Whether you’re looking to lose inches off your waistline or simply see the number on the scale move down, strength training—specifically working with light weights—can get you there. Establishing the end goal of your fitness journey is always a smart idea; plus, “it’s kind of a necessity,” says Tonal Coach Ash Wilking. If you’re feeling lost at the gym and unsure of where to even begin, Wilking has you covered with the most productive light weight training exercises for weight loss you can possibly do.
“As a coach, some of the questions I receive the most are (1) how should I pair exercises, (2) how heavy should I lift, and (3) how many reps should I do,” Wilking says. “The beauty of Tonal is we answer all of those questions with a combination of expert lead programming and cutting-edge technology. Our programs are tailor-made to fit your goals and maximize your time spent working out, while Tonal’s intelligence helps you lift the perfect amount of resistance.”
For instance, if your goal is to lose weight and “get lean,” it’s essential to boost your supply of lean muscle in order to rev up your resting metabolic rate, which is the number of calories your body torches on a daily basis (without physical activity factored into the equation). You can slim down and get fit in a number of ways, but today, Wilking breaks down five of the best light weight training exercises for weight loss you can seamlessly add to your routine. “Keep in mind all of these movements are progressive versions of exercises. Meaning there is a more challenging component such as single-leg, offset rack, or alternating patterns. Be sure to nail the basics before jumping into advanced workouts,” Wilking explains.
If you’re ready to get started, keep reading for five light weight training exercises for weight loss. And when you’re finished, check out The Only 5 Exercises You Need To Lose 10 Pounds for more ‘fitspo.
“Unilateral work gives us the opportunity to work for double the fun! Stability exercises will require your core to step into overdrive and make this a full-body exercise,” Wilking tells us. “Pairing [the] single-leg RDL with loaded upper body push and two bodyweight exercises (upper and lower), you expose the body to a well-rounded session.”
Begin this exercise by standing tall with your feet together. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand by the front of your thigh. Use your right leg for balance as you raise your left leg straight behind you. Hinge forward while maintaining a straight back and lowering the weight toward the floor until it meets the middle of your shin. Hinge your hips forward and press through your heel in order to return to the start position.
“Lower-body compound exercises—need I say more? Glutes, quads, hamstrings… the triple crown of large muscle groups working altogether,” Wilking says. “This is a fantastic exercise that alternates legs, allowing for higher reps with short rests between sides. This exercise works well when matched with upper-body pull and two bodyweight moves (upper and lower) in a circuit-style training day.”
The alternating goblet reverse lunge starts by holding a kettlebell or dumbbell by its head with both hands at your heart’s center. Step one leg back, bending your knees as you lower into a reverse lunge. Bring that leg back to the start position, then step your other leg back into a reverse lunge, continuing to alternate legs.
“Not all lean machine exercises are lower-body,” Wilking explains. “The half kneeling position in this alternating overhead press helps create stability in the lower body and pelvis. By doing so, we’re able to focus and maximize on the vertical press (aka, feel the burn!)”
Pairing this overhead press exercise with a lower pull movement like the RDL is an excellent idea during a total-body session. Incorporating broad jumps and mountain climbers with a twist can really bring your set to the next level.
Begin the exercise by assuming a half-kneeling position with one knee planted on the floor on a pad for comfort. Keep your kneeling knee below your hip. Hold a set of dumbbells up by your shoulders, and alternate pressing each one overhead.
“Stability elements added to the main lift make the exercises feel new [and] exciting, and by decreasing the load, we’re able to place the intensity in adding more volume,” Wilking says. “A racked offset squat will need to place emphasis on anti-arterial flexion, aka obliques! While still utilizing the lower body and glutes, we increase the heart rate big time on this one.”
Perform a kettlebell racked offset squat by planting your feet shoulder-width apart. Extend one arm ahead of you, and hold the kettlebell in your other hand up by your shoulder. Then, lower into a squat by bending your knees and pressing your hips back. Push through your feet in order to return to standing. Repeat on the opposite side.
Last but not least, Wilking’s list of the best light weight training exercises for weight loss wraps up with the suitcase deadlift. “Another variation on a bilateral lower-body movement with an offset resistance! This compound move will target more of the glutes as opposed to the racked offset squat, which will engage a bit more quads,” Wilking says.
Begin the suitcase deadlift by standing with a kettlebell or dumbbell placed at the side of your body, next to your foot. Your feet should be hip-width apart. Press your hips back in order to grab onto the weight (as if you’re picking up a suitcase by its handle). Then, push your hips forward in order to lift the weight up and return to standing. Use control to bring the weight back down. Repeat on the opposite side.