Resistance training is any form of exercise that causes a muscle or a group of muscles to contract against an external resistance with the goal of increasing strength, tone, and muscular endurance. That external resistance can be anything. Weights are the most obvious because when we think of working out to get stronger we think of lifting weights. Anything counts. That includes your own body weight, exercise bands, cans of stewed tomato, the cat, or anything else you can think of. The important thing is that resistance (also known as strength or weight) training needs to be part of a regular fitness routine.
I believe that the more we move our bodies in various directions/patterns the better life is. I do a lot of body weight exercises, but I use weights from time-to-time. I prefer dumbbells to the other choices such as barbells or even weight machines. Using dumbbells allows our arms to work independently of each other. This means the strong side can’t compensate for the weaker side. Fitness is all about identifying and strengthens weaknesses. The only way to do that is create safe challenges that bring the imbalances to the forefront.
Here’s a little experiment for you to try:
- Grab 2 items of equal weight. Two cans of something from your pantry works.
- Stand in front of a mirror with an item in each hand.
- Lift your arms up and in front of you so they are parallel with the floor. Your palms are facing down.
- Look in the mirror, and notice if one arm is lower than the other.
- Look at your arms. Is one shaking and unsteady?
- Does one arm tire before the other?
Identifying a weakness can be that easy. The rule is to always focus on the weaker side. If the weaker side (leg, arm) can do 10 repetitions of an exercise then that is what the strong side should do. The goal is symmetry, and that’s how we get there.
What is happening at a cellular level is that the resistance training is causing microscopic tears in the muscle fibres. When we sleep the tears are repaired and made stronger in anticipation that we will need this new amount of strength on a regular basis. The body is brilliant. The important thing is to not overdo the workouts, and to rest in-between so that the body can do its work.
It doesn’t matter which method of resistance training that you choose, just choose something. We lose muscle mass as we age. Doing resistance training slows that loss.
How about grabbing a couple of cans of beans and doing some Overhead Shoulder Presses?
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