Benefits of Resistance Training

Peanut butter without jelly?

Macaroni without cheese?

Batman without Robin?

Cardio without resistance/weight training?  You get it.  One isn’t as good without the other.  We all know cardio strengthens the heart and lungs, assists in weight loss, promotes better sleep, and reduces stress.  But what about strength training? 

For many, strength training, also known as resistance training, can be somewhat intimidating.  Often times the mind goes straight to images of Arnold and Olympic power lifters grunting in the gym, lifting huge weight loads.  However, resistance training in its simplest form is making muscles work against weight or force.  This force could be bands, dumbbells, barbells, machines, and even body weight. 

Did you know that in our 20s we start losing muscle mass and by the time we enter our 60’s, that loss becomes even more significant?  That’s why resistance training is crucial for building stronger muscles, which assists us in all the activities we do on a daily basis.  Using resistance makes going upstairs easier, reaching down more efficiently to pick things up, and perhaps most importantly, reducing the risk of injury because bones don’t wok alone.  Every time you move, bones, joints, and muscles must work together…. So, the stronger the muscle, the more protection you will have with your skeletal system. 

Here are some more benefits of resistance training:

  • Helps develop strong bones by increasing bone density, thus reducing the likelihood of osteoporosis.
  • Assists in managing weight by increasing metabolism and burning more calories.  Don’t fall into the rut of thinking cardio is the only way to burn calories.  Taking shorter rest periods between sets allows the heart rate to stay higher, giving you a greater metabolic/fat burning boost.
  • When done properly it can help manage chronic conditions such as arthritis, lower back pain, and even heart disease.
  • Can improve balance and stability.

If you are just getting started with a resistance training regimen, start out slow and conservative.  You can reap the benefits of resistance training 2 days a week, for as little as 20 minutes per session.  Start with something simple like 6-10 exercises. 

If you already have a base, make sure you are incorporating compound  (engaging 2 or more different joints to engage the entire muscle group) movements into your training.

Here are some more ideas to get those muscles fired up:

  • Supersets. perform 2 exercises back to back with little to no rest.  It’s great if you are short on time, and working this way also builds muscle mass.
  • Take a LesMills BODYPUMP™ class.  Not only is it a major calorie burner with EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) but the hour flies by and you’ll leave feeling stronger!
    BODYPUMP™ as well as some other LesMills formats, are available at your local Y and included with your Y membership. Download the Gateway Region YMCA mobile app for a full class schedule. 
  • Find a partner to work out with.  This is especially important if you are lifting heavier loads and need a spotter. 

So pick up those dumbbells, grab a band, find a machine.  Just start working those muscles against force.  Your body needs it, wants it and will pay you back with better, long-term health and wellness!

***Like all exercise, it’s highly recommended to consult a physician before you begin training.


Written by: Jennifer Stack from the Wildwood Family YMCA
Jennifer is a NASM certified Personal Trainer, and instructor for CXWORX™, BODYPUMP™, HIIT, and Queenax.

All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and/or contributors and not of their employer.
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