Resistance Training Healthy Habits

The Importance of Resistance Training

Whether you are new to exercise or whether you’re an accomplished athlete, one of the most important ways to train your body is through resistance training. Resistance training, muscle strengthening, or strength training are all common terms used to describe types of exercises that help to build lean body mass. In order to properly train your body - and in order to see results like muscle toning, increased metabolism, increased bone density, and weight loss - incorporating some form of resistance training into your weekly exercise routine is essential.

The Benefits of Resistance Training

Resistance training is any exercise that causes the muscles to contract against an external resistance like weighted barbells, dumbbells, exercise tubing, or your own body weight. Although resistance training has been recorded to exist for centuries, it was not until the 1970s that it gained popularity. Recently, there has been tremendous scientific research promoting resistance training and the corresponding overall health benefits. That same research has also taken away some of the common misconceptions associated with resistance training. Contrary to some belief, resistance training will not make you bulky or big. In fact, resistance training is the key to:

Weight Loss and Increased Muscle Tone

It is a hard truth, but muscle mass - your body’s natural defense against fat - diminishes with age. It has been reported that the average adult will gain as many as 10 pounds every decade without ever increasing their caloric intake. According to Edward Laskowski, M.D, a rehabilitation specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, “If you don’t do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose, you’ll increase the percentage of fat in your body. But strength training can help you preserve and enhance your muscle mass…at any age.”

Developing Strong Bones

As we age, the minerals that compose our bones begin to deteriorate. Research has shown that resistance training helps to build tissue and support around the bones, in addition to increasing bone density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Postmenopausal women are especially prone to bone loss because they lack estrogen needed to keep bones healthy. According to Keeton, a research study by Ontario’s McMaster University, women increased their bone mass by nine percent after a year-long strength training program. Alternatively, women who did not participate in strength training experienced a decrease in bone density.

Increasing Metabolism

As you gain muscle, your body burns calories more efficiently and reduces fat mass. Research has shown that this not only leads to weight loss, but can also make it easier to control your weight over time. This is because lean muscle mass has a higher energy requirement on your body – you burn more calories even when your body is at rest.

Improving Endurance and Reducing Injury

As you get stronger, your body will not fatigue or tire as quickly. Since our muscles act as shock absorbents, building muscle can protect your joints from injury. Stronger muscles also lead to improved balance. Less fatigue, less injury, and better balance add up to increased longevity because of the increased activity level that will be possible as you age.

Where to start

One of the hardest parts of incorporating a strength training program into your life is knowing where to start. In addition, knowing what and how often to lift, coupled with proper exercise technique can prevent you from feeling successful and seeing results. Group Fitness classes offer effective, often less intimidating, and arguably more fun ways to experience resistance training and keep you motivated.

Attending a class like Group Power® or Group Active® is a great place to start. Group Power is a 60-minute barbell program designed to strengthen all your major muscles. In addition to having a qualified instructor help you perform the exercises correctly, the movements in Group Power are simple and athletic. Group Active is a 60-minute class incorporating all of the elements of fitness: cardio, balance, flexibility and strength. Group Active strengthens the muscles of the upper body using adjustable dumbbells and the lower body using body weight.

Because Group Power and Group Active incorporate adjustable weights, they are appropriate for all ages and fitness levels no matter your level of experience. Not only are they an effective way to train your muscles, they are also time efficient. In just two to three hours a week, you can experience a full body workout that includes all the benefits of resistance training.

The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association now jointly recommend a minimum of twice-weekly strength training sessions, in addition to moderate or intense cardiovascular activity. There are many benefits of resistance training, and perhaps the most accessible is that it can help you lose weight and keep your body strong. No matter what your strength training goals might be, it is never too late to start some form of resistance training. Getting involved in a regular strength training program is essential to keep you healthy, and leaner, for longer!

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