Resistance Training to Build Muscle & Lose Fat – BoomerMuscle

Resistance Training to Build Muscle & Lose Fat

bodybuilder in gym

There is a common misconception that sweating it out with cardio is the best way to burn fat.

The truth is, you need a workout routine that uses resistance training to build muscle to really lose fat. Cardio is great. I’m not knocking it. In fact, I own two great Precor machines, an EFX and a top-of-the-line AMT for cardio training.

When you build muscle, you also burn fat for as long as 38 hours after you finish the workout. Cardio only burns calories as you are doing it. The amount of sweat involved is not a good measure of how much you are burning.

Why is this? Because muscle demands fuel from the body 24/7. It will burn calories and fat to get it, even while you are sleeping. The more lean muscle you build, the higher your metabolism. Muscle is your body’s engine. It needs fuel.

So what is the best workout routine to build muscle? It’s not about constantly increasing the amount of resistance you use.

The Purpose? It’s about focusing on specific muscles and taking them to exhaustion. Muscle builds as a result of purposefully doing microscopic ‘damage’ to the fibers. With good nutrition and proper rest, that micro damage will be repaired as you sleep and result in an ever so slightly stronger muscle, gaining more over time.

vintage-1705063_1280What Method? Forget Insanity, Bootcamps and complicated routines and most of all, Pain. Simplicity is best here. Your goal is muscle exhaustion, not progressively increasing the amount of weight.

We’re not trying out for the Olympic team, we just want to look, feel and be better. So, you want to focus on a Mind/Muscle Connection as you perform each rep.

Try to keep constant tension on the target muscle through the range of motion. Feel it in the target muscle. Do clean reps until you can’t repeat another without cheating.

Don’t cheat.

It’s about a quality feeling, not the numbers. Feel the pump. I recommend staying on each specific exercise until you’ve completed your 3 – 5 sets and then move on. As you become more adept, you can get fancy with variety. Remember, the biggest key is showing up and doing the workout.

Devices? It does not matter how you create the resistance: Bands, Free Weights or Machines. They all work individually and in combination with one another.

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How Heavy? You want to choose a resistance level that allows you to do 8 – 12 clean reps for each set with no cheating. 3 – 5 sets per specific exercise. As you progress through your sets, you can reduce the number of reps or the resistance as needed to stay in that 8 – 12 rep range. Focus on how the muscle feels, rather than just numbers.

Proven Effective

This method has been proven to work . Dr. Marcas Bamman, Director for Exercise Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, was recently quoted in the New York Times saying that men and women in their 60s and 70s who began a weight training program developed muscles that were as large and strong as those of your average 40 year old.

“Our lab and others have shown repeatedly that older muscles will grow and strengthen,” he said.

In their studies, volunteers used weights calibrated so that the lifters could barely complete a set of eight to 12 repetitions before the target muscles grew tired and had to rest. In the weight training wolrd, we call that ‘failure.’

Dr. Bamman says you should push your muscles in this manner until they are exhausted because this is what triggers the biomechanical processes that lead to larger, stronger muscle fibers.

Which Exercises? 

I recommend blocking out each workout day to focus on an area of the body. You need to build a workout schedule that fits your lifestyle. The most important thing, like just about anything else in life, is showing up. And consistency doing the workout, week in and week out.

If you did 4 days per week, an example might look like this:

  1. Arms, Forearms and Wrists:
    • 3 Types of Bicep Curls — 3 – 5 Sets of each.
    • 3 Types of Triceps Pushdowns or Extensions — 3 – 5 Sets of each.
    • Finish with 3 Sets of Wrist curls, 3 Sets of Gripper exercises (requires some gear: a ball, or a spring gripper)
  2. Shoulders and Back:
    • 3 Types of Shoulder Moves — 3 – 5 Sets of each (Front Raises, Laterals and Side Extensions)
    • 3 Types of Back Moves — 3 – 5 Sets of each (Lat Pulldowns, Seated or Standing Rows, Rear Flyes)
  3. Chest:
    • 1 Type of Chest Press — 3 – 5 Sets of each (Bench Press or Chest Press)
    • 1 Type of Pec Deck or Cable Crossover style move — 3 – 5 Sets of each (can use Bands or various machines)
    • 1 Type of Flye move  — 3 – 5 Sets (Bands or dumbbells lying on a bench).
  4. Lower Body:
    • 1 Type of Knee Extension — 3 – 5 Sets (Bands or Machine)
    • 1 Type of Hamstring Curl — 3 – 5 Sets (Bands or Machine)
    • 1 Type of Glute Kickback — 3 – 5 Sets (Bands or Machine)
    • 1 Type of Leg Press or Squat — 3 – 5 Sets (Band or Machine)

Multiple variations are possible, depending on what types of equipment you have access to.

Pinjian anti-snap resistance tubes

Pinjian anti-snap resistance tubes

If you’re just starting out and have none, I’d suggest looking into Resistance Bands as a starter, or to agument whatever equipment you may currently have.

If you’re considering joining a gym, here is my review of several and what sets them apart.

And if you’re looking for starter workout program you can do at home with minimal equipment, check out this post on how to build a simple home gym and put it to use. It includes some dimple diagrams on how to do the exercises.

In future posts, I’ll go into more detail on how to perform specific exercises and devise your own workout plan.

cropit5aaalighterI’ve been at it for more than 48 years now, and I’m still going strong. I found the method discussed here out of necessity. As I got older, my shoulder joints could no longer take the punishment of using super heavy weights. To my surprise, lighter weights works even better.

I think that will be true regardless of your age, but it’s especially helpful for us older folks who’ve got to be mindful of aging joints.

Thanks for stopping by!

Please feel free to leave a comment below, or write to me at:

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Brian Patterson

I've been resistance training for nearly 50 years. As a younger man, I used to believe in using ever-increasing amounts of weight. Until one day in my mid-50's, my aching joints could not take the punishment any more. I had to develop a new way of working out that was effective, but free of pain. I found it. It works great. I'd like to share it with you.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Brian Patterson - November 7, 2022 Reply

Good luck in your workouts. Stay strong!

Brian Patterson - November 7, 2022 Reply

Good luck in your workouts. Stay strong!

Roma - November 7, 2022 Reply

hii! good and informative knowledge. I really like it and will prove to be also very helpful for others. thanks

Brian Patterson - January 22, 2022 Reply

Good luck! Stick with it.

Neil - January 22, 2022 Reply

Just looking for some help for an older person (65) getting back into training, some really good tips thank you.
The best one though… “ just turn up” . Thank you!

Brian Patterson - April 26, 2021 Reply

Hope you find it helpful

Danni Fountain - April 23, 2021 Reply

I am looking for some good blog sites for studying. I was searching over search engines and found your blog site.

Brian Patterson - September 13, 2018 Reply

Great question.
I’ll be honest. I usually tell people to start off and adhere to the guidelines when it comes to reps per set. I say start off doing 8-12 reps. The reason for the range is part of the answer to your question. Go for 12 in that first set and try to stay at least up to 8 in the next sets. Maybe like 12, 10, 9, 8, 8.
But here’s the real deal:
It is perfectly fine to do more or less than 12 on every set.
In fact, numbers don’t really matter except as general guidelines. You can do more than 12 if that feels good.
The only thing that matters is exhausting the target muscle with each set. If you do 20 reps to get there, fine.
If you only can do 5, that’s fine too.
It’s all about the Pump and the way the muscle feels. Eventually, as you gain experience, you’ll find yourself doing even higher reps in some exercises or a few fewer in others.
Doesn’t matter. It’s the Pump/Feel that matters. Really concentrate on that target muscle with each rep.
As far as how long before you start over.
Ideally, you give your body some rest so it can recover and grow. It’s while we’re resting that your muscles rebuild and grow.
So, if you can give yourself a few days off, that’s great.
I recommend a 4-day schedule out of practicality. Most people have lots of other things to do. So, doing 4 days in the gym probably maxes out the available free time for many.
But again here, you adapt as you go. Once you’re in a groove with your workouts, you can start to customize it.
Recently, I’ve gone to a 5-day schedule. I took part of my arms workout and broke it out as a separate day.
You can adapt as you go.
I only push for strict adherence as you get started because for this to work for you, it needs to become a part of your regular life. A habit.
Those are easier to start with a known routine in place.
But again, once you’re in the groove, you can customize at will.

Hope that helps!


Randy - September 13, 2018 Reply

I am wondering how much weight to use for your program. When I use enough weight to do 12 reps on the first set and wait 30-40 seconds to do the next set, is it ok that I can’t do the full 12 reps on the later sets? And after I do the four days, how long until I start over?

Brian Patterson - November 20, 2017 Reply

Hi Steve,
Personally, I usually do 4 days in a row. But you can experiment and find what is most comfortable for you.
The workout I follow focuses on different muscle groups each day. So theoretically, they are each getting a week’s rest between workouts.
– Biceps, Triceps, Forearms
– Chest
– Shoulders, Back
– Lower Body
If you haven’t already checkout the 5 Keys To Getting Stronger Right Away. The PDF and video are free.
These are guidelines to follow in the workout. The key is The Mind Muscle Connection and really feeling the pump in the target muscle you are working.
You need to workup to things gradually. The workout is designed to make you feel a bit sore. That’s good. Pain however is never good. You need to know the difference between muscle pump soreness and pain. If you ever feel pain, stop. if you feel the pump and a bit sore, you know it’s working.
There is a workout guidebooklet available on the site that breaks down a 4 day workout. It’s $9. Check it out here if you’d like.

I’m also working on a coaching program that will include an app with video tutorials, Facebook Group for dialogue and more. If you want, you can check it out here and perhaps go with it down the road.

Good luck in your workouts. Please let me know how things progress.

Steve Rudoloph - November 20, 2017 Reply

Hi Brian,

I found your website while searching for maintaining or building muscle after 60. I am 61 and have been working out since my twenties and have progressively been losing muscle tone gradually over the years. I like your system and thoughts on less weight and working until exhaustion. I would like to try your 4 day a week workout and I am wondering how many days you recommend to workout before taking a rest day. Thanks


Brian Patterson - May 2, 2017 Reply

I’m sorry Helen, but I don’t know of a resistance program to help with a pinched nerve. Personally, I take a break from exercise when I’ve strained something. It seems to only aggravate it and extend the recovery period if you don’t.
Now that we’re older, our bodies need time to recover and heal. I remember in my youth I could ignore minor injuries and just “walk it off.”
Not so much any more.
Wish I had more helpful information. I hope your chiropractor finds a solution to speed the healing.

Brian Patterson - January 20, 2017 Reply

Thanks Lyle!

This method also works well for old school guys like me, too. I’ve been at it for 48 years now and have found that going to failure in the 8 – 12 rep range really works to build muscle. Please have a look around. Would love to have your thoughts on other areas as well.

Lyle - January 18, 2017 Reply

I think the info you’ve got here is great for beginners, you’d made it clear that going heavy is not the most important thing and can actually be detrimental to health. Instead you should be focusing on using the correct form and not ‘cheating’.

I think you’ve nailed this post and it’s definitley something that beginners must read.

Brian Patterson - November 30, 2016 Reply

For sure. You can use body weight exercises. You just want to really focus on putting tension on specific muscles, not just aerobic type exercise.
The idea in Resistance Training is to create “hypertrophy” in the muscles. Hypertrophy leads to growth. Growing muscles need fat and calories for fuel. You don’t have to worry about getting muscle bound or hulking out. That won’t happen, especially to a woman, without taking a boatload of illegal drugs and hormones. Check out this article.
Tap the graphic for the full story:

Rachel - November 29, 2016 Reply

I just read your article on spot fat reduction and this is exactly the follow up I was looking for! If someone doesn’t have a gym membership and isn’t planning on getting one, can the training be done with simple common workout routine? As in, pushups, crunches, leg lifts, bicycles etc?

Helen Doyle - November 29, 2016 Reply

Brian, I am having trouble exercising as I, appear to, have a pinched nerve. Nothing seems to un-pinch it! Can you suggest any resistance exercise to help this. My chiropractor, who is superb, suggested laying on the floor on my stomach and bending my knees so my lower legs were vertical. Unfortunately the pinching affects my hamstrings so that I have trouble getting off the floor.

Generally I have to plan the whole exercise so I can get up!

As an aside and after reading your about page and the senior home issue (retirement, aged care etc) I must note that over in Canada, and probably elsewhere, many inmates are almost immediately put in wheelchairs.

Now my step mum was an example of this and the reason she was in the home was her frailness. She had very severe osteoporosis and an x-ray of her bones showed they were almost transparent. Years before this I suggested to dad that he take her for walks with him to try and slow her condition down. But she didn’t.

All I can say is that the wheelchair, although making life easier for the caring staff , certainly didn’t help her in anyway to help her bones!


Brian Patterson - November 27, 2016 Reply

Unfortunately, you can’t spot reduce fat. I struggle with this same issue. The best we can do is modify our diets to reduce fattening foods. I would not recommend ab work as a spot reducer. It will build ab muscle but won’t spot reduce fat. In effect you just push the fat out farther in appearance.

I would try amping up the intensity of your weight training:

– lighter weights, higher reps, briefer rest periods

I like to focus on one exercise at a time:

– 5 sets in a row with 30 secs or less rest in between

– 8 – 12 reps per set

When I’m training a favorite area like biceps, l’ll do 3 types of curl exercises X 5 sets of each trying to keep the flow as intense as possible. Then take a brief rest and move on to Triceps in the same manner. It burns calories and really pumps the target muscles.

I usually end a workout drenched in sweat. Plus you get the 38 hour fat burning effect.

Hope this helps! Guys like us have to be on guard during the upcoming holidays. Too many temptations at the table!

Daniel - November 27, 2016 Reply

I have been training for over 10 years now and I was very interested to read your post on training and weight loss. I do very little cardio and focus mainly on weight training. I am now 44 and even though I train as often as I can, I am now experiencing an increase in belly fat with my advancing years. I am careful with my diet, but would like to know what resistance exercises you would recommend for someone of my age, to help reduce an increase of fat in this area.

Brian Patterson - November 23, 2016 Reply

thanks Norman. Good luck to you. If you get back into it, stop back here for encouragement and tips.

Norman - November 23, 2016 Reply

I have been in to gym training many years ago, I got out of it but now I am giving though of going back and trying once more. It is good to get involved in this type of sports because you don’t only feel good but you look god also and it is good as far a s living a longer life is concern. Thanks for sharing I am sure that your readers will learn a lot from this post.

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