Before I write about the ‘how’ of resistance training, I think it is important to understand the ‘why’. What I mean by this is, knowing why it is beneficial and why you might want to introduce it to your training.
There are many misconceptions about resistance training, also commonly known as weight training, strength training or just simply…lifting!! I often hear people concerned they will get too bulky, slow, inflexible, lose endurance or that they need to go for a run as they are trying to get leaner.
Hopefully I can break down some of these myths in this blog.
Resistance training is any form of training where you exert physical force over your body or an object, usually with the end result of a pre defined movement or sometimes a static contraction held for a certain period of time.
Resistance training, at its most basic, causes damage to the muscle fibres that carry out said action and these fibres will then in theory recover over time, coming back stronger and bigger with more capacity to exert force. Very simply put this is how we get stronger over time (there is a huge neural component to this which is beyond the scope of this piece of writing).
Other than getting us stronger however, resistance training has a number of benefits for us.
It plays a huge role in helping us to become leaner. More muscle, means more calories burnt at rest, alongside the fact that often aesthetically people rarely want to look ‘skinny’ and don’t realise that half the battle of looking good naked is to have some muscle built.
Resistance training helps our body to use GLUT 4 receptors in the muscles which when we follow a diet high in sugar become ‘closed’ therefore being very important for those who are pre diabetic. I have helped a number of folks come out of their pre diabetic state with resistance training alone. Blood sugar function and metabolism is important for all of us though, not just those that are medically diagnosed.
As we train with load, our bones become significantly stronger over time and as we grow older this plays a great role in helping us to be much more robust. Think of how many of the older generation struggle with simple tasks like standing up, and when they take a fall break bones so easily. Lots of this can be mitigated with regular resistance training.
Tendons and ligaments adapt to strength training by becoming thicker and stronger over time, leaving us less likely to injure these areas of our body when they are put under undue stress.
It is a common myth that resistance training will leave you bulky and for women in particular is a common fear! This simply is not the case, to truly put on serious muscle mass, you will need to train very regularly with high levels of volume or intensity in resistance training with a laser like focus on eating a surplus of calories. This just is not a concern for most of the population!
If you are female, your hormones are going to make it incredibly hard to put on large amount of muscle mass. If you are an endurance athlete, the volume of aerobic work and likely, small amount of resistance training you are doing will not add up to getting bulky. If you are an overweight individual, resistance training will simply change you body composition and you will lose body fat (assuming dietary guidelines are followed).
Regular resistance training will help us look better, perform better and be more robust as we get older. Even if it just a simple 2-3 sessions per week, it can play an incredible role in living a better, more fulfilling life for all of us.