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12 Systems Of The Human Body And Strength Training

The complete write up for the one who wants to read it in one go.

One of the several ways I attempt to enhance my knowledge on fitness science is by reading books.  However, I don’t keep that to myself, for I discuss with you through my blog, and the added benefit when I write and ruminate about it is that it makes a permanent impression in my mind.

I am now reading a book titled The edge of strength by Scott Iardella.  In one of the chapters he speaks about the 12 systems of the human body and how they react to strength training.  I hope this will nudge you to understand that lifting weights can positively affect you beyond aesthetics and getting strong.

On a similar note, the well-known benefits of strength training are several.  However, I will name a few health benefits which include:

Increased resting metabolic rate

Improved glucose metabolism

Improved blood lipid profiles

Reduces resting blood pressure

Improved bone mineral density


Scott in his book further explores on twelve systems of the human body and explains how strength training exactly benefits each one of them.

Now, it’s time for some biology.  The twelve systems of the human body are:

The integumentary system

The skeletal system

The muscular system

The lymphatic system

The immune system

The respiratory system

The nervous system

The endocrine system

The cardiovascular system

The digestive system

The urinary system

The reproductive system

I will quote what Scott says about the relation between strength training and the above systems, and then provide my rational.  I believe 18 years of strength training experience and 15 plus years of studying the field provides me the know how to discuss what the author says.

To be continued…………….

Integumentary system

“The integumentary system consists of our skin, nails, and hair.  It would be a stretch to say that strength contributes to this system in any meaningful way.  Although I do see how movement stimulates other systems (such as endocrine) that may indirectly contribute to skin health, we can’t say there’s a direct link between the integumentary system and strength training.”

Scott’s Verdict:  “No, there isn’t any relationship between integumentary system and strength training.”

My rational:  Well on a lighter note, I observe that lifting iron has some connection to hair loss.  Ha!  Jokes apart, I don’t see any connection between them.  However, I see that physical exercise (not only strength training) contributes greatly to the elasticity of the skin.   Physical exercise means more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the skin cells and waste products are removed effectively—which will radiate on the face.  In other words, vigorous physical exercise can be an excellent anti-aging agent.

Skeletal System

“The skeletal system is composed of 206 bones in the adult human body.  There is no question that resistance exercise builds stronger bones and contributes to increased bone mineral density (BMD). Increased BMD helps prevent fractures, especially those that become prevalent in women (or men) who develop osteoporosis or osteopenia.  The improvement of bone health is a major and undisputed benefit of resistance training.”

Scott’s verdict:  “Yes.”

My rational:  I have no doubt whatsoever.  While I was pursuing my 2nd year law I was grievously injured in a road accident.  The doctor who treated me suggested that I need to undergo a shoulder x ray, for my right shoulder was deeply bruised.  Fortunately, there wasn’t any fracture, and the doctor happily suggested that since I was strength training, the strong bones hadn’t succumbed.  On a similar note, I had also met with another road accident where there was a direct impact on the right shoulder.  Luckily, my shoulder was sore for a week and then recovered soon.  I cannot deny that strength training builds strong bones.  Moreover, strength training not only builds strong bones but also provides stronger muscles, which leads to twofold advantage in preventing fractures.  For example, we listen to men complaining that a simple fall on a slippery floor caused them fracture.  Behold!  Strength training is for the rescue.  Strength rules folks!!

Muscular System

“There are hundreds of skeletal muscles in the human body, not to mention cardiac muscle and smooth muscle.  The impact of strength training is most obvious of the muscular system in the following ways:

Develops strength

Builds muscular hypertrophy

Improves muscle tissue quality

Stimulates muscle physiology

Improves rates of muscle firing and activity

Enhances mitochondrial function

The reason most of us train is to get stronger and develop the muscular system to its fullest.  And, as you know now, sarcopenia is the progressive loss of muscle tissue as we age.  We have to do everything we can to slow down this age-related muscle loss.”


Scott’s verdict:  “Yes.”

My rational:  No doubt whatsoever.  I am a living example.   Moreover, several gym clients have derived and continue to get the benefit of strength training.  Of course, strength training develops strength, builds muscular hypertrophy and enhances mitochondrial function.  However, more importantly strength training plays a major role in stabilizing  insulin sensitivity; thereby, contributing majorly in fighting against diabetes.  I will explain further under endocrine system, for the hormone insulin is studied in endocrinology.

Lymphatic system

“The lymphatic system is basically a filtration system that filters debris and toxins from our blood vessels.  It’s also the housing station for our white blood cells, which are extremely important to fight disease and illness.  Exercise and movement help to stimulate the fluid and drainage of the lymphatic system.   In other words, when we move more, the lymphatic system works better.  When we are more sedentary, the lymphatic system needs to work harder.  More improvement means improved efficiency of the lymphatic system because it helps the filtration process.”

Scott’s verdict:  “Yes.”

My rational:   I am unheard of this.  It might need further research to endorse the views of Scott.

Immune system

“The immune system is a functional system that protects the body via immune responses.  It is compromised of the spleen, thymus, lymph node, and bone marrow.  This amazing and important system is strengthened by being active and exercising.  Too much exercise, however, can be detrimental and overly stress the immune system.  This can occur in states of overreaching or overtraining.”

Scott’s verdict:  “Yes.”

My rational:  Yes, of course!  My immunity was weak when I was in school and college.  For instance, I would fall sick very often, and my lungs would get infected easily.  It would result in cough and fever.  However, now after several years of strength training I rarely fall sick.  In fact, I rarely use antibiotics when I fall sick; whereas, earlier whenever I fell sick a dose of antibiotics was only the way to recover.   Eating healthy has some contribution to strengthen the immune system.  However, I feel physical activity is a greater contributor than consuming a healthy diet.  My mentor, Todd Reinhard, too endorses the same view.

Respiratory system

“The respiratory system (our lungs) is the center for our ability to breathe properly and efficiently.  This system keeps blood supplied with oxygen and thereby removes carbon dioxide from our system.  The respiratory system is our ability to have efficient gas exchange for high performance and for daily living.  Depending on the type of resistance exercise you do and providing you have learned to breathe or ventilate properly, strength training, will certainly improve the function and performance of the respiratory system.

Metabolic conditioning (Metcon) exercise and protocols for example, high intensity interval training (HIIT) has been shown to improve aerobic capacity.”

Scott’s verdict:  “Yes.”

My rational:   Yes, I agree.  You don’t believe me!  No problem.  Perform a bout of HIIT drills and then answer me.  Your lungs will scream for more oxygen.  In other words, a bout of HIIT performed often forces your lungs to function at its best.

Nervous system

“The nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.  These are 2 distinct systems as the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS).  The brain and spinal cord are the CNS, and everything else in the nervous system belongs to the PNS.  Strength training is truly a neurological process in which the nervous system is stimulated to a high degree to recruit motor units.  Strength, movement, motor control, myelination, and technical proficiency are developed through processes in the nervous system.”

Scott’s verdict: “Yes.”

My rational:  I better believe it. Ha!  I have a neurological degenerative genetic disorder called cerebral ataxia, and my doctor believes that strength training is reducing the rate of deterioration.   He suggested me these findings when he saw my brain MRI, as the degeneration of the affected area is worse but apparently not visible in me.  The doctor is forced to believe that the degradation of the brain though worse is not apparent, as I am leading a physically vigorous lifestyle.

Endocrine system

“The endocrine system is composed of many glands that secrete hormones, such as:

growth hormone (GH)

testosterone (T)

insulin (I)

insulin-like growth factor (IGF)

cortisol (C)

brain-derived neurotropic factor (BNDF)

The hormonal response to exercise is quite overwhelming as many favorable hormonal changes occur during, after, and as a result of resistance exercise training.  These hormonal responses significantly contribute to:

improved body composition changes

improved strength

anti-aging benefits

improved energy and well—being

prevention of many major life—threatening diseases (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer).”

Scott’s verdict:  “Yes”

My rational:  Preventing certain types of cancer may sound farfetched, but I confirm with all other statements.  However, we know that insulin resistance as opposed to insulin sensitivity is one of major factors responsible for the onset of diabetes.  Strength training triumphs in improving insulin sensitivity.  I have come across several gym clients who were borderline diabetics.  And after several months of strength training they saw a marked improvement in managing their blood sugar.  A majority of them who were borderline diabetics, fortunately, stopped consuming medications.    I believe, this is a major success awarded to strength training.

Cardiovascular system

“The cardiovascular system is composed of the heart and all circulatory tissues (arteries and veins).  Depending on the training variables implemented in a training program, the cardiovascular system can be positively influenced.  For example, when MetCon or HIIT are incorporated, the cardiovascular benefits are outstanding.  On the other hand, if you’re doing maximal strength programming (i.e. a powerlifting program) there will be less of an effect on the cardiovascular system.  Strength training can improve the function of the cardiovascular system, depending on the training variables that are used in the program.”

Scott’s verdict:  “Yes.”

My rational:  I wholeheartedly second the views.

Digestive system

“The digestive system breaks down the food we eat to enter into the bloodstream to distribute to the cells for energy and nutrients.  Waste by-products are eliminated.  The practice of regular exercise has been found to improve the digestion and elimination process.  In a small research study, it was reported that GI (gastrointestinal) transit time was accelerated in middle-aged and older men who performed strength training.  The significance of this is a reduction in colon cancer.”

“Granted the study was small, but it was meaningful data on the influence of strength training on the digestive system.  And, certainly the combination of exercise training and optimal nutrition will enhance the performance of the digestive system.”

“We don’t train to improve our digestive system function, but there certainly seems to be benefits to this system as a result.”

Scott’s verdict: “Yes.”

My rational:   As I stated earlier, I would fall sick often.  On a similar note, my appetite hasn’t been great.  In other words, I am blessed to be not a foodie.  However, I see that whenever I exercise physically my appetite is appropriate; likewise, when I rest for more than 2 or 3 days my appetite suffers.  Physical movement is a great precursor for better digestive system function.  I am a living proof beyond doubt.

Urinary system

“The urinary system eliminates excess nitrogen from the body.   It also regulates water, electrolyte, and acid—base balance in the body.  Does strength training impact the urinary system in any way?”

“Honestly, I don’t think it matters.  At least I have not found any evidence to support such a claim.”

Scott’s verdict:  “No.”

My rational:  No

Reproductive system

“Obviously, the reproductive system is different for males and females.  Regardless, this is an interesting system as it relates to strength and exercise.

Indirectly, you could argue that there is an impact on sex—related hormones (testosterone for males, estrogen for females) as a result of strength training, which then does have an impact on the reproductive system and sex drive.”

Scott’s verdict:  “Yes.”

My rational:  I don’t know whether this is coincidental or not, but a few women who were eager to conceive (but had hormonal issues to conceive) and at the same time started gymming, did conceive.  I am forced to believe that physical activity regulates the hormones, which are responsible for child birth.  However, I can confirm that women who have poly cystic ovarian disease (PCOD) were better at coping with the syndrome. Few of my gym clients who were troubled with PCOD started to lose weight, got regular menses and, as I stated earlier, did conceive too.  Some of them did report the positive changes they obtained from strength training to me.



All said and done, don’t rule out the psychological benefit you derive from strength building.  Strength training is a well-known antidepressant, and can be a great confidence booster.  As I stated earlier, strength training can positively affect you beyond aesthetics and strength.

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