Resistance training is anything that makes something more difficult to do. When we apply this concept to exercising, we see that just about everything we do involves some kind of resistance. How effective an exercise is depends on 1) whether it gets us closer to our goal and 2) how fit we are in relation to how demanding the exercise is.
Before getting into any exercise program, two things must be done. The first thing, we all pretty much know, which is getting cleared to work out, preferably by a medical professional. The second thing is to get clear on goals – our reasons for working out. This may sound like a no-brainer, but it is a step many people skip – or fall into by default. It is vital to have a good grasp of why we are deciding to work out. More than anything, this determines what kind of workouts we’re going to do.
What is Resistance Training?
Let’s go through some examples. If our goal is to get rid of body fat, we choose some kind of fat-burning activity. If our goal is to increase visible muscle size, we choose a muscle-building workout. Then we perform that activity at an effective intensity for an effective length of time.
When we factor in our fitness level – how in-shape or out of shape we really are, we can begin to figure out what kind and how much resistance to use. A large amount of excess body fat, poor health, and orders from the doctor to “exercise, but go gradually” all add up to starting out with a lower resistance, low duration, low intensity workout. Think walking in the shallow end of a swimming pool for ten minutes at a time. For this kind of person, this is resistance training.
A person with a smaller amount of body fat who used to exercise regularly has a whole different set of parameters. Because his or her body has been in shape at one time, getting back there is not as difficult as getting fit for the first time. A workout for this type of person may include starting at a higher resistance, with somewhat higher intensity and working out for a longer period of time.
As a person gets fitter and healthier, resistance training needs change. What used to be a challenge is now a breeze. This is when a workout needs to be modified. Most gyms have staff, or personal trainers, who can help to safely change up a routine. Exercises can be added, resistance amounts increased, the order of activities changed. If nothing else, gym personnel can be there to monitor activity. That way, problems can be kept to a minimum, and emergencies are dealt with right away.