out the remaining 5 reps
  • Lying Leg Curls: 3 sets x 8 reps
    take 3-4 seconds on the descent of all reps

Try this and your legs will be super pumped! Of course, you can apply this same concept to your other body parts as well.

If you’d like to try a brutal leg workout, read my post: Brutal Leg Workout

2 – Rest Less Between Sets

Another way to amp up your workouts for more energy expenditure is to decrease your rest time between sets.

Remember, your goal is to build or at least maintain lean muscle. So you don’t necessarily want to decrease your rest between sets to the point where you sacrifice strength.

More importantly, you may not want to decrease your rest period for every exercise. There’s a specific way to do this so that you can build muscle and burn more calories.

Here’s an example using a chest workout:

  • Bench Press: 4 sets x 8 reps
    2-minute rest between sets
  • Incline Dumbbell Press: 4 sets x 10 reps
    1-minute rest between sets
  • Hammer Strength Chest Press: 4 sets x 10 reps
    45-second rest between sets
  • Pec Dec Flyes: 4 sets x 12 reps
    30-second rest between sets

You’re keeping your strength up at the beginning of your workout as you’re focusing more on compound exercises. Then you start to decrease your rest between sets for each exercise thereafter.

You could call this the perfect fat-burning muscle-building workout!

3 – Increase Your Training Volume

The easiest way to burn more calories from lifting weights is to train longer. The good news is you don’t have to go crazy or substantially increase your workout time.

Try just adding 10 minutes to your current workout routine. Here are some ideas…

  • Add an extra isolation exercise at the end of your workout
  • Do an additional set for each exercise
  • Pre-exhaust your muscles before you start your actual workout
  • Add a technique like drop sets, supersets, or rest-pause sets on the final set of each exercise
  • Do some core work between each set

These are some simple ways to increase your training volume. And it’s an extremely simple way to burn more calories during your workouts.

Speaking of volume, if you like to work out to heavy metal but just want the music without the words, check out the world’s first original instrumental workout album: Heavy Metal Workout

4 – Train Agonist with Antagonist Muscles

Stiff Leg Deadlifts back and hamstrings workout

Have you ever trained opposing muscles during the same workout? If you want to increase energy expenditure, train your agonist and antagonist muscles together.

Here are some examples:

  • Chest with Back
  • Back with Shoulders
  • Biceps with Triceps
  • Quads with Hamstrings

Now, you may already train arms and legs this way, naturally. However, there’s a certain method I want you to try…

Instead of doing all biceps then triceps, for example, do a bicep exercise and then go to a tricep exercise. This isn’t quite a ‘superset’ but you will rest less between these sets.

Another example is training back and chest together. If you do a back exercise you won’t have to rest as much after that because you’re going to a chest exercise, which is the opposite muscle. Make sense?

Why does training opposing muscles together work so well for burning fat and building muscle?

Training agonist and antagonist (opposing) muscles together will increase your level of conditioning. You’re almost doubling your workload.

Here’s an example of a back and chest workout:

  • Barbell Rows: 8 reps
  • Incline Bench Press: 8 reps
    repeat this circuit 3 more times
  • Seated Rows: 10 reps
  • Dumbbell Press: 10 reps
    repeat this circuit 3 more times
  • Lat Pulldowns: 12 reps
  • Cable Flyes: 12 reps
    repeat this circuit 3 more times

If you’d like a full training program that utilizes this method, check out my Lean Muscle Building Program

5 – Increase Your Workout Frequency

Lastly, try increasing your workout frequency. There are several ways you can do this…

  • Add an extra workout day that week
  • Dedicate some days to training twice a day (ex: morning and evening workouts)
  • Train each or some muscles twice a week instead of once
  • Split up larger and smaller muscles to expand your workouts

Obviously you don’t want to train the same muscle two days in a row. Make sure that muscle has 2-3 days of rest between workouts.

Here are some examples of how you can structure your workouts to increase your training frequency:

  • Monday: Back
  • Tuesday: Legs
  • Wednesday: Chest and biceps
  • Thursday: Shoulders and triceps
  • Friday: Light back and legs
  • Saturday: Light chest
  • Sunday: Rest

I’m personally a ‘huge’ fan of training legs and back twice a week. For more details on how you do implement this, check out my posts:

Training Legs Twice a Week: How to Build Bigger Legs
Train Back Twice a Week for Ripped Muscle Mass

Or you could do something like this:

  • Monday
    AM: Back
    PM: Biceps
  • Tuesday
    AM: Quads
    PM: Hamstrings and calves
  • Wednesday
    AM: Chest
    PM: Triceps
  • Thursday
    AM: Shoulders
    PM: Core
  • Friday
    Rest or repeat the cycle

The idea is to simply increase your activity level. And you don’t have to limit this to weight training.

You could do something like lift weights in the morning and do cardio that evening. Or do yoga, or deep stretching. Anything to keep your body in motion is going to help burn more calories.

Lifting Weights to Get Lean and Shredded

As I mentioned in the beginning, cardio certainly has its place in burning calories and getting lean. But many make the mistake of increasing their cardio, which increases your risk of burning into muscle.

So don’t overdo cardio and ‘under-do’ lifting weights.

Another obvious point not discussed in this article is nutrition. You can train all you want but if you eat like crap or eat too much, you’re not going to get the results you desire.

For that, I have some meal plan posts you can read below:

Also, if you want to take getting shredded to the next level, read about my recommended fat-burner here: ShredFierce

*That link will take you directly to the TruFierce website. The Muscle Program proudly promotes these supplements and I do get rewarded if you purchase through my link. Thank you for your support.

I truly hope this post encourages you to get in the gym and train harder. At the end of the day, you’ll get out what you put in!

If this post helped you, please share it!

Excuses Don’t Build Muscle,


About the author

Jason Stallworth

Hi, I'm Jason Stallworth and I created The Muscle Program in 2010 for the purpose of helping you build muscle. I know first-hand how weight training and being in the gym has shaped my life in more way than one. And here is where I share that experience with you so that you can continue pushing yourself and becoming the best version of yourself each day!