Resistance training has gotten a lot of buzz lately because so many people on the new anti-obesity medications are being told they need to do resistance training exercises to fight the muscle loss that occurs with weight loss.
But even if you aren’t taking the new medications, resistance training is important for everyone – especially if you’re looking to manage weight better and boost health.
Though you may start out with doing aerobic exercise like a brisk walking program, I encourage patients to work on progressing their program to include resistance training too.
However, some of my patients are resistant due to the following misconceptions and mindset barriers about resistance training:
1- Resistance Training Can Only be Done Using Machines in the Gym
Many options exist for doing resistance training at home.
It can be done with one’s own body weight (think counter pushups, squats or planks), resistance bands or free weights in the comforts of your own home.
It can even be conveniently done in your hotel room while traveling.
Since proper form is important, it’s always a good idea to get instruction on the right technique through books, online videos, a personal fitness trainer or even a physical therapist.
2-Resistance Training is for Men Wanting Big Muscles
Resistance training builds, tones and maintains muscular strength, improves function and ability to perform activities of daily living and increases metabolism by building lean body mass – for men and women alike!
Reward is often found by experiencing an increased sense of fitness, strength, vitality and improved body shape.
Research studies show that it also preserves bone mineral density so important for women with osteopenia or osteoporosis.
Resistance exercise is also associated with a reduced risk of obesity defined by body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and percent body fat.
3-You Need to Lift Heavy Weights for Resistance Training to Work
Resistance training or muscle strengthening exercise is any activity that uses repeated movements against LOW or MODERATE resistance to make your muscles work harder.
Start low and go slow is the best advice to avoid injury.
This can be done with fitness bands or even 2 or 3-pound weights to start. The key is to do 2 or 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions each side 2 or 3 nonconsecutive days per week.
With time, you can slowly increase weight as it gets easier.
If you have any back or joint injuries, muscle stiffness or a chronic condition, a physical therapist can help you develop a home resistance training program that’s safe for you.
Once you develop a resistance training routine that fits your lifestyle, you’ll be on your way to developing a weight management program that fits your lifestyle too.
Robert Kushner, MD