Resistance training has grown in popularity over recent years as people look for alternative exercises to the typical cardiovascular machines. So what is resistance training? Resistance training is any exercise that causes you to lift, pull or push against resistance. This resistance could be from bodyweight, dumbbells, resistance machines, kettlebells, resistance bands or any other form of external resistance. Read on to find out what resistance training does to your body and some resistance training workout inspiration.
So what does resistance training do? Why should it be added into your fitness routine?
All exercise is helpful for our bodies, but resistance training has been found to be the most beneficial.
The science behind resistance training: Resistance training works by causing tiny microscopic tears to the muscle cells that are quickly repaired by the body and help the muscle to regenerate and grow back stronger.
In today’s society we are increasingly sedentary and have even engineered labour-saving devices to do daily tasks for us; tasks that once would have required muscle power such as washing clothes. This means that our muscles are not being utilised in our daily life and increase our risk of developing illnesses and diseases such as osteoporosis and heart disease as a result of being physically inactive.
By regularly incorporating some form of resistance training into your weekly fitness routine you can help decrease the risk of heart disease, lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of diabetes (just to name a few).
Resistance training also helps to improve your strength and therefore make everyday tasks easier, particularly as we age. The number of muscle fibres in our bodies decline with age, between the ages of 30 and 70 it is estimated that we can lose more than 25% of our type 2 muscle fibres (the muscle fibres used for strength). Resistance exercises can slow down and even reverse the ageing process by building muscle mass and strength. This is not to say that as soon as you start resistance training you are going to have bulging muscles as growing muscle is a lot harder than most people think. Incorporating resistance training into your fitness routine helps to maintain the muscle mass you do have and helps you to ‘tone up’, making daily tasks a lot easier and preventing falls in the elderly. It is never too late to start resistance training! One of the largest growing populations within the fitness industry is the over 60’s!
How often should you do resistance training?
The NHS guidelines and the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) recommends that a resistance training program should be performed for a minimum of two non-consecutive days a week that work all of the major muscle groups (legs, back, core, shoulders and arms). For healthy adults, a set of 8-12 repetitions and 10-15 repetitions for older individuals.
So now you know why you should be doing resistance training, here is some resistance workout inspiration if you are a bit stuck for where to start!
An easy way to start resistance training is by using the resistance machines in the gym. Resistance machines are great tools in the gym, they provide you with the resistance within a particular movement which isolates a muscle group to help the muscles develop. These include:
- Leg press
- Chest press
- Lat pulldown
- Leg extensions
- Seated row
- Shoulder press
Perform 2-3 sets of 15 repetitions on each machine with 45 seconds rest between each set and exercise.
There are often instructions on the machine for how to use it properly, however always remember to ask a member of staff if you are unsure.
Similarly, dumbbells are also a great bit of gym equipment to start resistance training. Dumbbells are very useful in the gym as they can be used for a wide variety of different exercises. For example:
- Dumbbell squats
- Dumbbell chest press
- Dumbbell bicep curls
- Dumbbell lunges
- Dumbbell bent over rows
Perform 2-3 sets of 12 repetitions on each exercise with 45 seconds rest between each set and exercise.
Always remember to start lighter and then gradually increase the weight as you progress. For example, if you start using 3kg dumbbells for your walking lunges and at first it feels difficult but not impossible and then after a week or two you can now do the lunges no problem then it is time to increase the weight to maybe 4 or even 5kg.
At Beckwith Health Club we have a wide range of resistance equipment including our Spartan Rig which has a whole host of different exercises on just one piece of equipment! If you would like some one-on-one guidance and advice on how to start resistance training, please talk to one of our experienced personal trainers who can help create the ideal resistance-based program for your needs. Or for more workout inspiration check out our Facebook page.