One of the biggest myths in fitness is that exercise falls into two separate areas. On the one side, cardio is the go-to for weight loss and health. On the other, weight-lifting is just there for big, bulky muscles and strength gains. This could not be more incorrect!
Whilst we should all be using our opportunity to get out and about for cardio - maybe take a walk, jog or bike ride, it is important to not forget that resistance exercise will benefit you much more - particularly if weight management is your aim!
Resistance training is physical exercise using any resistance against your muscle, making it contract to push against the force. Your muscle builds in strength and size by having to match the force of the weight pushing against it, so to continue to build muscle you need to increase the weight of resistance to always outweigh the muscle, making your muscles work hard to contract and push the weight.
If you’re wondering what makes all this hard work worthwhile, here are my top five reasons you need resistance training.
1. It burns energy and fat You’d better believe it! This is partly because of the EPOC effect: Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Your body uses extra oxygen to help recovery and return to a pre-exercise state, which in turn raises your metabolism, so you keep burning calories even after your workout is done. It turns out that resistance training, particularly high-intensity, provides the best EPOC effect (yes, even better than jogging). Plus, when you build lean muscle, you increase the muscle fibres in your body, and muscle is more ‘metabolically active’ than fat, meaning that your body burns more energy just to stay fit. How great is that?
2. It shapes your body Those lean and toned limbs can’t happen without resistance training. If you want to guide your body transformation and overall shape, muscle-building is the only way to go. This doesn’t mean you’ll end up bulky like a bodybuilder (unless that’s what you want!). Women tend to have lower testosterone than men, which makes building bulging muscles more difficult, so you can’t really do it accidentally. What resistance training can get you is a sleeker body and toned shape, including lean legs and those peachy glutes we love.
3. It helps protect your joints When muscles have the strength and functionality to take the brunt of your body’s movements, they’ll actually help to protect the joints too! Not only is this great news for people who want to do high-impact physical activities safely, but it can also reduce everyday pain or discomfort caused by a sedentary lifestyle. For example, strong glutes and core can protect you against back pain by keeping your posture correct and taking pressure off the spine – if you’re someone who sits at a desk all day, you’ll really need this.
4. It will give you everyday strength and confidence If you’ve just been sticking to cardio, you might be lean and trim, but you might not be very strong. This means you probably struggle with everyday tests of strength, like lifting heavy things, carrying bags, even climbing steep inclines. Resistance training makes you more capable and strong, and that does amazing things for your confidence. Resistance training is about more than having the best-looking bod possible. It’s about finding the best version of yourself and seeing how much you can achieve.
5. It increases bone density It’s a fact of life that our bone density naturally decreases as we get older. But you don’t have to take that sitting down: when you get up and start lifting, pressing and pulling weights, the impact of resistance training forces the bones to fuse together and become denser. Resistance training is one of the only ways you can actually improve bone density. This means you have a better chance of staying healthy and active further down the track.