Muscle MattersLast updated: Jun 01, 2011
Toning Your Muscles
When you think of strength (or weight/resistance) training, you might picture someone with bulging muscles. But adding strength training to your weekly workout doesn't mean you must look like a body builder! For most people, strength training is good way to tone muscles. When combined with aerobic exercise, it also can help people of all ages and athletic abilities maintain a healthy weight.
How Strength Training Works
To understand the positive effects of strength training, think of your muscles as active tissue and fat as inactive tissue. In other words, muscles continuously use energy (or burn calories), whereas fat does not. Each pound of muscle burns approximately 35 calories per day. For this reason, having more muscle means burning more (as much as 100 to 150 on average) calories a day, even when you're inactive.
If burning fat while hanging out isn't enough to inspire you, note that strength training can help reduce blood pressure and increase your body's ability to regulate blood sugar (or glucose). For example, researchers found that participants in their study experienced as much as a 5-millimeters of mercury (mmHg) drop in blood pressure after only 2 months of a combined cardiovascular/strength training program.1 After 4 months, the participants also were better able to transform glucose into energy—a benefit that helps guard against diabetes.2 Other benefits of strength training include stronger bones, better posture, and boosted self-esteem.
If you're new to strength training, be sure to get a green light from your doctor before getting started. Then seek the advice of an expert who can help you safely reach your goals. A minimum of 2 strength training workouts each week can improve your fitness and help you achieve your weight goals. More frequent workouts will yield faster, more dramatic results.
1. LaForge, Ralph. Research, Resistance Training, Muscle Mass, and Weight Loss. IDEA Health and Fitness Source.
January 2000; 23-24.
2. King, JS. Safe Ways to Boost Metabolism. Fitness. 1999; 35.