Other than big muscles, are there health benefits to resistance training?

Not everyone builds up big muscles doing resistance training. Muscle growth is a combination of genetics, the type of resistance training that one is doing (wts/reps) and diet. Even if big muscles are not the goal, resistance training offers a lot of benefits including reduced bone and muscle loss as one ages, a more favorable body composition which increases metabolism, increased strength,  and a toned appearance. 

Resistance training has been shown to decrease osteoporosis. There are some on-going studies that are showing it may help to lower high blood pressure. Resistance training can raise your resting metabolic rate, which can help you to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Improved body mechanics, day to day functional movements are easier for someone who resistance trains regularly. It can play a role in preventing a number of diseases. Resistance training can improve your mood and increase your energy level. There are so many health benefits to resistance training, it's difficult to resist. :)

Big muscles are rarely the front runners to benefits of resistance training. As a matter of fact, when we think of those muscle bound athletes in body building (yes, like Arnold) we must remember that hypertrophy (muscle growth) of that size takes a phenomenal amount of time, energy, planning and food. Resistance training for the rest of us has loads of great benefits, including:

  • Lower body fat
  • Leaner muscle mass
  • Smaller all over body = smaller clothes
  • Tighter skin
  • Increased bone density
  • Higher metabolism
  • Increased strength
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Less risk of obesity related disease

Resistance training can be incorporated 2-3 days per week to give you all the benefits you may be looking for in your cardio program. Both resistance training and cardio are vital to overall health and wellness.

When some people hear the words "resistance training" they think of the big bulky guys in South Beach throwing up weights the size of the average man. The term resistance training simply refers to the use of a force acting against your directional movement; regardless of the amount of that force.

Depending on your goals, the amount of resistance used should be tailored to the individual. For instance, resistance training can be used not only to "bulk up" but also to improve strength during physical therapy or even increase lean muscle to improve fat loss.

As other trainers already mentioned, there are countless numbers of other general health benefits that accompany the use of resistance training as well.

Get Up, Get Out, Get Going...

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Oh yes! Let me count the ways. Resistance training builds muscle so contributes most per minute to weight loss, increases blood flow and lowers your blood pressure.  Not to mention, resistance training (in addition to cardio) keeps your blood sugar from going on a roller coaster ride.  And as if you needed more incentive to add resistance training to your work out, it strengthens muscles and increases balance.  Having weak muscles and poor balance increases your risk of falls. And, by extension, fractures. And, by further extension, emergency room visits that can have you laid up for weeks.  Not sure what types of exercises to do?  Check out You: On a Diet and You: Being Beautiful for some simple, but effective resistance exercises. Or

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.