Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi

Be Strong

Strength training isn’t just for athletes. It’s an important part of a well-rounded exercise routine for everyone, even those with some health limitations. Strength training not only sculpts stronger muscles, but also helps strengthen your heart and bones, manage your weight and make you look and feel better. Are you ready to give it a try? Here’s what you need to know to get started!

Following the adolescent and teen years, we begin to lose a fraction of muscle and bone strength each year. Strength training can help maintain and even increase bone and muscle mass. Strength training stresses muscles by using weights and/or resistance, which causes muscles to grow stronger. You can use machines, free weights, your own body weight, bands or other small pieces of equipment that can provide resistance to your muscles. You don’t have to spend hours each day on strength training. Most people see significant improvement with just two or three 20-30 minute sessions each week. This also meets the physical activity requirements supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The most significant health benefits of strength training include:

The good news is strength training can be done most places with little or no equipment! Here are some options to consider when choosing a strength training regimen:

Body weight – Push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, crunches and squats are just a few of the exercises you can do with no equipment. This is ideal if you travel frequently, don't belong to a fitness center or have little space to store equipment.

Resistance bands/tubing – These are available in a variety of resistance strengths and can be used alone or with other tools for a varied strength routine. These are portable, take up little space and allow you to work all major muscle groups.

Free weights – Barbells, dumbbells and kettle bells are some of the tools available for strength exercises. These are versatile, engage your core muscles more effectively and allow you to do many different exercises.

Weight machines – Most fitness centers have a wide variety of machines that assist you in performing strength exercises. These are ideal for beginners and can help reinforce correct form.

A well-rounded strength training regimen includes exercises for all major muscle groups, including legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms. Before you begin any exercise routine, be sure to get clearance from your physician especially if you have any health limitations. 

Warm up with 5-10 minutes of brisk walking or other aerobic activity. Choose an exercise or resistance level heavy enough for your muscles to become fatigued after about 10-12 repetitions. Be sure to allow at least one full day of rest for each set of muscles. Do not work the same muscles two days in a row.

To learn more about strength training and how you can incorporate these exercises into your routine, visit the Strength Training Directory section of Web MD or find specific exercises for each muscle group in the Health and Fitness section of their site.

Health Information
Health & Wellness Articles
Health & Wellness Programs
Health & Wellness Resources