Resistance training, or moving your body under an external load… lifting weights, pushing weights… often has a negative spin placed on it. They don’t want to look like a bodybuilder. Don’t want bulging muscles. Are afraid that lifting weights will get them too big.
But there are numerous health benefits from resistance training and, in my opinion, everyone would benefit from doing some sort of resistance work. There is some form of resistance training to suit everyone… no matter where they are or what their limitations may be.
There are three main areas of resistance training: free weights (like barbells, kettlebells and dumbbells), resistance machines (typically found in a commercial gym), as well as body weight types of training. Usually, resistance training falls into one of those brackets.
And I have said this before, but I will say it again… to all the females reading this… you will NOT get big and bulky from resistance training. If you do, please email me and tell me what your secret is… because it NEVER happens. ‘Bulking up’ like what you are afraid of, requires a LOT of training and a very specific type of diet. It never happens by accident.
Health benefits of resistance training include:
Improved muscle strength and tone
Joint integrity and protection from injury
Maintaining flexibility and balance
Increased muscle to fat ratio
Improved confidence and self-esteem
If you are looking to change the shape of your physique, resistance training is a very important part of that. Changing the density and shape of your muscles can only happen with resistance training and proper diet. Resistance training makes your joints stronger and decreases your risk of injury. It also helps you maintain both flexibility AND balance, which is crucial as you age. If you are taking your body through a full range of motion, it helps you to hold on to the mobility you have.
Resistance training also increases your muscle to fat ratio, which increases your metabolism… allowing you to burn more calories faster. It helps preserve and increase bone density, which naturally decreases with age. This helps lessen the risk of fractures and other complications of aging. Everyday tasks become easier as a result of resistance training.
So where is a good place to start?
Start with 1-3 45 minute sessions a week. That’s it. The more that you can do, the better. You don’t want to go beyond this, because your body and muscles need time to recover after a session. Focus on compound movements in full body sessions. You will get a massive benefit from just investing those couple of hours a week.
When you start, make sure you have a coach go over the exercises with you and make sure you are working from a program. Don’t go into the gym and just do random stuff while you are there. If you do, you’ll be wasting your time. Time is the most valuable thing we have on this earth… you don’t want to spend hours in the gym moving weight around and not seeing any results. Have a plan.
Use progressive overload. If you don’t know what that is… type it into Google. Make sure you are adding a little more every session. Do an extra rep or two. Add a couple of kilos to the weight you are bearing. Do an extra set… There are many ways to use progressive overload effectively. Make sure your sessions are set to become a little more difficult, week to week.
And no, progressive overload won’t make you look like an Olympic weightlifter either.