Muscle Strengthening exercises – Your insight into Resistance Training
Recent medical guidance recommends doing muscle strengthening activities at least twice a week.
Muscle strengthening activities involve using your body weight or working against a resistance such as a resistance band, free weights or kettle bells.
Strength Training is as important as physical activity.
The UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) advise that activities should ideally use major muscle groups in the upper and lower body and to carry on until the muscles feel temporarily ‘tired out’, so you are unable to repeat the exercise until you’ve rested for a short period.
This article is the first in a series on Resistance Training, also known as Strength Training, which will provide all you need to know to get started and to keep going, helping you to maintain your body for years to come. There are numerous activities and ways to carry out resistance training, it is simple to start and you don’t necessarily need equipment.
Why should I make the effort?
We are all aware that we get health benefits from exercise, but there are as many benefits from resistance training. With time, your body should also get leaner and stronger. If we don’t maintain it, we lose quality of life and make daily tasks harder.
What is it exactly?
Resistance training is training against any force. There are two types- bodyweight training, also known as internal load and external load training where you work to overcome an external force.
You may already be training without realising it, however it is still good to switch up your activity, you will get varied benefits from different activities.
Hiking, indoor climbing, bouldering, rock climbing, sprinting and jumping are all types of internal load resistance training. Other activities such as yoga, Pilates, calisthenics and circuit training or HIIT are also often associated with “internal load” training. This form focusses on bodyweight-based training, where you complete movements targeting a specific muscle group or movement.
Weightlifting or a sport where you are in direct opposition with others such as judo or rugby are examples of external load resistance training, these activities involve you overcoming an external force.
Weightlifting allows you to target specific muscle groups to develop either size or strength or you can incorporate larger, full body movements such as back squats, deadlifts, overhead press, Olympic lifting and carrying / pushing activities.
Some forms of resistance training involve no expense including hill walking, sprinting and walking up steps these activities can be done with no initial outlay to effectively complete resistance training. You can also access HiiT routines online, there are a number of sites offering routines produced by qualified instructors.
If you choose to join a gym there are 24-hour access gyms from as little as £10 a month which will suffice for many people.
Where do I start?
Squats, lunges, press ups and sits ups all strengthen your muscles and you could start today. Physical Activity including hiking, indoor climbing, rock climbing, sprinting, jumping, yoga, Pilates, calisthenics, circuit training or HIIT are all types of resistance training that you can start easily.
Watch this space for follow up articles.
Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include:
- lifting weights
- working with resistance bands
- heavy gardening – digging and shovelling
- climbing stairs
- hill walking
- push-ups, sit-ups and squats
What are the benefits of strength and flexibility activities?
Muscle-strengthening activities help maintain the ability to perform everyday tasks and slow down the rate of bone and muscle loss associated with ageing. Such exercises can also help reduce your chances of falling. Health professionals believe that improving your flexibility can improve your posture, reduce aches and pains and lower your risk of injury. Good flexibility can also help you to continue carrying out everyday tasks.