Strength Training: The Basics

Jeffrey Heit Health Guide
  • Hello everyone, and welcome to my SharePosts!  I am a physician practicing outside Philadelphia and I specialize in helping my patients create and maintain healthy lifestyles.  I'm dedicating this first SharePost to an issue many of you have raised:  the importance of strength training.


    While aerobic fitness (generally, running, biking, walking, etc.) gets much attention in both medical and mainstream press as a factor in leading a healthier life, strength training is also extremely important in helping individuals to stay in shape, to improve cardiovascular health and to enhance general well-being.

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    To get started, we have to understand exactly what is and is not strenght training.  Strength training is defined as any exercises designed to build strength, size or endurance of skeletal muscles. The most common and well-known of these is weight training, though other forms exist such as isometric and plyometric strength training, Pilates and Yoga, just to name a few. While the benefits of aerobic exercise have been known for years (including reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure), the benefits of strength training are just beginning to be appreciated.

    Some important benefits include weight loss, improved muscle and joint strength, increased bone density and thereby lowered risk for osteoporosis, firmer muscle tone, and improved cardiovascular fitness and endurance. The toning and strengthening of various muscle groups in controlled fashion, such as that employed with weight training, assists in stabilizing major joints such as the knees, shoulders, elbows, hips and lower back--the latter being important in improving posture as well. In addition, the ligaments, tendons and cartilage tissue in those joints are strengthened, helping to thwart injuries from both everyday uses as well as sports-related stresses. In surveying elite athletes in almost every sport, one would be hard pressed to find an individual who did not employ strength training as part of their routine workout. Moreover, recent studies suggest that building muscle mass and strength improves one’s good cholesterol profile, assists in the control of the metabolic syndrome (hypertension, obesity, diabetes and high triglycerides) and prevents middle age and elderly patients from becoming frail--a condition that has been associated with high risk of fractures, illness and disability.


    A balanced common sense workout routine that employs strength and aerobic training as well as a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fiber and lean protein should have most individuals well on their way to superior overall health and well being. Of course, as part of any routine fitness program, one should visit with his/her physician regularly and consider getting a complete physical examination before beginning any vigorous exercise program.

Published On: May 29, 2007

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