Resistance training is any kind of training that aims to increase muscle strength by working against a weight or force. There are different types of resistance training, including the use of free weights, weight machines, weighted medicine balls, kettlebells, resistance bands or body weight.
Every workout should include some type of resistance training, and not just to build muscle strength and tone muscles. There are many health benefits to resistance training, including:
Weight loss. Resistance training will help you burn fat and keep it off. Research has shown that routine strength training (at least three times a week) increases calories burned in normal daily activity.
Improve bone health and muscle mass. After puberty, we begin to lose a small amount of bone and muscle strength every year. By adding strength training to your workouts, you can help stop and even reverse bone and muscle loss. In post-menopausal women, strength training increases bone density and reduces risk of bone fractures.
Develop better body mechanics. Resistance training helps improve balance and coordination as well as posture. If you struggle with poor flexibility and balance, strength training is essential. It can even help reduce the risk of falls for aging adults.
Disease prevention. If you have arthritis, resistance training can be effective in reducing pain. For those living with type 2 diabetes, strength training (among other lifestyle changes) can help improve blood glucose levels.
Increase energy and improve mood. As with any exercise, resistance training increases the production of endorphins (“feel good” hormones), which increases energy and improves mood. It can also help you sleep better.
Getting started with strength training
Don’t let the idea of strength training intimidate you. It doesn’t take expensive machines or a gym membership to reap the benefits of resistance training. If you’re new to strength training, here are some tips to help you get started.
Talk to your doctor. Remember, before beginning any new exercise regimen, it’s important to talk to your physician to ensure the exercise is safe for you to perform. Ask your doctor what type of strength training best meets your individual needs and abilities.
Begin with bodyweight exercises. Your own body weight is a great strength training tool. Push ups, jumping squats, lunges, mountain climbers and burpees are a few examples of bodyweight exercises you can do anywhere.
Ask a trainer for help. Schedule a training session or two with a certified professional trainer who can teach you proper resistance training technique and mechanics. A professional trainer can help you design a strength training program that will be safe and effective for you.
Strength training isn’t just for bodybuilders. If you want to live a longer, healthier life, it’s time to add strength training into your regular workout routine.