Strength training can help you get stronger and look and feel better with just a few short sessions each week. You can do strength training with free weights such as barbells and dumbbells, weight machines, or with no equipment at all.
Exercises that use your body for resistance include:
- Abdominal crunches
- Step exercises
Resistance bands and tubes can be used with:
- Arm curls
- Other exercises
- The American Heart Association recommends strength training at least twice a week.
- You may want to consult with a fitness professional to learn the right way to do each exercise.
- Doing each exercise 8 to 12 times is usually enough to work your muscles.
- You know you’re doing enough work if your muscles are so tired you can barely get through the 12th repetition.
- Start slowly, and gradually increase the resistance or weight as the exercises become easier.
Men and women of all ages can benefit from strength training, but get a doctor’s OK before beginning, especially if you haven’t exercised in a while.
Two or three 20- or 30-minute strength training sessions every week can result in significant health benefits:
- Increased muscle mass: Muscle mass naturally decreases with age, but strength training can help reverse the trend.
- Stronger bones: Strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of fractures.
- Joint flexibility: Strength training helps joints stay flexible and can reduce the symptoms of arthritis.
- Weight control: As you gain muscle, your body begins to burn calories more easily, making it easier to control your weight.
- Balance: Strengthening exercises can increase flexibility and balance as people age, reducing falls and injuries.