Muscle fitness is one of three important types of overall physical
fitness. The others are aerobic fitness and flexibility.
When you increase your muscle fitness,
you'll notice that you can carry heavy grocery bags more
easily, pick up children without feeling as much strain, or carry heavy items
longer before you get too tired to continue.
of muscle fitness include:
Muscles become stronger when they are used regularly, but
especially when they have to work against something. This is called
For example, you use your arm
muscles when you bend your arm at the elbow. But when you do the same movement
with something heavy in your hand, your arm muscles are working against more
"Resistance training" means using
things like weights, rubber tubing, or certain exercises to make your muscles
stronger. It's a 3-step process:
A resistance-training program to increase muscle fitness
of muscle fitness is strengthening the muscles of your
trunk. This is called
stability benefits everyone, from older people to top professional athletes.
It can help you have better posture and balance, and it can help protect
you from injury.
Experts say it's best to
do exercises to strengthen muscles at least 2 times each
week.1 Examples include weight
training or stair climbing on 2 or more days that are not in a row.
"Repetitions" and "sets" are terms used to describe how many times
you do a specific exercise.
The number of repetitions and sets you do depends on your goals. If
you want to gain strength, do a few sets of a few reps with heavy weights.
But you may want muscular tone and endurance, which means a few sets of
many repetitions with light or medium weights.
results, use a resistance (weight) that makes your muscles tired
after 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise. As you build muscle strength, you'll notice that you
can do more and more of each exercise. Some people will see a change in the way
their muscles look, but others will not see a change for a long while. A more important sign of progress is how many
repetitions and sets of an exercise you can do, or how
much easier it feels to do them. This means that your muscle fitness has
It's always a good idea to
talk to your doctor before starting a resistance-lifting program, especially
if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or joint problems.
By starting slowly and using the right technique, you may
find that weight training is an enjoyable and effective way to build
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2008).
2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (ODPHP
Publication No. U0036). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Other Works Consulted
Anspaugh DJ, et al. (2011). Building muscular strength and endurance. Wellness: Concepts and Applications, 8th ed., pp. 111–137. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Williams MA, et al. (2007). Resistance exercise in
individuals with and without cardiovascular disease: 2007 update: A scientific
statement from the American Heart Association Council on Clinical Cardiology
and Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism. Circulation, 116(5): 572–584.
July 17, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Heather Chambliss, PhD - Exercise Science
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