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Appropriate exercise increases the strength and endurance of skeletal muscles. Increases in muscular strength are associated with increases in muscle mass; increases in muscular endurance are associated with improved blood flow to the working muscles.
These results are achieved by resistance training. Any exercise that causes the muscle to increase its tension, whether or not the muscle actually shortens during contraction, provides an appropriate strength-training stimulus.
Resistance can be applied to a muscle group by attempting to move an immovable object, by working one muscle group against another, by lifting heavy weights, or by using special strength-training machines and devices. There is a wide selection of strength-training equipment that, when used properly, can increase muscular strength and endurance.
It is possible that some of the equipment is more efficient in developing maximal performance, which is important for competitive athletes. But for the average individual, who is training to maintain an acceptable level of muscular fitness, any one device or program is probably about as good as another.
Strength and endurance training is done by performing several “reps” (repetitions) of a given exercise, then moving on to another exercise for a different muscle group. Experts generally recommend that exercisers select a resistance that is approximately 65 percent of the maximum they can lift for that particular exercise. This load should allow the completion of 12 reps of that exercise in 24 to 30 seconds.
Each group of eight to 12 reps is called a set, and two or three sets of a given exercise are recommended for each training session. The average individual should perform strength and endurance training two to three days per week. Super circuit weight training refers to a program in which running or other aerobic exercises are performed between sets; this training produces aerobic as well as strength benefits.