Despite the way it sounds, resistance training is not a class in how to be arrested or how to struggle like a two-year-old who doesn’t want to go into his car seat. It is “a form of physical activity that is designed to improve muscular fitness by exercising a muscle or a muscle group against external resistance,” according to Trek Education.
The external resistance may be weights, some sort of resistance bands, weight machines, or even parts of your own body pulling back (resisting) against other parts of your body. Unlike weightlifting, powerlifting, or Olympic weightlifting, resistance training doesn’t necessarily require a visit to the gym.
You also don’t need to worry about “snatches” or “clean and jerk”s or 109 Kg weights. Instead, you can do resistance training with a couple of cans of garbanzo beans, a towel, or a gallon or two of milk. In other words, it doesn’t have to cost money, so don’t make excuses!
First, let’s review the benefits of resistance training, which is also called weight training or (in some cases) strength training.
- Strengthens and tones your muscles by contracting them against a resisting force. Don’t we all want to be toned? You won’t end up looking like a bodybuilder with bulging pecs and obtruding veins, but you could definitely make your muscles look more defined.
- Can help you lose weight. Granted, this won’t work well if you cool down from your exercise by binging on ice cream and carbs. However, any exercise that builds muscle is effective because (unlike with cardio exercise), you will continue to burn calories even when you are not working out. Muscles burn more calories at rest than fat does. In fact, according to WebMD, 10 pounds of muscle burns 50 calories in a day spent at rest, while 10 pounds of fat burns only 20 calories.
- Can improve your joint function, bone density, tendon and ligament strength. Your muscles aren’t the only things that will benefit from resistance training.
- Can help prevent injuries. If the mechanics of your body are strong, you are less likely to injure yourself while playing sports, taking part in other types of exercise, or falling. Incidentally, if you have already injured yourself, muscle-strengthening activity done as part of a therapy or rehabilitation program is beneficial. For this, you will want to work with an experienced physical therapist.
- Can reduce pain. A study by the NIH (National Institutes of Health) concluded that eight weeks of progressive, whole-body weight training has a positive impact on perception of pain in older adults. However, older adults are not the only age group to experience reduction in pain after resistance training. It has also been proven to alleviate pain in those with fibromyalgia, arthritis, and other types of chronic pain.
- Can improve mood. In general, people feel an increased sense of self esteem when they are healthy and have a sense of accomplishment from exercising, however, recent studies show that resistance training is beneficial for those with emotional disorders like depression.
Some common (and easy to manage) weightlifting exercises are:
- Squat with weights (improvised weights are fine)
- Dumbbell shoulder press (or soup can shoulder press, depending on what is available to you!)
- Dumbbell triceps kickback
- Pulling resistance bands apart with your arms or legs (hip extension)
Keep in mind the fact that you should warm up before exercise and cool down afterwards. Never do anything that feels painful or uncomfortable. You should vary your training so that you have two rest days for specific muscle groups while you work others.
Exercise is a vital part of physical therapy. Before choosing a physical therapist, understand where their specialties lie. True Sports Physical Therapy specializes in catering to the elite athlete but holds levels of experience in treating shoulder, hip, knee, neck, and back pain–both before and after surgery.
Plan ahead: Make an appointment at one of our seven convenient locations in the Greater Baltimore area: Call (410) 514-3297