Benefits of Strength Training

Feel Better and Look Younger!

Exercise no longer means just aerobic exercise like jogging or cycling. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a well-rounded program that includes strength training at least twice a week, along with cardiovascular conditioning at least three times a week. Fitness experts recommend strength training exercise for women as well as men and seniors.

Use it or lose it!
Most people start losing muscle tissue and gaining body fat by their early thirties due to inactivity, a decline in physical exercise and the natural aging process. A study at Tuft University found that an 8-week weight-training program allowed 90 year olds to build muscle, thus becoming more mobile and self sufficient. The good news is that you can develop and strengthen the muscles at any age, maintaining a quality of life at work and play.

Gain Muscle and Lose the Fat
True or false, strength training causes body fat to turn to muscle? False! When you stop strength training your muscle turns back to fat? False again!  Muscle is a very active tissue in the body that requires a lot of energy…this is a good thing! Fat is inactive and likes to be stored …avoid it with a passion. Simply stated, strength training can help you to lose body fat by burning calories and building lean mass (muscle). This is great news and there are more benefits.

Increase the Metabolism
A regular strength training program keeps your body weight in check. Stronger muscle tissue is active all the time, even when you are not exercising. Your body is busy burning calories, even when you are sleeping!

Build Strong Bones
Most any exercise activity that puts stress (weight bearing) on the bones will increase bone density.  Studies have proven that strength training helps to prevent the loss of bone mass and minimize osteoporosis. Regular weight bearing exercises lowers the chances for bone fractures that commonly occur in older adults that live a sedentary lifestyle. It's never too late to get started with a regular exercise program!

Prevent Injury
Strengthening the muscles, tendons and ligaments around each joint lowers the chance of injury during daily activities. Even injuries related to exercise (like running) are partly due to muscle weakness, imbalances and joint instability. Strength training helps to protect the joints and supports a fun and active lifestyle.

Improve Posture and Reduce Back Pain
Poor posture and lower back pain are commonly caused by weakness in the core muscles around the spine. Strength training exercises for the back and abdominal muscles improves posture and reduces injury. Proper lifting technique (using the legs) and good posture are essential for protecting the back from injury and living a pain free life.

Balance the Body and Mind
Cardiovascular fitness is the key to having healthy lungs and heart, but it may not be enough to help improve your golf swing or your tennis serve.  Studies have found that over time people who only run (for fitness) typically lose muscle mass in the upper body. Cross training with different types of exercise can counter this imbalance. It is good for the body and mind to be challenged differently. Strength training lowers your chances of injury and helps to improve your skills in your favorite sport or physical activity.

Women Benefit Too
No worries ladies, you won't get big bulky muscles with strength training. Keep in mind that most women do not have the same genetic make up (hormones) as men do, especially in the upper body.  A body builder's routine, requires a lot time in the gym with heavy training.  A moderate training program won't create big muscles in men or women and will give a trim physique!  Be patient, it takes about 21 days for the benefits to start to show up!

Look Younger and Feel Better!
Most people that exercise look and feel at least 10 years younger, have lower stress level and fewer doctor visits! Check out for more information about aging. You can find out about your real age based on your lifestyle.

Getting started is easy!
Check in with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.  A basic strength training workout takes about 30 minutes (2 times a week). For muscle tone, strength and light building use light to moderate weights (50-75% of you maximum amount you can lift). Complete two sets of each exercise with 15 - 20 repetitions. For muscle strength and building use moderate to heavy weights (75% to your maximal lift). Complete three sets of 8-10 repetitions. Increase the weight when you can do an easy set of 10. If you need help getting started, counsel with an exercise specialist or personal trainer.

The various types of strength training to choose from consist of calisthenics (using your own body weight, i.e. push ups, pull-ups, sit ups, squats and dips.), free weights, resistance bands, machines (gym or home), and water exercise.

Workout Tips

  • Warm up for at least five minutes before each workout to get the muscles and joints ready for weight training. Remember to stretch lightly after the body is warm.
  • Start with weights you can lift comfortably. The goal is to tax you muscle, but not to overdo it!
  • Try circuit training to vary your workout by lifting lighter weights (alternating muscles groups) without stopping between sets, for at least 20 minutes.
  • Work slowly and smoothly through the entire range of motion without locking your joints. Don't push through any abnormal pain or injury.
  • Exhale when you contract (first movement), inhale when you lower and lengthen.
  • Avoid arching your back, swaying or swinging when lifting weights.
  • Work the larger muscles first, such as the legs, chest and back, which require heavier loads.
  • Design a balanced routine that works opposing muscles groups (i.e. biceps, triceps) lowering your chances of injury.
  • Stretch the muscles between sets to release tension (lactic acid).
  • Light muscle soreness the next day or two is normal when starting a new exercise program or increasing the amount you lift. This is a good reason to cross train and alternate your workout days.
  • Team up with a workout partner and spot each other for safety. A partner (with some experience) can share new exercises and help keep you motivated.
  • Hire a Personal Trainer to help you with program design and safety techniques.

Patti Joyce, Personal Trainer and Pilates Instructor,  has been teaching for over 23 years and is certified by American College of Sports Medicine, National Strength and Conditioning Association and American Council on Exercise. She specializes in designing fitness programs that are tailored to the individual client needs. To schedule an appointment with Patti call (502) 303- 6777.