A type of training that reduces body fat, increases lean muscle mass, burns calories more efficiently and reduces your risk of injury – surely not possible? Thankfully it is, with resistance training providing all of these benefits and more. Of course, cardio is an important part of fitness too, but the benefits of strength training are major. For this reason, strength training should be seen as an important part of overall fitness and should be included in training programs for people of all ages, genders and backgrounds.
So, what exactly is resistance training?
Broadly defined, resistance training (AKA strength training or weight training) is any activity that requires muscular actions of the body to overcome or attempt to overcome an opposing force. This opposing force can be provided by various means in a fitness environment such as barbells, dumbbells, fixed weight machines, rubber tubing, body weight, medicine balls and other weighted implements.
Benefits of Resistance Training
Increased Strength and Muscular Endurance:
The most obvious benefit of weight training is that it will make you stronger and increase your physical work capacity. Not only will this help you train harder and for longer, but it will also increase your ability to perform day-to-day activities and be beneficial for other areas of your life. Lifting weights on a regular basis will help everyday activities become that bit easier – think carrying groceries, housework, gardening, carrying the kids etc.
Effective Weight Management:
Strength training can help to both manage and lose weight, as it increases your metabolism to help you burn more calories. A good resistance workout increases your excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, meaning your metabolism remains active and your body continues to burn calories long after the workout has taken place.
Maintain Flexibility and Balance:
Lifting weights helps to work the joints through a full range of motion, keeping them strong and flexible and contributing to better balance as you age. If you are training an older client or are of an older demographic yourself, this is a particularly important benefit to note, as strength training has been shown to reduce risk of falling by 40 per cent.
Boosts Energy Levels and Mood:
Strength training will elevate your level of endorphins, helping to lift energy levels and improve your mood. Studies have also shown that both men and women feel better about themselves when they lift weights. By getting stronger, being able to lift more weight and noticing changes to their body over time, both men and women build confidence, improve body image and enhance their self-esteem.
Adds Variety and Provides a Challenge:
Doing the same cardio workouts for a while can get a little boring. The great thing about strength training is that there’s so many ways to set up your workouts with hundreds of new exercises to try, different types of resistance and a variety of ways to work different parts of the body. Strength training also provides your body with a completely different challenge to cardio training, which you will probably feel in the days following your session – hello DOMS!
Reduces Risk of Injury:
Resistance training not only makes your muscles stronger, but also strengthens your connective tissues. Increasing the strength of your ligaments and tendons leads to improved motor performance and less strain on joints, hence reducing risk of injury.
Increases Bone Density:
Declining muscle mass is a natural part of aging, with as much as 3-5% per decade being lost after the age of 30. Less muscle mass means greater weakness and less mobility, increasing your risk of both falls and fractures. Regular strength training increases bone mineral density in both younger and older adults and helps to reduce the risk of arthritis and osteoporosis down the track.
There are too many physical, mental and overall health benefits to leave resistance training out of your workout schedule. Get started by getting in touch with a personal trainer, who can guide you through a safe an effective program.