Strength training is also known as
resistance training. It’s different from weight-lifting or powerlifting. These are
sports in which people compete to lift the heaviest weights.
In resistance or strength training,
you use weights or resistance bands to force your muscles to work against gravity. Over
time, this builds and strengthens muscle mass by increasing the size of your muscle
cells. During the first 4 weeks of a strength-training program, the increase in your
strength is primarily from changes in the neurological system that controls your muscle
contraction. The nervous system increases the number of muscle fibers used for training
and coordinates their activity, but muscle fibers remain the same size. After about 4
weeks, changes take place in the structure of your muscle fibers, so they enlarge and
your muscles become larger.
Talk with your healthcare provider before starting a strength-training program. Once you have your healthcare provider’s OK, talk with a qualified personal trainer to set up a program. If your goal is to increase your strength, then you should use progressively heavier weights in your training sessions. If your goal is to improve your muscle endurance, then you should use lighter weights with more repetitions in your training sessions.