Are You Lifting Weights Often Enough? Research Says This is How Much Strength Training You Need Each Week 

For improved weight loss, longevity, muscle, and more!

By: Jessica Migala

Strength training is a cornerstone of a well-rounded fitness routine — and yet, not everyone includes strength training in their weekly fitness routine. However, that doesn’t have to be you! From boosting weight loss to supporting longevity, strength training comes with so many benefits. Read on to learn what the science says about the benefits of strength training, including how much strength training per week is best and how to make it a lasting part of your routine. Here’s to getting strong, and enjoying the journey!

The Health Benefits of Strength Training

A kind of scary thing happens once you enter your 30s: You start to lose muscle. In fact, you lose 3-5% of muscle mass with each decade, according to the Office on Women’s Health. This all adds up as you age–by the time you’re in your 80s or 90s, you may have shed half of all your muscle, according to research. And muscle is truly amazing for your health — it’s what will make everyday activities easier so you can carry things easier, walk far, and catch your balance when you slip.  

Strength training is what will help you maintain your muscle — and build more, which is critical if you have body composition goals. Plus, you’ll reap a ton of health benefits from your effort. Resistance exercise helps you age well, improves your mobility, is a brain-booster, and improves metabolic health, research points out

If one of your goals is to lose body fat, a meta-analysis of 114 trials concluded that combining resistance training with a reduced-calorie diet was the most effective route compared to programs that combined resistance and cardio exercise, resistance training only, or no training at all. Strength training also helped preserve muscle mass while people lost weight — a huge win for keeping up the fire in your metabolism. 

Oh, and the final perk to lifting? Strength training helps you live longer. Another meta-analysis found that 60 minutes of resistance work decreased the risk of dying from any cause by 27%. So, who’s ready to defy aging?

How Much Strength Training Do You Need Per Week?

Here’s the great news — especially if you’re busy or time-crunched — the recommendations for strength training are totally doable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 2 strength training workouts per week paired with 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity. 

When you do these strength sessions, the recommendations are to do a full-body workout that hits all the major muscle groups, including your legs, hips, back, core, chest, shoulders, and arms.

Top Tips to Add Strength Training to Your Fitness Routine

Not sure how to start? Follow these tips, and you’ll have a strength routine you can stick to in no time:

Pick Your Days

When starting a new routine, it’s important to get into the habit. And the first step is to choose what days are strength days. The choice is yours depending on your schedule, but ideally schedule a cardio, rest, or active recovery day in between to allow your muscles the R+R they need. Add it to your calendar as don’t-miss days.

Start With Body Weight

Resistance exercise can be done with equipment, from weight machines to free weights or barbells, kettlebells, sandbags, and resistance bands, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). But you can also build strength using your own body weight via moves like push-ups, squats, lunges, step-ups, floor bridges, and many more. If you don’t go to a gym or have access to home equipment, body weight is the way to go — and you can start this today.

Perform Reps Until It Feels Hard (Really Hard)

Depending on what type of training you’re doing, your experience, and your goals, you may be doing anywhere from 8 to 20 reps, notes NASM. What’s important is that you choose a weight or perform an exercise until you’re almost at failure, research advises — the point where you’re struggling to complete even one more rep. This feels hard, but it’s where you develop strength and muscle.

Think Outside The Weight

There are so many ways you can meet this strength training recommendation — including some activities you wouldn’t expect. Heavy gardening counts, as does some yoga, the CDC says.

Follow A Plan

It can be tough to get in a good strength workout when not following a well-developed plan. That’s where the FitOn App comes in — you can access some of the best strength workouts that are challenging, effective, and geared to your experience level. 

If You Don’t Use It, You May Lose It

When it comes to muscle, remember that your body naturally decreases in muscle mass with age, but habits like resistance training (as well as eating the protein your body needs) will maintain your muscle and overall strength. Experts recommend doing 2 strength training sessions per week, focusing on the entire body. Cheers to a stronger future.