• Muscle strength is the force your muscle can exert against resistance. As you lift and lower a weight your muscle must generate enough force to move that weight.
  • Muscle endurance is the ability of your muscle to repeatedly apply force to lift and lower a weight. Muscle endurance describes how long or how many times you can lift and lower a weight.

Benefits of Strength Training

Strength training should complement aerobic workouts because each type of training results in different benefits. General benefits of strength training include:

  • Increased muscle strength and muscle endurance, greater lean body mass, less body fat, and higher energy metabolism.
  • Increased coordination and greater protection against injury.
  • Increased self-esteem and less perceived stress.
  • Better performance of physically-demanding, job-related tasks.

Determinants of Muscle Size

Various factors influence muscle size (see Figure 7-1). Although some factors cannot be controlled, two factors that we can control are exercise and nutrition habits (Chapters 3, 4, and 11).

Figure 7-1. Factors that Affect Muscle Size


Physical Activity


Figure 7-1. Factors that Affect Muscle Size


Nervous System Activation


Adapted from WD McArdle, FI Katch, and VL Katch. Exercise Physiology, 4th ed. Raltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1996.

Men generally have more muscle mass than women, mainly because men produce more testosterone than women. Strength training may increase muscle mass slightly in women; however, a common misconception is that strength training will cause women to "bulk up." Importantly, strength training will greatly increase muscle strength and reduce the risks for injury. Moreover, women tend to have poor upper body strength and many military tasks require upper body strength.

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