Benefits of Resistance Training
Resistance training (also called strength training or weight training) is the use of resistance to muscular contraction to build the strength, anaerobic endurance and size of skeletal muscles.
Resistance training is based on the principle that muscles of the body will work to overcome a resistance force when they are required to do so. When you do resistance training repeatedly and consistently, your muscles become stronger.
A well-rounded fitness program includes strength training to improve bone, joint function, bone density, muscle, tendon and ligament strength, as well as aerobic exercise to improve your heart and lung fitness, flexibility and balance exercises. The Australian physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines recommend that adults do muscle strengthening activities on at least two days each week.
You should vary your progressive resistance training program every six to eight weeks to maintain improvement. Variables that can impact on your results include:
intensity (weights used)
frequency of sessions
rest between sets
If you vary your resistance training program through the number of repetitions and sets performed, exercises undertaken and weights used, you will maintain any strength gains you make.
Examples of resistance training
There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether at home or the gym.
Different types of resistance training include:
free weights – classic strength training tools such as dumbbells or barbells
weight machines – devices that have adjustable seats with handles attached either to weights or hydraulics
medicine balls – weighted balls
resistance bands – like giant rubber bands – these provide resistance when stretched. They are portable and can be adapted to most workouts. The bands provide continuous resistance throughout a movement
your own body weight – can be used for squats, push-ups and chin-ups. Using your own body weight is convenient, especially when travelling or at work.
While cardiovascular exercise is a great way of burning the fat, adding a little strength training to your workouts will earn you extra calories every day. You'll even be burning extra calories while you're sleeping or sitting on the couch watching Eastenders.
Aerobic exercise may burn a few hundred extra calories for dinner, but for every additional pound of muscle you gain, your body burns around 50 extra calories every day of the week.
Research has shown that regular resistance training can increase your Basal Metabolic Rate by up to 15%. So for someone burning 2000 calories per day, that's a potential 300 extra calories, more than a Mars bar, burned every single day.
Do not be disheartened if initially you seem to be staying at the same weight or gaining slightly.
Muscle weighs more per square inch than fat, so whilst your weight might not be dropping very quickly, your clothes are feeling baggier and you are seeing a healthier, slimmer and better toned you in the mirror. That's far more important than anything those nasty scales have to say, any time.