Which Helps You Lose Weight Faster: Body-Weight or Weighted Exercise?

Shannon Clark
by Shannon Clark
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Which Helps You Lose Weight Faster: Body-Weight or Weighted Exercise?

It’s face-off time: body-weight versus weighted exercises. Which one will help you lose weight faster?

Without a doubt, anyone who’s beginning their weight-loss journey wants to know which is the fastest method to reach his or her goals and maintain the slim down into the future.

You may have heard that strength training is a great route to go but are now feeling confused. Must you use weight? Or are body-weight exercises a better choice?

Let’s look at some key things to consider as you make this decision for yourself:

1. Be honest about your skill level.

The first and possibly most important thing you’ll want to consider is your current skill level. If you’ve never set foot in a gym before, body-weight exercises are great for easing you into a regimen. They’ll allow your body to get used to the feeling of resistance being placed upon it. But don’t get fooled into thinking body-weight training is easy: You still have to lift your own weight!

This doesn’t mean body-weight exercises should be practiced only by beginners. The right mix of body-weight exercises can certainly give an advanced exerciser quite the challenge. It’s all about how you structure them and the specific exercises you choose.

This type of training can also be done anywhere so it’s ideal for those who may be feeling a little intimidated by a gym setting.

2. Determine your overall fitness (not just weight-loss) goals.

Next, you need to think about your overall goals. You already have the goal to lose weight, but are you looking to gain more muscle? Do you want to improve your strength and power? Or are you looking to improve your balance and agility and really increase your cardiovascular fitness level?

Determining these goals can help you better decide which exercise variety is right for you. If maximum strength gains are your goal, weighted exercises will get you there faster than body-weight moves will.

On the other hand, body-weight exercises can be done repetitively with less rest time between sets, so they have a slight edge in terms of gaining a cardiovascular boost.

Lift Weight to Lose Weight

You boost your metabolic rate for hours after working out through a process called EPOC, or excess postexercise oxygen consumption. This is the case no matter whether you choose body-weight or weighted exercise.

But, with weighted exercises, the chances that you will build new muscle mass is higher, and this could then mean a higher resting metabolic rate forever, regardless of whether you just did a workout or not.

So for that reason, weighted exercises do get the slight edge when it comes to long-term weight loss and maintenance.

Getting the Best of Both Worlds

At the end of the day, remember that the best variety of exercise to lose weight fastest is the one that you’ll do most frequently. If that’s body-weight exercises, so be it. If weighted moves are more your thing, that’s great, too.

And don’t forget that there’s no rule saying you can’t do both. In a well-rounded workout program, you can and definitely should include some of each.

Ready to start training? Check out these workouts:

Body-Weight Moves
4 Body-Weight Exercises that Stretch and Strengthen
5 Move Body-Weight Glute Workout That’s Actually Fun
A 20-Minute Body-Weight Routine Everybody Has Time For

Weighted Workouts
7 Full-Body Kettlebell Exercises
22 Kick-Butt Kettlebell Exercises
The 30-Day Strength-Building Challenge for Beginners

About the Author

Shannon Clark
Shannon Clark

Shannon is an AFLCA certified personal trainer with a degree in exercise science. She has written on the topics of health, fitness, and nutrition for nearly a decade, and her thoughts and advice are regularly published on Bodybuilding.com, shannonclarkfitness.com, and FitRated.com, a leading fitness equipment review site offering fitness insights on equipment, workout plans, and weight loss strategies.

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3 responses to “Which Helps You Lose Weight Faster: Body-Weight or Weighted Exercise?”

  1. Belinda Jameson says:

    IM using weights as im still not strong enought to do body weight excercises. My plan is the ethosien diet and swimming, as well as a light gym session twice a week. Dropped almost 40lbs in last 3 months

  2. Jesse Hanley says:

    These are a few questions I see cropping up time and time again, and I hope this article will help settle them once and for all. Here’s the catch: whether we are talking about strength gains or hypertrophy (getting big), one of the major principles at play is that of progressive overload. Proponents of weight lifting will argue that it is much simpler and smoother to keep adding small loads to a barbell, than to keep coming up with body weight exercise variations to increase the stress placed on the body. There should be very little difference between the two, up to a point -at least- where you make full use of mechanical disadvantage/leverage, and of your own body weight.
    And my contention is that, indeed, the results will be very similar.

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