Are you lifting weights?
Why the hell not?
If resistance training isn't a big part of your training schedule you'd better have a damned good reason!
The list of benefits associated with resistance training is as long as my arm, for the sake of this article I'm going to give you three of the best reasons you should be lifting weights, NOW!
The stimulus that strength/ resistance training elicits on the anatomy surrounding your joints has been proven (by science no less!) to reduce the risk of injury to said joint(s), improve joint stability and structural integrity.
A correct weight lifting stimulus will cause adaptations to occur that will simultaneously strengthen tendons, muscle and bone.
1) Let’s start with the tendons...
Applying this stressor to your tendons (Tendons are connective tissues that attach muscle to bone) causes your body to generate a stronger cohesion between tendon and bone. Tendons have also been seen to lose some of their stiffness with age, potentially making them more prone to injury and/or tendon stress. Recent evidence has shown that these symptoms can be alleviated by the application of resistance training.
2) It's good news for your bones too...
At present it is estimated that 300,000 people in Ireland have Osteoporosis. One in 5 men and 1 in 2 women over 50 will develop a fracture due to Osteoporosis in their lifetime. (irishosteoporosis.ie)
That’s a pretty scary prospect and of course there are many factors that contribute to these stats... lack of vitamin D and poor nutrition being just two of them. However there is definitely light at the end of this tunnel.
The loading of skeletal tissue during a specific resistance training programme causes an adaptation called bone modelling, a process whereby protein molecules are deposited between the cells in the bone forming a bone matrix which then mineralise as calcium phosphate crystals, becoming a rigid structure. This structure forms predominantly on the outer surface of the bone, making those bones denser, thicker and of course stronger.
3) Not to mention your muscles!
During the very first stages of a strength/ resistance programme the changes occurring to skeletal musculature are generally, mostly neural adaptations- the development of more efficient neural pathways along the route to the muscle, learned greater motor unit recruitment (nerve impulses that cause contraction) and the inhibition of neural protective mechanisms- essentially your central nervous system and your muscles learn to work better as a team.
In the longer term the growth of a muscle (hypertrophy) is the collective result of the growth in number and size of contractile protein filaments, an increase in the amount of fluid in the muscle (Sarcoplasm) and possible increases in the connective tissue surrounding the muscle fibres.
This is the best bit; creating denser, thicker and stronger musculature will give your body definition, tone and shape. Muscle uses the most amount of energy too and so by increasing your lean body mass you'll automatically increase the amount of energy (kcals) you burn throughout your day, meaning you’ll be able to eat more!
Stressing your muscles in this way also creates a far superior nutrient portioning effect than any other type of training. This means that what you eat post workout will likely head straight to your muscles to help them recover and away from the dreaded fat cells.
Give the treadmills and crosstrainers the boot for a little while and try your hand at lifting weights, you won't regret it!
To help you get started, check out our instructional videos at the Access Fitness Dublin Youtube channel.