Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Importance and benefits of Resistance Training

Everybody knows that exercise is good for you, but I find that especially in women, the benefits and importance of resistance training are under-estimated.

Resistance or strength exercise is defined as "the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles."

Some benefits of resistance training include:
  • Greater muscular strength, improved muscle tone and appearance and increased muscular endurance (ability to do work for longer).
  • Increased lean muscle mass. Muscle burns energy; therefore, increasing your body’s percentage of muscle increases your basal metabolic rate, that is, the amount of energy you burn while doing nothing! This promotes long-term fat loss and helps dieters avoid yoyo dieting.
  • The after effects of resistance training, in terms of increased metabolic rate, are greater after resistance training than cardiovascular training, also promoting fat loss. 
  • Stronger muscles increase performance in a variety of sports

Resistance training is important for the wellbeing of everybody because it:
  • Helps with the correction and maintenance of posture, leading to better support for joints and helping to prevent injuries.
  • Helps to prevent osteoporosis by promoting bone build up. - The benefits of weight training for older people have been confirmed by studies of people who began participating in it even in their 80s and 90s
  • Helps to maintain lean body mass, aiding in weight management.
  • Helps to develop functional strength levels to assist with activities of daily living.
  • Intense exercise increases levels of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine, which can help improve mood and counter feelings of depression.

One of reasons people choose not to participate in resistance exercise is a fear of muscle "bulkiness" or increased size.

In order to produce muscle hypertrophy (increase in muscle size), resistance exercise and diet need to be particularly structured for this goal.  It is not easy to increase muscle size and takes a lot of work!!  Also, muscle size is partially genetically determined, so most women, for example, will not naturally become bulky without A LOT of effort.

Another reason people choose not to participate in resistance training is because they believe they need fancy machines and equipment.  In fact, all muscles of the body can be exercised without any equipment and the BEST resistance exercises for you are the ones where your body moves in a natural, functional manner, using only body weight or free weights.  Those fancy machines at the gym can often move your joints in an unnatural manner and can cause injury.

Resistance training programs can be specifically structured in order to support an individual's own goals, whether they be weight loss, improved function, improved sport performance or muscle hypertrophy (growth).

There are a few little rules to follow with regard to resistance training, like not training the same muscle groups two days in a row, in order to allow muscle repair and recovery and to prevent injuries and ensuring you follow the correct technique.  Having a consultation with an exercise professional to optimise a resistance training program specifically to your own goals and to teach you the correct exercise technique is an excellent idea to ensure safe and effective exercising.

The moral of the story is GET RESISTANCE TRAINING!!  Your body and mind will thank you now and in the future!!

xx Bec