Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could burn fat in your sleep and wake up with a flat tummy and skinny thighs? It’s a dream pretty much every exerciser shares! The diet industry plays on this desire, plying us with fat-burning supplements, teas, and diet plans. But believe it or not, there’s actually a way to do this that’s backed by science, though the results do take some time. So today, I’m going to show you how to burn fat in your sleep with strength training.
What’s strength training?
Simply put, strength training (also called resistance training) means exercising against resistance to stimulate muscle development. Strength training increases muscle fiber size, strengthens tendons and ligaments, and increases bone mineral density. As we’ll see, it’s important to your overall health, even if you’re not interested in becoming a competitive athlete.
Waaaait. Are you going to make me put on spandex and do barbell squats at the gym? No thanks!
Not at all! Many people equate strength training with lifting weights. And that’s one way to do it. But you can also get great results using resistance bands, a backpack, and even your own body weight.
And as we’ll discuss in a minute, you can get a great strength workout — one that helps you burn fat in your sleep — at home. So don’t run away.
Can strength training really help me to burn fat in my sleep?
Yes, here’s how it works.
Your body weight is basically a combination of fat mass and lean mass. Your lean mass includes your bones and organs, but about half of it is made up of your muscles.
The great thing about muscle mass is that it burns more calories than fat mass. In fact, about 25 percent of the calories you eat get burned by your muscles. And your muscles are always burning fat, even when you’re sleeping. So if you can build more muscle, your metabolism will naturally increase.
And strength training will do the trick. A 2012 study found that previously untrained adults who trained for 10 weeks increased their muscle mass by 3.1 pounds, lost 4 pounds of fat, and increased their resting metabolic rates by 7 percent. In longer studies, these gains continued for several months.
How much extra fat will strength training burn?
An intense strength training session raises your metabolism by 8 to 9 percent for about three days. So if you lift every third day, you’ll be burning extra fat pretty much all the time.
An 8-percent metabolic increase adds up to about:
- 120 extra calories a day
- 1 pound of fat a month
- 12 pounds of fat a year.
It’s not exactly a magic bullet, but not bad either! (Honestly, it’s probably about a hundred times more effective than drinking that $40 fat-burning tea in your cupboard.)
I don’t want to run an Ironman. I just want to be healthy.
Then you’re on the right track. Health benefits of strength training include:
- Helps prevent injury
- Increases bone mineral density by 1 to 3 percent
- Improves blood pressure, insulin resistance, and blood lipid levels, reducing your risk of heart disease
- Reduces low back and arthritis pain
- Improves depression, especially in older adults
- Lowers the risk of premature death
I’m too old for this stuff.
The health benefits of strength training are especially important for older adults. Without resistance training, humans lose about 5 lbs. of muscle mass per decade. That means losing about 0.5 lb. of muscle each year after your mid-thirties.
The good news is that working out actually appears to slow down the aging process. Older exercisers show fewer signs of physical and functional decline and have lower rates of chronic illness than their sedentary peers.
I’m overweight or obese. Will strength training alone help me?
Unfortunately, strength training alone doesn’t seem to result in weight loss in people who are overweight and obese. Research on people who lose 30 pounds or more suggests that diet and cardio training play much bigger roles.
However, research also shows that combining cardio and strength training gets better results than cardio alone, including improvement in weight, waist circumference, and body fat percentage. Experts also note that strength training lowers the risk of many obesity-related illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.
OK, I’m convinced! How do I get started with strength training?
Good for you! When it comes to strength training, I have tons of resources right here on the blog for beginners. A couple to check out:
- If you’re brand new to fitness, my FREE Intro to Training ebook and 4-week workout plan is a great place to start. It includes a beginner strength workout that you can do at home with body weight. Fill out the form below to grab your copy.
- Looking for more at-home strength workouts? I have the perfect ebook for you! It gives you three more workouts you can do anywhere using bodyweight or resistance tubes. They’re perfect for beginners, and can also be adapted for those who want more resistance.
- Want to get amazing full-body workouts at home every time? Check out this blog post on how to set up a home gym for under $250. These products are all great for small spaces. You can even take some of them with you for work travel.
- Ready to take your fitness to the next level? My 8-week Beginner’s Training Plan includes two intermediate strength circuit workouts. It’s created with hikers in mind but good for anyone who wants to emphasize lower body and core strength.
Strength training tips for beginners
Here are some bonus tips to help you get the most out of your first few strength workouts:
- Start very slowly if you’re new to strength training. Don’t try to increase your reps or resistance too fast!
- A little bit of muscle soreness is normal when starting strength training. It usually comes on 24–48 hours after and lasts a couple of days. Starting with low resistance and progressing slowly will help to limit soreness.
- Learn proper form and movement before adding resistance. Read up on the exercises and watch YouTube videos to learn about common mistakes. For some exercises, you can watch yourself in the mirror to check your form. For others, it helps to have a friend watch and give feedback. If you are interested in free weights, consider investing in a group or individual session with a personal trainer so you can learn the exercises correctly from the start.
- Use enough resistance so that you can complete your set but feel your muscles fatigue through the last few reps.
- Keep a training log. Note the exercise, sets, reps, resistance, and rest time.
- Never hold your breath while lifting weights. Try to exhale when you contract a muscle and inhale as you release it. But no matter what, keep breathing.
- Recover for at least 48 hours between strength sessions. In other words, don’t lift two days in a row.
- Progress by adding sets, adding reps, adding resistance, or decreasing rest time between sets.
Above all, have fun! Strength training has a higher learning curve than cardio, but it might become your favorite workout.
There you have it. That’s exactly how to burn fat in your sleep with strength training.
It’s a lot cheaper than fat-burning teas and supplements, and infinitely more effective!
Do you have strength training tips for beginners? Comment below to share.
Originally published Feb. 1, 2019.