Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Why Everyone Should Do Some Resistance Training

Why Everyone Should Do Some Resistance Training

Today I’m breaking away from the nutrition stuff again, and writing more about self-improvement and training.  This piece is going to be on why, in my opinion, everyone should give resistance or weight training a go.

There are all sorts of ways to getting yourself active and improving your fitness and health, from ballet to boxing there truly is something out there for everyone.  One form of training I think everyone should get involved with in some capacity is resistance training.  Resistance training is simply using some form of resistance to build muscle and strength, this can be weights, bodyweight bands etc. whatever floats your boat.

Types of resistance training
There is a huge variety of resistance training methods and protocols.  I’m not here to breakdown each one (mainly because I don’t have the knowledge to do so), but just to make you aware what’s on offer.  There are several sports that rely almost completely on resistance training these would include…

Olympic style Weightlifting
Power lifting

You also have various resistance training activity’s whether it be in a class environment or training solo

Free weight training
Bodyweight circuits

I have no doubt left some off, but the point is there are a lot out there.  You also have to bear in mind each one of these activity’s will have a plethora of protocols and programmes within them.
So why do I think everyone should do some resistance training?  I think the benefits of building strength, core stability and adding functional muscle are almost unlimited.  Ever struggled carrying your shopping down the street, or from the car?  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to pick up the bags and throw them round like an empty tracksuit? That’s just one example, what about moving furniture round the house, taking rubbish out, changing a car tire, climbing a set of stairs the list goes on.  The point is adding functional strength will help make your everyday life so much easier.

Metabolism boost and Fat Loss
Muscle mass is much more metabolically active than fat.  So essentially building and maintaining muscle mass burns a lot of energy.  If you take two people who both weigh 70kg one has a body fat percentage of 20% and the other 10%.  The person with 10% body fat, and therefore more muscle tissue, will have a higher metabolism i.e. requires more food to maintain body weight (more food, just to maintain, sounds like happy days to me).  Also weight training is one of the most effective ways of giving your metabolism a boost throughout the day. 

Here are just a few examples of studies done on resting metabolic rate and strength training…
“When all subjects were pooled together, absolute resting metabolic rate significantly increased by 7% (5928 +/- 1225 vs 6328 +/- 1336 kJ.d”

So the average resting metabolic rate went from 1416 to 1511 that’s a 7% increase.  This was achieved by strength training 3 times per week.

In a study on women between the ages of 35-50 habitual exercise including weight training was associated with higher RMR and lower body fat.  They measured the differences between active and sedentary women and their RMR was 1443 in sedentary vs 1510 in the active group and body fat % differed massively from 28.8%-18.9%.

A study in older men 50-65 saw a 7.7% increase in resting metabolic rate after a heavy resistance training programme.

Finally one a meta-analysis of 15 trials including 741 participants found resistance training was more effective than aerobic training (cardio) at improving lean body mass.  Cardio training did result in a greater total weight loss.  The way I see this is resistance training helped to increase muscle mass and reduce body fat % and that is what a lot of people are hoping to achieve, more muscle and less fat.  I should point out I am in no way hating on cardio training, I think it has its place and is important too.  I just think people focus on it a bit too much when it comes to weight loss.  In fact the same meta-analysis found that a combination of resistance and aerobic training had better outcomes than each method on their own, in terms of weight loss and lean body mass.

Body Mechanics, Posture and Balance

By adding functional muscle mass and increasing your strength you will in turn improve your body mechanics, posture and balance.  Regular everyday activities require muscles to contract and work constantly.   As you are sitting reading this now, your muscles are working to keep you upright.  Ever felt tired and achy after a long day you will notice your posture starts to droop, you’re just generally not moving as well as you should.  This poor posture and biomechanics can potentially lead to an abundance of issues and injuries.  If done properly getting stronger and adding muscle can help prevent these problems from ever occurring.

Mental Boost

Like any exercise resistance training can really boost your mood and your mental function.  It does this by raising the levels of endorphins.

In a study of older adults, the resistance training group saw improvements in the Stroop Test and in an associative memory task.

“Compared with the group doing balance and toning exercises, resistance training also led to functional changes in three regions of cortex -- the right lingual and occipital-fusiform gyri, and the right frontal pole.  Additionally, there was a significant positive correlation between change in hemodynamic activity in the right lingual gyrus and change in behavioural associative memory performance.”

So essentially their brains were performing better.  Also dropping down and ripping out a new deadlift PB feels pretty damn good!

Bone Density and Protection from Oesteoporosis
As we get older our bone density slowly decreases and that increases our risk for osteoporosis and fractures.  Diet plays a huge part in this, getting enough calcium, vitamin D and magnesium can significantly lower our risk of osteoporosis.   Resistance training has also been shown to increase bone density in humans across various age groups. 

Here is a nice quote from a review article in 2009 Exercise involving high impacts, even a relatively small amount, appears to be the most efficient for enhancing bone mass, except in postmenopausal women. Several types of resistance exercise have been tested also with positive results, especially when the intensity of the exercise is high and the speed of movement elevated”

What Type of Training Should I Do?
Not an easy question to answer because there is no perfect answer.  It’s about finding a type of training that A. you enjoy and B. gets you results. At the end of the day the best kind of diet or training is the one you enjoy and can stick to easily.  So be adventurous try different training methods or classes and see what works and what you enjoy.  It’s important you give each method a fair chance it takes time.   Say you try Crossfit and don’t really enjoy it the first time that doesn’t mean it’s not the one for you, stick with it for a couple weeks then reassess and see what you think then.  I remember the first time a tried Muay Thai I was tired, beat up pretty sure I was bleeding in several places.  I went back I gave it a fair shot and now 4 years on I love each and every session I do.  Similarly after I injured my knee I went back to doing weights.  I was weak, felt like crap, but I stuck with it kept building back up and now really enjoy weight training again.  Now I know I’m not particularly strong I don’t shift a ton of weight, but what I am doing is getting a bit better every week and that’s very motivating.

I would encourage people to gravitate more towards competitive or team environments its gives you that extra bit of motivation that extra boost.  It’s one of the main things I like about Crossfit. You’re in there it’s a very supportive almost family like atmosphere, everyone encouraging and egging each other to push that extra mile, to get that extra rep.  It’s a much more inviting atmosphere than your standard gym, much more accepting of beginners in my experience.  I am a very competitive guy I like winning and I hate losing, and this motivates me quite a lot in my training.  That’s why I think picking a resistance training style that you can actually compete it or promotes a friendly competitive atmosphere is great.  So competitive weight lifting, strongman, Crossfit or body building would fit quite nicely here.

Train Smart/Get a Trainer
There is a huge technical element to resistance training and if you do it wrong the reality is you can do yourself some serious damage.  So start slow get every movement, every lift technique nailed then slowly increase the weight.  The weight you lift should never take precedent over form and technique.  If you take two people both starting in the exact same place.  Person 1 takes their time with lower weights until they get the technique down, person 2 gets impatient has too much ego, and starts adding masses of weight as early as they can.  6 months down the line person 1 is lifting more than person 2 nine times out of ten.  This could be because person 2 has injured themselves, or hasn’t actually been activating the right muscle groups correctly, or a number of other reasons.
This is where Crossfit gets a bit of a bad rap for injuries.  The movements they use are extremely technical as they focus a lot on the Olympic lifts, which take a lot of practice and training to get right.  This is where a great coach or trainer comes in.  Getting a good coach or trainer, even if it costs you extra for private one to one sessions, is an investment in your health.  Getting proper instruction will speed up your progress and decrease your likelihood of injury I can’t stress enough how valuable a good coach or training partner can be.

Woman and Weights
Ladies don’t be scared of weight training.  It won’t make you “bulky” or “too muscular”.  I think this picture sums this misconception almost perfectly.

I do think the biggest barrier to women consistently doing weight training is the environment in most public gyms and leisure centres.  Free weight sections tend to be filled with guys and that can be quite intimidating.  I have two things to say to that 1. Most guys will respect a girl for breaking away from the cross trainers and bikes and getting into the free weights section 2.  Any guy, who does judge or react negatively to anyone trying to improve themselves in any way, is to be quite honest a bit of a dick and his opinion doesn’t matter.

Local Business
If you are reading this and you are from the Berwick area, I cannot say enough good things about Tweed Crossfit/The Fight Academy.  The gym really does have the perfect combination of fantastic instructors, great equipment and maybe above all else a genuinely positive and supportive environment.  I’m not hating on public gyms but I’ve never experienced near the family-like atmosphere anywhere else but in this gym.  From beginner to beast, Liam Holburn’s classes cater to all comers.

For more information join the Facebook pages

I currently train there, and coach some of the Muay Thai/K-1 classes, so I might be a tad biased.  But if you don’t believe me just check out what some of the members say about the gym

Joanne Robertson 
"booked in for class and didn't go as I was worried, then went one night and loved it they were so nice to me.  Liam is an amazing guy and helps so much, now a year on I go 3 or 4 times a week.  It's like a 2nd family, I would tell anyone just go give it a shot you will all love it, I do."

Julie Bell 
"I went 3 months after having my baby and carrying huge amount of excess weight. Liam totally encouraged me as did the other members-there is no people 'loving themselves' here just people trying to get their own PB but encouraging others along the way. It's totally doable-hard but doable and one of the best things I have ever done. I am currently unable due to a non sleeping baba but I will be back and I know I will be welcomed and helped along the way. I seen a huge difference in my body and my mental attitude too-not only did Liam teach me the moves (and constantly have to go over them again with me!) but he taught me to be positive about how far I had come rather than thinking how far I had to go."

So there we have it resistance training has a ton of benefits, not just for sporting performance but everyday life and body composition.  So if you are not already, get yourself to that free weights section, gym, bodyweight circuit class, box whatever you want and starting feeling the benefits.

Gilliat-Wimberly, M., Manore, M., Woolf, K., Swan, P. And Carroll, S. (2001). Effects of Habitual Physical Activity on the Resting Metabolic Rates and Body Compositions of Women Aged 35 to 50 Years. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 101(10), pp.1181-1188.

Guadalupe-Grau, A., Fuentes, T., Guerra, B. and Calbet, J. (2009). Exercise and Bone Mass in Adults. Sports Medicine, 39(6), pp.439-468.

Lemmer, J., Ivey, F., Ryan, A., Martel, G., Hurlbut, D., Metter, J., Fozard, J., Fleg, J. And Hurley, B. (2001). Effect of strength training on resting metabolic rate and physical activity: age and gender comparisons. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, pp.532-541.

Nagamatsu, L., Handy, T., Hsu, C., Voss, M., Chan, A., Davis, J., Beattie, B., Graf, P. and Liu-Ambrose, T. (2012). Resistance training promotes cognitive functions and functional plasticity in senior women with probable mild cognitive impairment: A 6-month randomized controlled trial. Alzheimer's & Dementia, 8(4), p.P82.

Schwingshackl, L., Dias, S., Strasser, B. and Hoffmann, G. (2013). Impact of Different Training Modalities on Anthropometric and Metabolic Characteristics in Overweight/Obese Subjects: A Systematic Review and Network Meta-Analysis. PLoS ONE, 8(12), p.e82853.

Sillanpää, E., Häkkinen, A., Punnonen, K., Häkkinen, K. and Laaksonen, D. (2009). Effects of strength and endurance training on metabolic risk factors in healthy 40–65-year-old men. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 19(6), pp.885-895.

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