Resistance training, also known as strength training or weight training, involves activities that use weights, resistance bands or even just your body weight to work your muscles by contracting them against an external resistance. The goal is to build the size, strength and endurance of your muscles.
Many people associate resistance training with athletes or body builders, but lifting weights isn’t just about ‘bulking up’. In fact research has shown many benefits of resistance training and the Australian national physical activity guidelines recommend that adults should do muscle strengthening exercises on at least two days each week and children aged 5 years and older should engage in activities that strengthen muscles and bone on at least three days per week.
Regular strength training can:
- Reduce muscle loss and maintain muscle strength as we age. This can reduce the risk of falls and help to maintain independence.
- Improve body composition by increasing lean muscle and reducing body fat.
- Increase metabolism which helps with weight management.
- Increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- Improve insulin resistance and glucose metabolism, which helps protect against the development of type 2 diabetes.
- Improve heart health including reducing blood pressure and improving blood fats.
- Reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries.
If you’re new to resistance training, it’s a good idea to get some instruction from an exercise physiologist who can show you the best exercises to do, and how to do them safely. They will also take into account your goals and any existing health problems or injuries. And you don’t need to go to a gym to lift weights. An exercise physiologist can develop you a simple home program using some basic and inexpensive equipment including hand weights and resistance bands.
For more information:
- To find an Accredited Exercise Physiologist visit the Exercise and Sports Science Website
- Exercise is Medicine
- Health Benefits of Resistance Training (Better Health Victoria)