Resistance training not resisting training. Resisting training is an attitude issue not a type of exercise. I’ve had a lot of clients who have resisted training mainly because they were afraid of it. That’s not what I’m referring to in this post. You’ve probably heard those words in passing, maybe you’ve even used those words while chatting about your workouts or you’ve seen those words float across the page of a magazine about fitness. In case you’re not really sure what resistance training is, read on to see why you should no longer resist resistance training and if you’re all ready incorporating it, learn some new ways to change it up.
Resistance training is defined like this by dictionary.com: physical training that utilizes isometric, isotonic, or isokinetic exercise to strengthen or develop the muscles. Uh oh. More buzz words. Isometric, isotonic, and isokinetic are fancy words to describe how you are “resisting” force put upon you and your muscles. Isometric exercises, for example, are exercises that build strength while holding a position. A popular example is a wall sit. You get yourself in a position resembling sitting in a chair except your lower body is fully responsible for holding your body weight in place. This is an isometric exercise (or static exercise) and is a form of resistance training.
Isotonic exercises (or dynamic exercises) are the common strength exercises that may come to mind when someone mention strength training or weight lifting. They are the movements done by opening and closing joints (like your elbow, hip or knee) and contracting (shortening) and lengthening your muscles. Examples of an isotonic exercise is the bench press for the chest or the bicep curl for your arm.
Isokinetic exercises are often used is a Physical Therapy environment because of the control of speed and resistance in a particular range of motion. For example, a stationary bike that has isokinetic settings can be set with a maximum RPM (rotations per minute) so that someone doesn’t pedal too fast and the same amount of resistance is applied at a controlled speed. There are special machines that therapists can use to help build strength and identify weaknesses in their patients. There are some pieces of equipment on the market that simulate isokinetic exercise. In a gym, some of these machines use bands and/or tubing to apply this kind of controlled resistance.
So resistance training is really the same thing as strength training. But, it’s important to understand that resistance training is not limited to weight training. You can use your body weight (gravity), resistance bands, kettle bells, and even some unusual pieces of “equipment” like ropes and tires to do resistance training. You can and should incorporate all kinds of resistance training to provide a more well-rounded strength and endurance program. Resistance training is most effective if you work the main muscles groups at least 2-3 times per week with a day of rest between working specific muscles. In other words, give those legs a day’s rest after you work them out hard.
Strength training is not just for bodybuilders. It’s for those looking to lose weight, increase their metabolism, exchange body fat for lean muscle, those training for a sport and the aging population. Strength training provides more benefits to your body than you realize.
- Increased strength of bones, muscles and connective tissues (the tendons and ligaments)—This increased strength decreases the risk of injury.
- Increased muscle mass—Most adults lose about one-half pound of muscle per year after the age of 30, largely due to decreased activity.
- Muscle tissue is partly responsible for the number of calories burned at rest (the basal metabolic rate, or BMR). As muscle mass increases, BMR increases, making it easier to maintain a healthy body weight.
- Enhanced quality of life—As general strength increases, the performance of daily routines (carrying groceries, working in the garden) will be less taxing.
A good resistance training program should include exercises for the legs, chest, back, arms, and core. Beginners should start with 1 set of 12 repetitions for each exercise. The weight selection should be enough where the last few reps are very difficult to complete. As you get stronger, increase the weight load and/or add an additional set. Advanced exercisers can do several exercises for each muscle group and do 3-4 sets of each of the exercises. The recovery and rest is an important part of the muscle growth so it’s important to allow the muscles a rest day after working them.
For more reading and recommendations for strength and resistance training visit the ACE (American Council of Exercise) website.