Calorie and Energy Expenditure Information
What is Resistance Exercise?
Resistance training, also called strength training, involves working the muscles against a form of resistance - typically a weight, although it also includes resistance offered by (say) an increased incline during walking, or bicycle pedals. Resistance exercise helps improve two key components of physical fitness: muscle strength and muscle endurance. It also increases bone mineral density, to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. By improving your muscle-to-fat ratio (thus reducing your body fat percentage) resistance exercise increases metabolic rate (the rate you burn calories) and therefore helps weight control.
How Resistance Training Improves Muscle Fitness
Resistance training increases muscle strength by putting an extra amount of strain on a muscle. Point is, in order to make your muscles stronger, you need to work them against some form of resistance, either from weights or gravity. For example, during a weight-training workout, the muscles are compelled to work harder to offset the resistance offered by the weight being lifted or moved. This increased load stimulates the growth of small proteins inside each muscle cell that play a central role in the ability of the muscle to generate force. Effective resistance training workouts include the use of freeweights, weight machines and specific calisthenics (eg. push-ups, chin-ups and squat thrusts) that force different muscle groups to lift your body weight against the resistance of gravity..
Resistance Training Improves Bone Strength
Fitness experts have long advised women to engage in aerobic, weight-bearing exercise to increase their bone mass and so prevent the osteoporosis that can follow menopause. Recent studies have shown that resistance training is also effective at increasing bone density, and in fact, may be more effective than aerobic training. For example, a small study at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center at Tufts University in Boston found an increase in bone mineral density of the hip and spine among post-menopausal women who performed regular resistance training. Muscle strength and balance were also improved.
Resistance Training Improves Heart Health
Resistance training offers several cardiovascular benefits. It is beneficial for reducing heart disease risk factors, and is helpful in cardiac rehabilitation after a heart attack. For example, a Canadian cardiac rehabilitation study looked at the effects of resistance training among men recovering from heart attacks. All 57 of the participants underwent aerobic exercise rehabilitation, and all had resistance training at low, medium or high intensity. Maximum strength increased in the low intensity resistance group by 10 percent, 12 percent in the medium group, and 14 percent in the high intensity group. Thirty of the men had heart complications (abnormal rhythms, chest pain, blood pressure fluctuations) during the aerobic exercise, but only one had cardiac problems during resistance training, demonstrating that not only was it beneficial, but perhaps safer. Further research, however, is needed to confirm these results.
How Often to Do Resistance Workouts?
Providing you exercise at the right intensity level, (see below), you should do strength or resistance training on a minimum of 2 days per week, with at least 1 day in between each workout.
How Hard Should Resistance Workouts Be?
When you first start resistance training, exercise at a low intensity (eg. lift lighter weights, with fewer repetitions), then gradually increase intensity as your body gets stronger and adapts to the new work load. After about 3-4 weeks, you should be performing at an intensity high enough to stimulate the muscles to grow stronger. Most people are able to workout at a relatively high intensity without fear of injury, as long as they have progressed gradually and received good instruction.
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