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How to find the best weight training strategy to meet your goals

At first glance weight training may been seen to mainly promote building strength, however in this post, guest author Future Fit Training explore the numerous benefits of weight training, from cardiovascular health to improved cognitive function. They then tell you how to maximise each by adapting your weight training strategy accordingly.

What is weight training?

The Mayo Clinic defines weight training as 2a type of strength training that uses weights for resistance. Weight training provides a stress to the muscles that causes them to adapt and get stronger, similar to the way aerobic conditioning strengthens your heart. It is performed by mainly using free weights, such as barbells or dumbbells, or alternatively using weight machines. 

Now let’s determine what weight training strategy is best for you whilst looking at some of the key benefits that resistance training has to offer. 

Improvements to Body Composition

As previously mentioned, weight training was initially only used to increase muscular size or the need to increase strength for a particular sport. There are different benefits to this that are not aesthetic or sports specific as numerous studies show individuals lower risks when it comes to preventable diseases with the reduction in body fat also reducing visceral (organ) fat, overall stress on the body and improvements on sleep.

Training recommendation strategy:

Steadily increase in overall volume of work with rest periods of 2-3 minutes with a heavy emphasis on compound movements. Along with this some isolation work in a 6-15 repetition range is beneficial to gradually building strength.

Improvements to cardiovascular health

Research is now showing reduction in resting blood pressure, decreasing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides and increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol as a direct result of resistance training which all reduces the likelihood of suffering from a preventable cardiovascular condition.

Having a good circulation is important for good health, when your circulation is working well your body receives the oxygen and nutrients it needs. One of the biggest benefits of weight training is increasing lean muscle mass, which gives your cardiovascular system places to send the blood that’s being pumped, this results in less pressure on the arteries.

Training recommendation strategy:

Emphasis on maintaining a high level of intensity throughout the session with rep ranges in the 12-20 range and shorter rest periods at approximately 90 seconds.

Improvements in Bone Health

As the population ages, the likelihood of a fall related injury leading to long term chronic pain is increasing. The use of resistance training to not only strengthen the muscles but also increase bone strength through higher levels of bone mineral density is becoming a major reason for growing interest for gyms in the elderly. 

A combination of age-related changes, inactivity and inadequate nutrition will contribute to bone mass with bones growing more fragile. Adopting a weight training routine or alternatively investing some time in further study will help adapt to this change.

Training recommendations strategy:

Steadily increase the overall volume of work with a rest period of 2-3 minutes with an emphasis on compound movements along with isolation work in a 6-15 repetition range. 

Image courtesy of Future Fit Training

Increased cognitive function 

Exposure to the challenge of new exercises/movements, the need for body awareness and the utilisation of the central nervous system is another key benefit of weight training, by reducing the likelihood of developing debilitating memory loss. Researchers found that six months of resistance training can help protect the areas of the brain that are vulnerable to Alzhemiers up to one year later.

Training recommendation strategy:

Emphasis on mastering technique on new exercises every 4-6 weeks with rep ranges between 6-15 reps and rest periods which are based on your level of mental exhaustion (2-5 minutes).

Improvements to mental health

Studies have also highlighted the benefits of resistance training with a minimum of two training sessions with patients who suffer mild to moderate depression, seeing significant reductions in symptoms. This is based on the suggestion that the use of resistance and strength training has improved the symptoms of severe depression even more so.

Training strategy recommendations:

With the goal of actual movement, Serotonin, and general health improvements, rep ranges can vary between 6-20 reps with rest periods between 90 secs-5 mins on exercises that are viewed as enjoyable or create a sense of accomplishment. 

Summary

There are many benefits to weight training which can be explored, it is advised to contact an experienced Personal Trainer to help narrow down and individualise your fitness strategy further to maximise your results. This is particularly important as challenges involve age, past/current injuries, experience with exercise, equipment available, and mindset. These are all factors that need to be taken into consideration to ensure you remain healthy and strong, inside and out.

This post was authored by Future Fit Training – a leading training provider for Personal Trainers, Nutrition Advisers and Pilates Instructors. 

This entry was posted in: Fitness & Health

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