Lifting weights is the best thing an obese person can do to lose weight, to burn as much fat as possible, and the beauty of weightlifting is that many fat-burning routines can be done while standing in one spot — even sitting in one spot.
I’ve been going to two chain gyms, which means about 10 gyms total all over town, and year after year, I see the same thing: Few obese people lifting weights.
The larger and more crowded the health club, the more likely you’ll see obese men and women performing strength training routines.
However, they still comprise a very small percentage of people working out with weights. Most obese people in a gym are on the cardio equipment.
Of the ones who are strength training, literally a few, if any, are in the free-weight area; just about all of them use the strength training machines.
Strength training machines have their virtues, especially for beginners or people striving to isolate specific muscles.
But ultimately, by far the best approach to strength training and thus fat-burning involves use of free weights (dumbbells and barbells).
Obese people who do any strength training make up an extremely small portion of the general population of very overweight men and women.
Based on what I’ve seen at gyms, I will conclude that one of the reasons for obese people not lifting weights is because they think this will make them bigger yet.
When I see very overweight or moderately overweight women using resistance machines at the gym, they are using light workloads — sometimes very light, so light that after many repetitions, they don’t look tired.
When they use dumbbells, it’s always light dumbbells.
They believe using heavy dumbbells will bulk them into a bigger size. When I was a personal trainer, I heard this from some of them.
Obese women are strong enough to handle heavier resistance; I know this because I’ve worked with many of them.
But I’ve had overweight women tell me outright, “I don’t want to get bigger.”
However, having excess fat in your body does NOT predispose you to bulking up from strength training.
If you have a lot of excess fat in your body, lifting weights will force your body to plunge into these extra fat reserves for fuel: You will get smaller, not bigger.
Obese people need to lift weights because this will 1) speed up their resting metabolism, 2) Tone muscles and thus yield a firmer, shapelier appearance, and 3) vastly improve fitness.
The fat-burning effects of intense strength training are unparalleled, more significant than the fat-burning effects of merely pedaling away like an automaton on the elliptical machine or stationary bike.
If you are obese and struggling to lose pounds, I assure you that there is one thing you have not tried yet: intense weightlifting, several times a week, particularly with dumbbells and barbells.