Since the early 1970’s when Arnold Schwarzenegger lifted the profile of body building, resistance training has fast become the preferred training method in men and to an extent woman. The typical form of resistance training used by most is weightlifting. This is not the only form of resistance training however, but will be the focus of this article. There are benefits to be gained from doing weight training for people of all ages, so what exactly are they and how do you benefit from this form of exercise?
Resistance training works on the bodies’ neuromuscular (nerve) system creating changes in the muscle fibers size, strength, power and endurance. The affects differ depending on the; intensity of the training, the number of repetitions and sets, and the number of sets per workout. The basic routine, that people use in the gym, are doing exercises in 3 sets of 10 repetitions at a moderate to heavy weight.
These programs show initial gain but are not successful in long term continuous gains in muscle size and strength. Some pointers to increase the affects of your training are:
• Changing your routines at least every 6 - 8 weeks.
• Mixing up the sets and repetitions of the exercises.
• If you want to increase size you should be doing 8 – 12 repetitions in a set
• If you want to increase strength then do 4 – 6 repetitions in a set
• If you want to increase endurance than do 15+ repetitions in a set
To assist your gains in strength and muscle size work with a partner so that they can spot you incase you can’t make the repetitions. Whether or not you need help with finishing the set always finish the number of reps set out. Whatever type of program you’re doing set a weight that you can lift for the minimum number of reps set out in the guideline. When you can lift that weight for the maximum number of reps in the guidelines, increase the weight so your repetitions go back to the lowest number in the guidelines.
Now before we continue, most females worry about becoming overly muscular from engaging in weight training. The main factor attributing to muscular growth is the hormone Testosterone. This is a male hormone and is only found in small amounts in women. Because of this it’s not possible to bulk up the way that a man would when performing a resistance training program. After reading the affects of resistance training however perhaps women will be in the gym just as much as the men.
The neuromuscular system is the most responsive system in the body to training. In some individuals up to a 100% increase in strength can be seen in the first 6 months, no matter where you are in your lifespan. Now the majority of people believe that strength gains are a result of muscular hypertrophy (growth). This is not the only way the body gains strength from resistance training; however it is probably the one that is most beneficial to most people. There are two types of muscular hypertrophy, transient and chronic. Transient is the pumping up of muscles directly after a single bout of exercise. It’s why guys go to the gym before they head out for a night on the town. This hypertrophy however is short lived and predominantly fluid accumulation (edema) in and around the muscle.
Chronic hypertrophy refers to the increase in muscle size due to long term resistance training. These are structural changes to the muscle where the fibers increase in size (hypertrophy) or number (hyperplasia).
So when you have this extra muscle bulk other than strength gains what does it do for you?
Now listen up ladies because this is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Fat doesn’t require a fuel source to be in your body, it is a fuel source. Muscle on the other hand needs fuel to allow it to function. When you’re not engaging in physical activity your body derives most of its fuel source from fat.
So if you have a larger amount of muscle needing more energy than before where do you think it will get this energy from? That’s right people, from your fat stores. This means by doing weights you’ll be reducing the amount of body fat while you’re not doing anything.