Exercise is a great thing for your health. However, most people neglect to train resistance. Federal researchers found that only 6 percent of adults exercise at least 2 muscle-strengthening exercises per week. It is a mistake to ignore resistance training, which is any form of exercise that builds strength and muscles. It can increase your metabolism, reduce your body fat, and protect you from the most serious causes of disability and early death. Resistance training is not for those who are bodybuilders or look like one. It’s never too late for you to start. This article will cover everything you need to know regarding resistance training. It also includes some easy, expert-approved exercises that you can do at home or in the gym with very little equipment.
Your body will see many immediate, tangible benefits from building muscle.
Fighting back against muscle loss
Your muscles are valuable. They are the reason we can run, walk, climb, and move around. As we age, our muscles begin to deteriorate. As we get older, our muscles begin to decline. Around 8 percent of our muscle mass is lost after 40 years, and the rate continues to increase after 60 years. Studies have shown that muscle loss is associated with premature death, mobility limitations, and the acceleration of the onset of disease.
This can also have a negative impact on your bones. These same factors are what help maintain your muscle mass and keep your bones dense and strong. According to Dr. Wayne Westcott (a professor of exercise science at Quincy College, Massachusetts), as you age, your muscles lose strength and density. This is called sarcopenia.
He said that bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and other components of your musculoskeletal systems all work together and can either become stronger or weaker together. “When you lose muscle, you also lose bone. They go hand in hand.”
Your muscles and bones are interconnected, so if you lose muscle, you may be at higher risk for the following:
- Chronic back pain
Many people accept that the natural process of ageing brings about the loss of muscle and bone. Studies show that you can delay or slow down these changes by using a muscle strengthening program that targets your entire body. Researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging discovered that just two sessions of resistance training per week can reverse the age-related cell damage that causes functional impairment and sarcopenia.
Brad Schoenfeld, assistant professor of exercise science at Lehman College in New York, said that resistance training is the closest thing we have to the fountain of youth.
Get stronger, live longer
Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles medical school discovered something quite remarkable in 2014.
Over a period of ten years, they followed approximately 4,000 healthy adults between the ages of 55 and 55. They discovered that muscle mass was closely linked to life expectancy. Researchers determined each person’s muscle index, which is your total muscle mass divided by height. The lowest mortality rate was found in those who had the highest muscle index. Those with the lowest had the highest. After accounting for other markers of disease, scientists found that the muscle index was a better predictor than obesity.
Another study involved more than 2,200 middle-aged males and tracked them for up to 44 year. Researchers found that physical activity and good muscle strength in middle age are strong predictors for a longer life expectancy. Many other studies over the years have shed light on the benefits of resistance training.
- It improves your cardiovascular health. Resistance training improves blood flow throughout the body which reduces blood pressure.
- Resistance training dramatically improves your VO2max, and overall cardiorespiratory fitness. Studies show that this is linked to better heart health as well as a lower chance of dying from cancer.
- Skeletal muscles aids in controlling and disposing blood sugar. Muscle absorbs glucose like a sponge and stores it as glycogen.
- Resistance training can make you insulin sensitive. Your muscle cells must respond to insulin in order to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. Research suggests that Type 2 diabetes can be caused by insulin resistance in your muscles. Resistance training does the opposite. It makes your muscles insulin sensitive.
- Muscle acts as a shield against diabetes. An 2011 study published in the Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism showed that for every 10 per cent increase in your skeletal muscles index, there is an 11 percent decrease in your risk of developing insulin resistance and a ten percent decrease in your chance of developing pre-diabetes.
Get stronger, lose fat, and keep it from coming back
The worst thing about losing muscle with age is getting fatter. In middle age, the average person will gain about one pound of fat per year. Our bodies experience a dramatic change in their composition as muscle melts away and fat takes its place. Because muscle is more metabolically active that fat, this reshaping can reduce your metabolic rate and cause things to get worse.
A landmark study has provided some encouraging news. The study examined the effects of diets and exercise on 250 older people to see how they affected fat and muscle composition. The subjects were divided into three groups. One group was to cut 300 calories per day from their diets. Another group reduced calories and exercised for 45 minutes four times per week. A third group also cut calories and began a resistance training program.
These results were quite striking. The subjects who combined diet and exercise lost the greatest amount of weight , around 20 pounds on an average . Here’s the interesting part. It got really interesting. The aerobic exercise group lost 16 pounds and had four more pounds of muscle. however, lost more (18 pounds) and had only two pounds less muscle.
Similar results were obtained in other studies, which confirm that diet and resistance training are the best ways to lose fat and keep your muscles strong.
Time to train
You now know why strength is important. Here’s how.
Brad Schoenfeld is an assistant professor in exercise science and the director of Lehman College’s Human Performance Laboratory. It can be done from any room, including your living room.
You should perform up to three sets for each exercise. Each set should consist of 8 to 15 repetitions. This routine should be done at least two times per week.
Short and sweet gym routine
The plan calls for three sessions, each with five exercises. Dr. Phillips explained that the idea is to have one day dedicated to “pushing exercises,” one for “pulling exercise” and one for “leg exercises.” Many beginning lifters neglect their legs.
He said, “Everybody wants their biceps to grow or their triceps to work harder.” But 65 percent of your muscle lies below your belt. Your legs, your thighs and glutes are all below your belt.
Each exercise can be repeated eight to fifteen times. You can also pick a moderately difficult weight to lift until your muscles are tired (see section on lifting to failure). Consider hiring a personal trainer to help you improve your form in any of these exercises.
Don’t buy too many equipment if you are just starting your strength-building program. You may find that you need some of these products as you get stronger.
Find your ideal exercise frequency.
Lift to Success
Most people have heard the old saying “no pain no gain” before. It’s true. The most important thing about building muscle is the fact that your muscles won’t grow if you don’t give them a reason. No matter what type of exercise or routine you follow, you must push your muscles until they are exhausted.
Dr. Schoenfeld stated that resistance training is all about hard training – if your body doesn’t work hard enough, you won’t see any benefit. However, you don’t have to train until your veins bulge like a serpent. You do have to be able to fail each set.
There are two ways you can determine how much weight you should lift.
- Find the maximum weight you can lift at one time. This is the “1-Repetition Maximum” or “1-Rep max”. Use a weight of at least 80 percent and aim for 8-12 repetitions per set (with an exception of your warm-up set which should be quite light).
- Determine your 1-Rep Maximum. Next, use weights between 30 and 50 percent of your 1-RepMax. You should aim to complete 25 repetitions for each set. In 2016, McMaster University in Ontario found that this method was just as effective in building muscle and strength than a traditional weightlifting program with heavier weights and more repetitions.
It doesn’t matter how many reps you do, but how exhausted your muscles are. It is important to do as many reps as you can with good form, in order to reach momentary fail. This is where your muscles grow and adapt. James Steele, an associate professor in sport and exercise science at Southampton Solent University (England), said that you should do as many repetitions as possible with proper form. It doesn’t matter if you do five or twenty reps; it should be that you don’t attempt the last repetition.
Dr. Westcott stated that the last rep you can do with good form is “the key stimulus to building muscle and strength.”
Another way to look at it is: If your exercise doesn’t challenge or inspire you, it won’t change you.
At Least 2 Sessions per Week
According to the federal government, adults should do a muscle-strengthening exercise at least two times per week. It recommends lifting weights, using resistance bands, yoga, and heavy gardening.
Large studies have shown that two sessions of resistance training per week for a period of ten consecutive weeks can increase blood pressure, decrease body fat, and increase muscle strength and size.
However, most studies show that the exercises must be challenging enough. Even though activities such as yoga and gardening are great for your health, they shouldn’t be part of your resistance training program. Dr. Steele stated that there is no evidence to suggest that yoga or gardening improve strength.
Focus on dumbbells, resistance bands and resistance machines when it comes to muscle-strengthening exercises. Remember that your weekly workouts should include all major muscle groups. Do not focus on the muscles you see in the mirror. Dr. Schoenfeld said, “You need to train your whole body and challenge your muscles no matter what your workout routine is.” You will quickly plateau if you do not.