Strength Training Basics

Get Started Building Your Muscle Strength

Woman with Dumbbell
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images

Strength training is doing exercises and workout routines that build your muscular strength. It is also known as weight training or resistance training.

Strength training uses exercises that isolate the muscles to contract under the tension of weights, body weight, or devices such as resistance bands. It should result in an increase in muscle power and muscle endurance, and may result in a growth of muscle mass.

More: Weight Training Guide for New Trainers

Health Benefits of Strength Training

Strength training is an important part of a balanced exercise program. If you enjoy cardio exercise such as running, walking or biking, strength training helps balance muscle toning and development rather than just working the muscles used in your favorite cardio exercise. Strength training builds lean muscle mass, which increases the metabolism as muscles burn more calories at rest than fat tissue.
More: Health Benefits of Strength Training

How Much Strength Training Do You Need?

Physical activity guidelines say adults (including older adults) should do strength training exercises two to three days each week. These workouts should include 8 to 10 strength-training exercises, 8 to 12 repetitions of each.

Equipment for Strength Training

You can do strength training inexpensively with resistance bands and free weights, or you can get fancy with a home gym or fitness center equipment.

    Warming Up for Strength Training

    Before the strength training portion of your workout, warm up with 5 to 10 minutes of light-intensity cardio exercise. This could be walking or jogging on a treadmill, circling the block a few times, riding an exercise bike, or marching in place. This warm-up will increase your heart rate to bring more blood flow and oxygen to your muscles so they can work better.

    Cooling Down and Stretching

    After your strength workout, cool down again with light cardio work and then do gentle stretching of the muscles you exercised to maintain flexibility.

    Fueling and Refueling

    Most strength training sessions are short enough that you won't need to use a sports drink or energy bar during the session. But you should have a healthy meal or snack before you exercise and then a healthy post-exercise meal or snack that will provide the protein and carbs the body needs to fuel, refuel, and build its muscles.
    More: Weight Trainer's Diet

    Strength Training Workouts

    • Basic Muscle Program: For anyone who wants to get muscled up for bodybuilding, personal development and body shaping purposes.
    • Total Body Resistance Band Workout: This resistance band workout is for intermediate/advanced exercisers and includes basic moves for the entire body, focusing on endurance.

    Next: Weight Lifting Form, Sets, Repetitions and Resistance: How to lift weights and do strength training exercise sets for your workouts.


    Nelson, M.E.; W.J. Rejeski; S.N. Blair; P.W. Duncan; J.O. Judge; A.C. King; C. A. Macera; and C. Castanedasceppa. "Physical Activity and Public Health in Older Adults: Recommendation from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association." Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 39, No. 8, pp. 1435–1445, 2007.

    2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans: Be active, healthy, and happy: Be active, healthy, and happy. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services; December 11, 2008.

    Continue Reading