The Benefits of Building Muscular Strength & Endurance

Instructor: Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

In this lesson we'll be learning about the benefits of muscular strength training and endurance. Here, you'll learn the benefits of each as well as different exercises you can do to improve your training.

Strength Versus Endurance

Think of someone strong in your life. You might be thinking of someone emotionally strong, or someone physically strong like your gym buddy or a sports teammate. Physical strength is the ability to exert power on an object. Picture Olympic weightlifters. These athletes are incredibly strong. They are able to lift hundreds of pounds as no one else can. How does this differ from endurance?

Endurance is the ability to stay aerobically active for a long time. Although endurance athletes need to be strong, it's a different type of strength from a power lifter. Examples of endurance athletes include marathon runners or triathletes. These athletes need to exert less energy per unit time, but can carry on an activity for a very long time. Today, we're going to look at the benefits of both types of training and some activities that can increase your performance.

Benefits of Strength Training

Strength training is a great way to improve your physical performance, gain lean muscle and lose body fat. Strength training, such as lifting weights in the gym, isn't just good for your muscles. Bone density increases with resistance training, leading to stronger bones, and decreased risk of bone diseases such as osteoporosis, especially in the elderly. Strength training also helps manage chronic conditions, such as back pain, balance issues, even heart disease and diabetes.

Building muscle also increases your metabolism, which means you break down food faster, and are more likely to lose weight. In addition, muscle takes up far less space than the same amount of fat. Thus, although you might gain weight lifting, you're going to look leaner since muscle is more dense than the fat it's replacing.

Activities

So, how do you start getting these great benefits? Any type of exercise program should be reviewed by a medical professional and increased gradually. That means starting slow with only one or two workouts per week and low weight. There are several styles of program that can help you strength train:

  • Body weight exercises: This type of exercise is great because you can do it anywhere. You simply work against the weight of your body. Pushups, pull-ups, squats and lunges are examples that you can do. As you get stronger however, these exercises will become easy and you'll need to start adding more resistance. This is a great place to start your training.
  • Tubing: Exercise bands and tubes can provide resistance at a lower level than lifting free weights. Many physical therapy programs progress from body weight to tube exercises.

Setting up an exercise band for strength training
band

  • Weight Machines: These are the machines you see at the gym that target a specific muscle group. They are a nice step up from tubing because they guide your motion, making sure you keep the correct form and stay safe.
  • Free weights: Picture a classic body building gym. Those giant barbells and dumbbells of all sizes are free weights. Free weights can be tricky because you need to have proper form and balance to avoid injury. They can be great for working stabilizing muscles and your core, even if you're working another body part, because you need to keep your balance.

Getting a spot during free weight exercises can help prevent injury
free weights

Benefits of Endurance Training

Endurance training is great for heart health. Your heart is a muscle, and when you do endurance training, your heart has to work harder to pump blood to your muscles. When your heart works harder, just like strength training, it gets stronger. Your lungs also have to work harder, which increases your overall lung capacity.

Endurance training also burns calories, leading to weight loss. Doctors recommend about 75 minutes of vigorous endurance training, or 150 minutes of moderate training a week to see these benefits.

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