Resistance training (also called strength or weight training) is one element of integrated training. Integrated training is a concept that incorporates many forms of fitness training as part of a progressive system. Forms of training included in an integrated system are flexibility, cardio, core, balance, plyometric, speed and agility, and resistance training.
In this discussion, we will focus on the benefits of resistance training. It is an important activity for Americans to engaged in. Long ago in hunter-gatherer societies, humans got a workout by building shelter, hunting, farming, and all the other manual chores necessary to live. Today, however, we have engineered inactivity into our lives with labor-saving devices. Now our muscles rarely need to be pushed very hard. Research shows that physical inactivity is the second leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Inactivity is literally killing us.
As we age the number of muscle fibers decline. From age 30 to age 70 we can lose more than 25% of type 2 muscle fiber. Type 2 muscle fibers are our strength fibers. We can slow or even reverse the aging process by building muscle mass and strength.
Osteoporosis, a condition of accelerated bone mineral loss which leads to fractures, can be a crippling disease. Falls that result in injury such as hip fracture are often associated with poor outcomes for seniors. Stronger muscles and bones can decrease the incidence of falls in the elderly population. Research on resistance training suggests that it can build bone density even in the elderly.
Resistance training also raises metabolic rate, an important factor in maintaining body weight. There is also some evidence that resistance training helps lower moderately high blood pressure.
Other benefits of resistance training include:
- Decreased body fat
- Increased strength
- Improved cardiovascular efficiency
- Increased power
- Increased endurance
- Increased core and joint stabilization
- Increased neuromuscular control
- Increased metabolic efficiency
- Increased cross-sectional area of muscle fiber
- Increased bone density
- Improved endocrine (hormone) and serum lipid (cholesterol) adaptations
Whether the goal is to increase muscle endurance, strength, growth, or power or to reduce body fat and improve overall health, the use of resistance training is an important component of any fitness program. This will help ensure optimal health and longevity.
It’s never too late to start. In one study of elderly men and women (mean age 87) who lifted weights three times per week for 10 weeks, strength increased a whopping 113%! The improvement in strength enabled the elderly participants to also walk faster (12% faster than before the study), climb 28% more stairs, and it even caused the muscles in their thighs to increase by more than 2.5%.
Resistance training is a great way to round out your workout if you’re already doing cardio. It will help you build strength and improve tone, preserve muscle as you lose weight, and will help you feel good about your physique and yourself.
NASM CPT Training Manual