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What You Need to Know About Strength Training

As a primary care sports medicine physician, Dr. Douglas Comeau of the Boston Medical Center sees all types of athletes, from weekend warriors to elite athletes. In addition to taking care of sports injuries, he writes exercise prescriptions for people who are starting to work out again. Research shows that strength training is an important element in a physical fitness program.

“Along with a cardiovascular program five to seven times a week, I typically recommend strength training three days per week for someone who has never had an exercise prescription before or has never lifted weights,” says Dr. Comeau. He notes that if someone has a prior history of weightlifting or strength training, he would enhance the plan to either include an extra day or two of strength training, provided the patient has an appropriate balance of strength training, cardiovascular training, and rest days.

Did you know…?

  • A stronger core results in better posture.
  • An increased metabolism can help burn calories while the body is resting.
  • 14 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes; strength training can balance glucose levels.

Dr. Comeau recommends rotating body parts on the three days, focusing on the legs one day, the arms and shoulders the second day, and the back the third day. His patients typically use free weights or Nautilus and perform a series of techniques and repetitions depending on their individual objectives.

Adding strength training to your routine can you help you achieve any number of goals: Burn fat, build muscle, boost metabolism, reduce anxiety and stress, increase bone density, improve blood flow, control blood sugar, increase energy, improve balance and coordination, protect spine and extremities, and aid in helping to perform daily activities.

3 Tips on Strength Training

1. Consult a professional. A sports medicine physician can help you set up a program before you begin strength training. A customized program incorporating best practices will optimize results and prevent injuries.

2. Focus on form. Learning the proper technique is far more important than how much weight you are lifting. Be sure to master your technique before you add more weight to prevent injuries.

3. More repetition, less weight. Performing more repetitions with lower weights is more effective than lifting heavier weights with fewer repetitions.

Photo credit: Dan Watkins

Dr. Douglas Comeau is the medical director of sports medicine at Boston Medical Center and Boston University. He sees patients at the Ryan Center for Sports Medicine and serves as head team physician at Boston University and a team physician at Boston College.


Ryan Center for Sports Medicine
915 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA 02215