Benefits of resistance training

'I don't want to get big and bulky' is a popular response to me asking me female clients why they've never considered using weights to train with before and why they are apprehensive about the prospect of using them in our sessions. I used to think exactly the same and it is such a common misconception that weight training will make us 'big'.

Read on to find out more about muscle, how it is used and what benefits weight training has with each individual goal in mind.

 

WHAT IS MUSCLE?

We use them in every movement we make without really thinking about it but muscles help us in so many ways with our daily living activities so we need to make sure they are strong enough to carry out their jobs for a long time to come.

Muscle is a metabolically active tissue that’s highly responsive to the stimuli of progressive resistance exercise. With appropriate training in both men and women, muscles grow and become stronger due to the increased resistance placed upon them to stimulate muscle development and it is not just the muscles themselves that resistance training has a positive effect on. Regular resistance training also promotes increased tensile strength in tendons and ligaments as well as increased bone mineral density and therefore has a positive effect on the whole musculoskeletal system. The more lean muscle we have, the more calories we burn while at rest - yasss!

 

PHYSICAL CAPACITY

Like I said before, every movement we make is a result of the muscular system acting on the skeletal system and the muscles are unique in their ability to produce force as you will see in everyday life when you pick up your children or decide to rearrange the furniture when your other half isn’t there. We are able to produce force through concentric actions (shortening of the muscle - for example the upward phase of a bicep curl), eccentric actions (lengthening of a muscle – like the downwards phase of a bicep curl) and isometric contractions which are actions without changing their length – holding the bicep curl at a 90 degree angle.

The physical capacity of a muscle is its potential to increase the ability to perform work or exercise, therefore, this form of training results in stronger muscles that increase the physical capacity for force generation so we are able to perform a single lift with a heavier weightload and more repetitions with a submaximal weightload – if you’ve ever moved house you will know what I’m talking about when trying to lift heavy boxes!

 

BODY COMPOSITION AND PHYSICAL APPEARANCE

is another health benefit of strength training as there will be a decrease in ‘fat weight/mass’ and an increase in ‘fat-free weight’ or ‘lean’ weight.

-Fat weight or fat mass is the amount of fat you have in your body. Although some fat is essential for your health and overall well-being (10%-13%), an increase over the average amount (25%-31%) can be detrimental to your health.

-Lean weight consists of muscle, bone, blood, skin, organs and connective tissue with muscle contributing to about half of the lean weight.

DID YOU KNOW: A woman who does not strength train loses about 0.5 pounds of muscle each year? Numerous strength-training studies have shown that several weeks of traditional strength training result in about 3lb more muscle and 4lb less fat in adults and older adults!

 

 METABOLIC FUNCTION

Muscle tissue is constantly active as it needs to maintain and remodel muscle proteins. Even when we sleep, the muscles are accountable for more than 25% of the body’s calorie use (Resting Metabolic Rate), therefore, if we have an increased amount of muscle tissue, our muscles will be working harder to maintain and repair and so our RMR is increased and alternatively, a decrease is muscle tissue leads to less calories being used leading to a lower RMR. Toput it simply; The higher your metabolism due to increased muscle tissue, the more calories you burn when you sleep.

 

INJURY RISK & DISEASE PREVENTION

Along with the job of keeping us moving, muscles also serve as shock absorbers and balancing agents. Strong muscles help to dissipate the impact force generated in landing for weightbearing activities like when we run and balanced muscle development reduces the risk of overuse injuries that result when one muscle group is stronger than the other. – like when you lift something overhead, your right shoulder and arm may be stronger than the right and therefore has to work harder to compensate for the weakened right side.

One of the most direct benefits of regular strength training is increased bone mineral density (as mentioned before) and can help with the prevention of osteoporosis which is a disorder primarily affecting postmenopausal women, in which bone density decreases and susceptibility to fractures increases.

 

As you can see, the job of the muscles is an important one and if you’ve never tried resistance training then it’s time to start! You will gain many health benefits as well as looking super toned!

 

Until next time….

 

x Jen x