Weight Training (also referred to as Strength Training or Resistance Training)
Weight training is a form of resistance training, which simply means any kind of exercise in which muscles exert force against a resistance. One of the biggest advantages of weight training is that resistance can be applied in a progressive, measurable fashion. After your strength increases enough to lift a certain weight easily, you will increase the weight.
Why Strength Training?
Imagine that your body is an automobile. Your muscles release energy and produce movement (like an engine); absorb impact forces that otherwise could destroy your bones, connective tissue and joint structures (like shock absorbers); and provide the framework that enables you to function physically (like the chassis). Just as mechanics know that proper maintenance keeps your car in good shape, researchers are finding that strength training plays a vital role in keeping your muscles well-tuned.
You may have avoided strength training because you believed it increases muscle mass excessively, decreases your flexibility or increases your body weight, but research indicates that none of these notions is necessarily correct. It is largely dependent upon who you are (e.g. it is very difficult for women to increase muscle mass dramatically) and what type of strength training you do.
The Benefits of Weight Training
Weight training provides the following benefits:
1. It Improves Body Composition.
Your body is divided into fat weight and lean weight. Your lean weight includes muscle tissue (about 50% of your total lean weight), bones, organs and skin. As you age, the percentage of body fat typically increases because you lose muscle mass. Regular strength training exercises prevents muscle loss and maintains a desirable body composition.
2. It Increases Your Metabolic Rate.
Your resting metabolic rate represents the amount of energy you need on a daily basis to sustain your life functions. Even at rest, muscle is very active tissue. Consequently, muscle loss results in a reduction in your metabolic rate. Because less muscle means lower energy requirements, calories that were previously used for muscle maintenance now are stored as fat. Sensible strength training is the best means of avoiding decreases in muscle mass and metabolic rate, and guarding against the obesity creep.
3. It Improves Physical Ability and Physical Performance.
Stronger muscles enable you to perform every physical activity more easily. Also, almost every athletic event involves power, which is the product of muscle force and movement speed. Almost without exception, more power equals better performance, so a stronger athlete is a better athlete.
4. It Improves Self-Confidence.
Self-confidence is a complex issue with many components. However, most people who increase their strength report an increase in self-confidence. Greater strength is associated with better function, more independence and higher satisfaction with personal abilities.
How Much Weight Training Is Enough?
Although a personal trainer can help determine the best program for you, as a general rule benefits can be achieved from training 2 – 3 non-consecutive days per week for a minimum of one set per exercise for each major muscle group. You should use enough resistance to fatigue the muscle group by the end of each set.
Periodisation of your Weight Training Program
To gain optimum benefit from your weight training program, it is recommended that you periodise your program, i.e. change the intensity and volume of your training program at regular intervals, e.g. monthly. This will cause your body to continually adapt to your training program and therefore gain maximum benefits.
Training your muscles does take some effort, but no matter what age you are, you’ll find that strength training will fuel a healthy lifestyle and help you function better in all aspects of your life.