Everything you need to know about resistance training. As told by Julia Sullivan, for Women's Health
Updated: Dec 7, 2021
Resistance training is a fundamental part of all of our Barre workouts but you might not be aware of just how great this type of training is for your body! Julia Sullivan, CPT (a New York City-based writer, indoor rowing instructor, outdoor enthusiast and powerlifter) has written a great article for Women's Health giving you all the essential info you need to know about resistance training! Here it is;
If you've been working on your fitness, you've probably heard the term resistance training by now. You've probably even heard it used interchangeably with strength training perhaps. They are, in fact, very similar to the whole rectangle and square sitch you learned about in geometry class.
That is to say, strength training is a type of resistance training, but not all resistance training is going to help you get stronger. “So, you can think of strength training as a subset of resistance training, in which you have a specific goal in mind," says Sohee Lee, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and Women’s Health advisory board member.
What is resistance training, then? Simply put: Resistance training encompasses any type of exercise in which your muscles have to overcome some sort of oppositional force, whether from equipment (like dumbbells, kettlebells, or resistance bands) or even just your bodyweight, Lee explains. That means HIIT, plyometrics, Pilates, and yoga all count as resistance training, too. (Although not included in Julia's list, Barre fits into the same category as these workouts).
Some types can help you get stronger, while others will aid in improving your muscular endurance, speed, agility, power, or reaction times.
4 Big Benefits You’ll Reap From Resistance Training
Resistance training can help you improve your health and fitness in a number of different ways. "With resistance training, you can change your body composition (i.e. your ratio of lean muscle mass to body fat), improve your cardio fitness level, boost your mental health, and just have fun,” says Lee. Yes—you heard that right. Exercise. Fun. (And as someone who adopted powerlifting, I can fully attest that there is no more exciting adrenaline rush than picking up and slamming a barbell. Promise.) In case you need some more convincing, though, here are four of the most prominent benefits you’ll see from a resistance training routine.
1. It'll make your heart and bones stronger.
Less than an hour of lifting weights per week may reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke by upwards of 40 to 70 per cent, according to one Similarly, Iowa State University study. What's more: Weight-bearing exercises improve bone density and prevent bone loss, which is a key factor in preventing age-related fractures down the line, according to research published in the journal Endocrinology and Metabolism.
2. You’ll reduce your risk of injury.
Stronger muscles don’t just mean extra strength and power. Resistance training actually increases your ligaments' flexibility and promotes balance among your muscles, which help you avoid common movement-related injuries, according to a British Journal of Medicine study.
3. You'll increase your lean muscle mass
If one of your fitness goals is to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, then adding resistance training to your workout routine is essential, according to experts. “Building muscle is actually quite difficult,” says Lee. And, good news for beginners: “The less experience you have, the faster your gains will be in the beginning,” Lee says. Basically, you'll see a satisfying change in your body composition (how much muscle versus fat you have) straight away after embarking on a resistance training program. For more advanced exercisers, the key is to be consistent with your workouts and continue to progressively challenge your bod. This could mean lifting with heavier weights, working at different tempos, or increasing your rep volume or intensity level on the regular.
4. It can help boost your mental health
While improved body composition, heart and bone protection, and injury prevention are obviously worthy reasons to start resistance training, the biggest, possibly most important benefit is a bit more intangible. People with mild to moderate depression who resistance trained at least two days per week experienced a significant reduction in symptoms, according to one 2018 JAMA Psychiatry study. And in people who weren’t flagged for depression beforehand? A single workout equalled a substantial mood boost.
3 Major Types of Resistance Training
Not only is this the most accessible form of resistance training, but it's the ideal place for beginners to start getting familiar with common movement patterns so that they can perfect their form and avoid injuries later when they start lifting heavier loads.
2. Resistance Bands
“Resistance bands are easily portable, low-cost, can be used anywhere, and are ideal for beginners,” explains trainer Norma Lowe, CPT. “They offer a very safe level of resistance.” Plus, they're a great alternative to free weights because the added instability they supply increases muscle activation, making them as effective as dumbbells for upper-body moves, in particular, per recent research published in the Journal of Human Kinetics.
3. Free Weights
This is Lee’s fav type of resistance—for good reason. “Using weights offers you a straightforward way to measure your progress over time,” she notes. “As you add more weight, you know you're getting stronger. If you’re looking to achieve a toned look, weights should be your go-to.”Don’t feel like you need dumbbells, kettlebells, or barbells, either. Household objects like filled backpacks and gallon jugs work just as well. Medicine balls, ankle weights, and weighted vests also fit the bill.
Julia gives a great overview of the benefits of resistance training here and if you're already a Barre addict, hopefully, you can see how this type of training is very much a part of our workouts already! If you're still to be convinced then head over to our Instabook platform and grab your free 7-day trial pass!