Resistance training are two magical words that should be part of every exercise regime. They refer to nothing, but creating resistance and employing gravity to get your muscles moving, and moving how! It can be done using equipment like weights, kettlebells, resistance bands, or simply using your own body.
Mumbai-based celebrity nutritionist Smitha Shetty explains resistance or strength training as “a form of exercise done to increase muscular strength and endurance. The focus is on specific results, such as joint stability, muscular endurance, increased muscle size, strength, and power.”
Understanding Resistance Training
Dr Debashish Chanda, Department of Orthopedics, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram, elaborates on this particular form of training in the following manner:
“Resistance training is any exercise that causes the muscles to contract against external resistance. For example, a person lifting a dumbbell of 1kg against the resistance of gravity. This can happen in two ways:
i) By using weights
ii) By using stretch bands like a thera band which is essentially a sort of a rubber band that provides a way to strengthen muscles”
Benefits of Resistance Training
Dr Chanda reiterates the importance of resistance training when it comes to increasing the strength and stamina of muscles, and adds that along with muscle, exercise of this specific kind also helps with building bone strength and in situations involving joint pain, fractures and injury to the bone. In the process, it reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
Along with muscle endurance and its crucial role in prevention of osteoporosis, training of this kind helps fight against the muscle loss that comes with age. The key thing to remember here is that if your aim is lean muscle, the approach should be more reps with less weight. If, on the other hand, you are looking to bulk up, the answer is fewer reps with more weight.
However, the expert also offers a word of caution against incorporating resistance training in your regime without proper guidance and supervision. It is important to understand your own individual requirement and ability with the help of a trained professional.
Strength Training at Home
Once you have procured your resistance bands and weights, it is absolutely imperative to keep in mind the sanctity of your form - you CANNOT afford to mess it, unless you enjoy nursing injuries, and sometimes, even long term damage.
“The most common exercises are focused around biceps and triceps, knees and the hip area, employing ankle weights, leg extensions, and strengthening of the hamstrings and adductors, to name a few. It is always advisable to start these exercises with the help of an expert to avoid injuries because of heavy lifting.”Dr Debashish Chanda
Diet and Frequency
Both Ms Shetty and Dr Chanda recommend resistance training about three times a week. You can start slow if you’re a beginner, and build your strength from there. The suggested duration for each of these workouts is around forty minutes.
On the topic of diet, Dr Chands says:
“For building muscle, we need to regulate protein intake, but ensure that you don’t end up putting too much strain on your kidney and liver by increasing it in an unbalanced manner. Adding green leafy vegetables, sprouts and eggs (or alternative sources of the same for those who don’t eat them) will also be beneficial. Ensure to include calcium and vitamin D as well in your diet.”
Ms Smitha too emphasizes the need to eat a balanced diet, with focus on eating regional and seasonal fruits and vegetables.