What is Strength “Resistance” Training? And How Important is it?
You’ve heard the term “resistance exercise” or “resistance training” thrown around, but what exactly is resistance training? Simply put resistance training is when you force your skeletal muscles to contract, the goal being to increase muscle mass, build strength, endurance, and tone your body. This is more widely known as strength training because you are training your body to become stronger. This has many benefits and is probably the most important part to add to your fitness regimen as you’ll read about a bit farther down.
Some equipment you can use for resistance training include items such as dumbbells, kettle-bells, resistance bands, or no equipment at all and simply use your own body weight.
Three Types of Resistance Training:
- Weight Machine: These are the machines you might see at a gym. They are not as effective as free weights but are much safer. Gym’s have dozens are each one will be targeting a specific muscle or muscle group. You’ll find visual instructions on the machine but if you are a beginner it is best to seek help from a personal trainer or gym staff to show you the proper form when exercising.
- Free Weights: You can use weights such as barbells, dumbbells, and kettle-bells for resistance training workouts. Using free weights is considered the most effective form of resistance training. Using free weights engages secondary muscles that we use for stability. Free Weights also work auxiliary muscles that are small and hard to work on their own.
- Body-weight: Using your own body weight is incredibility effective, requires no equipment, and can be done virtually anywhere. This includes workouts like pushups, crunches, lunges, and squats. There are many classes and at-home workout guides that utilize this form of resistance training.
Benefits of Resistance Training and Why Women Should Do Resistance Exercises
The health benefits of resistance training and extensive and well documented. All serious athletes have some form of resistance training in the workout plan. Here are just a few benefits you will experience if you add resistance training to your life:
- Lose Body Fat: Building lean muscle will help increase your metabolism and burn more calories 24/7, even when you are not working out. This is because muscles require more energy to maintain and will need more fuel. A research study found that women who trained two to three times a week for two months will gain almost two pounds of muscle mass and lose about 3.5 pounds of fat!
- Build Strength, Not Bulk: There is a common misconception that working out with weights will turn you into a bulky looking body builder. This is a myth! Women don’t typically gain size with resistance training because we don’t have the hormones associated with this physical trait. Increase you will develop muscle tone. Bulking up requires a special diet, special and extremely hard strength training exercises but most importantly you must have testosterone to bulk up. It is very hard for men to achieve it let alone women. Bottom line: train hard, you wont become freakishly huge, you’ll just be a super sexy highly athletic woman.
- Improve Your Athletic Performance: Athletes add resistance training to their workouts because it ultimately helps them become better at whatever sport they are associated with. They can increase their strength and endurance. Not only does it boost performance, but it also reduces your risk of injury. To supercharge your athletic performance you’ll want to add a vitamin B3 supplement to your diet.
- Become Stronger: Building strength in your muscles does not mean you have huge, bulky muscles. Instead, you will find yourself with firm, lean muscles that hold a lot of strength. Researchers have found that moderate weight training can increase your strength by 30 to 50 percent! Building muscle also adds bone strength. Muscles actually get their strength by leveraging our bones. By strength training you are making it harder to break bones which is obviously a great benefit all on it’s own.
- Lower risk of Injury: Not only does resistance training build strong muscles, but your bones and body built stability as well. Connective tissues and joints are more durable, reducing your risk of injury.
- Lower Risk of Heart Disease and Diabetes: These two are among the most common illnesses in America. Did you know that heart disease is the leading killer of women in America (as well as other countries)? Weight training can improve your cholesterol by lowering your body’s “bad” cholesterol, increasing the “good”, and lowering blood pressure. Weight training has also been shown to improve the way the body processes sugar.
- Improve Mood and Fight Depression: Exercising can make you feel more confident and releases hormones that make us feel positive.
Resistance Training Tips for Beginners
If you are new to resistance training, the most important tip I can give you is to make sure you have the correct form. This can mean taking it slow in the beginning. You need to give your body time to adjust to these intense workouts. Also, train at the right frequency. Don’t over do it! Training too often leads to reduced muscle growth and can increase your risk of injury.
Please Note: You will hurt after this, it’s a sign that your making yourself stronger. Muscles get stronger after being ripped apart. Just understand this is part of the process and soon you may even grow to love the feeling – I sure do!
Make sure you have enough time to rest and recover between workouts. You should give your muscles at least 24 to 48 hours of rest time in between workouts. You should also eat plenty of protein. Additionally, have a plan that you can follow. Having a resistance training workout plan is important to making sure you are staying on track and targeting all your muscle groups. If you are using weight machines or free weights, make sure you are using the right weight. Too heavy and you will be sacrificing on form and increasing your risk of injury. Too light and you won’t be giving your body a good workout and won’t see the results.
What To Eat After a Strength Training Session?
This is massively important, you just put your muscles through complete torture. They are now craving food in order to repair the damage and become better than before. You will want to have a readily absorbed protein powder within 30 minutes of stopping the workout. VERY IMPORTANT
Within two hours you’ll want to have more dense protein, usually this is found in meat. Beef is ok, I usually love a good rare steak after I crushed a workout but fish is also extremely good – probably even better actually.
If you make sure to have a proper high protein diet your muscles will heal quicker and become stronger much faster. Just make sure to keep working out, if you don’t regularly use your muscles your body will get rid of them – they take a huge amount of energy and resources to maintain if they aren’t being used.