Over the years I have never really focused much on strength or resistance training – yes I have done the odd body pump class, and I used to play with resistance bands for swimming training … but I never really had it as an integral part of my routine.
In the summer I did a “beginners guide to strength training” by Muscle and Fitness, and also focused on strength training as part of my PT course … and I tell you – it’s amazing and I can’t believe I lived without it!!
So here are my top 5 benefits of resistance training:
1. Performance in other sports.
Strength training isn’t only beneficial for improving strength training – it has so many applications to other sports. For me it is great for my swimming, and also improves my running and cycling (gets me up those hills!). But you can apply it to an array of sports as long as you make your routine specific to the muscles groups used in that sport. It is also great for elderly too, to help keep them strong and mobile i.e. life performance! Your muscle mass declines from the age of 35 years, so look after those muscles by doing some form of resistance training 2-3 times per week.
2. Weight loss.
Our muscles are the “powerhouses” of the body, as this is where we buffer blood sugar levels and where we burn energy (in the form of carbohydrate and fats). The leaner we are / the more muscle mass we have, the higher our resting metabolic rate will be (i.e. the amount of calories we burn at rest). If you don’t want to “build” too much muscle “bulk” (which is very difficult for woman anyway!) aim for lower weights and higher reps (e.g. start with 12-15 repetitions and do this 3 times for each exercise).
3. Injury prevention
This is something that has been very important for me. Over the years as I’ve gotten older (sob!) I have had more and more injuries. Resistance training not only helps to improve muscle mass, it also improves / increases connective tissue, helping to keep your joints stable and reducing the risk of injury … awesome.
4. It’s indoors!
Sounds like a funny one, and trust me I do my fair share of running in all weathers (love a bit of snow!) BUT there are some days you just want to keep warm and avoid the rain. That’s no excuse to not exercise … grab some resistance bands or use your body weight to do some resistance work … you can even do it at home in your onesie if you so wish !!
This isn’t one that I think about on a daily basis, but as a woman I know that our bone health slowly declines as we age, and we need to work our bodies in the right way (and of course feed them the right nutrients) to minimise the risk of osteoporosis. Resistance training stimulates the bone’s building cells (it increases bone mineral density) and can actually prevent bone loss / slow the decline in bone health.
Thankfully (I guess!?) I have never had an issue with having junk in my trunk (all those ballet lessons I think!) … but of course resistance training can also help you tone up your muscles and get that Beyoncé booty you’ve been dreaming of!!
So go and enjoy some lifting! (and if you have any questions on what to do, just let me know!)