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Weight And Resistance Training

Last updated on : August 05 2019

fit african american woman working out by lifting weights

What Is Weight Training

Weight or strength training is a form of exercise that uses weights to achieve resistance. Lifting weights adds stress to your muscles that when appropriately done exercises, activates and allows them to get stronger over time.

You perform weight training with free weights, like barbells or dumbbells, or with weight training machines. You can also use your body weight or resistance bands to achieve excellent results.

Benefits of Weight Training

Lifting weights or performing resistance training has many and quite different benefits.

It Makes You Physically Stronger

Weight training makes you physically stronger, improves your muscle endurance, gives you better flexibility, and improves your posture. It strengthens connective tissue, muscles, and tendons - which leads to improved motor performance and decreased risk of injury. 

It also improves your long-term balance according to this study by the BMJ.

It Helps You Lose Weight

Weight training helps you lose weight by reducing your overall loss of muscle and increasing your resting metabolic rate. Both of these factors help you burn more calories, contributing to weight loss.  

Muscle is metabolically active. Unlike fat, it burns calories even when you're not exercising. Replace 10 pounds of fat with 10 pounds of lean muscle, and you'll burn 25 to 50 extra calories a day.

Most adults lose nearly half a pound of muscle per year after they reach the age of 30, and this pace quickens after middle age leading to sarcopenia. See studies here and here and here.

Be sure to replace the lean muscle you lose naturally over time. Otherwise, you'll increase the percentage of fat in your body, and burn fewer calories.  

It Improves Your Bone Health 

Numerous studies show weight-bearing exercises (including high impact exercises) promote the formation of new bone and, through this, reduce the risk of osteoporosis.    

Studies in children, (here and here) show that physical activity, including weight-bearing exercises, result in more bone creation during the years of peak bone growth. 

Similar studies in women and men (see here, here, here and here) show increased bone health and strength achieved through weight-bearing exercises. 

Weight training stops bone loss and can even build new bone, reducing the risk of fractures from osteoporosis.  

It Reduces Insulin Resistance

Weight training reduces insulin resistance and improves glucose tolerance. This study in the Journal of Endocrinology suggests having muscle enhances insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance.

It Reduces Risk of Cancer

Studies (on men) also suggest that the more muscle we have, the lower the risk of death from cancer. See this study published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention.

People In The Know Recommend It.

Weight training improves the overall quality of life. It provides prevention (and treatment) of disease and a reduced likelihood of injury. 

When prescribed appropriately, it is useful for developing fitness, health, and the prevention and rehabilitation of orthopedic injuries. 

For these reasons, many national and international medical groups recommend weight training.

How Often And How Much?

Determined fitness woman doing squat with kettle bell

How Often Should I Exercise With Weights?

The current research recommends single set programs of up to 15 repetitions performed a minimum of 2 days a week for healthy persons of all ages, and many patients with chronic diseases. Work up to these levels if you need to. 

Each workout session should consist of 8-10 different exercises that train the major muscle groups.

The goal is to develop and maintain a significant amount of muscle mass, endurance, and strength to contribute to overall fitness and health.

This research means, for most people, short weight training sessions a couple of times a week are enough. Two to three 20 to 30-minute sessions a week will provide significant improvement in your strength.  

How Much Weight Should I Use? 

How much weight you use depends on how many repetitions you’re looking to complete.

Lift enough weight so that the last one to two repetitions are difficult to complete - and you feel like you can't do one more. Naturally, you’ll need to use a heavier weight for six repetitions than you will for 15.

Never lift too much weight. If lifting causes you pain stop immediately. You are better off lifting lighter weights than too much as your body gets used to the training.

What Exercises Should I Do?

The best exercises provide variety across your muscle groups. You can choose to exercise one muscle group per session or work several at the same time.

The key is to achieve balance. You don't want a massive chest and a weak back, for example. So when you work on one muscle, make sure you also work on the opposing muscle.

When deciding on an exercise program, try variations of the chest press, the arm row, the squat and the deadlift. Performing these core exercises will show benefit across a range of muscles and help you get the balance needed.

Safety and Technique

Weight training depends on proper technique. Using the wrong method can lead to sprains, strains, fractures, or other painful injuries that hamper your weight training efforts.

Learn the correct form. If you're new to strength training, work with a trainer or other fitness specialist to learn the proper way. Even experienced athletes need to brush up on their methods from time to time.

Always start with a lighter weight. Lighter weights are crucial to enable you to work on form and technique first. When you have learned to lift correctly, you can lift more, and also reduce your chances of strain and injury.

Remember to warm up. Cold muscles injure easily — warm-up with a brisk walk or another aerobic activity for five or 10 minutes before lifting weights.

Breath. Take deep breaths while you are doing your exercises. Always exhale during the exertion phase of the move.  

Stop if in pain. Stop any painful exercises for a few days, or try them with less weight.

Stretch afterward. After you have completed your weight training session, it is important to stretch. If you are rushing to the shower after every workout, you could be shortchanging yourself from reaching your full strength potential. 

Take time to rest. Rest for one full day between exercising specific muscle groups to recover. Your muscles need time to relax and rebuild. 

Summary

Your muscles naturally decrease as you age. And if you don't do anything to replenish the muscle loss, fat will replace it. Weight or strength training will help you reverse this trend at any time of your life.

As you exercise more, you'll be able to lift weights more efficiently and for more extended periods. You'll also improve your bone density, better manage your weight, and improve your body's metabolism. 

Building and maintaining muscle and strength is necessary for all of us, especially as we age. And the earlier we start, the better.

Editorial Policy

The Kewl Shop employs strict sourcing guidelines for articles concerning health, exercise, and nutrition. We rely on trusted peer-review studies, academic research papers, and medical association publications to present balanced and researched articles. We link to these trusted sources in the text where required.

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