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The Power of Strength Training for Ultimate Body Transformation

girl doing pushups using kettlebellsWe all know how important strength training is for health and fitness, but what makes it so special that it carries the potential to completely transform your body composition? If you aren’t including strength training into your fitness regimen, it will be the single greatest change you can make that will take your fitness, both internal and external, to the next level.

Get Muscle Working For You

Most of us are focused on weight loss, and because of this, building muscle takes a back seat to your list of priorities. Exercise is usually done with the major goal of burning excess fat from your body. While those calories you burn during your cardio session will add up, the real magic happens when you’re not even paying attention.

Muscle loves to graze on fat. It does it at all hours of the day and even the night. In fact, in a day, one pound of muscle burns approximately 5.67 calories, whereas a pound of fat only burns approximately 1.98 [1]. This might not seem like much, but like the laws of compounding interest, it adds up over time. Someone with 90 pounds of muscle will burn an extra 500 calories a day. That’s 3500 calories in a week, or 1 pound of fat. Over the course of a year that would be over 50 pounds.

Think about that for a second. Your muscle is consuming 50 pounds worth of calories a year, and it’s doing this all behind the scenes without you having to even lift a finger. Does that sound like a good deal to you? It does to me too, and that’s why strength training should be the anchor in your exercise program.

Here are 50 tips for how to build muscle the right way.

What’s Considered Strength Training?

Most people think strength training and weight training are one-in-the-same. This is a common misconception. Weight training is a form of strength training, but it is only one of many ways you can get the benefits strength training provides. Any exercise that provides load-bearing resistance to your muscles, and is anaerobic in nature can be adapted to your workout program and be considered strength training.

Weight training is my favorite form of strength training, as it very efficiently gets the job done. However, if you don’t have a gym, bodyweight exercises can build you an impressive physique too. Exercises such as pushups, pullups, situps, burpees, bodyweight squats, plyometrics, and sprints will bring most people’s physiques in line with their goals.

Here are 10 fat-blasting exercises you can do almost anywhere.

That’s not all there is though. Even activities like pilates, when done with enough resistance and intensity, can build an impressive physique when combined with proper nutrition. Don’t be afraid to experiment with various activities. Find something you love to do and then find creative ways to make it difficult. Make sure the activity is a full-body movement, and you will forever have a strength training exercise that you can live with and enjoy doing for the rest of your life.

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How Much Strength Training Should You Do?

As with most things in fitness, it’s going to depend on your goals and the type of exercise you do. At minimum, I’d recommend a strength training session no less than once a week. Hitting each body part once a week is enough time to keep your muscles from getting weaker and atrophying between training sessions.

At maximum, I recommend not training the same muscles at high intensities more than once every 48 hours. You need time to repair and build muscle, and continually hitting the same muscles before they’ve had a chance to recover is a recipe for stalled progress, mental fatigue, and over-training.

Here are 10 muscle-recovery tips for improved performance.

Structure your exercise program around strength training. Whatever sport or activity you’re involved in, strength training stands to benefit you in many ways. Some sports and physiques will need a higher ratio of strength training to other exercise, and other more moderate physique goals or aerobic activities will need less to achieve optimal performance and appearance. Just make sure you’re making it part of your program.

I haven’t even begun to talk about the numerous health benefits, so consider that an extra bonus. Don’t be afraid of bulking up, and don’t be intimidated by the people in the gym. Take a step out of your comfort zone and see how great the reward can be.

  • ct

    I have a question… I am doing an Insanity/P90X hybrid. It’s combining cardio and strength training(weight and bodyweight training.) I do two workouts of insanity(cardio) a week, and three P90X workouts(strength training) a week, as well as one day of yoga.

    Does this sounds like a good workout plan? I completed the insanity workout and lost 30 lbs. I still have another 30-40 to loose, so I’m trying to add some strength training to the mix now. I was even thinking about going for a run in the morning on my P90X days so that I could have some extra cardio/calories to burn.

    How does this routine sound? Is P90X a good strength training workout?

    I’m a male, 24 yrs, 5’11, currently weigh 217. Thanks!

  • Amanda

    I use the Nike trainer club app for strength daily. I know now that daily is too much! How often should I be using the app?
    And is doing cardio on off days a good idea?

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

    I would recommend no more than 3 vigorous exercise sessions a week. You may be able to work up to 5 or more over a period of adaptation. However, it’s not necessary to reach weight loss goals. A few days of vigorous exercise and getting active the rest will work wonders when combined with a good diet.

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

    It sounds like a lot of exercise to me, but if you aren’t feeling burned out in any way and you’re recovering well, I see no problem with it. Give yourself a day or two of complete rest every week and you should get great results.

    • Cathy Christian

      I just started running and I’m getting shin splints and pain in my calves. I make sure I stretch, so is there anything else I can do to help alleviate the pain?

  • Veronica

    Coach – What do you think of TRX for strength training vs free weights?

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

    Haven’t really studied the product, but anything that adds resistance and can be made intense can be effective.

  • jane

    Coach- I have been working out since October of last year doing mostly cardio! Now I feel the need to incorperate weights into my workouts. What is a good beginners program and how often should I work out with weights during the week? Thank you

  • Micaela

    I’ve been doing HIIT workouts 4-5 times a week that are 10-15 min and insanity 2x/ week. Is this a good workout plan that combines both cardio and strength training?

  • Tina Auriemma

    How does a person strength train with arthritic shoulders?

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

    You will first need to be assessed by a professional and then work on rehab and you can also work around the injury.

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

    It sounds good to me, but make sure you allow yourself enough rest to recover.

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

    I can’t write you out a workout, but focus on using compound movements like the bench press, squat, deadlift, and rows. Bodyweight movements like the pushup, pullup, bodyweight squats, and burpees will work too.

  • Carla

    First, let me say thank you! I follow you religiously and you’’ve helped me to figure so many things out. I’’ve lost 22 lbs. in 8 months and have done so with a lot of your help!

    Okay, question: I’m strength training three times a week, but I don’t want to get too big. (I am fine with looking ripped; I’m just not interested in looking like I’m a body builder.) How much should I be doing? Meaning, how many sets, and how many times?

    For example, right now, I’’ll work arms and intercalate bicep and triceps three sets of each, three times (so a total of 9 sets for biceps and 9 sets for triceps). When I do legs or back/shoulders, however, the sets thin out because there are so many more muscles to focus on, so I may only get three sets of each, twice. Is that enough? Or should I be doing more?

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

    Whether you get too big or not will be a function of your diet. You can’t grow bigger than your diet will allow.

  • Michelle

    Should I have designated days for certain body parts? Or is it okay to do all body parts every other day? I just want to be doing what is most effective for my body to gain muscle while I try to continue to lose more fat. Thank you! :)

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

    Training splits are a personal preference. If you are a beginner, full body routines 2-3 times a week will work just fine.

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

    You’re going to need to rest them. Other than that, go to YouTube and good shin splint exercises to start rehab/prehab.