Firstly let’s get rid of some of the mystique surrounding resistance training. Even the name sounds technical! Resistance training is another name for exercising your muscles using an opposing force i.e. dumb bells or resistance bands.
In the old days it used to be called weight training, but this phrase invoked images of huge sweaty men with bulging biceps and wasn’t very popular with women. So the language has changed but the activity remains the same.
Resistance training, toning and weight training are one and the same activity; they require the use of resistance to increase muscle size and strength. The most well known equipment used for resistance training is weights, or more specifically dumb bells or barbells.
During resistance training muscle fibres are broken down, and in the days following the work-out the fibres repair and grow stronger to meet the demands that have been placed on it. Therefore rest days are as important as the exercise itself.
Many women currently utilize resistance training for weight loss as much as aerobic exercise. It has become highly popular because of its effectiveness such that a strength training for weight loss program is the goto fitness program for many trainers.
What are the Benefits of Resistance Training?
Resistance training can be used to achieve a variety of beneficial results and most individuals would benefit from 1 to 3 resistance workouts a week in conjunction with regular aerobic exercise. Assuming that the majority of you aren’t competing in any body building events in the near future I will concentrate on the more functional benefits of resistance training.
Benefit #1: Improved Body Shape
Firm, sculpted muscles are the highly sought after aim of men and women alike. Visible muscle tone is not only a sign of health and fitness; it has become recognised as an attractive attribute that we associate with the wealth and success of the rich and famous. Increased muscle tone is best achieved by completing a combination of resistance and aerobic workouts.
Benefit #2: Increased muscle strength
As well as making your body look good, resistance training can be used to increase muscle strength for more functional reasons i.e. improved posture, digging the garden or carrying the shopping, etc.
Benefit #3: Increased muscle power
More advanced resistance training programmes that include performing exercises with increased momentum will improve muscle power. i.e. for throwing a basketball or kicking a football or swinging a golf club.
Benefit #4: Increased metabolic rate
Muscle tissue is metabolically active and the more of it you have the more calories you will burn – even at rest! Making losing and maintaining a healthy weight much easier.
Benefit #5: Improved bone health
Regularly participating in resistance based exercise helps to maintain peak bone mass and avoid the onset of osteoporosis. From the age of 30, bone mass starts to decline. Women have a greater risk of developing osteoporosis and from the age of 40 can expect to lose approximately 0.5 – 1% of their bone mass per year. Post menopause this increases to a 2% reduction in bone density per year. Resistance Training helps to maintain bone density and delay this degenerative process in women.