When we decide we want to get fit and healthy, we often take up cardiovascular exercise in order to shed those excess pounds. Whilst it’s true that well-planned cardio paired with better nutritional choices can be hugely beneficial to our health, many people overlook resistance training despite the fact that it can have an even more profound effect on our fitness and wellbeing.
In fact, even the NHS states in their exercise guidelines that you should be performing resistance training on a least 2 days of every week. Yet so many ignore this type of exercise all together. This article will help you to understand why it’s so beneficial and why you should be incorporating in into your weekly fitness regime along with mobility exercises .
What is Resistance Training?
Many gym goers refer to resistance training as weight training, but in truth the term applies to any form of exercise where you push or pull against resistance. Whether you choose to use your own bodyweight, machines, resistance bands, free weights, kettlebells or dumbbells, they all count towards your resistance training goals.
Resistance training works by utilising weighted resistance to perform exercises for a certain amount of repetitions (or time period) in order to increase muscular strength, size, endurance, or a mix of all three.
What Are the Benefits of Resistance Training?
Resistance training has a number of benefits that are uniquely attributed to this form of training. Here is a list of some of the most common advantages of incorporating resistance training into your weekly workout routine:
- Improved muscle strength and tone, protecting your joints from injury
- Helps to maintain flexibility and balance, which can help you remain independent as you age
- Helps to prevents muscle wastage and loss of bone density as you grow older
- Weight management and increased muscle-to-fat ratio – as you gain muscle, your body burns more kilojoules when at rest thanks to increased metabolism
- Whilst cardio exercise’s calorie burn stops shortly after cessation, resistance training can burn extra calories for up to 72 hours afterwards
- May help reduce or prevent cognitive decline in older people
- Increases stamina – as you grow stronger, you won’t get tired as easily
- Helps to prevent or control of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, back pain, depression and obesity
- Improves posture by keeping core engaged
- Decreased risk of injury to both muscles and joints
- Leads to increased bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis
- Improved sense of wellbeing – resistance training may boost your self-confidence, improve your body image and your mood
- Resistance training can improve sleep and avoidance of insomnia
- Enhanced performance of everyday tasks
As you can see, resistance training provides a list of benefits so long that you can’t really afford to not include it as part of your workout routines. One thing to note particular is that long periods without resistance training will increase the rate at which bones lose their density and muscles loss their mass (known as muscular atrophy).
How to Start Resistance Training?
With so many potential avenues into resistance training it can be difficult to know where to start. However, almost always the best place to start is with bodyweight exercises that take advantage of gravity to provide a weighted resistance.
The best type of bodyweight exercise is known as “compound exercise” which refers to movements that work several muscles and joints all at once. The best example of this type of exercise is the squat. When you perform a squat you engage almost every muscle in your body. Leg, core, arm, and neck muscles are all engaged in this resistance exercise. Other compound exercises include press ups, deadlifts, chest press, pull ups and clean and jerks.
When designing your new resistance training plan, it’s better to use free standing exercises over resistance machines. Free weights and bodyweight movements engage more muscles for balance purposes, and therefore are more beneficial overall.
Start with just 10 repetitions of each exercise before building up to 20-30 reps on each exercise. Then, once comfortable, increase the weighted resistance in order to improve muscular performance.
Get More Helpful Health Advice to Take with You
Resistance training should be part of everyone’s fitness regime. The benefits provided by this form of exercise are more numerous than any of type of training (such as mobility or cardio). They are also great as a preventative measure against the natural process of aging along with perhaps running or walking to keep you mobile. Bone density, muscle mass, and cognitive function all improve after incorporating resistance training into your routine. And the earlier you start, the more effective they are.
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