What is Resistance training?
Resistance training develops muscular strength and endurance, muscle mass and power through resisted muscular contraction. These components of fitness are at play at every moment in our daily lives and are key considerations as we get older, especially if we plan to live with energy and vitality.
Health is created through good nutrition, regular movement and a balanced, nurturing lifestyle. With nationwide obesity rates on the rise and the NHS reporting physical inactivity in the UK in 2019 being responsible for one in six UK deaths (equivalent to smoking), it is important for you to know how you can take control of your own wellbeing, so that you can work towards a future of lasting health.
Resistance training includes any exercise where we push, pull, lift, throw or otherwise work with or against resistance. This can include free-weight equipment such as barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells, resistance machines, functional equipment like resistance bands, medicine balls and sandbags, and various styles of bodyweight training, which can include the use of swiss balls, BOSU balls, suspension, and freeform sliders. When the muscles are repeatedly trained to overcome resistance, they become stronger as a result.
Training Programme Structure
A resistance training programme will include a list of exercises to be performed in sequence. For any given exercise, a certain number of repetitions are performed for a certain number of sets, with a particular load or weight. An example would be three sets of ten repetitions (3×10) of Split Squats with 5kg dumbbells held in each hand. Each set is followed by a short rest period. Your programme should be tailored to your specific needs and should include a variety of workouts with a variety of different exercises to continually challenge the muscles and to force them to adapt. Focus number one throughout the session should be on maintaining sound exercise technique.
Whilst using variables such as a number of repetition and sets, intensity (weight or load) and rest time serve as a solid guideline to challenge you, ultimately your goal is to push yourself to the point where repetitions become difficult and energy has to be used to maintain proper form in the last couple of repetitions, whether that happens to be five or twenty. When a workout has been completed with sufficient effort the muscles worked will require up to two days to fully recover.
It is common to feel some degree of muscle soreness after a challenging session. It is fine to exercise again in this time so long as sessions are complimentary to each other and different muscle groups are targeted in different sessions. To ensure that you continue to progress consider altering workout frequency, training intensity, session duration and the types of exercises and movements used every six to eight weeks.
The Far-Reaching Benefits of Resistance Training
Whilst having noticed the frontline benefits of resistance training, they extend far beyond, including decreased risk of injury through improved joint function, higher bone mineral density, increased connective tissue strength (muscle, tendon and ligament), and better balance and mobility. With discipline it is an effective method to influence body composition, building and strengthening the muscles and toning the body through the reduction of body fat. Bigger, stronger and better conditioned muscles burn more calories at rest and during exercise. Burning more calories means burning more fat resulting in a leaner, more defined body.
Once you have started your journey you can expect to experience greater energy, improved mood and libido, enhanced vitality and a marked improvement when performing your daily routines. Furthermore, regular participation in strength training exercise helps lower the risk chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, arthritis, and heart conditions, and has been shown to be effective in the management of pain, including back pain. It is in no way grand to say that an effective resistance training programme performed safely and progressively can enrich your life and dramatically improve your sense of wellbeing.
For more detail on the benefits check out Resistance Training Series 2 – The Benefits of Resistance Training
Vladimira is a dedicated Fitness Instructor, awaiting her final Personal Training examination. Passionate about sports and fitness from a young age, she competed at academy level in volleyball and athletics. Vladimira takes a total-body approach to exercise with teaching centred on correct technique, mindful movement, and awareness of posture. Vladi enjoys coaching people into a mindset where healthy nutrition and an active, playful lifestyle are key ingredients. She is an avid cook and passionate writer.