All workout regimes require balance and resistance training is a key part of any well-balanced exercise regimen. These exercises will help you get stronger, get bigger muscles and tone what you’ve already got. It’ll also help build anaerobic muscle endurance (i.e. doing more reps of heavier weights) and build strength in your joints, helping reduce your risk of injury.
Furthermore, there is also research that suggests it can help you avoid osteoporosis in later life, lower blood pressure and the increase in metabolism that comes with resistance training can also help burn calories and burn fat while you’re building muscle.
What is Resistance Training?
Essentially, resistance training is a form of exercise that involves making your muscles work against a weight or force. This weight force can be any number of things, including free weights, resistance bands, weight machines or even your own body weight.
In order to get the most from a resistance training regime, you ideally need to work out two to three times a week. You should also try and change up your routine every six to eight weeks to ensure you don’t get bored and that you keep improving.
What are the Benefits of Resistance Training?
Resistance training is a core part of any well-balanced exercise regime and with it comes a plethora of benefits. It’s fantastic for both your fitness and your health too. With regular resistance training, you’ll build muscle, improve your endurance, burn fat, improve your strength, get more flexible, and build bone strength, among other positives.
General Resistance Training Fitness Benefits
Resistance training is an important part of any workout regimen and has loads of fitness benefits.
1. It Helps Build Muscle
Firstly – and least surprising of all – resistance training helps build muscle. We all know that lifting weights or working your muscles against a force will help build up your muscle mass and, as a result, you’ll get stronger and your muscles will begin to grow in size.
2. Resistance Training Will Help Improve Your Muscle Tone
It’s perfect for toning up. As well as growing your muscles, resistance training can also help keep you toned and trim if that’s what you prefer – simply keep the weights lighter, but do longer sets.
3. It’ll Help Burn off Excess fat & Calories
Thirdly, it’s great for burning fat. People always think cardiovascular exercise is the only way to burn fat, but that’s not the case. Resistance training will still get your heart rate up a little bit, but it will also get your metabolism working harder too – a crucial element of burning calories and, by extension, fat.
4. You’ll get Fitter
Like all exercise, resistance training will help improve your stamina. This means you won’t get tired as easily as you grow stronger. Resistance training will also help make your joints stronger and improve your flexibility, reducing your risk of injury.
Health Benefits of Resistance Training
As well as fitness benefits, resistance training also has a number of health benefits.
1. It Will Help Improve Bone Density
The first of these is that it can help you build bone density, meaning you’re less likely to suffer from osteoporosis (brittle bone disease) in later life.
2. Plenty of Mental Health Benefits
It can also help improve your sense of well-being. Resistance training can boost your self-confidence, your body image and your mood. In fact, exercise of all kinds has been proven to have a positive impact on your mental health as a whole, helping reduce anxiety and depression.
3. Improved Sleep
You’re also likely to sleep better as a result of incorporating resistance training into your workout regime. This will, in turn lead to a happier and more productive daily life, with the enhanced performance of everyday tasks.
Great Resistance Training Exercises
One of the main benefits of resistance training is that it’s so flexible and you can exercise your whole body during a workout. Here, we’ve come up with a variety of exercises for you to try that are ideal for both beginners and experts.
1. Leg Exercises
The leg press involves placing the soles of your feet against a plate with your knees bent and extending your legs and lifting a pre-determined (and adjustable) weight. This works your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes, helping build strength all through your legs. If you don’t have access to a leg press machine, then a squat does a very similar job.
2. Arm Exercises
To complete a tricep press down, you set your weight on the cable machine, stand facing it and press down on the cable handle, bending your arms at the elbow repeatedly. The equivalent exercise with dumbbells are called tricep kickbacks and involve leaning forward with your upper arms close to your side and your arms bent to 90 degrees at the elbow. Then, extend your arms straight, lifting the weights behind you. As the name suggests, this exercise works your triceps, the muscles on the underside of your upper arms – opposite your biceps.
3. Chest Exercises
To work your chest muscles, you can either do a seated chest press or a dumbbell/bar press. The chest press involves sitting at the machine and pushing the levers away from you. Alternatively, you could either lie on your back and raise dumbbells above your chest, bringing them together with your arms straight, or use a bar bell, lying beneath it and pushing it upwards repeatedly.
4. Back Exercises
Finally, to work your back, you can complete pull downs. These involve sitting on the machine and holding the handle at each end and lifting the weights. Alternatively, if you don’t have the correct machine or prefer to use dumbbells, you can perform the two-arm bent-over row. This involves bending forward at your hips, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your arms straight. Then lift them simultaneously first at the elbows and then from the shoulder to work your lat muscles.
Resistance Training Equipment
As mentioned previously, resistance training works by working your muscles against a weight or a force. You’ll find all the equipment you need at your local Everyone Active gym.
You’ll see these all over the Everyone Active gym floor and they are brilliant for resistance training. For starters, there’s a machine for pretty much every muscle group, so you’re bound to find the right workout for you. They also help ensure that you complete the exercise correctly, meaning you’re less likely to hurt yourself while working out.
Again, you’re more than likely to see a dedicated free weights area at just about all Everyone Active gyms. Free weights are great for resistance training as they’re completely flexible, meaning you can work all areas of your body whenever you like. It’s important you study how to use them properly, however, as you can hurt yourself by either using them incorrectly, or using weights that are too heavy for you.
These are literally just giant elastic bands that offer different levels of resistance. You anchor them round something, be that on your foot, a pole or anything else that’s suitable – and sturdy! You then pull the band, with your arm, leg or any other part of your body you want to work and use the resistance offered by the band to build muscle. You’ll find these at most Everyone Active gyms, but they’re generally pretty reasonably priced and easy to use at home too, so there’s no excuse!
Your own Body Weight
These are the most fundamental resistance exercises you can do. You don’t really need any equipment for these, although kit such as exercise balls and the TRX machine allow you to mix it up a little bit, rather than just sticking to the same old press-ups and sit-ups.
Resistance Training Exercises
It’s important that you mix up your resistance training regime. For starters, it stops you getting bored, so you’re more likely to stick to it and will therefore get more out of your work outs. As a result, we’ve put together some examples of resistance training exercises for beginners and experts alike.
Beginners’ Resistance Training
Before you get going, it’s worth chatting to your doctor about what you intend to do – especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions, to make sure you’re safe to do so.
It might also be worth hiring a personal trainer for at least a couple of sessions to help ensure you’re using the equipment correctly and that your form is correct. This is important because if you do not use the kit properly, then you’re more likely to injure yourself while working out.
A beginner’s resistance training regime should include the following to begin with:
- Between eight and ten exercises that work the body’s major muscle groups. These include the core, shoulders, legs, arms, back and your chest. These should be performed at least twice and a maximum of three times a week.
- You should begin with one set of each exercise, of at least eight repetitions (reps) each. But you shouldn’t do any one exercise more than twice in one week.
- As you progress, increase it up to two to three sets of eight to 12 reps for each exercise
- Once you can comfortably complete 12 reps of an exercise, then you should look to progress further by increasing the weight or resistance on the movement you’re doing.
Advanced Resistance Training
Once you’ve mastered the basics of resistance training and, most importantly, your body’s got used to it, you can start moving on to some more advanced techniques and exercises. This could be as simple as just increasing the weight or resistance that you are working against. Or, you could change how long you hold the weight or resistance at your muscle’s maximum potential, reduce your rest time between sets or increase the number of sets or different exercises you do.
Is There a Difference in Resistance Training for men and Women?
The short answer is yes, but here comes the slightly longer answer. Quite simply, men produce 10 times more of the hormone testosterone than women do and so will build muscle mass much more easily than women. But that’s not all, women and men differ in their muscle mass distribution, especially in the upper body.
Additionally, women tend to mature earlier than men, allowing them to begin resistance training earlier. However, due to the fact that, on average, women have less muscle mass than men, they are also more likely to suffer from deconditioning. This phenomenon is where the woman loses muscle mass quickly after a short period of non-activity. This is why women should always keep their resistance training going, even at a lower intensity when they’re concentrating on other exercises, to stop the muscles from deconditioning.