More often than not, people who aim to shed a few pounds show up at the gym and stick religiously to the treadmill every single training session. And combined with a restricted diet, they will see results –- but these results will, unfortunately, not only differ from those achieved with the help of weightlifting, but they also likely will reverse themselves.
Weightlifting, on the other hand, combined with cardio and dieting, aims to give you not just a lean physique, but also a highly functional, resilient body. But, and therein lies the rub, it matters which exercises you perform to maximize fat loss, increase muscle mass, and increase metabolism. And ladies, fear not! No infamous over-bulking will occur as a result of choosing heavy weights –- only more lost fat!
This booty-building movement is a favorite among lifting professionals because of its ability to engage your entire body –- your legs, glutes, back, core, and arms, to an extent –- while increasing your mobility, flexibility, strength, and endurance. Talk about a power-packed movement!
Once you’ve mastered the form, aim to add gradually more weight on the barbell, whether it’s a front, low-bar, or paused squat, or any of its mighty varieties, of which there are many.
Ah, the exercise that has earned a bad rap, unfairly so, as the most dangerous movement you possibly could do is, in fact, one of the most powerful ones for building strength and burning massive amounts of fat. But it boils down to mastering the form before adding weight to the barbell, preventing injuries and reaping the rewards of this exercise.
Moreover, deadlifts increase your core strength and stability, improve your posture, and are highly demanding on your metabolism, pushing your body to burn fat very efficiently.
The Overhead Press
What may seem like an upper-body exercise actually is only another full-body movement, if you perform it standing up. That way, you engage your entire core to maintain proper posture, and squeezing your glutes and anchoring your legs will play a crucial role in lifting more weight in time.
I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with this particular exercise, and don’t be surprised if the same happens with you. You can perform it with dumbbells, or with a barbell on your back, and the more reps you do, the more you’ll realize just how taxing this movement can be.
Also, the lunge comes in many variations, so that you can change your routine if the basic movement becomes boring, or if you want to switch up the intensity.
The Bench Press
Although the bench press doesn’t necessarily translate into your daily movements (unless you have a little nestling that loves flying with you as their sidekick), it will give your entire body, especially your chest and arms, one hell of a workout.
The Barbell Row
A commonly overlooked exercise, the barbell row is a powerful back-builder that pushes you to engage your core, much like the deadlift does, and it requires a tremendous amount of stability. You can combine the row with the bench in a superset and do your best to stay in the 10-12 rep range while adding weight over time.
How is this a weightlifting movement, you might ask? Well, learning to lift your own bodyweight is no joke, and unless you’ve been going at it for a while, you’ll notice how difficult the exercise truly is. However, even when you master the movement and can endure more than ten reps, you easily can add a plate to a chain around your waist and instantly increase resistance beyond your bodyweight.
Don’t forget –- safety first, all else second!
What most gym-goers forget, because they’re eager to advance, is that none of these lifts will work their magic the way they are designed if you perform them poorly, and without considering the form first. Learn each of these movements weight-free, or with light dumbbells. Make sure you are breathing and bracing properly, and strengthen your mind-muscle connection to ensure proper posture throughout each exercise.
Other crucial safety factors include wearing protective gear and durable weightlifting clothes to make your lifts as effective as possible, and sticking to a solid warmup and cool-down routine before and after your training session. These steps all are meant to aid recovery, help your muscles exert the right amount of power, and prevent injuries even in your routine’s most complex exercises.
All of these exercises are compound movements, mostly designed to mimic the real-life motions of your body. They serve to optimize those joint and muscle movements that you already perform every day, such as picking up things from the ground (deadlift), sitting down and standing up (squat), as well as using your entire body, as opposed to isolating specific muscle groups.
As such, these exercises can make up the core of your routine, and when you combine them into super or giant sets of two or more exercises, you will help your body burn more fat and build lean muscle to replace it. Add healthy eating to that, plus plenty of rest, and some good old HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), and you’ll find yourself on the road to success much faster than you expected!