Exercise in general is good for you, but some people chose to focus their exercise programme with specific results in mind, such as bodybuilding for building muscle.
Strengthening or resistance exercises are vital to keep the muscles that support your back, abdomen, knees, chest, shoulders, neck, and wrist strong and less susceptible to injuries. Strong muscles mean greater endurance and energy, a faster metabolism that burns more calories, and a better posture.
The ideal weight used and the number of 'reps' in a workout will depend on a person's fitness goals, from improved muscle tone to Mr Universe style bulging muscles. Mοѕt women aim to lose fаt and tone muscle, rather than preparing for a female bodybuilding contest.
Seek medical advice before starting a new fitness programme.
What are strengthening exercises?
Strengthening exercises work muscles as they move against resistance. This resistance can come from exercise machines, free weights or barbells, elastic bands, water, stairs, hills, tins of beans from the cupboard, or even your own body weight as you do a press up.
For example, doing an aerobic exercise, like walking on a treadmill becomes strengthening as you increase the incline of the treadmill.
Benefits of strengthening exercises
Just as aerobic exercise keeps your heart in peak condition, regular strengthening exercises help keep your other muscles strong and healthy.
For example, your lower back and abdominal muscles stabilise the spine, enabling proper spinal movement, and helping with posture. Strengthening hip and leg muscles is also important so you can safely lift objects from the floor using your leg muscles rather than those in your back. If you're lifting using your back muscles then be prepared for back pain in young adulthood!
Strengthening exercises also increase muscle mass. Muscle mass is the metabolically active tissue or tissue that burns calories. So the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn all day.
Resistance exercises also burn calories during the actual workout. One study found that resistance training could burn as much as 200-300 calories an hour, which is about the number of calories in a piece of thick-crust cheese pizza.
Furthermore, strengthening exercises help lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels. This is important in preventing heart disease. These exercises also decrease the chance of osteoporosis and bone fractures by encouraging the deposit of calcium in the long bones and spine.
Should I use weight machines or free weights?
Weight machines and free weights each have advantages and disadvantages. Machines at a fitness centre may be good for beginners. Machines help ensure that you perform the movement with proper form. At a gym, you also have the advantage of an instructor to help you use the machine correctly.
Machines also isolate specific muscle groups, allowing you to strengthen your biceps, triceps, leg muscles, abdominal muscles, the chest, shoulders, back, or other areas. Machine weights also have less risk of injury than free weights, as it’s unlikely a machine weight will fall on you.