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What is resistance training?

Resistance training is any exercise which aims to build strength of a muscle. It is also known as strength or weight training1. Resistance training can either be recreational, competitive, or for maintenance. Recreational training aims to improve general fitness and strength whereas competitive training can involve power lifting, weight lifting, body building, strongman/woman competitions, and athletics2. Maintenance training aims to prevent deterioration of current muscular fitness2.

The type of resistance can be added through body weight, hand held weights such as dumbbells and barbells, machines, or by using various forms of elastic bands. Exercises can be either multi-joint or single-joint. Single-joint exercises can reduce the risk of injury as it requires less skill or technique2. Multi-joint exercises are regarded as the most effective in improving strength and power because they involve more coordination of muscles2.

Some examples of resistance exercises include1, 3:

  • Chest – Push ups, bench press
  • Back – Bent-over row, pull ups, lat pull down
  • Shoulder – Shoulder press
  • Bicep – Bicep curl
  • Tricep – Tricep extension, tricep dips
  • Legs – Squats, lunges
  • Calves – Calf raises
  • Abdominals – Crunches, sit ups, planks

 

What does resistance training do?

Recreational resistance training aims to improve muscle strength, endurance, hypertrophy (increased muscle size), and general fitness2. However, competitive training involves training to maximise muscular hypertrophy, strength, power, and endurance2.

Lifting weights can help to improve your metabolism because as your muscles grow, your metabolic rate increases3. An increased metabolic rate assists in burning calories which improves lean body mass and reduces body fat2, 3. Increased lean body mass with decreased body fat will consequently give a more toned and fit appearance.

There have been many studies into the effects of resistance training on many diseases and conditions. Effects of resistance training include:

  • Reduced treatment side effects of those with cancer4, 5
  • Prevention, treatment, and control of hypertension6
  • Delay the onset of osteoporosis3, 7
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease, and obesity1, 8
  • Maintains function, independence and health of those with Multiple Sclerosis9
  • Prevention of chronic kidney disease10
  • Minimise Parkinson’s Disease symptoms11
  • Increase strength who suffer from weakness after stroke12

Who should do resistance training?

Both men and women benefit from resistance training. Building muscle has been found to be socially associated with men whereas burning fat was associated more with women13. As muscle building exercises is perceived as dominantly characteristic of men by women, there seems to be a reluctance of women to engage in resistance training13. However, women, in particular, need to be undertaking resistance training because after menopause, they lose bone mass more quickly than men13. Due to this, women are more susceptible to osteoporosis so resistance training can help to prevent it8.

Children (up to 11yrs in girls and 13 in boys) and adolescents (girls 12-18yrs, boys 14-18yrs) also benefit from resistance training14. It increases their muscular strength, power, motor skill performance, bone mineral density, body composition, insulin sensitivity, psychological health, stimulates a positive attitude toward lifetime physical activity, and reduces cardiovascular risk and sport-related injuries14.

In older adults, it is normal to have age-related change including a loss of muscle mass. This is called “sarcopenia” and can cause significant loss of functional abilities15. Resistance training can help to slow the loss of muscle mass and reduce the loss of function in normal daily activities such as walking and household chores15

How often should resistance training be done?

All resistance training programmes should be tailored to meet the requirements of the individual. However, here is a rough guide as stated in recent evidence:

 

Sets

Repetitions (Reps)

No. of Times per Week

Notes

Untrained Adults (< 50yrs)

1

8-12

2-3

8-10 exercises (multi-joint and single-joint targeting major muscle groups), progress every 1-2 weeks

Adults (> 50yrs)

1

10-15

2-3

Recreational Weight Lifters

1

8-12

2-3

Prepubescents and Adolescents

1

6-15

2-3

20-40mins per session

Elderly

1

10-15

2-3

8-10 exercises (multi-joint and single-joint targeting major muscle groups), progress every 2-4 weeks

Those with Chronic Conditions (e.g. arthritis)

1

Up to 15

Min 2

Lighter weights, more reps

1, 16

References

  1. Hass C, Feigenbaum M, Franklin B. Prescription of Resistance Training for Healthy Populations. Sports Medicine. 2001; 31(14):953-964. DOI:10.2165/00007256-200131140-00001
  2. Kraemer WJ, Ratamess NA. Fundamentals of Resistance Training:

Progression and Exercise Prescription. Medicine and science in sports and exercise. 2004; 36(4):674-688.  DOI:10. I 249/0I.MSS.OOOO 121945.36635.61.

  1. Crupi J. Weight Lifting. Teaching Pre K - 8. 2004; 34(6):16. Available from: http://search.proquest.com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/docview/231934030?OpenUrlRefId=info:xri/sid:primo&accountid=10382.
  2. Galvao D, Nosaka K, Taaffe D, Spry N, Kristjanson L, McGuigan M, et al. Resistance training and reduction of treatment side effects in prostate cancer patients. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2006; 38(12):2045-2045. Available from: http://link.library.curtin.edu.au/p?cur_digitool_dc134566.
  3. Focht BC, Lucas AR, Clinton SK. Resistance training for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease. Resistance Exercise Interventions across the Cancer Control Continuum, 2014 Boca Raton : Taylor & Francis/CRC Press
  4. Braith RW, Avery JC. Resistance training for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease. Resistance Training for Cardiovascular Disease, 2014 Boca Raton : Taylor & Francis/CRC Press
  5. Kathleen JF, Elena LM, Trudy BL, Shelby FL, Steven LM. Muscle Power Predicts Adolescent Bone Strength: Iowa Bone Development Study. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2015; 47(10):2201-2206. DOI:10.1249/MSS.0000000000000648.
  6. Schmiege S, Aiken L, Sander J, Gerend M. Osteoporosis Prevention Among Young Women: Psychosocial Models of Calcium Consumption and Weight-Bearing Exercise. Health Psychology. 2007; 26(5):577-587. DOI:10.1037/0278-6133.26.5.577.
  7. Pilutti LA, Motl RW. Resistance training for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease Beneficial Effects of Progressive Resistance Training in Multiple Sclerosis, 2014 Boca Raton : Taylor & Francis/CRC Press
  8. Cheema BS, Chan D. Resistance training for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease Resistance Training in Chronic Renal Failure, 2014 Boca Raton : Taylor & Francis/CRC Press;
  9. Schilling BK, Hammond KG. Resistance training for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease Resistance Training for Parkinson’s Disease, 2014 Boca Raton : Taylor & Francis/CRC Press
  10. Bohannon RW. Resistance training for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease Resistance Training after Stroke, 2014 Boca Raton : Taylor & Francis/CRC Press
  11. Salvatore J, Marecek J. Gender in the Gym: Evaluation Concerns as Barriers to Women’s Weight Lifting. Sex Roles. 2010; 63(7):556-567. DOI:10.1007/s11199-010-9800-8.
  12. Faigenbaum AD. Resistance training for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease Resistance Training for Children and Adolescents, 2014 Boca Raton : Taylor & Francis/CRC Press;
  13. Bemben MG, Fahs CA, Loenneke JP, Rossow LM, Thiebaud RS. Resistance training for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease Resistance Training for Older Adults, 2014 Boca Raton : Taylor & Francis/CRC Press;
  14. Feigenbaum MS, Pollock ML. Prescription of resistance training for health and disease. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 1999; 31(1):38-45. Available

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