8 Benefits of Strength Training

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
  • You’re probably aware of strength training as part of a well-rounded fitness routine, along with aerobic exercise. But the benefits of a regular strength training program go far beyond the body, significantly impacting your heart, mind and overall quality of life. The good news is it doesn’t take hours in the gym every day to get results. With just a few 20-minute sessions a week, you will begin to experience the strength training benefits that have a lasting impact on your health.

  • 1
    Stronger Bones
    Senior woman holding toddler on arms as he reaches for grapes from vine

    When you think of strength training, you may envision yourself with larger muscles and greater overall strength. But strength training can also lead to stronger bones. That’s good news, since bones tend to grow more fragile with age. In fact, after age 40, most of us lose bone mass at the rate of 1% per year due to age-related changes, inactivity, and inadequate nutrition. Several studies have shown strength training exercises can slow bone loss, but can also build bone and reduce the risk of fractures.

  • 2
    Improved Muscle Tone
    Young woman at outdoor cookout getting food

    Fitness experts recommend incorporating strength training exercises for all major muscle groups into a fitness routine at least two times a week. After just a few weeks, you should begin to notice an improvement in your overall muscle tone.

    You may choose to use free weights, such as barbells, dumbbells or weight machines, or you may opt for no equipment at all. Known as bodyweight exercise, abdominal crunches, lunges, push-ups and squats are types of strength training without gym equipment. Usually 8 to 12 repetitions are enough to work your muscles. You may want to consult with a trainer to learn the most effective way to do each exercise without injury.

  • 3
    Weight Control
    Young man looking at himself in full-length bathroom mirror

    Many people focus on aerobic exercise to help shed those extra pounds and maintain their ideal weight. But strength training also is key to weight loss. As you gain muscle, your body begins to burn calories more easily, making it easier to drop those pounds, and keep them off.

  • 4
    Less Fat and More Lean Muscle
    Close-up of unseen woman's abdomen with muscle tone

    Lean muscle mass naturally diminishes with age. If you don’t do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose over time, your body fat percentage will increase. Strength training can help reverse this trend—at any age—by helping you preserve and enhance your muscle mass.

  • 5
    Chronic Disease Management
    Man testing glucose before meal

    By keeping your weight under control and reducing body fat, strength training can also help reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, including back pain, depression, and diabetes. Of course, check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program that might affect your condition, especially if you haven’t been active recently.

  • 6
    Increased Joint Flexibility
    Older Caucasian couple stretching and exercising in light-filled room at home

    Studies show that strength training exercises improve joint flexibility in both men and women by taking the joints through their full range of motion. With regular practice, this range of motion can increase over time. Strength training has also been shown to help reduce the symptoms of arthritis.

  • 7
    Better Heart Health
    Unseen female patient getting blood pressure check from unseen male doctor

    Studies suggest that strength training also directly impacts the heart. It does this by reducing excess fat, especially abdominal fat (also known as visceral fat), which sits in and around the vital organs, including the heart. Research also shows that regular strength training improves blood pressure and triglyceride levels, and leads to better-functioning HDL, or ‘good’ cholesterol.

  • 8
    Improved Mental Health
    Young African American woman walking outdoors with water bottle

    You’ve heard of ‘runner’s high,’ but strength training for runners, and non-runners alike, can also trigger that endorphin rush. Research suggests that regular strength training and aerobic exercise may help improve thinking and learning skills, and can help improve symptoms of clinical depression and anxiety.

    According to a Harvard Medical School study, strength training also provides an opportunity to overcome obstacles in a controlled, predictable environment, increasing mental resilience.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Jan 20
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. 5 Benefits of Strength Training. American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/five-benefits-of-strength-training.html
  2. Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/strength-training/art-20046670
  3. 11 Benefits of Strength Training That Have Nothing to Do With Muscle Size. U.S. News & World Report. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/strength-training/art-20046670
  4. Strength training builds more than muscles. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/strength-training-builds-more-than-muscles