Benefits of pumping iron go beyond building muscle

kettlebell editedWe all know the benefits of exercise. However, many people tend to focus only on cardio exercise — running, biking, hiking.

Resistance training or weight lifting is also important, though. And cardio and resistance training, interspersed with rest intervals, are part of a complete workout.

Weight training helps to develop and maintain strength, endurance, power and muscle mass. Recent research has also shown that weight training can increase bone strength and lean body mass, and help people better manage chronic conditions.

To get these health benefits — and begin any resistance training regiment — it’s important to understand the concept of progression. Progression is key to safely and appropriately stressing the body to become stronger. Put another way, you can get injured if you do too much, too fast.

The American College of Sports Medicine has guidelines for proper weight training progression. The guidelines are meant to help you decide how often you should include resistance training in your workout — and how much you should do. Here they are:

Beginner

  • 8-10 repetitions
  • Frequency: 2-3 days per week

Intermediate

  • 1-12 repetitions
  • Frequency: 2-3 days per week

Advanced

  • 1-12 repetitions
  • Eventually 1-6 repetitions with a 3 min. rest
  • Frequency 4-5 days per week

Choosing an appropriate weight for the number of repetitions is also important. You don’t necessarily have to lift heavy weights to get health benefits from weight training. Select a weight that is challenging for you, taking into account the number of repetitions you are aiming for.

In general , you want your muscles to burn a little when completing the last 2-3 repetitions. If you don’t feel a burn, then the weight wasn’t challenging enough. Increase your weight next time or move the weight a little quicker. And remember, always think safety first.

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Heather Minnick is a registered dietitian, and a nutrition graduate student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She got her bachelor’s degree in dietetics and exercise science from Western Illinois University. She has run collegiate cross country and track and field.

One comment

  • For a beginner its important to spend some time finding what works for you with regards to diet, gym program etc. Seeing no results after hard sessions is very demoralizing! Keep the faith and build that muscle you guys!

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