Strength Training

Last Updated: October 23, 2023

Featured Image

Table of Contents

Strength training is exercising to gain muscular strength, endurance, and size. It has many health and fitness benefits and can take many forms depending on the specific goal. In any case, strength training is vital to health and wellness.

Strength training refers to performing specific exercises to improve muscular strength, size, and endurance. Strength training often incorporates a combination of lifting weights and using bodyweight exercises.

It can be performed by anyone to achieve a wide variety of goals, from aging gracefully to improving sports performance.  

What are the Benefits of Strength Training?

It’s hard to overstate the benefits of strength training. Muscular strength and endurance are two of the five core components of fitness, alongside flexibility, body composition, and cardiorespiratory endurance.

Strength training will benefit all five of these and many more when properly performed.

General Fitness

Strength is never a weakness, and adding strength-focused work to any exercise routine benefits everyone’s daily life.

Beyond the effects that most people associate with strength - improved muscle tone and appearance, greater strength, and greater endurance - some of the most practical benefits go hand in hand with living a healthy life.

Improved bone density, better support for joints, lower blood pressure, reduced risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer, and as much as a 17% reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality are all science-backed benefits of strength training.

Mental Health

Recent research shows that people who perform strength training sessions show less brain tissue atrophy, lower rates of depression, and fewer associated mental health conditions.

The body and mind are intricately connected; a strong body influences a strong, healthy mind. Alongside aerobic exercise, strength training can effectively treat depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.  

Sports Performance

Whether it’s football or badminton, more strength benefits almost every sport. Strength training can improve power production, cardiorespiratory endurance, and body composition, leading to stronger, faster, healthier athletes.


People lose muscle mass, bone density, and strength as they age, but controlling this decline is possible.

Strength training is effectively used as an intervention for older adults, and the benefits of weight-bearing exercises have been immense.

Not only are strong people more likely to recover from injury, but they’re also less likely to be injured in the first place.

Recent studies have found that older adults who performed strength training exercises had improved balance, reduced risk of falls, denser bones, faster reaction time, the faster recovery time following an injury, and a lower chance of premature death.

Types of Strength Training

There are many forms of strength training, and it’s important to select an appropriate type based on someone’s specific goals, weaknesses, fitness level, medical history, and preferences.

Workouts to build muscle mass will look different than those intended to improve balance or gain strength. There are several different types of strength training:

  • Weight training
  • Resistance training
  • Body weight training
  • Circuit training
  • Sports training
  • and strength and physique sports.

Weight Training

Weight training is the quintessential form of strength and power training practiced by professional bodybuilders, athletes, and health fanatics.

Weight lifting is the most common form of strength training, whether using free-weight barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells or training with weight machines. Weight training is the best method for people looking to gain lean muscle mass, improve muscle tone, build strength, and reduce body fat percentage.

Along with these benefits come some risks, and practicing proper technique when weight training is imperative to reduce the chances of injury. Starting with a lighter weight can give a healthy base to build on over time.

Resistance Training

Resistance training is similar to weight training but uses other forms of resistance to build strength and endurance rather than fighting against gravity.

Resistance training bands are an excellent option for people looking to build endurance. Due to the more gentle nature of elastic tension, it is frequently employed in rehabilitation settings to build weaker muscles that can’t handle weight training.

Resistance training is especially applicable to injured, weak, and elderly populations, as it carries far fewer risks than weight training and is easier to progress than bodyweight exercises.

Body Weight Training or Plyometrics

Body weight or plyometric training uses no outside resistance. All of the force for these routines uses the participant’s body weight. It is most applicable for gaining muscular endurance and often involves very high-rep sets.

Push-ups, pull-ups, crunch, bodyweight squats, and dips are some of the most popular bodyweight exercises and can be used to build a healthy, strong physique without overcomplicating the process.

Using their own body weight, rather than adding external force, reduces the chances of injury while achieving most of the health benefits of other forms of strength training exercise.

The downside of bodyweight training is that it can become too easy over time, making external forces necessary to continue progressing. Many people will start with just their body weight before progressing to resistance training or training with free weights.

This progression may be the best way to start strength training, as body weight exercises build muscular strength, endurance, balance, and proprioception, massively reducing the risk of injury associated with more aggressive forms of strength training.

Circuit Training or Cross Training

Cross-training is a non-specific full-body workout that incorporates other forms of aerobic and strength training. Often used by athletes, circuit training uses lighter weights, faster movements, and shorter rest times to suit sports conditions better.

For non-athletes, cross-training can benefit the entire body, improving muscular strength and endurance, cardiovascular health, and burning more calories than most other forms of strength training.

Unlike more specific methods focused on gaining muscle or increasing strength, this is a functional training approach, focusing on general physical preparedness and overall strength.

Sports Training

Many athletes incorporate strength training into their fitness routines. Sports like rugby, American football, and wrestling require strength, lean muscle mass, speed, and explosive power.

A sport-specific strength training program is usually tailored to the athlete’s specific needs - a baseball player’s strength training workouts will look different than a golfer’s, with different exercises and a focus on different muscle groups.

Strength and Physique Sports

Strength and physique sports have specific strength training programs depending on the athlete's needs.

Powerlifting training will focus heavily on compound exercises performed with good form, always looking for more weight. A strongman athlete’s workouts focus more on aerobic exercise and muscular endurance.

In contrast, bodybuilders' or figure competitors’ workouts focus on skeletal muscle growth, reducing body fat mass, and an appealing balance of lower and upper body muscle mass.

Strength Training for Specific Groups of People

Everyone can benefit from a physical activity program involving strength training. However, picking an appropriate and personalized routine can maximize those benefits.


Recent research has shown that strength training is safe for children and can immensely benefit their physical and mental health.

Strength training programs for children should focus on proper form, avoid using too much weight, and teach the basics of building muscle.


Athletic strength training programs should be tailored to the athlete’s sport. Depending on the major muscle groups involved and the cardiorespiratory needs of their sport, athletes will incorporate resistance exercises, weight training, circuit training, and more.

Most professional sports teams have specific strength and condition coaches that know the needs of their athletes.


Research has shown massive benefits for older adults who train for strength. Training programs for these people focus on balance exercises, working with the knees bent, maintaining muscle tissue, and improving overall physical function.

These programs are generally lower impact, using flexibility, body weight, and resistance exercise in place of more aggressive forms of training.

People with Disabilities

People with disabilities are fully capable of strength training. Training for people with special needs has the same goals as for other populations but often requires some adaptations.

In these special cases, it is often most beneficial to consult a professional personal trainer or kinesiologist for a specific tailored program.

Core, Stability, and Balance Exercises

Strength training should include core, stability, and balance exercises. A strong, stable, balanced core reduces the risk of injury and improves muscular contraction in other movements, including compound movements involving multiple muscle groups.

Some examples of balance, stability, and core exercises include:

  • Planks
  • Crunches
  • Deadbugs
  • Bird dogs
  • Single-leg squats and pistol squats
  • Single-side farmer carries.

Risk Reduction and Injury Prevention

Injury prevention is important in strength training. Both overuse and acute injuries can happen with any kind of strength training.

Some quick tips for reducing the risk of injury include:

  • Using appropriate weights - more weight doesn’t always mean more strength
  • Using well-maintained equipment
  • Wearing proper clothing
  • Avoiding overtraining and getting enough sleep
  • Not pushing through pain
  • Specifically, training every individual muscle group
  • Practicing correct form on all exercises
  • and consulting with a doctor or personal trainer before starting any strength training program.

How to Get Started with Strength Training

It’s not hard to get started in strength training. Visiting a gym and chatting with a personal trainer is a great way to find good information about training.

Additionally, hundreds of free entry-level strength training programs are available online, and lots of good how-to information on specific exercises on YouTube.

Some tips and tricks for getting started in strength training include:

  • Start light
  • Ask questions
  • Try a few different kinds of strength training
  • Be patient - results take time.

Diet and Supplementation

Feeding the body is imperative to gaining muscle and strength. Eating enough protein, drinking enough water, and using appropriate supplements, like creatine monohydrate or powdered protein, can go a long way toward muscle and strength increases.

Without enough food, the body can’t gain muscle. Without proper hydration, the chances of getting hurt increase hugely. Gaining muscle mass requires eating more calories than the body burns, and losing fat requires eating less. Consult a registered dietician for in-depth nutrition and supplementation advice during strength training.

Rest and Recovery

The most underrated aspect of strength training is the recovery time. Muscle is broken down in the gym and grows bigger and stronger during long periods of rest, meaning sleep and proper nutrition are just as important as the work done in the gym.

Aim for eight hours of sleep every night, eat a high-protein diet, and adjust strength training work to meet daily demands. Pushing hard in the gym is possible if recovery is present.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Start Strength Training?

If you want to get stronger, improve athletic performance, maintain independence in aging, or just gain some muscle mass, yes.

Strength training has a massive range of benefits, and if you’re interested in any of them, you should start strength training.

How Long Does it Take to Get Strong?

Gaining muscle or strength and improving balance can take some time. It’s essential to be patient and remember that strength training is a marathon, not a sprint.

“Strong” is not a destination; it’s a never-ending journey that can benefit you at every step. With that said, beginners' strength and muscle gains tend to come quickly, and you might see improvements in as little as two weeks.

What is the Best Strength Training Method?

There is no “best method” for strength training. Rather, the best method for you will depend on your lifestyle, your needs, and your goals.

The best method is always the one you can stick to that you enjoy and that helps you meet your goals.

You might want to train with just your body weight, or maybe you want to use free weights or weight machines - regardless of your personal goals, there is a strength training workout for you.

Trying a few different methods can be beneficial, especially for beginners, and all forms of strength training can be highly beneficial for health.


Strength training - Wikipedia 

The benefits of strength training for older adults - Science Direct 

Strength Training for Children and Adolescents - Science Direct 

Using Resistance Bands for Strength Training – Cleveland Clinic 

Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier - Mayo Clinic .

Cross Training - OrthoInfo - AAOS 

The Complete Strength Training Guide • Stronger by Science 

Eight tips for safe and effective strength training - Harvard Health 

A Core Training Blueprint for the Athlete - Elite FTS

Weight Training Isn't Such A Heavy Lift. Here Are 7 Reasons Why You Should Try It 


The contents of this article are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is always recommended to consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making any health-related changes or if you have any questions or concerns about your health. Anahana is not liable for any errors, omissions, or consequences that may occur from using the information provided.