Over the next three articles we are diving deeper into some common exercise terms. We, as health professionals, frequently see “resistance “, “aerobic “ and “flexibility” prescribed as modalities for exercise and, without further explanation, we can be just as confused as you!!
To clarify, we will breakdown each of these types of exercise, discussing the benefits and drawbacks of each and focusing on why you should include these methods in your exercise routine.
WHAT IS RESISTANCE TRAINING?
Have you ever been told - “Perform resistance based exercise 3 times per week for 30-40 minutes“?
If you ask us, that is a pretty open ended instruction and many people don't really understand what this means. Most people assume resistance training is weight training, but this is not necessarily the case.
By definition, resistance based exercise is: “Exercise in which a muscle contraction is opposed by force to increase strength or endurance.” Put simply, resistance training is intended to develop strength by building muscle. It is a form of training in which you're working against some type of force that "resists" your movement.
'Force' can be implemented not only by free weights and weights machines, but also with body weight in a yoga class, resistance bands in pilates, water resistance in aquarobics, contractions of your muscles and even gravity. The options for resistance training are many and varied and an exercise physiologist can recommend suitable exercises for your individual circumstances.
BENEFITS OF RESISTANCE TRAINING
Resistance training as a modality has some amazing benefits, including:
Assists in weight loss,
Increases muscle size, tone and strength,
Improves speed, agility and overall ability,
Reduces the risk of chronic disease - cardiovacular, metabolic and respiratory,
Improve movement and strength for dysfunctional movements, such as Parkinson’s disease, MVA and stroke.
It can even make us look better!!!
The list goes on...
Now that we know how resistance exercise can benefit our health and wellbeing, let’s talk about different types of intervention. Some forms of resistance training may not be appropriate for your personal circumstances, which is why we recommend consulting with your exercise physiologist to design a program that works towards your goals, whilst taking into account any unique risks. This results in the best evidence based exercise prescription.
There are many types of resistance training and below we will focus on three of the major types
Wikipedia defines strength training as "involves the performance of physical exercises which are designed to improve strength and endurance”. Strength training focuses on building components of fitness whilst targeting specific body parts or areas. By focusing on specific areas you can gain more individualised benefits. Specific areas include:
Shoulder and arms
Strength training exercise components can be broken down into:
Plyometrics, also known as jump training,
Depending on your goals traditional strength programs utilise variations of sets, reps, rest intervals, speed of exercise, intensity, volume, load, frequency. All these combine to build ‘strength’ for that certain area.
If you commit to a strength training program you can expect to see results after about 6 weeks. However there are some things to consider when first starting a strength training program, including:
Start with a short, simple program.
Choose the right amount of weight to lift. The key is to use weights that are not too light and not too heavy. You'll know it's too light if you can do an entire set with minimal effort. It's too heavy if your form is sacrificed or it just feels too taxing. Just right is a challenging effort that you can do with proper form and control and without excess strain.
Focus on form. Good form means you get the benefits of the workout whilst avoid injuries. To maintain proper form, pay attention to your posture, move slowly and remember to breathe.
Give yourself at least a day of rest to recover. Rest days are crucial for building lean muscle tissue and preventing injury.
Aim to challenge yourself, but don't overdo it. The first few weeks, focus on learning how to do each exercise rather than on how much weight you're lifting or how many exercises you're doing.
Mix things up. Over time add more weight and change the exercises to see better results.
2. CIRCUIT TRAINING
Wikipedia defines circuit training as "a form of body conditioning or endurance training or resistance training using high-intensity aerobics. It targets strength building and muscular endurance.”
Circuit training is general exercise with less focus on specific muscles/areas but more so on the overall picture. The reps, sets and overall volume are higher therefore improving our strength but also our endurance-which leads to more health benefits. Circuit training combines the theory of strength training in a more manageable and achievable method to deliver both strength and cardiovascular benefit.
Circuit training is a popular form of group exercise and can be a fun way to develop strength and endurance. Always pay attention to how you feel throughout a circuit training session and be sure to exercise at a level that is appropriate for you. a good circuit instructor will be aware of each persons individual limits and needs.
3. FUNCTIONAL TRAINING
Functional training is a classification of exercise which involve training the body for the activities performed in daily life. This is achieved through movements that mimic everyday activities. Functional training is a new buzzword, however the concept has been around for some time.
Traditional strength focuses on specific muscles or areas, whereas functional training uses similar principles applied to the movements associated with daily tasks. If we break down our days into common movements, then we can improve our efficiency and therefore improve our overall health.
Functional exercises train your muscles to work together and can be modified to suit both beginner and advanced exercise routines. The seven movement patterns generally incorporated into functional training are squat, lunge, push, pull, hinge, twist, and walk - these are the movements your body relies on to get things done every day.
Functional training can be as specific as exercise intervention to perform your job more easily or as simple as exercise to manage your weight, cardiovascular health and keep a good level of strength to play with your kids or grandkids. By making the goal specific to life we can use the previous mentioned methods to tailor our exercise prescription.
Although we have only scratched the surfaces of types of resistance training and the appropriateness for you, it ALL comes down to your goals and your current health and fitness. By using those two determining factors as your driving force all other variables can be tailored for the best outcomes. Call us on 07 5456 1599 and make an appointment with one of our accredited exercise physiologists and start seeing improvements in all aspects of your life.
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Wian van Heerden