Why Do We Need to Resistance Train?

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What are the first words that pop out of your client’s mouth when you tell them it is time to resistance train? Maybe, it’s “I don’t want to look like The Hulk” or “No thanks, that’s for body builders.” Do you know how to respond to that? Let’s look at the reasons and benefits of using resistant equipment.

Before determining if you even need resistance training let’s first answer the obvious question: What is resistance training? It can be best described as any form of exercise used to improve muscle strength, power, size, and endurance. Any movement that causes the muscles to contract against an external resistance. For example, dumbbells, rubberized bands, body weight, or water (which is 12x denser than air.) The benefits of strength training through resistance are a must for everyone.

Research shows that one in four persons over the age of 65 experiences a fall every year. As we age, our bodies lose both lean muscle mass and bone density. Along with other functional movements, these losses also mean less flexibility, balance, and reaction time during daily activities. Strength training with resistance can help our bodies maintain or enhance these functions. Not only does the musculature change, but postural improvement also occurs which consequently builds confidence and self-esteem.

BMI (Body Mass Index) usually increases as our lean muscle mass decreases. This can potentially result in a variety of health risks such as heart disease, hypertension (increased blood pressure), strokes, and Diabetes. Adding resistance training 2-3x weekly to an exercise schedule has been shown to not only reduce BMI, but also increase muscle size and strength. Lifting weights or using rubberized tubing requires energy along with oxygen. This energy comes from fats and carbohydrates stored in our bodies. As an added benefit, our oxygen uptake stays elevated after our workout is finished until our muscles return to a resting/recovery state, all the time burning fats and carbohydrates. This is known as EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Consumption).

Cardio combined with strength training along with a balanced diet will assist with a weight-controlled lifestyle. Resistance training also helps our muscles’ ability to take in and use glucose, or blood sugar reducing the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Joint pain after an injury or as we age can create an unwillingness to participate in many activities we once enjoyed. When muscles become weak, they begin to put extra stress on the connecting tissues and tendons.

Over time, this stress can result in injury, loss of mobility, and pain. Training with equipment not only improves muscle strength, but also increases the blood flow, fiber size, and connectivity in tendons surrounding a joint.

Busy lifestyles, death, stress, and uncertainty can cause a myriad of mental health issues including an increase in depression, anxiety, suicide, and loneliness. Often, cardiovascular training such as running, swimming, and biking is associated with “runner’s high” or increased endorphins, making us feel good. Research has shown that using low to moderate weights or other forms of resistance several times a week has a huge effect on anxiety. Plus, the atmosphere in a pool can relax the mind and boost self-esteem for those uncomfortable training on land.

Other benefits of resistance training include:

  • Osteoporosis prevention and management- it helps build bone strength
  • Boosted brain health
  • Reduced cancer risks
  • An increased lifespan
  • An elevated body image- boosts confidence levels
Suggestions for starting a resistance training program:
  • Start in small increments with body weight or light resistance
  • Begin with 1 day and add slowly
  • Rest when needed, increasing time slowly
  • Experiment to see which form of training fits you or your client best
  • Invest in yourself with a personal trainer or market your resistance training skills
  • Increase time and weight/resistance as your confidence and endurance grows
  • Stay committed even if you have setbacks and provide positive feedback to clients

So, whether your equipment is a dumbbell, band, the pool or body weight, there is definitely an option available for everyone. As a trainer, get to know your client and their goals. Resistance training can be adjusted for each individual. As a participant, just choose the method you feel most comfortable with, but still challenged. Before you realize, strength, function, musculature, and confidence will help you feel like a whole new person.