- exercises undertaken
- intensity (weights used)
- frequency of sessions
- rest between sets.
Health benefits of resistance training
Physical and mental health benefits that can be achieved through resistance training include:
- improved muscle strength and tone – to protect your joints from injury
- maintaining flexibility and balance, which can help you remain independent as you age
- weight management and increased muscle-to-fat ratio – as you gain muscle, your body burns more kilojoules when at rest
- may help reduce or prevent cognitive decline in older people
- greater stamina – as you grow stronger, you won’t get tired as easily
- prevention or control of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, back pain, depression and obesity.
- pain - management
- improved mobility and balance
- improved posture
- decreased risk of injury
- increased bone density and strength and reduced risk of osteoporosis
- improved sense of wellbeing – resistance training may boost your self-confidence, improve your body image and your mood
- improved sleep and avoidance of insomnia
- increased self-esteem
- enhanced performance of everyday tasks.
Basic principles of resistance training
Resistance training consists of various components. Basic principles include:
- program – your overall fitness program is composed of various exercise types such as aerobic training, flexibility training, strength training and balance exercises
- weight – different weights of resistance, for example a 5kg rubber band weight or multiple weight, will be used for different exercises during your strength training session
- exercise – a particular movement, for example a calf-raise, is designed to strengthen a particular muscle or group of muscles.
- repetitions or reps – refers to the number of times you continuously repeat each exercise in a set
- set – is a group of repetitions performed without resting, for example, two sets of squats by 15 reps would mean you do 15 squats then rest muscles before doing another 15 squats
- rest – you need to rest between sets. Rest periods vary depending on the intensity of exercise being undertaken
- variety – switching around your workout routine, such as regularly introducing new exercises, challenges your muscles and forces them to adapt and strengthen
- progressive overload principle – to continue to gain benefits, strength training activities need to be done to the point where it’s hard for you to do another repetition. The aim is to use an appropriate weight or resistant force that will challenge you, while maintaining good technique. Also, regular adjustments to the training variables, such as frequency, duration, exercises for each muscle group, number of exercises for each muscle group, sets and repetitions, help to make sure you progress and improve
- recovery – muscle needs time to repair and adapt after a workout. A good rule of thumb is to rest the muscle group for up to 48 hours before working the same muscle group again.
Resistance training for beginners
It recommended that you undertake strength building activities at least two days a week. These activities should work all the major muscle groups of your body (legs, hips, back, chest, core, shoulders, and arms).
Starting resistance training
To start, a typical beginner’s strength training program involves:
- eight to ten exercises that work the major muscle groups of the body and are performed two to three times per week
- beginning with one set of each exercise, comprising as few as eight repetitions (reps), no more than twice per week.
Your aim is to gradually increase to two to three sets for each exercise – comprising eight to 12 reps, every second or third day. Once you can comfortably complete 12 reps of an exercise, you should look at progressing further.
Warming up before resistance training
Warm up your body before starting your strength training exercises. Start with light aerobic exercise (such as walking, cycling or rowing) for around five minutes in addition to a few dynamic stretches. Dynamic stretching involves slow controlled movements through the full range of motion.
Advanced resistance training
To get the most gain from resistance training, progressively increase the intensity of your training according to your experience and training goals. This may mean increasing the weight of the bands, changing the duration of the contraction (the time during which you sustain holding the weight at your muscle’s maximum potential), reducing rest time or increasing the volume of training.
Applying MVC to meet advanced resistance training goals
- muscle power: 1 – 6 RM per set, performed explosively
- muscle strength/power: 3 – 12 RM per set, fast or controlled
- muscle strength/size: 6 – 20 RM per set, controlled
- muscle endurance: 15 – 20 or more RM per set, controlled.
Muscle recovery during advanced resistance training
Gaining strength from advanced resistance training
Most beginners experience a rapid increase in strength, followed by a plateau or levelling-out of strength improvements. After that, gains in muscle strength and size are hard-earned.
- Increase the number of repetitions.
- Increase your workout by 10 or 15 minutes.
- Increase the frequency of workouts, keeping in mind that each muscle needs at least 48 hours of recovery time. Once you are more experienced, you may like to consider splitting body parts over the different days of the week – for example, chest, shoulders and triceps in session one, back, biceps and abdominal muscles in session two, and legs in session three.
- Switch to different exercises – for example, focus on exercises that use multiple muscle groups and that are functional or specific in nature, meaning that they relate to activities of daily living or sporting requirements.
- Increase the weight by about five to 10 per cent.
- Cross-train with other activities such as swimming or running.
- Change your workout about every four to eight weeks to keep your muscles guessing