Improving your muscular fitness through resistance exercise can improve your health and athletic performance. The term "heavy" weight training is relative to the person performing the exercise. What is heavy for you may be light for someone else. Whatever your chosen repetition range you need to lift more weight and overload your muscles to produce adaptation and gain benefit.
Improve Lean Muscle Tissue
Regular resistance training sessions with heavy weight will increase the strength of your lean muscle tissue. It can also increase the size of your muscles, but this requires specific training and a regimented diet. Performing just one set of eight to 12 repetitions with a heavy weight can stimulate your muscle tissue. These gains in strength will make daily activities easier to perform. And while heavy-weight resistance training doesn't build endurance, the additional strength can make you more efficient.
Increased Joint Stability
When you use heavy weight you boost tendon and ligament strength as well as build muscle tissue. Increasing the strength and durability of muscles, tendons and ligaments improves the stability of the joints and reduces your risk of injuries to vulnerable areas like shoulders, knees and lower back. Less pain and injury can improve your quality of life as well as your stability, balance and athletic performance.
Lower Body Fat
Muscle tissue is very metabolically active so the more you have, the more calories you burn on a daily basis. With over half of adult Americans overweight or obese, lowering body fat is a major health concern. Regular sessions of heavy weight training will burn calories during the session and increase the amount of body fat that you burn -- not only the visible fat under your skin, but invisible, visceral fat. Visceral fat surrounds your organs and increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Increased Bone Density
Weight bearing exercise and heavy resistance training can help to increase your bone density and prevent osteoporosis. Your bones are living tissue that adapt to the conditions in your body. If you don't eat a nutritious diet, they cannot grow, repair or function properly. If you don't exercise, bones are similarly affected. When you lift weights, the muscles pull on your bones where the tendons attach. This stimulates bones to strengthen much as it stimulates muscle tissue to grow stronger.
- "ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription"; American College of Sports Medicine; 2010
- "Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning"; National Strength and Conditioning Association; 2008
- Beginner Triathlete: Strength Training for Triathlon