Health Benefits of Weight Training
- Increases bone density (Hurley 1994)
- Increases glucose uptake (Hurley 1994)
- Increases gastrointestinal transit time (Koffler 1992)
- Improved HDL levels (Stone 1982, Hurley 1988)
- Reduced resting blood pressure (Harris 1987)
- effects of weight training equal to aerobic exercise (Westcott
- Reduced low back pain (Risch 1993)
- requires isolated low back strength training
- Reduced osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritic pain (Tufis
- Reduced depression (Signh 1997)
Men and women reach peak strength around 20 to 25 years of
age. After age 25, strength generally decreases an average of
1% per year. Therefore, a 65 year old would only have about 60%
of the strength they had at age 25. Individuals who are more
active, or those who continue to strength train, can considerably
decrease this tendency for declining muscular strength.
Strength training for older adults can reverse the loss of
muscle mass and enhance their ability to perform activities of
Welle S. Resistance training in older persons. Clinical
Geriatrics 1998;6 (1):48-59.
Radakovich J. Prescribing resistance training for elderly
patients. Your Patient and Fitness 1997;11(2):27-30.
Strength Correlates to Muscle
A muscle's strength has a strong relationship to its cross
sectional area in both men and women. Muscle enlargement with
a corresponding increase in strength was first shown scientifically
as early as 1897.
Ikai M, Fukunaga T, Calculation of muscle strength per
unit cross-sectional area of human muscle by means of ultrasonic
measurements. Int Z Angew Phsiol, 26:26-32, 1968.
Hetting T: Physiology of Strength. Springfield. Ill, C.
C Thomas, 1961.
Morpurgo B: U:ber Aktivita:ts-Hypertrophie der willkurlichen
Muskeln. Virchows Arch. Pathol Anat Physiol, 150:522-544, 1897.
Strength recovery was noted in an early exercise physiology
textbook. Elbow flexors were tested for strength and were worked
- 69% of strength was regained after 30 seconds of recovery
- 82% of strength was regained after 2.5 minutes
- 87% of strength was regained after 7.5 minutes
- 95% of strength was regained after 42.5 minutes
- only 26% more than what had been regained after a 30 second
Morehouse LE, Augustus TM (1971), Physiology of exercise,
The C.V. Mosby Company, Saint Lois, 6th Ed, pg 60.
Combined Muscular Strength
It is estimated that if all the muscles of the human body
work together, it could lift 11 tons, the equivalent of 4 SUVs.
Heavy resistance training can stimulate hypertrophy of both
Type I and II fibers, with Type II fiber experiencing the greatest
rate of hypertrophy. Also see Fiber
Gonyea & Sale 1882; Hakkinen & Komi 1985; Hakkinen,
et al 1989; MacDougall et al. 1980; Thorstensson 1976.
Sarcoplasmic & Myofibrillar
Heavy resistance training leads to both sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar
hypertrophy. Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy is an increase volume
of sarcoplasmic fluid (Semifluid interfibrillar substance) in
the muscle cell that do not directly contribute to the production
of muscular force. Myofibrillar Hypertrophy is an increase
in number of actin
and myosin contractile proteins resulting in muscular strength
with a small increase in muscular size.
Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is more dominant in the muscles of
bodybuilders while myofibrillar hypertrophy is greater in Olympic
weightlifters (Zatsiorsky & Kraemer, 1995). Contributing
factors include both both type of training performed and affinity
to a respective sport favoring those with particular genetic
predispositions. Those who start and continue in a particular
sport tend to have genetic attributes that are conducive to their
choosen endeavor and train accordingly.
Zatsiorsky VM, Kraemer WJ (1995). Science and Practice
of Strength Training. 2nd Ed, 50., Human Kinetics Publishers
Strength training increases neuromuscular efficiency
- Increased number of motor units recruited
- Increased firing rate of each motor unit
- Increased synchronization of motor unit firing
Also see Motor Development.
Resistance training incorporating high-volume, moderate-intensity,
and short rest periods, may increase capillarization in the muscles
(Schantz 1982; Tesch, et al. 1984). Bodybuilders who typically
perform this sort of training were able to exercise at a higher
percentage of their 1 rep max for 3 sets of 10 repetitions, compared
to powerlifters when plasma lactate concentrations were equally
elevated in both groups (Kreamer et al 1987).
Strength Training for Swim Performance
Few studies demonstrated the efficacy of weight training on
freestyle (front crawl) swimming performance. Aspenes et. al
2009 showed that two weekly sessions of weight training designed
to imitate the butterfly stroke improves tethered freestyle swimming
force. It also improved 4 distance performance but did not improve
50 and 100 m performance.
Aspenes S, Kjendlie PL, Hoff J, Helgerud J (2009). Combined
strength and endurance training in competitive swimmers. J Sports
Sci Med. 1;8(3):357-65.
Strength gains from a particular exercise or movement may
temporarily enhance strength gains of other exercises for similar
or even adjacent movements.
Introduction of Weighted Chest Dips may increase strength
in Bench Press, Incline Bench Press, and Shoulder Press.
Introduction of Pullover may increase Chin-up strength. The
increased strength for Chin-ups may also, in turn, increase strength
for more remotely related exercises such as Chest Dips, Bench
Press, or Arm Curls.
Although the movements are not exactly the same, common muscles
are involved with these different movements. This phenomenon
would suggest that a particular new exercise added to a workout
may indirectly increase strength gains for other more commonly
performed exercises, even seemingly unrelated movements. Also
Strength following injuries.
20 million women in the United States are affected by osteoporosis,
leading to multiple fractures and increased hospitalizations.
Boning up on osteoporosis: a guide to prevention and treatment.
Washington, D.C.: National Osteoporosis Foundation, 1991.
Resistance training has been shown repeatedly to increase
bone marrow density, which can decrease the morbidity and mortality
resulting from osteoporosis.
Hamdy R., Anderson J, Whalen K, Harvill L. Regional differences
in bone density of young men involved in different exercises.
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 1994; 26: 884-888.
Heinonen A, Oja P, Kannus P, Sievanen H, Manttari A, Vuori
I. Bone mineral density of female athletes in different sports.
Bone and Mineral 1993;23:1-14.
Karlson M., Johnell O. Obrant K. Bone mineral density in
weightlifters. Calcified Tissue International. 1993;52:212-215.
Nelson ME, Fiatarone MA, Morganti CM, Trice I, Greenberg
RA, Evans WJ. Effects of high intensity strength training on
multiple risk factors for osteoporotic fractures. A randomized
controlled trial. JAMA 1994;272(24):1909-1914.
Pocock NA, Eisman J, Gwinn T, Sambrook P, Kelly P, Freund
J, et al. Muscle strength, physical fitness, and weight but not
age to predict femoral neck bone mass. Journal of Bone and Mineral
Menkes A, Mazel S, Redmond RA, Koffler K, Libanati CR,
Gundberg CM, et al. Strength training increases regional bone
mineral density and bone remodeling in middle-aged and older
men. Journal of Applied Physiology 1993; 74(5):2478-2484.
"The original dumbbell was an apparatus contrived like
that for ringing church-bells; that is, a heavy fly-wheel with
a weight attached, which was set in motion like a church-bell,
until it acquired sufficient impetus to carry the gymnast up
and down, and so bring the muscles into active play. There is
one at New College, Oxford, to the present day. The modern weights,
so called, produce similar results, in a less cumbrous and more
agreeable manner." - Edwards' Words, Facts, and Phrases.
Phyfe WHP (1901) Five Thousand Facts and Fancies, GP Putnam's
Sons, pg 250.
Early Weight Training Machines
people have heard of Author Jones (1926 - 2007), the creator
of Nautilus exercise machines, but few today have heard of the
exercise machines of Dr Gustav Zander, 100 year earlier. Jonas
Gustav Vilhelm Zander (1835-1920) was a Swedish physician and
orthopedist, who in 1879 created several weight training machines
which used special shaped cams to provide muscular tension through
a full range of motion (sound familiar?). By 1906, he established
Institutes throughout the world, in 146 countries. His exercise
machines were also found in health spas throughout the western
world and were widespread in the US in the early 20th century.
Jones insisted that he developed and designed Nautilus machines
without any knowledge of Zander's inventions.
Early Kinesiology Study
In 1875, Nipher academic paper relating to muscular performance
in work is published in America's first scientific journal. The
journal article mentions strength adaptation, daily work volume
(kgr.-meters), dynamometer, and differentiates 'static work'
versus 'dynamic work'. Nipher also later published a study on
a form of serial
FE Nipher, Assistant Professor of Physics in Washington
University (1875). On the Mechanical work done by a muscle before
exhaustion. American Journal of Science and Arts. 9(100), 130-137.