Top 5 things that you get from doing weights that you don’t get from anything else!
So you’re already fit; you don’t need to do weights, right?
Weights will make you big, beefy, and they’re just for body builders, right?
Okay, apologies, I don’t mean to patronise you, but I do frequently hear these statements. People should engage in resistance training and if it’s not for aesthetics or sport, the benefits become even more important as you age.
Why do weights?
Doing weights properly provides a resistance (hence why it’s also called resistance training) against which your muscles must work.
This challenges the muscles and causes them to adapt. Continually performing the same exercise without changing its difficulty means that it becomes less and less of a challenge and thus its effectiveness is reduced.
Let me give you an example.
Consider the exercise of squatting.
Having never done this exercise before, doing body-weight squats is likely going to be difficult. Maybe you’ll manage 10 reps and with rest, perhaps we able to do 3 sets. The next couple of days you’ll feel sore and your muscles will adapt to cope with the stress. After doing this for a couple of weeks you might find that you can easily do 3 sets of 10 reps with little rest – no problem. So why not continue with this exercise.
Why should you make it harder, and how?
Increasing the resistance of an exercise, so here we might hold a dumbbell in each hand, enables you to target the fast-twitch muscle fibres. Ideally we’d want to make the exercise hard enough so that we couldn’t do more than consecutive 10 reps (by selecting a heavy enough weight).
What you get from doing weights / resistance training?
Fast-twitch fibres..? These, as the name suggest, activate quickly, are stronger and are more powerful than the endurance slow twitch fibres in our muscles. As we age the fast-twitch capacity of our muscles decline, so we need to train it to help reduce this. Loss in muscle size and function is referred to as sarcopenia.
Fast twitch fibres are bigger, so if you want to change body shape (increase your muscle tone/definition) then you need to work these fibres hard.
Fast-twitch fibres are also hugely important for injury prevention in sport and preventing falls in older adults and in the elderly. We really need to step-up our approach to exercise and resistance training. Running, jogging, cycling, swimming IS important but these endurance-type activities are not as useful to protect you against injury, young or old.
Good news: It’s never too late to start and the benefits can be vastly beneficial to health!.
In summary some the benefits of resistance training are:
* Muscle definition: change body shape
* Stability and postural control: help to prevent falls
* Bone density: help reduce age-related decreases in bone density (osteoporosis) and thus the consequences of falls
* Combat sarcopenia: Reduce the decline in muscle function associated with age, ability to quickly react with enough muscle force
* Quality of life: how far can you carry your shopping, can you pick up you kids/grandkids easily?
Please don’t think this is just for men. Hormonal changes associated with the menopause experienced by women mean that the negative effects on bone health, for example, are typically experienced earlier in life than compared to men. Exercise and resistance training is important for everyone.