Strength training, Part II: From theory to practice

Published: November, 2009

Your body has more than 600 muscles and 200 bones; they give you over 800 reasons for considering strength training. And there's more. Strength training will improve your metabolism.

Muscles burn calories faster than fat, so as you gain muscle and lose fat, your metabolic rate will increase. Your muscle cells will become more responsive to insulin, so your blood sugar and insulin levels will decline, reducing your risk of diabetes. Your cholesterol profile may improve, and — contrary to earlier beliefs — your heart function and blood pressure also stand to gain (see Part I). In fact, a Harvard study of 44,452 men found that men who trained with weights for 30 or more minutes per week averaged a 23% lower risk of heart disease than men who did not use weights. And since strong muscles take pressure off joints, people with arthritis can often enjoy pain relief, particularly when they have knee arthritis and strengthen their quadriceps muscles.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise

New subscriptions to Harvard Health Online are temporarily unavailable. Click the button below to learn about our other subscription offers.

Learn More »