Resistance training has been a staple in the gym since the emergence of gymnasiums and health clubs in the mid-19th century. Bigger muscles, increased strength, increased performance in sports. The obvious, outward benefits of resistance training can be seen within weeks of starting a program.
All of the benefits of resistance training aren’t just cosmetic. Over the past decade, resistance training exercise research has expanded our understanding of how the body responds to resistance training exercise. From increased brain function to signs of increased longevity, to enhanced immune response. Resistance training can provide all sorts of positive effects beyond bulging biceps and glowing glutes.
A stigma that has long been associated with resistance training is that it will reduce your flexibility. Images of muscular bodybuilders come to mind struggling to scratch their backs.
But contrary to this belief, research published in April 2021 (a meta-analysis by Alfonso et al.) showed that resistance training is just as effective as static stretching in maintaining and increasing range of motion. joints.
This most recent study is in line with previous studies. If performed in a range of painless resistance exercises, it will have positive effects on range of motion and flexibility.
Keep in mind that flexibility varies for each person. The angle of the joint, the length of the bone, the attachment site of tendons and ligaments are all aspects of an individual’s anatomy and physiology that will affect range of motion and flexibility.
Static stretching and resistance training will not be able to change the above. But they can help every individual make the most of their potential. Assuming the joint or muscle has a healthy, pain-free range of motion with proper technique, load, and reps, resistance exercise is a valid way to stay flexible while building strength. .
The musculoskeletal system steals the show when we think of the benefits of resistance training for obvious reasons. At the same time, the brain has interesting responses to training. Especially when performing moderately vigorous complex exercises such as squats, deadlifts, push-ups.
The brain needs to sense pressure on muscles and joints, body speed, or the weight you are moving, among other actions.
Scientists have been able to conduct experiments that show the prefrontal cortex is highly oxygenated while performing moderately vigorous resistance exercises, thereby improving brain white matter function.
Why is this important? The prefrontal cortex is responsible for complex thinking, problem solving, multitasking, and reasoning. So, in essence, strength training will strengthen your muscles as well as the parts of your brain that affect memory, problem solving, and complex thinking.
Age-related cognitive decline can be alleviated by developing the habit of exercising, especially strength training. Combine that with muscles strong enough for you to perform the activities of daily living, along with the coordination and flexibility to prevent falls, you can live your life with increased vitality and more independence.
It is within your reach:
- Getting the benefits of strength training can be done in a gym, park, or at home.
- Building strength can be achieved with body weight, resistance bands and of course dumbbells.
- The muscles should be worked 2-3 times a week, between 6 and 30 repetitions are effective as long as the last repetitions are difficult with good technique.
- On a scale of 1 to 10, your intensity should be between 6 and 8 on most of your sets, with 10 being maximum effort.
- Workouts can take 20 minutes with a well designed program.
Josh Klingenberg is assistant director of wellness at the Walla Walla YMCA. He is a National Strength and Conditioning Association Personal Trainer and is a Certified Functional Strength Trainer and Certified in Functional Movement Systems.