Strength for life

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An important form of exercise is resistance training which is vital for overall health and well-being. Charles Poliquin, one of the top strength coaches of this era, has stated that the single biggest factor for longevity and quality of life is how much lean muscle mass a person carries.

The type of resistance training used is dependent upon what your goals are. Generally, one can train for muscular strength and muscular endurance, but it is usually best to include both for a balanced program. Muscular strength and muscular endurance both involve a muscle exerting force against an object with the difference being that muscular endurance is done with higher repetitions.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends performing a minimum of eight to 10 exercises that train all the major muscle groups. They suggest performing eight to 12 repetitions of an exercise to be done at least twice weekly. A repetition is performing an exercise through a full range of motion one time. A set is a group of repetitions.

In order to keep seeing results, your resistance training program needs to be progressive. This can be achieved by increasing the amount of sets or reps performed, decreasing the rest period in between sets or increasing the amount of weight lifted. When beginning a resistance training routine, it is best to start with a lighter weight and more repetitions. Progressions should be made in a logical and safe manner.

Resistance training is broken into three different categories. A mix of all three categories is usually best, with emphasis on one style depending on what the training goal is.

• Strength training is performing one to five repetitions of a heavier load or weight. This type of training is done when strength is the main goal.

• Hypertrophy training is done between six to 12 repetitions with a moderate load or weight. Hypertrophy is when a muscle fiber gets larger and this type of training is done when the goal is to make the muscle bigger.

• The third category is endurance training and is typically done for more than 12 reps with a lighter load.

Resistance training can be done with weight training machines, free weights, or no equipment at all. Weight training machines lock a person into a range of motion, and it is usually best for a beginner because it is the easiest to learn safely. Free weights are done with a barbell or dumbells and are more suited to people who are intermediate to advanced weight trainers as they force a person to stabilize the weight when lifting. Strength training can also be done with no equipment doing exercises like pushups and dips. This makes resistance training convenient for those travelling and those who have a busy schedule.

Resistance training is suitable for all age groups and can be a fun and rewarding activity.

Submitted by Central Avenue Physiotherapy.

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