To fly we have to have resistance.
In a previous article I espoused the benefits of cardiovascular training. I hope you were able to read it as it shed some light on how we benefit from cardio training and may have provided some information new to you. Personally, I’m always intrigued how our body responds to exercise and how it benefits. From reducing the effects of aging, to improving performance in day to day activities. There are so many benefits and it seems research is unearthing new benefits constantly.
While reviewing the articles I have written so far, I came to the conclusion that it wouldn’t really be fair of me to write an article on the benefits of cardio training, and not write on the benefits of resistance training. By no means am I biased against resistance training, I am a strong proponent of resistance training, I just had other articles to write, and have now finally gotten around to it.
I think most of us understand what resistance training is, but here is the formal definition:
Resistance training, or strength training, is defined as the following: the use of resistance to muscular contraction to build the strength, anaerobic endurance and size of skeletal muscles.
We could also define it as using a load to contract our muscles to build strength and size.
I think most of us have a good understanding of what resistance training is, especially when we choose specific resistance training exercises to obtain certain goals. Unlike cardiovascular training which really plays a part in a lot of our training, even sometimes when resistance training, strength training is more specific, and does not really play a part with all cardio training.
Why should we
There are a lot of benefits to resistance training that you would be doing yourself a disservice to not include it in your training regimen. Let’s spend some time looking at some of these benefits.
Helps to manage weight, or more specifically, reduces body fat.
It may be fair to say that most people exercise to keep control of their body weight by reducing the amount of body fat. The more amount of muscle you have the more work your body needs to do to feed that muscle tissue. This results in an increase in your resting metabolism to get this work done. In simple terms that means when you are not at the gym your body is working a little harder just to maintain itself.
The decrease in body fat also aids in reducing the risk of major life threatening disease such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Increase in muscular strength.
As you become stronger, day to day activities will become easier as you are able to perform these tasks with less effort. Bringing in the groceries won’t be such a monumental task anymore.
This benefit is an awesome one. It benefits everyone short term and long term. From reducing the chance of injury and broken bones to reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
Improves core strength.
Another big benefit. Through a stronger core you have less chance of sustaining a back injury due to stronger abdominal and back muscles. Also your posture will improve.
Improved balance, agility, and coordination.
Who doesn’t want to have better coordination and be more agile? Didn’t think so.
Having said all that
Like all of the training we do, we need to train smart when it comes to resistance training. If you don’t you run the risk of injury and also may make certain conditions worse, without even realizing it. The risk of injury can be immediate from things like poor form, too much weight, and improper technique. The long term risk of injury can be due to not properly training the body as a whole. It’s common to see people working out and training only what I’ll refer to as the common muscles. Chest, biceps, front of the shoulders, and maybe, sometimes the legs. The problem with this is muscles that are probably already stronger than their counterparts are now becoming stronger, throwing our body off balance.
I’ll bet money on the fact that most people who are doing pushups, shoulder presses, bench presses are not doing any exercise for their rear shoulder muscles. The sad thing is the rear shoulder muscles are the ones we should be building since most of us already have strong front shoulder muscles from our day to day activities. This is what we call a muscle imbalance. The problem with muscle imbalances is it affects our posture by putting us into a position that can lead to injury without us even knowing it.
Depending on the muscle imbalance, it can lead to back problems, shoulder problems, problems when exercising such as running, walking, biking, etc. Runner’s knee is a common result of muscle imbalances. Most of us that have muscle imbalances are not even aware of them even when they manifest themselves in injuries such as a runner’s knee, or back pain.
Until we identify these imbalances and start doing the proper exercises and stretches to address them, we run the risk of putting ourselves even more out of balance. If you can, get a posture assessment done. This should address the imbalances and you will then be able to bring your body back to a balanced state.
Did I scare you? I hope not. If I did, don’t be. We all have imbalances be it small or large. Through proper resistance training, and proper stretching you can change this. You have the power. If you are unsure of what to do, consult a personal trainer.
It’s pretty simple
When you look at all the benefits why would you forgo resistance training, and why would you not work the body as a whole? It’s pretty empowering when you think about it.
Look at your body. What about it don’t you like? Do you see any imbalances? Shoulders turning in, maybe? Now, think of what you want your body to look like. Shoulders back, arms aligned with your legs, your legs somewhat larger as they have become stronger. Your back is a little wider, somewhat V shaped, positioned below your nicely squared shoulders. Nice.
It’s empowering knowing that you can become all this if you so choose. Your body is the canvas and you, the artist, have been given the brushes to make the changes. Another benefit.
Yours in health,