In this issue we will discuss resistance training. This will be part of a series. As some of you may know, our company Personal Evolution is a personal training, holistic kinesiology and personal development company. We deal with people as a whole, functional unit rather than a collection of parts. Please read this issue and the other parts to resistance training, even if you think it does not not apply to you.

In this series we will discuss the hormonal response to resistance training and how it will delay ageing, correctional exercise, how resistance training transfers to other areas of your life and more. Hopefully this basic information helps create some understanding of an often misunderstood topic.

Resistance training is often a very misunderstood facet of overall health, fitness and vitality. It seems as though every “gym rat” claims expert status in this area. The truth is that even a lot of people with formal qualifications are not as correct as you may be led to believe.

When you embark on an exercise program, you will inevitably hear so much contradictory information that it makes your head spin. Some will tell you that resistance training is not necessary, especially in a weight loss program. There are those that recommend high repetitions of machine weights, others who recommend low repetitions of free weights, some people even suggest foregoing weights altogether and use body weight training as your primary source of resistance training.

In this article we will look at a few facts about resistance training. Of course, it’s pretty much impossible to cover everything in this one page but we will explore the basics and expel some of the misconceptions.

What is resistance training?

Resistance training is simple, it’s as the name suggests, training against resistance. Resistance training has many definitions but lets keep it simple…

Resistance training can be described simply as: effort performed against an opposing force.

There are many types of exercise that fit this description.

Free weights: Most people know what free weights are. Free weights are weighted devices, most often dumbells and barbells of a variation of weights. An example of free weight exercises are…

Bench press, military press, bent over row, clean and press, snatch, bicep barbell curl, squat and so on. Free weights include anything that is not supported by a machine and uses pure gravity as resistance.

Machine weights: These are pieces of equipment that you will find many of in gyms and health clubs. They consist of pin loaded machines, machines with weight plate stacks and so on. It is my opinion that machine weights are overused and you will find out why when we talk about functional training.

Calesthenics: This type of training is the use of your own body weight to facilitate resistance. Examples include, but are not limited to…

Push-ups, chin-ups, single leg squat, hand stand push-ups, lunges, crunches etc.

This sort of training is often overlooked by those who want to achieve super strength and massive muscle growth. The reason is most often because many believe that not enough resistance can be applied as strength increases because your body weight will remain relatively constant. The truth is that resistance can still be increased. I have many ways of increasing resistance to the point that a bulky body builder would not even be able to attempt. The answer is in the mechanically disadvantaged positions and increasingly difficult planes of movement.

Strange objects: Strange objects are called that because they are not as commonly used in resistance training as they should be.

The objects used can be literally anything that carries a little weight. To some industries the objects would not be strange because this is what they do for a living, such as construction workers and the like.

Basically by strange objects I mean anything that is not traditional training equipment. Things like sand bags, heavy drums/kegs, large stones, heavy boxes, large tyres, water filled exercise balls, gigantic heavy duty shipping chains, engine blocks and even other people.

Resistance training with strange objects is an awesome way to gain functional strength that can be used in the real world. I will explain more about functional strength training later.

Hydraulics, cables, springs, pullies and bands: I include all these forms of resistance training in one because most of them have a similar effect. I’m sure you have seen the hydraulic machines and cables in your local fitness centre. Lets begin with the hydraulics…

Hydraulic resistance training uses machines that have a constant level of resistance throughout the entire range of motion. This is unlike weights which vary in resistance due to gravitational forces, leverage etc. In my opinion hydraulics are unnatural in the way that they recruit motor units because they do not simulate anything that would occur in the real world, apart from other hydraulics machines. I believe you would be better off lifting the machine itself. Although they do have some applications that are useful.

Cables are just that, cables. They generally work on wheels with a pin loaded weight stack for resistance. These have their place but should not be overused.

Bands are great for rehabilitation and stretching but not much else. Most bands are pieces of rubber or other elastic material, either with handles attached or not. One of the problems with bands is that the resistance is stronger at the end of a repetition as the band increases it’s tension. This is not a natural movement. That’s not to say that they should be dismissed altogether, just ensure that they do not form the core of your exercise regime and get advice from a skilled professional.

Bands are popular among the ladies because they are fed the dillusion that they will be better for getting a long, lean and toned physique and free weights might make them bulky. I’m not even going to dignify that by arguing.

Now that you know what resistance training is and some of the ways it can be achieved, it’s time to move on to some facts, principles and methods.

In the next issue we will discuss why every human being was designed to do resistance training of some sort.

To your health, wealth and happiness,

Chris Lyons.
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