When starting on a health and fitness journey, it’s important to understand the fundamental options available in order to make the best choices possible. Determining what type of resistance training needed to reach his/her fitness goals is one of them.
The fitness industry can be intimidating with so many options available and big-fancy terms regarding physical health that can be confusing to understand for a novice.
Recent research shows that resistance bands can be just as effective at building strength and muscle as weights. Weights are often central to the conversation on conventional fitness model of building muscle for size and power, though this is more based on recent gym theory and less on pure hard facts.
A super simple answer is, the basic and best form of training to not only build muscle and lose fat, is resistance training.
There are many forms that resistance training can take. It’s not just using resistance bands, which can also get the job done, but any exercise that causes the muscles to contract in resistance.
Types of resistance training can include, free weight, weight machines, kettlebells, medicine balls, and even bodyweight. Yes, even bodyweight.
By engaging in resistance training, the body is able to build muscle mass faster. By using equipment or bodyweight for resistance training, an individual is pushing their body to conquer the challenge of added weight.
Each rep may not be better than the last as muscle fatigue is likely to occur if the training is challenging enough, it’s the rest period between workout sessions that builds strength.
Resting periods allow muscles to repair the damage or small tears caused when performing resistance based exercises. These tears are important as that is how new muscle and strength is formed over time.
What is Resistance Training?
Resistance training is just as it sounds. Resistance training and strength training are often interchangeable terms used to describe the act of physical activity where an individual exercises a muscle group against external resistance.
There are many options when it comes to choosing a resistance workout. Many opt for the most obvious free weights that allow the body’s muscle to be pushed to fatigue more quickly than bodyweight training. With higher weight or resistance, the fewer reps one would need to take to reach fatigue.
With the practice of weight lifting spanning centuries, it has proven an effective method of not only building strength but also improving muscle size and reducing age-related muscle loss.
Age-related muscle loss has many jumping back into the gym and picking up those weights. After the age of thirty and physical activity lessens, people can lose anywhere from 3%-5% of their muscle mass(WebMd.com).
This affliction continues to happen at an even faster pace as we continue to age, but practicing some type of resistance training can help prevent this muscle loss.
Resistance training offers many benefits other than preventing muscle loss. Other than the obvious fact of building strength, muscle mass and burning fat, it can also improve heart health, strengthen bones and improve balance.
There is even evidence that strength training can help with chronic disease management. Individuals with arthritis and diabetes have benefited greatly from resistance training at decreasing pain and improving glucose levels respectively. Furthermore, strength training can improve energy levels, mood, and even sleep.
As mentioned before, resistance training can build muscle mass but it can also burn an enormous amount of calories. While the physical activity itself burns calories it’s what happens after the workout is complete that has some amazed.
The after-burn effect occurs when resting the muscles. Oxygen levels are usually elevated after a workout and stay at a high level in order to restore muscles to their resting state. This elevated state of oxygen is where the after-burn effect occurs.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or high intensity resistance training are the most effective ways to experience a long-term after-burn effect. Due to the quick fatigue experienced in HIIT sessions means there is more oxygen and energy required to repair damaged muscle which is why it is an effective tool to shed excess fat.
Types of Resistance Training
Free weights are weights that can be picked up and moved around. They are not attached to any sort of machinery which makes them affordable and accessible to almost anyone. They can be purchased at any sporting goods store or online and make a great addition to a home gym.
Free weights are functional in that they allow the body to move more freely through motion as opposed to a machine. Because of this, free weights can improve balance by working multiple muscles at once to maintain stabilization.
Adding free weights to a resistance workout is a sure fire way to increase muscle mass quickly and maintain a versatile workout. With so many variations and possible maneuvers, using free weights for resistance training means there are nearly endless ways to build muscle.
Weighted machines are machines that rely on gravity and oftentimes various pulleys for resistance training. To some these machines can look daunting and intimidating, but they can have big advantages to using them.
For starters, weighted machines can allow you to use more weight than free weights. An individual can also isolate muscles groups more efficiently and build strength in those desired areas.
Weighted machines also have a reduced risk for injury. Because an individual is not freely moving weight around the body, instead of a certain area, the risk of injury is slimmer.
Weighted machines can also be great options for individuals who are already injured and are performing rehab on the afflicted area. Honing in on one muscle group in a controlled, steady way can help heal an injury. This should be monitored by a professional though.
Kettlebells, Medicine Balls & Resistance Bands
A kettlebell is cast iron ball with a handle attached used to perform various resistance style exercises. While technically a free weight, kettlebells are small and meant to be held securely throughout a workout. Kettlebells are great additions to any workout where an individual is looking to add more weight in a gentler manner.
Medicine balls are similar to kettlebells in that they add gentler weight. They are weighted balls most often used in rehabilitation exercises but can also be used for resistance or strength training.
Resistance bands are bands of rubber used for various resistance exercises. They are highly flexible and are used to supplement or replace exercises typically reserved for free weights.
For example, a bicep curl can be achieved by stepping on the middle of a band and pulling the band’s handles up towards the chest.
There are a number of different resistance bands to choose from. Models range from enclosed bands, to bands with handles, to solely the band itself. Whichever model is used can be useful in building muscle in a controlled and easy fashion.
Bodyweight training is a type of strength training by using only one’s body for resistance. No additional equipment is necessary to complete a full body workout and build muscle.
Bodyweight training has been gaining popularity recently for it’s easy accessibility and effectiveness to achieve desired fitness goals all while in the comfort of home.
Resistance training is one of the fastest and best ways to build muscle and burn body fat. With so many options available nowadays it can be quite simple to find a workout routine or method to best fit an individual’s needs.
Anything that creates resistance and causes the body’s muscles to contract is considered resistance training. So, there are endless creative ways to craft a resistance workout.
Fitness leaders swear by the popular High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) method for resistance training. It can be done anywhere following quick bursts or intervals of explosive energy followed by a resting period. This method has been proven to get results fast.
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