Resistance training can help you build muscle, boost metabolism


For decades, research has shown that resistance training is great for building strength and shaping the body. But in the past few years, resistance training has been getting recognition for more than just building muscle.

Research continues to show that lifting weights can have a positive impact on the human metabolism, improving overall health and wellness. From building bone density and raising your resting metabolic rate to improving the health of individuals with chronic diseases, experts are referring to resistance training as an exercise therapy program.

Resistance training programs boost muscle mass and can help reduce visceral fat, the fat that is stored around the internal organs. High levels of visceral fat is associated with the development of high cholesterol levels, hypertension, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Nearly 40% of American adults are obese and can benefit from adding resistance training to their exercise program.

As resistance training becomes part of a long-term routine, muscle mass increases, which naturally boosts a person's resting metabolic rate, or RMR, which is the measure of calories burned at rest. It accounts for 50% to 75% of the total number of calories burned per day, so the more muscle you have, the more metabolically active you are.

As we age, we begin to lose muscle mass, which can not only make us weaker and at a high risk for breaks and falls, but also increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Resistance training improves glucose clearance and insulin sensitivity, helping to transport glucose into muscle cells for energy. Resistance training can also help decrease A1C levels in diabetic adults of any age.

Individuals with high blood pressure can also benefit from resistance training. Approximately 80 million adults have hypertension, which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Through weight training, blood flow increases, helping to reduce blood pressure, regulate blood vessel constriction and improve vascular structure and function.

Strength training can also help reduce high cholesterol. Research shows that an increase in volume, the amount of work done, has a greater impact of improving levels than exercise intensity. In studies, the most effective workout for reducing blood pressure, improving cholesterol levels and boosting resting metabolic rate involved performing seven to 10 exercises, two to three sets and 10 to 15 repetitions with one to two minutes of rest in between exercises. Although anyone at any age can benefit from strength training, it is best to consult with your physician prior to beginning any type of exercise program.

Missy Corrigan is executive of community health for Sumter Family YMCA. She can be reached at or (803) 773-1404.