Resistance or strength training refers to a form of exercise where you are challenging your muscles enough to drive adaptation…in other words, lifting heavy stuff to get you stronger. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines set by the US Department of Health and Human Services, adults should engage in muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week. As of 2020, only 26 percent of men, 19 percent of women, and 20 percent of adolescents report sufficient activity to meet the relevant aerobic and muscle-strengthening guidelines.
Why should I start resistance training?
- Improve muscle strength
- Reverse muscle loss
- Improve resting metabolism
- Reduce body fat
- Improve physical function and independence
- Prevent and manage chronic disease, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease,
high blood pressure, and high cholesterol
- Increase bone density
- Enhance mental health
- Improve aging – slow strength losses, decrease falls risk, prevent cognitive decline and maintain independence
Where do I start?
According to the ASCM’s Resistance Training Guidelines, a resistance training program for general health should include:
- Novice: Minimum of 2 non-consecutive days/week
- Intermediate: 3 days if using total body workouts or 4 days if using split (training each muscle group 2x/week)
- Advanced: 4-6 days/week, training each muscle group 1-2x/week
- One set of 8-12 reps for healthy adults or 10-15 reps for older and frail
- 8-10 exercises should be performed that target the major muscle groups
- 2-10% increase in load increase when individuals can comfortably perform current load on two consecutive training sessions.
What if I need more help?
Find a strength and conditioning coach or physical therapist! A good strength and conditioning professional can help you:
- Teach you proper technique and modifications
- Find the appropriate volume of exercise to avoid injury
- Vary exercises to strengthening all the major muscle groups and movement patterns
- Progress your weights to make sure you keep getting stronger without making too large of jumps
- Train all three of the energy systems
- Tailor your program to fit YOUR life and goals
- Make it fun!
So if you want to run faster, play with your kids longer, or make sure that you can get off the
toilet when you’re 85 years old…get started now!
- Piercy KL, Troiano RP, Ballard RM, Carlson SA, Fulton JE, Galuska DA, George SM, Olson RD. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. JAMA. 2018 Nov 20;320(19):2020-2028. doi: 10.1001/jama.2018.14854. PMID: 30418471.
- Westcott WL. Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2012 Jul-Aug;11(4):209-16. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31825dabb8. PMID: 22777332.
- Phillips SM, Winett RA. Uncomplicated resistance training and health-related outcomes: evidence for a public health mandate. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2010;9(4):208-213. doi:10.1249/JSR.0b013e3181e7da73