Weight Training

Weight Training

Weight training, resistance training or strength training is not just about body builders lifting big weights. It combines repetitive exercises and resistance such as free weights, weight machines and resistance bands to improve muscular strength and endurance. By exercising regularly and following a combined programme that includes both resistance and cardio training you can enjoy long term health benefits.

How to Get Started

Starting something new can be daunting at first; here are some tips to help boost your motivation levels and help get you started...

  • Set your goals and write a fitness plan, ensure your goals are achievable and realistic; you don’t want to aim too high and set yourself up to fail.
  • Remember you can use your body weight as resistance to start before including other weights in your programme.
  • Plan a minimum of 2 training sessions per week.
  • Remember to warm up before you begin and cool down at the end of your workout.
  • If you’re new to resistance training start by using light weights and increase your weights gradually. Remember if you are just starting out or have lead a sedentary lifestyle start training at a low intensity.
  • If your training to improve strength and power you will need to choose weights that are heavy enough so you can complete between 8 – 12 reps before muscle failure (the point at which you can’t lift an more).
  • If you’re training to condition your muscles and improve muscle endurance you must choose lighter weights so you can comfortably complete between 15 – 20 reps before muscle failure.
  • Vary your exercises and equipment to ensure you train all major muscle groups. Doing the same exercises will yield limited results.
  • Remember to rest, it’s important to allow enough time between training sessions to allow your muscles to recover fully. If you workout with sore muscles then you will be unable to train at your full potential.
  • Maximise your ongoing range of motion by stretching your muscles after each workout.

Free Weights & Resistance Machines

Using free weights means you can train in a natural and versatile way, although they can be a little harder to get used to than resistance machines. Research suggests that free weights provide some quicker strength benefits as more balance and co-ordination is needed. Your exercise programme can adopt a more functional approach due to the versatility of exercises you can perform. Free weights tend to work larger muscle groups than fixed path machines that tend to isolate smaller muscle groups, and they also have a greater affect on our joint stabilising muscles.

Resistance machines can be a little easier to use as they follow a fixed path limiting the room for error that can lead to injury. However resistance machines work each side of our body equally making it harder to work on any muscle imbalances. The fixed path also limits any exercise variations. Resistance machines are supportive making them a great addition to some rehab programmes as they allow more control and focus on muscle isolation.

Will Resistance Training Help Weight Loss?

Yes, resistance training combined with a cardio programme and a well balanced nutritional plan is certainly the most effective way to aid weight loss, remember we must obtain the correct balance from our intake of calories with those that we burn to achieve this.

Resistance training will certainly develop muscular strength and definition but visually, you will see minimal results if your muscles are surrounded by body fat. A cardio programme will help to reduce body fat and provide a solid base to starting a resistance training programme. Although we can choose which muscle groups we work, genetics doesn’t allow us to choose which area of the body to lose fat from first. So your best plan of action to tackle weight loss is to combine regular full body cardio workouts, with a calorie reduced diet together with resistance training to tone the muscles.

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