. Resistance training improves balance, bone density and mental awareness
. Helps to strengthen vulnerable parts of your body by making them more flexible and malleable
. Targeted training helps to strengthen muscles, tendons and joints
A workout regime that places a strong emphasis on resistance training is a great option for people at different stages of their fitness journey as it hits a lot of the key target areas in terms of what you want to get out of an exercise plan. While it shouldn’t be the only focus of your training because it’s important to incorporate some form of cardiovascular component for variety and greater benefit, resistance training can certainly be one of the building blocks of any personal workout because the benefits are tangible for people from all walks of life.
As the name suggests, the basic principle is a strength training program where you push or work against an obvious force and challenge the muscles to become stronger and more developed. The benefits of such a program are a combination of strength, stamina and injury prevention because you’re strengthening vulnerable parts of your body such as your muscles, tendons and joints by making them more flexible and malleable and as a result more likely to withstand the rigours of day to day life and any physical activity you may undertake.
As a general rule, resistance training can be achieved through some combination of medicine balls, your own body weight, resistance bands or free weights such as dumbbells and barbells. There’s enough variety there to put together a workout plan that is stimulating and rewarding at the same time without being too predictable, and that’s the balance you’re trying to achieve. The goal is to harness and manipulate these different apparatus in such a way so that your body is tested and challenged and forced to respond positively and decisively through the basic principles of force and resistance with your muscles contracting and strengthening over time in order to achieve all of the benefits that we talked about before.
Once you know how to best use the apparatus the next step is to determine exactly what you’re trying to achieve:
What’s the goal? What’s the endgame?
For seniors, the benefits are both physical and neurological. There is evidence that resistance training helps to improve balance, bone density and mental awareness, so a carefully structured program can certainly be of great benefit to elderly people who are possibly coming to terms with the changing nature of their bodies. In this study, it was established that ‘A program of once or twice weekly resistance exercise achieves muscle strength gains similar to 3 days per week training in older adults and is associated with improved neuromuscular performance. Such improvement could potentially reduce the risk of falls and fracture in older adults.’
For younger people resistance training can still be a cornerstone component of your training program because of the high-impact nature of the exercises which make it a great way to burn calories and manage your weight, which is obviously one of the things that most people are trying to do with their fitness regime. The other benefit of resistance training for young adults is that they are essentially setting in motion some good habits and creating tangible benefits that will prove to be invaluable as they get older.
These include benefits to the heart such as reducing cholesterol and lowering blood pressure as well as helping to prevent the potentially debilitating effects of arthritis by cultivating a body that is stronger and more resilient. As we get older our bodies start to naturally deteriorate so it’s important to put in place measures and activate a lifestyle that takes that into account and prepares us in advance for that transformation and resistance training is a great way of doing that.
This study suggests that ‘ Inactive adults experience a 3% to 8% loss of muscle mass per decade, accompanied by resting metabolic rate reduction and fat accumulation. Ten weeks of resistance training may increase lean weight by 1.4 kg, increase resting metabolic rate by 7%, and reduce fat weight by 1.8 kg.’ The study goes on to say that ‘Resistance training may promote bone development, with studies showing 1% to 3% increase in bone mineral density’ as well as ‘enhance cardiovascular health, by reducing resting blood pressure’ and ‘assist prevention and management of type 2 diabetes by decreasing visceral fat.’
There are certainly numerous health benefits that come with incorporating a high quality resistance training program into your diary and in the weeks and months ahead we will delve more into the specifics as to how you can do that. But that’s a basic overview of the benefits of resistance training and why it is certainly something you should consider as you move forward with your fitness journey.
NCBI: Once weekly resistance exercise improves muscle strength and neuromuscular performance in older adults
NCBI: Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health