Benefits of Resistance Training

Strength training is viewed by many as the best means to improve “tone” and definition, sports

performance and resistance to injury. As we age, our fast-twitch or explosive muscle fibers,

atrophy at a faster rate than our slow-twitch, or endurance fibers. Strength training helps to

maintain both fiber size and ability.

Strength qualities can be divided into three basic qualities. How training is approached is based

upon the desired strength goal.

  • Muscular endurance is the ability to perform moderate to low-level work for an extended period

  • of time.

  • Muscular strength is the ability to generate maximal force irrespective of time.

Muscular strength can be also further subdivided as pure strength or functional

strength capabilities:

  • Pure strength refers to strength developed outside of a sport or application context.

  • Functional strength, or speed strength, refers to strength which has been developed

    or transferred to a sport or application context.

  • Muscular power is the ability to generate the most force possible within a short period of time.

The terms tone and definition are also important, if not from a scientific perspective, as a main

focus of the fitness participant. Tone is the muscular state in which the muscle has greater than

average definition and the fat layer over the muscle is small enough to let that definition show.

As muscles grow in size, the amount of metabolically active tissue increases, leading to a

higher rate of caloric burn especially in the period immediately following workouts.

Resistance training combined with aerobics has proven to be highly effective for

individuals desiring to lose weight. The body-shaping advantages of weight training offer

a visible improvement in appearance within a relatively short time period, further

encouraging the goal-oriented individual.

Training Systems

Periodization

The basic premise of this concept states that variation of certain training factors will lead to

greater gains than no variation. When presented with a new training stimulus, the body is

‘shocked’ or there is some physiological discomfort and change. The body adapts to the

stimulus, and performance capabilities improve after a brief rest period and repeated training

sessions. In addition, periodization implies the training stimulus must be changed or variety of

training utilized for gains to continue to occur.

Volume, Load and Intensity

Volume refers to the total amount of training, or the total work accomplished during the training

session. Load refers to the actual amount of weight lifted or resistance used in comparison to

one’s maximum in that particular exercise. When the variables of volume, load and intensity are

manipulated or changed in an optimal fashion, then gains result which are much greater than if a

constant training program is used for the same time period.

Types of Muscular Contractions

  • Concentric or positive contractions are used when one lifts weight or resistance, wherein the

muscle shortens in a dynamic sense.

  • Eccentric or negative contractions occur when the muscle lengthens, as happens when lowering

    a weight.

  • Isokenetic contractions are those in which the muscle shortens at a constant rate (like

    swimming).

  • Static or Isometric contractions are those where the muscle does not change length when

exerted against a fixed resistance (specific only to the joint angle at which it was developed).

Strength Training Systems

The main choices in terms of strength training systems are body building, power lifting and

Olympic weightlifting.

Body Building methods emphasize building muscle mass and definition. Body building may refer

to the methods of training as well as competition for muscular definition and mass. Body building

techniques are the best developers of hypertrophy. These exercises performed slowly stress the

muscle and work it through the full range of motion, and thereby develop superior vascularization

compared to other methods.

Sub-maximal loads of 30% - 60% of one Repetition Max will produce adaptations which result in

local muscular endurance and not strength. Cords, bands and light hand weights fall into this

category.

Sub-maximal loads of 60%-90% of one Repetition Max and generally correlate with repetitions

which can be performed in the 6-15 repetition range. Loads in this range produce the best

strength and definition gains, with only minor gains in muscular endurance or power. Rest

periods of shorter duration such as 45-60 seconds will produce gains in hypertrophy when

combined with loads in this range. As the rest periods lengthen, there is a greater potential for

strength rather than hypertrophy gains because of the available ATP-PC. (the fuel for anaerobic

muscular contraction)

Maximal loads are considered to be 90%-150% of one Repetition Max. Training performed in

this range and will consist of 6 repetitions or less. Training in these ranges will produce maximal

strength gains, or strength which is useful in situations in which an all-out attempt may be

needed.

Benefits of Muscle Strength and Endurance Include:

  • Increased capacity to perform work (increased functional ability)

  • Increased bone mass

  • Decreased risk of injury

  • Increased motor performance

  • Increased strength of connective tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments)

  • Increased fat-free mass resulting in increased metabolism

Circuit Weight Training May also Result in:

  • Modest improvements in cardiorespitory fitness (about 5%)

  • Improved glucose tolerance

  • Modest reduction in blood pressure

  • Improved blood lipid profiles