If you ask people what’s the best way to lose weight, most will say cardiovascular workouts because moving a lot and sweating buckets leaves the impression you’re burning a bunch of calories and shedding pounds.

While cardio exercises do burn calories, the results are going to be temporary unless you keep the activity level up. Even then, you might just end up being a smaller version of yourself because five to 10 percent of the energy you use during cardio workouts will come from muscle tissue.

The correct answer is strength training, which offers a long-term path to dropping pounds while delivering a leaner body. 

The key is that muscle needs calories to sustain itself. One common formula is that for every pound of muscle you gain, you burn 50 calories per day at rest.

Women don’t have to worry about having Hulk-like muscles as most don’t have the testosterone needed to really bulk up, unless they’re using drugs. Elite-level power lifters can gain a lot of muscle, but they follow a certain type of training and diet.

If you’re new to weight training, here are some tips to get you started.

Consult a certified fitness professional
This is an important first step because you need to be assessed. Most people in the working world spend way too much time sitting, which deactivates the muscles in your body needed to properly move when lifting weights.

GoodLife Fitness members can get a free assessment with a Club Professional. Is your body moving the right way so your large muscles (glutes, lats, quads, etc.) are activating? Are your stabilizer muscles (internal and external obliques, etc.) stabilizing? Can you move in the right plane of motion?

If that’s not happening, you could be susceptible to injury. You’ll also miss out on achieving maximum benefits.

Learn the basics
It’s important to learn the patterns of the primal movements you’ll use: squatting, hinging, lunging, pushing, pulling and twisting/stabilizing.

Mix up your movements. You should be squatting, hinging and lunging at least a couple of times a week. These movements give you the most bang for your buck because they use the most amount of muscles in your body.

Squatting is often called the “king of all movements” because you’re using every muscle in your body to stabilize. If you’re squatting properly, you should be gripping the bar very tightly and trying to bend it over your back. You’ve got tons of tension in your trap muscles, your rib cage and abs are stabilized as stiff as possible and you’re using all of your leg muscles – all the way down to the little muscles in your toes. It’s a great way to build a strong core.

Everyone should also do two to three pulls for every one push because of how much sitting we do. Those back muscles aren’t as activated as our tight pectoral (chest) muscles are.

Easy does it
Start out doing weight training a minimum of three times and up to six times a week, although it really depends on how intense the exercise is and the duration.

If you’re lifting for a moderate duration, say for 30 to 40 minutes, you could train six or seven times a week. But if you’re doing 90 minutes at each outing, then three times a week will be good enough.

Understanding weight and reps
The key during your first year is to work in the 10-to-20 repetition range. Start with very light weights and progress your intensity over a longer duration.

At some point, you should ask a certified professional if your weight is hard enough for what you’re trying to accomplish.

At the three-month mark, test out how much weight you can do for five or six reps max during each movement. At six months, see how much you can do for three reps. At the year or 18-month point, you should have established what you can do for a one-rep max so train around it.

A low number of reps with a heavy weight is your goal because you stimulate your nervous system. Think of that shaking that happens during your final movements. At those levels, you become stronger.

It’s during your first two years of weight training that 90 percent of your gains are going to happen.

A place for cardio
Although weight training is the way to go to lose weight and add composition to your body, that doesn’t mean cardio should be ignored.

Ideally, you should do a combination. The best thing is to add cardio as a “finisher” to your weight training. That would take the form of five to 10 minutes of high-intensity exercise at the end of your weight-training session to get your heart rate jacked up.