In my previous posts, we’ve looked at the benefits of interval training and “Cardio”, so now it’s time to move on to (one of!) my favourite types of training: Resistance Training.
Now I’m sure many of us have been told or are aware that resistance training is “good for us”, but how so exactly? Other than being told it is by our PT or group trainer and we should pick up something heavier! We all have our own reasons for doing resistance training, for example “getting stronger” or “toning our arms” or even just “switching off after a stressful day and throwing around some heavy weights!”. Whatever the reason, there is normally a positive end goal, and that’s because resistance training has HEAPS of benefits which come in all different shapes and sizes.
What is Resistance Training?
Resistance training (AKA weight or strength training) is using a force of resistance, such as a dumbbell or our own body weight, to create muscular contraction. Overtime, if we regularly include resistance training in our weekly exercise routine, this will lead to an increase in muscular strength, endurance and size (hypertrophy).
There are a number of different variables we can play around with when it comes to resistance training (and that’s what makes it so fun!). Depending on your level and goals, your program should evolve and change overtime (this is called progressive overload), by considering the below elements:
- Number of repetitions (reps)
- Number of sets
- Intensity (how much weight are you using)
- Time under tension
- Type of exercise (compound or isolated – e.g a squat vs. leg extension)
- Frequency of sessions
So for example, as a beginner you might include resistance training in your program twice per week (with at least 48 hours rest in between), work in a rep range of 8-12 at a lower weight and mainly choose compound exercises that target our big muscle groups. Whereas someone more advanced, who is wanting to increase muscle size, would be looking at a very different program with lower reps, more sets, increased time under tension and heavier weights.
Types of Resistance Training
Resistance training isn’t just about lifting weights, although this is the most common form. Below are some examples of other equipment or methods of resistance training:
- Free weights – dumbbells & barbells
- Body weight -push ups, pull ups, lunges etc.
- Resistance bands
- Suspension training – TRX etc.
- Medicine balls/sandbags
- Weight machines
- Calisthenics – a different type of bodyweight training, similar to gymnastics.
Aside from being lots of fun(!), below are some of the health and wellbeing benefits of resistance training.
- Improves metabolism due to an increase in muscle mass, which will also help to assist with weight management.
- Reduces risk of injury through improved muscle strength and toning, protecting your joints.
- Positively impacts our mental health and wellbeing through stress management and a decrease in anxiety and depression.
- Improves functional flexibility and balance, allowing us to continue with day-to-day activities when we grow older such as bending and lifting with reduced risk of falls.
- Reduces risk of osteoporosis through improved bone health and density. Resistance training has also been linked with prevention or control of other chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Improves cognitive function, reducing risk of cognitive decline as we grow older.
If you are looking to start a resistance training program or want some tips/advice on how to progress further, please do not hesitate to reach out to see how I can help you on your journey.