Resistance training, also referred to as strength training, increases strength, muscle mass and also improves bone density and metabolism. Additionally, most major health and government institutions recommend participating in a resistance training program to help prevent conditions like obesity and diabetes.
What Is Resistance Training
Resistance training can be defined as any exercise that uses an external resistance to cause the muscle to contract with the goal muscular strength, mass and/or endurance. Resistance training can incorporate a wide range of devices from free weights to resistance bands or even your own body weight.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that individuals participate resistance training every week for a minimum of:
- One set of 8 to 10 reps
- One exercise for each major muscle group
- Two to Three days per week
Benefits Of Resistance Training
Resistance training has a wide range of benefits from muscular hypertrophy to preventing serious health conditions. The following is a list of some the most important reasons for resistance training:
- Arthritis: resistance training has been found to greatly aid individuals who suffer from arthritis, including both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. It helps to strengthen the muscles and connective tissue that are impacted by arthritis. Additionally, resistance training helps to alleviate pain associated with arthritis and improve flexibility or range of motion.
- Obesity and Weight Loss: not only does resistance training help to prevent obesity, but it can also help to treat or reduce obesity. Resistance training can help to increase your metabolism. Because muscles are active tissue, they consume calories for energy. The more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be. The CDC reports that resistance training can increase your metabolism by 15%, which means you will burn off more calories and lose weight.
- Heart Disease: The American Heart Association recommends resistance training to help improve your overall heart health, to prevent potential heart conditions and to treat various heart disease. Resistance training can improve overall blood flow, reduce cholesterol and strengthen the heart.
- Lower Blood Pressure: resistance training, under the direct supervision of your doctor, can help to reduce blood pressure in the long run. However, the training must be done properly and not at a maximum effort. Reduced blood pressure can prevent other serious health conditions like strokes. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is the number one cause for strokes and the American Heart Association recommends both aerobic and resistance training as tools for preventing both high blood pressure and strokes.
- Diabetes: resistance training can help to improve your overall diabetic condition and also prevent the precursors that may lead to type 2 diabetes. In addition to the previously mentioned conditions (which directly impact diabetics and/or can lead to diabetes), resistance training can improve insulin sensitivity and aid in blood glucose control.
- Bone Density: as we get older, our bone density decreases. Resistance training can increase bone density and help to treat and/or prevent osteoporosis.
- Depression: resistance training releases natural hormones in the body called endorphins. These endorphins help to make us feel better. Additionally, resistance training can help to boost self-image, self-confidence and make us feel better about ourselves.
- Muscular: resistance training can directly improve our muscular size, strength and endurance.
- Other: resistance training has also been linked to improving our sleep quality, coordination and balance, and flexibility.
Before participating in a resistance training program, check with your physician to make sure it’s safe for you. Additionally, seek the professional assistance of a personal trainer to ensure you know how to safely perform the exercises and use the equipment.