Let’s get active! In general, adults should try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity at least 5 days per week. Specifically, resistance training should be incorporated into that schedule at least two days per week for a well-rounded exercise regimen.
What is Resistance Training?
Resistance training, or muscle strengthening exercises, utilize weight to increase muscle mass and endurance. Strong muscle boosts metabolism, prevents injury, and accomplishes everyday activities.
Resistance training can be achieved through the following:
No equipment? No Problem! Use weighted items that you can find around your home, like water bottles or wear a backpack that is weighed down with items inside.
- Body weight exercises with little or no equipment, such as pushups, squats, and planks.
- The use of resistance bands or free weights such as dumbbells, medicine balls, or kettlebells.
- Weight machines that focus on individual areas of the body. Various machines are available at your local gym or can be purchased for in-home use.
Benefits of Resistance Training
- Prevents Chronic Disease: Muscle strengthening exercises can decrease body fat percentage, stabilize blood sugar levels, and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Therefore, they reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
- Strengthens Muscles and Bones: Resistance training protects and optimizes the function of your bones, joints, and muscles. Not only does it increase bone density, but it can also improve balance, coordination, and posture. This is particularly critical in preventing injury or falls as you age.
- Improves Quality of Life: Maintaining muscle tone will ensure that your body can successfully perform everyday activities, such as climbing stairs, cleaning the house, or grocery shopping. In addition, strength training can ease inflammation and increase blood flow, enhancing memory, mood, and sleep quality.
- Supports Weight: Muscle strengthening is an excellent approach to weight loss and long-term maintenance. Increasing muscle will jumpstart your metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories at rest.
Incorporating resistance training into your fitness routine a minimum of two days per week is recommended. Be sure to focus on all major muscle groups, including legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms. You can engage in full-body workouts or split your days into upper and lower-body movements. Standard muscle strengthening activities are performed in repetitions or complete movements, sets, or a series of complete movements. For example:
- One squat = one repetition.
- 8-12 squats = one set.
Aim for at least one set per muscle-strengthening movement. Resistance training is most effective when you can reach muscle fatigue or when it’s difficult to complete another repetition. Gradually increasing reps and weight over time will challenge the muscle fibers and encourage them to grow.
Pro Tip: Always be cognizant of your form and technique when performing strength training exercises. Slow and controlled movements will prevent injury and isolate the proper muscle groups.
Tips for Adding Muscle-Building Activities Into Your Busy Life
You don’t need a gym membership or fancy equipment to reach your fitness goals. Body weight movements, such as squats or lunges, are just as effective for increasing muscle mass. Bonus? You can perform them anywhere!
- Deskercise. If you’re tied to your desk, you can multitask while talking on the phone or reading your email. Add a series of calf raises side crunches, or desk pushups to work your muscles when you can’t step away. You can even use cost-effective equipment, such as resistance bands or hand weights, for an extra challenge.
- Maximize Your “Me” Time. If you’re craving some downtime, perform resistance exercises while you watch your favorite TV show. Couch squats, triceps dips, and seated crunches can all be done in the comfort of your living room. You aren’t even required to leave the couch!
- Tap into Your Creative Side. Need to cook dinner or do some light cleaning? Throw in muscle-strengthening movements! Perform leg lifts or standing side crunches while stirring your food or walking lunges while vacuuming. The possibilities are endless.
- Make it a Family Affair. Participate in an obstacle course with your kids that include various movements, such as squats or pushups. Take your dog or kids for a walk in a hilly neighborhood for added leg resistance. Have a dance party to your favorite music. These activities will not only increase muscle tone but offer a cardiovascular boost!
No matter the route you choose, inserting muscle-strengthening exercises into your week can provide various long-term health benefits. If your healthcare provider has given you restrictions for resistance training due to a medical condition, please be familiar with the restrictions or consult your doctor before starting a resistance training routine. Everyone’s fitness journey will differ, so listen to your body’s cues and choose compatible movements.
By, Coach Kaliegh