Updated: Aug 22
This article discusses the effects of resistance training & why there's such a big hype around it.
Did you know that inactive adults lose an average of 3-8% of muscle mass per decade after the age of 30?
Now that's a high number considering all that our body does for us. Running, walking, carrying groceries, standing, driving, even watching T.V would all be impossible without the use of our muscles. On top of that, inactive adults experience a lower metabolic rate and fat accumulation after 30.
So how do we reverse age related muscle mass loss, aka sarcopenia, and manage lowering metabolic rate and fat accumulation?
The answer is resistance training.
Resistance training enhances multiple physical and mental aspects of health
In a review and multiple studies done by Westcott L. W, he concludes that just ten weeks of resistance training may increase lean mass by 1.4kg, increase metabolic rate by 7%, and reduce fat by 1.8kg.
Other benefits include improved physical performance, movement control, walking speed, functional independence, cognitive abilities and self-esteem.
In addition, resistance training may also prevent type 2 diabetes and help manage it, increase cardiovascular health, and promote bone density. It may also be effective in reducing low back pain and discomfort from arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Talk about a wonder drug that's drug free...
Looks like resistance training is no longer reserved for Mr. Olympia or Strongman competitors only. Many research studies later, we have understood that resistance training is literally medicine for our bodies.
What exactly is resistance training?
Resistance training is the use of resistance to increase a muscle's strength, mass or muscular endurance. The resistance used could be equipment such as dumbbells, barbells, machine's resistance bands, or using one's own body weight.
Anyone can start resistance training, and it is essential for physical and mental health. In fact, according to the CSEP (Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology) guidelines, everyone should get at least 150 min of moderate to vigorous exercise/week, which includes at least 2x/week of resistance training.
Tips to start resistance training as a beginner:
1. Join a fitness class, or work with a Kinesiologist or Personal trainer. Your instructor will take you through a fitness program and teach you correct technique for the resistance exercises.
2. Speak to your doctor. If you have any injuries or health concerns, be sure to speak to your healthcare provider prior to starting a resistance program.
3. Start with bodyweight movements. It may be a good idea to master bodyweight movements before using resistance equipment. The squat, push-up, plank, calf raises and tricep dips are some of my favourite exercises that require no equipment.
4. Wear proper fitness attire. This includes proper fitting athletic shoes that allow your feet to spread and clothes that allow you to move in them.
5. Eat a nutritious meal the night before and stay hydrated. If you're working out later in the day, make sure you eat no less than 2-3 hours before you resistance train.
6. Start slow. 2-3 resistance workouts a week is a good place to start as a beginner.
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Until next time,
Westcott W. L. (2012). Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health. Current sports medicine reports, 11(4), 209–216. https://doi.org/10.1249/JSR.0b013e31825dabb8
Robert Ross, Jean-Philippe Chaput, Lora M. Giangregorio, Ian Janssen, Travis J. Saunders, Michelle E. Kho, Veronica J. Poitras, Jennifer R. Tomasone, Rasha El-Kotob, Emily C. McLaughlin, Mary Duggan, Julie Carrier, Valerie Carson, Sebastien F. Chastin, Amy E. Latimer-Cheung, Tala Chulak-Bozzer, Guy Faulkner, Stephanie M. Flood, Mary Kate Gazendam, Genevieve N. Healy, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, William Kennedy, Kirstin N. Lane, Amanda Lorbergs, Kaleigh Maclaren, Sharon Marr, Kenneth E. Powell, Ryan E. Rhodes, Amanda Ross-White, Frank Welsh, Juana Willumsen, and Mark S. Tremblay. 2020. Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Adults aged 18–64 years and Adults aged 65 years or older: an integration of physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 45(10 (Suppl. 2)): S57-S102. https://doi.org/10.1139/apnm-2020-0467