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Resistance Training isn't for you

Michael mccavana


Should You Lift Weights?

My thoughts on resistance training

Should you lift weights? I think this a reasonable question to ask, so I will look at the benefits and drawbacks of resistance training.

First of all, what is resistance training? Oxford dictionary defines it as “Training aimed at developing power and strength. Resistance training can use static (isometric) actions, dynamic (ballistic) actions, or both.”

Cambridge dictionary definition is, “the activity of lifting heavy objects for exercise, especially to improve the strength of the muscles.”

Resistance training mostly simply put is lifting weights, challenging the muscle with some kind of load with the goal of an adaptation over time.

But should you do it?

If the outcome of resistance training is improved strength and this is your goal, it’s an obvious yes isn’t it? But what if your goal is weight loss, or being able to chase your children at the park or carrying the shopping home from the bus stop?

Would resistance training be a useful modality of training, will it improve general health.

According to university hospitals Sussex NHS foundation trust

the benefits of resistance training are;

  • Improved bone density

  • Improved muscle size

  • Improvement muscle strength and power

  • Improved mental wellbeing

  • Improved sleep

  • Injury prevention

  • Better recovery after an injury

  • Manage/improve pain

  • Enhance performance

  • Improved cardiovascular health

  • Improved nerve function

These are some very appealing reasons to lift weights but what about the other side of the coin, what are the disadvantages of resistance training.

Resistance training does come with a few downsides - there are some risks involved, strains and other injures can occur, it can be expensive and it requires time and consistency.

There are many benefits of resistance training, and very few drawbacks. The main drawback would be suffering a strain or similar injury, this can be significantly reduced with good form and appropriate weight selection.

There are many studies that show the benefits of resistance training some of which I have listed above. Resistance training isn’t just for bodybuilders or athletes who need to perform a specific activity.

It is a great choice of exercise to use for everyone when it is applied appropriately.

As we age we will loose muscle mass  this process is called sarcopenia. Resistance training has been shown to slow this process, even reverse it in some cases. This can have positive effects on things like balance thus reducing falls. Another benefit comes from improved bone density, this can be particularly beneficial for females as they experience the menopause and a change in hormones.

The benefits to mental health has to be one of the most significant for me, according to one study by O’ Connor et al resistance training showed a reduction of symptoms in fatigue, anxiety and depression. It also had similar benefits in regard to pain alleviation, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and low back issues. There were also benefits listed in older adults such as improved cognition and self-esteem.

Other studies have shown improvements in blood lipids,  glucose and insulin homeostasis and improvements in cardiovascular health demonstrated by a reduced blood pressure.

Resistance training is also one of the best tools you can use for weight loss

Participating in any form of exercise has its benefits and  choosing a couple of modalities would probably have the greatest overall benefit to health.

In regards to resistance training I would suggest it should make up the core of an exercise routine. Two or three resistance training sessions per week combined with other activities you enjoy such as walking, hiking, swimming, biking, yoga and pilates would certainly be a great way of looking after your health both physical and mental.

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