Logan Williams, Contributing Writer
A key part of any fitness regimen is resistance training. It helps build muscle, strengthens bones, prevents injury, and gives a boost to the metabolism, which allows fat to come off easier.
But what is resistance training? And how do you do it? In its most simple form, resistance training is any workout that involves your body overcoming some type of resistance.
There are three basic types of resistance training: body weight, weights, and resistance bands. For each technique, your body is faced with a different type of resistance. This resistance causes small micro tears in skeletal muscles as they strain to overcome the force placed upon them. These micro tears heal during rest days, becoming reinforced with more muscle fibers. This causes the muscles to grow and become toned.
To illustrate resistance training in its basic form, I will walk you through a squat. Start in a standing position with your feet shoulder width apart. Now, slowly sit back as if you were going to sit in a chair. Stop once your thighs are parallel to the ground, and use only your legs to push back until you are standing with your legs straight. Don’t lock your knees!
When you bend down, you load your legs with resistance. Then when you push back up, your legs have to overcome that resistance. It can be done using only body weight, or a barbell may be used for added resistance.
Body weight exercises like this use the body to load resistance on the muscles. Many of you may already be familiar with pushups, pullups, and situps, which are all body weight exercises. Although those are the most basic, there are tons of body weight exercises. Explore all the options and decide what meets your needs.
Weight training incorporates the use of dumbbells, barbells, and cable machines to load the muscles with resistance. This type of training commonly uses exercises such as bench press, where a person lays on a bench with a barbell across their chest. The hands are shoulder width apart, arms straight, and the bar is held over the chest. While lowering the bar, the barbell’s weight transfers to the chest, shoulders, and upper arms. Pushing the bar back up causes the muscles of the arms, chest, and core to have to overcome resistance.
The basic principle of weight training is using man made objects of different weights to place stress on muscles.
Lastly is the use of resistance bands. These bands are made of rubber that when stretched, provide resistance. The main attraction of resistance bands is that they provide a constant force. With weights, once a body overcomes the initial force, the weight becomes lighter due to momentum. With resistance bands, the opposite is true. The farther a band is stretched, the more resistance it provides.
For each technique of resistance training, there are countless exercises available. YouTube is a simple tool where almost any exercise can be found. Just type in body weight exercises for arms, legs, core, or whatever you want to work on. The same is true for the other techniques.