Health Tip: Resistance Training for Fitness

The American Heart Association’s new advisory in Circulation recommends the inclusion of resistance training in regular exercise programs. Previously associated primarily with bodybuilders, resistance training is now widely recognized as a beneficial form of exercise for improving cardiovascular function.

What Is Resistance Training?

During resistance training, also called strength training, your peripheral muscles push or pull against some force. This force could be gravity, such as when you lift weights at a health club or when you lift part of your own weight in a push-up. Or your muscles can work against another force, such as when you use a rowing machine.

Over time with repeated activity, muscle fibers get longer and thicker in the body. Subsequently, you are able to work against a greater force (lift heavier weights) for longer periods of time.

Isn’t It A Lot Of Work?

You may be surprised to discover that adding only 60 minutes per week (for example, three 20-minute sessions) of strength training to your current aerobic program is all that’s needed to begin seeing benefits. Taking these precautions will also put you well on your way to success:

Consult Your Doctor: 

It’s crucial to seek medical counsel before beginning any new fitness regimen. They can evaluate your health and offer advice based on your requirements.

Warm-up with Aerobic Exercise

Make it a routine to perform an aerobic warm-up for 10 to 15 minutes before each strength training session. This helps your body prepare for the activity by boosting blood flow and loosening stiff joints.


The muscles you wish to work on should be extended before you start your strength training routines. Stretches should be held for about 30 seconds and repeated several times to develop flexibility and prevent strains.

Select weights that allow you to comfortably complete 12 to 15 repetitions for two to three sets. A daily regimen of lifting weights that are too heavy can harm your health. Increase the weight gradually as your power and self-assurance grow.

Focus on Major Muscular Groups

 To begin your strength training session, concentrate on the significant muscular groups, including the chest, upper back, abs, buttocks, hamstrings, and thighs. Then you can concentrate on smaller muscular areas like your biceps, triceps, forearms, shoulders, and calves that may need extra toning.

Emphasize proper form and technique rather than how much weight you can lift. The danger of injury is minimized, and the targeted muscles are adequately worked when good form is maintained.

Avoid back strain

Avoid back strain by lifting greater weight without using your back to swing it. Think about using a complete support belt to give stability and reduce tension in your lower back.

Remember to breathe normally while performing your strength-training workouts. Holding your breath can cause additional strain and pain, so avoid it.

Ask for Expert Advice

 If you’re new to strength training or uncertain about proper lifting techniques, ask a personal trainer, a member of the staff at an exercise facility, or someone with the knowledge to demonstrate the proper form and efficient workouts for each muscle group.

Combining strength training with aerobic exercise will help you get the most out of your workout. Circuit training, jogging, biking, swimming, or other aerobic exercises might be added to your strength training regimen. Your heart and muscles will both receive a thorough workout from this combination.[

Resistance Training Exercises Benefits

According to the advisory, as little as 20 minutes of resistance training just a few times per week can lead to a healthier heart. The recommendation applies not only to healthy individuals, but also to the elderly and those with mild heart disease, as well. However, the benefit is not high enough to beat aerobic exercise as the best way to increase cardiovascular fitness.

“Resistance training – specifically, circuit training – only increases cardiovascular fitness by 5 percent,” Schweighardt said. “Regular aerobic training – walking, running, swimming, etc. – increases fitness 20 to 25 percent. If you want to improve cardiovascular endurance, do aerobics. It’s the basis of any fitness program.”

Best Exercises For Health

Further, resistance training exercise is strongly recommended for implementation in primary and secondary cardiovascular disease prevention programs, says the advisory. This type of exercise is not meant to replace aerobic exercise, which increases lung capacity and burns calories, but rather to complement it, according to the statement. Both types of exercise can lead to substantially improved cardiovascular health.

The Role of Resistance Training in Chronic Disease Prevention and Management

“Many cardiac patients and middle-aged persons develop or can take part in chronic disease that can be favorably affected by resistance training,” state the authors of the advisory. They add that resistance training can be beneficial in the prevention and management of other chronic conditions such as low back pain, obesity and weight control, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

Weight Lifting Benefits and Considerations for Individuals with High Blood Pressure

Weight lifting’s benefits include increasing lean body weight (muscle), decreasing body fat, increasing bone mass and improving strength of connective tissue, Schweighardt said. It also can slightly lower blood pressure, improve glucose tolerance and the blood lipid profile, he said.

But a person with high blood pressure could see some negative effects if he or she started a weight lifting program without checking with a doctor first, he said.

“Whether you think you’re healthy or not, get your doctor’s blessing or advice before you start,” Schweighardt said.

Physicians Reviews

In years past, many physicians believed that weight lifting and resistance training increased blood pressure and persons with heart problems were urged to avoid it. However, in 1990, the American College of Sports Medicine first recognized the importance of resistance training as an important component of a comprehensive fitness program for healthy adults, and many studies in the last decade have overwhelmingly pointed to the benefits of resistance training in an overall exercise program.

The Impact of Resistance Training and Cardiovascular Exercise on Physical Fitness

Moderate-to-high intensity resistance training performed 2 to 3 or 4 days per week for 3 to 6 months improves muscular strength and endurance in both men and women of all ages by 25 percent to 100 percent, depending on the training stimulus and the individual’s initial level of strength. Many physicians, too, state that as little as 20 minutes twice a week will lead to significant improvement in cardiovascular health.

Considerations for Resistance Training in Moderate to High-Risk Patients

Authors of the advisory stress that not enough is known about the effects of resistance training in moderate to high-risk patients to recommend it to these patients and encouraged further study. This would include persons with uncontrolled high blood pressure, uncontrolled arrhythmia, unstable angina, and those with heart failure who have not been effectively treated.

Benefits of Resistance Training Exercises


Resistance training offers numerous benefits such as improved body composition, increased muscle strength, and enhanced bone health. Consult a doctor before starting, especially for those with high blood pressure or cardiovascular conditions. Proper warm-up, form, and weight selection are crucial. While it has cardiovascular benefits, aerobic exercise is still primary for endurance. Resistance training is a valuable part of an exercise routine, promoting physical fitness and well-being.

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