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8 Strength Training Exercises for a Healthier Heart

By , SparkPeople Blogger

February kicks off the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's American Heart Month along with the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women campaign which focuses on heart health awareness for women. Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States so taking care of our hearts via aerobic and strength training activities is moving us in the direction to overcoming this disease.

Aerobic activity is crucial for keeping our cardiovascular system strong and healthy, but we should not forget the role strength training plays in keeping our hearts healthy, too. According to Dr. Kenneth Cooper, AKA the Father of Aerobics, the older we are the more important strength training needs to be a part of our workout routine. In his book Start Strong, Finish Strong by the time we reach the age of 60 we should be spending 55% of our workout time toward aerobic activity, which "provides the most health benefits" and 45% of our time to strength/resistance training.

According to United States Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans doing two full body strength training sessions per week is all it takes to keep our bodies healthy.

Remember if you have a history of cardiovascular disease or have experienced a heart attack, please be sure you get medical clearance from your physician or cardiac rehab before performing any of these exercises.

And don't forget to wear red on Friday, February 4th in honor of National Wear Red Day!

Hamstrings, Glutes,. Quadriceps

Leg Press

Abs, Lower Back, Outer Thighs

Ice Skater


Chest Press with Resistance Band

Shoulders and Back

Reverse Fly


Rotated Overhead Press


Handbag Curl


Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extensions


Ab Twist with Medicine Ball

For more strength training exercise ideas view Coach Nicole's videos for a lower and upper body workouts.

7-Minute Lower Body Workout

8-Minute Upper Body Workout

Were you aware of the importance strength training plays in our fitness journey the older we get? Do you currently strength train at least two times a week?

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JAZZEJR 9/4/2020
Most of the links did not work for me. Report
BILLTHOMSON 11/18/2019
Very very important information. Report
Good info for my heart. Report
Yes, I do strength training 2x-3x/week and aerobic exercise 4x-5x/week. Getting the recommended amount of exercise - or more - has never been an issue for me. But all that exercise does make me hungry! Report
Thanks for sharing.This is a great workout plan. Report
Thanks for sharing. Report
Great article. Thanks. Report
Thanks for a great article! :) Report
This article is a little outdated; some of the links don't work any more. Report
I was SO aware I did an hour of each total body & cardio😳😬👍🏼💪🏽 Report
I have been aware of how strength training is important to my body I just didn't do it. A few years ago my husband and I bought a bowflex. Thanks to the 28 day challenge I am pumped to start our Bowflex Challenge. We took a program that we found in the book (we bought when we got the bowflex) that last 12 weeks that adds and drops exercise every two weeks. We have never gone the full 12 but I am determined to see us complete it. This will be our 2nd week and I can't wait to see what changes we have made in weights, reps and weight. :) Report
Definitely need to get back to strength training. I can feel the difference in how my body reacts to using my arms and legs. Report
For me, getting my cardio in is easy to schedule, but trying to get my strength training in is so much easier to write-off. I have just recently started incorporating strength training into my workout, currently I am doing 3 days a week, but only like 15 minutes or so. I really need to up my strength training! Report
I know it's important but I hate doing it :-). So I take two - three classes a week that focus on strength training. I don't know why but while I can do the treadmill or walk/run the neighborhood or trail alone, I find I need the group setting or working with my trainer to really get in strength training. Report
Yes!!!! I NEED to focus more on upper body strength training!!!! Report
what is a 'kettleworx'? i bought a kettlebell but never heard of a kettleworx.

alwayslowfat Report
I just ordered kettleworx. I am going to do the best I can to get myself on a good workout schedule. I am a grandma and want nothing more then to be here as long as I can for my growing family. Report
This was a surprise that we should be doing more strength training as we get older! I do at least two weight training workouts already, but sometimes I skip the lower body since I cycle so much. Guess I should still work out those muscles! Thank for the info. Report
I've been having a very difficult time losing and keeping off 10 lbs. I seem to lose 10 then gain 7. Most of my workouts are cardio ( I LOVE to spin) but after consulting with a PT at my gym we concluded that I needed more strength training and an increase of protein in my diet, even tho most of my carbs are complex they were still high. Nothing drastic, just a few simple changes. So far it seems to be working SLOWLY! LOL No matter what, I know how important strength training is as I get older and I hope to keep it up.

Sue Report
just started strength training and I've found that my body moves better when its stronger Report
I have known for a long time that strength is important. Years ago as a young Mom I was trying to get back in shape after my first baby. I came across Jack LaLanne Show worked out daily and got back in shape. Years past, I eased up and then stopped,what he predicated came true, I gained weight,got flabby and weak and totally out of shape and unhealthy. Now I do strength exercises every other day and cardio daily. I am working on my Bingo arms and getting back my health. Report
I didn't realize how important strength training was! I had been doing all cardio for a long time. My first strength training kicked my butt, but I feel so much more amazing since then. I make sure to do both - LOVE circuit training like the 30-day shred. Report
I honestly don't do strength training for half of my work-out. I never knew it was supposed to equal about half of your work-out time either! t gets make 15-20 minutes at the end of my 70 minutes of cardio. I will work up to it, but I just prefer cardio. I know there are those that would rather be doing strength training than cardio too. I do appreciate how much stronger I feel since I started strength training several years ago. Report
As I've gotten older (sigh), I've learned how important it is to strength train. Adding lean muscle has helped increase my metabolism. Mostly, I hope adding lean muscle will help decrease some of the symptoms of menopause. It's also important to increase lean muscle to keep up your strength. How many elderly people take a fall and don't have the strength to at least get themselves into a chair. It's important for me to be self sufficient when I get older. That means that I have to take care of myself not only financially, but physically as well. I don't want to find myself in a situation where people have to lift me up from a chair or bed.

So, like Jack Lalanne, I intend to keep strength training well into my grand old age. As it is, I've seen the impact strength training can have on a person body.

Yes, I strength train at least twice a week.
RD, they link to other websites because there are so many great resources for fitness information out there! SparkPeople is not the be-all, end-all of exercise expertise. Maybe they just don't have a demo for Ice Skaters in their database?

And yes, of course I strength train!! I took Personal Fitness in high school, and they did a great job of explaining to us that you need both aerobic and anaerobic activity to keep your heart and body strong. I LOVE using weights -- it makes me feel really badass to be one of the only girls using 20lb dumbbells at my gym. Report
I'm trying the spark generated plan- still stuck on number 2 - the plank. Too hard for me (impossible to do the way it is described). Could we get som easier/starter options??
Thanks for all you do! Report
I don't get it, why does SparkPeople link to sites AWAY from their own site for exercise demos. That's not right. Report
i have a hard time with a soulder that is giving me problems....walk alot not so much upper body work tho........ Report
I hope Elaine LaLanne will work now to encourage older women to stay physically fit. It was sad to find out that wonderful Jack LaLanne, the GodFather of Fitness passed away last week, but his wife certainly can carry on and help teach us how to stay fit. Report
I am starting to bring strength training into my workout as i go into month 2 on Spark People Report
I did know that strength training was important. I do 45 to 60 minutes 3 days a week. I love doing it. Report
I knew the strength training was important but did not know that it should take almost half my workout time! On the days I get to take the class at the gym, I do 55%/45% cardio/strength but others days....not so good! This will inspire me to do more strength training! I do manage 2 days a week now. Report
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