Many individuals new to exercise are intimidated by resistance training. They may have never seen or used free weights before. It can be intimidating trying new things. We all know, humans are creatures of habit. Some individuals don’t like to be surrounded by other lifters in the free weight area at a gym because they find it intimidating. Other individuals just don’t feel comfortable lifting free weights because they lack the knowledge, and experience of proper technique.
Some individuals feel they are being judged, or compared to others while lifting free weights. Then there are individuals who are afraid they will put on too much mass from using free weights, or injure themselves. Sometimes, individuals have tried free weights, but they do not enjoy that type of resistance training. Some individuals prefer cardiorespiratory exercise over resistance training, and believe they engage in enough exercise.
What Are The Benefits of Resistance Training?
Evidence has shown that resistance training can be very beneficial to one’s health, and an important addition to an exercise program. “Resistance training, also known as strength- or weight-training, is an effective method for developing musculoskeletal fitness and is currently prescribed by many major health organizations for improving health and fitness levels, athletic performance and/or for the prevention and rehabilitation of orthopaedic injuries” (Hass et al.).
Resistance training can lead to improved body composition, cardiorespiratory fitness, blood lipids, bone mineral density, and insulin sensitivity (Benson, A.). “RT is the most effective method available for maintaining and increasing lean body mass and improving muscular strength and endurance. These improvements are developed by utilizing the progressive overload principle – gradually increasing the stress placed on the body during training” (Hass et al.).
With all the benefits resistance training offers, it would be wise to include it into your exercise routine. Even if you do not like the idea of free-weights, there are other types of resistance training you can try out.
Types of Resistance Training
✓ Body Weight
If you are someone who does not like the idea of lifting weights, maybe you should try body weight exercises. Body weight exercises are a form of strength training that does not require the use of free weights or machines because you are using your own weight as resistance against gravity. The use of body weight exercises is convenient because you can perform them almost anywhere, and do not have to spend money on equipment or a gym membership. Some common body weight exercises include push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, planks, etc.
✓ Tubing & Resistance Bands
Another alternative of resistance training is the use of elastic resistance in the shape of a band or tube, which presents practicality and possibilities of intensity modulation (Collado & Triplett). Resistance bands come in different colors based on the level of resistance they provide. The lighter colors are often lighter resistance (yellow or pink), medium colors are moderate resistance (green or red), and the darker colors are heavier resistance (grey or black). Resistance bands are convenient because you can use them to perform a variety of exercises. They are also portable, low-priced, and easy to use. Most resistance bands can be bought in a variety pack of different levels of resistance.
✓ Medicine Balls
Medicine balls are another form of resistance training that can be easily utilized. Medicine balls come in many different colors, shapes, and sizes based on their weight. They are portable, and inexpensive. Most gyms have medicine balls in the facility. Medicine balls provide a full body workout, while incorporating the core and balance. You can perform a variety of exercises with medicine balls. Some medicine balls come with handles, which makes them easier to use.
✓ Resistance Training Machines
Resistance training machines offer a fixed movement of resistance through hydraulic, selectorized, or plate-loaded resistance. The advantages of machines include a supportive structure for greater stability, fixed movement patterns for correct biomechanics, and variable resistance for better matching of resistance forces to muscle forces throughout the exercise movements (Faigenbaum). Machines help an individual learn proper form before moving on to free weights. They also can target a single muscle, isolating different muscle groups. Machines provide safety, and are easy to use.
✓ Barbells & Dumbbells
Barbells and dumbbells can come in different sizes, and weights. They range from light to heavy, so that any individual can find a weight to use during exercise. A nice benefit provided by barbells and dumbbells are the range of motion they offer. You can perform any exercise with barbells and dumbbells, while providing a variety of modifications. Barbells and dumbbells also engage the core during most exercises, and lead to great muscle hypertrophy when proper form is done.
Take Home Message
There are more types of resistance training that I did not discuss. With all the different types of resistance training, and the benefits they offer, why not try one out to see what you enjoy? Adding some form of resistance training to your exercise program will bring many benefits.