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Resistance Training: Why we all should be doing it

Resistance training (or strength training) is a type of physical exercise used to strengthen and increase the size of the muscles by the use of muscle contraction against resistance. It basically means using an external force to make your muscles work harder. This can be done by using weights (e.g. dumbbells), weight machines, resistance bands/tubes and body weight. It is an important part of a well-rounded fitness program because of the following reasons:

  • In our 30s and onward we begin to gradually lose muscle –resistance training can help to slow this down or even reverse the ageing process by building muscle mass and strength.

  • It can help to prevent osteoporosis as resistance training can help to increase bone density

  • It can lead to better coordination, balance, posture and mobility

  • Improved muscle strength and tone can prevent injury

  • Muscle burns fat so a higher ratio of muscle means that you have a better metabolism

  • It is great for overall well being - stronger muscles will help with everyday tasks (e.g. shopping, lifting children, everyday tasks), increased self esteem

Depending on your fitness levels; resistance training should be done two (beginners) to three times a week. When you first start lifting weights, it is best to start with a lighter weight and then to gradually progress to heavier weights to help prevent injury. It is important to start lighter as you need to be able to maintain correct form during the exercise and it will be easier to practise this. It is also good to take a whole body approach and work all the major muscles (in the legs, arms, shoulders, back, chest and abdominal muscles).

If you are a beginner you can start with one set of 8 repetition of an exercise which can then be increased to three set s of 8-12 repetitions as you become more confident and stronger. As you become more advanced there are different ways to train that will make resistance training more interesting and challenging.

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