Resistance training (or strength / weight training) is a form of physical activity which involves the use of your muscles against a weight or a force. This can be done in a variety of ways, including free weights, weight machines, resistance bands or even your own body weight.
The obvious benefit of this is gaining strength and building muscle, however a lot of the other benefits get overlooked, such as improved bone density, improved joint function, boosted metabolism and the prevention of certain diseases. This article will highlight and explain these benefits, and hopefully encourage you to start or further your journey in resistance training. Follow on for Resistance Training: 4 Reasons Why You Should Start!
1. Improved Strength & Fitness
First and foremost, if you’ve just started resistance training you may experience a rapid increase in strength, this is due to a process called neural adaption.
This means that changes in the brain cause more motor units (a nerve cell and its associated muscle fibres) to be recruited to perform the muscle contraction. So essentially your strength has increased even though your muscles haven’t gotten any bigger.
Eventually you’ll reach a plateau where it’s harder to make progress, but don’t stress, this simply means that it’s time to start adding variation to your workouts (i.e. increase sets, reps, decrease rest between sets, different exercises etc).
Building muscle size and strength can also help us as we age by lessening the effects of sarcopenia (skeletal muscle loss) such as reduced falling, functional decline and mortality.
2. Boost Your Metabolism, Burn More Calories!
Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the number of calories your body needs to complete the most basic life-sustaining functions such as breathing, circulation, cell production and nutrient processing. The higher your BMR is, the more calories you burn, making it easier to lose weight.
Physical activity in general is known to boost metabolism however, studies have indicated that resistance training can improve lean body mass while reducing your fat mass which increases BMR. Therefore, adding resistance training to your routine is an invaluable tool in achieving your fitness goals!
3. Improved Management & Prevention of Diseases
Many studies have shown how resistance training can lessen the effect of various chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and chronic kidney disease just to name a few.
For example, performing resistance training for 1-3 times a week can decrease the risk of heart disease and all-cause mortality by 40-70%. In addition, studies have shown that 2-3 days a week of resistance training can lead to improved muscle size, quality and strength, reductions in ‘bad cholesterol’ (LDL) and increases in healthy cholesterol (HDL) resulting in enhanced blood glucose control (especially important for those with type 2 diabetes).
4. Protect & Enhance Your Bone Density
Resistance training doesn’t just strengthen your muscles, it also strengthens your bones!
As we get older our bodies become frailer as our bones get weaker, however, research has shown that resistance training can stimulate mechanisms that lead to the preservation of bone mass and increased bone strength.
Activity based bone-loading during adolescence is associated with increased bone mineral density in middle-age and older adulthood, so it is crucial to encourage children to engage in exercise from a young age.
So, as you can see, resistance training can offer a whole host of benefits and there are plenty more that I haven’t even mentioned such as boosting energy levels and improved mood. Also, it’s important to note that these benefits are often enhanced with the addition of aerobic (cardio) exercise like walking, swimming, rowing, dancing, cycling or jogging.
Hopefully, this article has changed your mind about resistance training and piqued your interest. At the end of the day it all starts with you, change your mindset and you can change your life! What kind of resistance training appeals to you most? Let us know in the comments below, and join in the conversation on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram!