Why do resistance training?

Whether you are young or old, resistance training can provide many benefits to your body and quality of life. It is a great addition to aerobic exercise (walking fast, bicycling, swimming, etc.) and it is something you can do in your home in as little as 20 minutes a day, afew times a week. Below are just some of the many benefits of resistance training:

• Daily Living: Increase your strength and physical ability, allowing you to be more active and independent.

• Prevention: Prevent musculoskeletal disabilities, including osteoporosis and lower back pain.

• Mental Health: Exercise improves your overall well-being and can help with things like depression and anxiety.

• Overall Health: Both exercise and weight loss have positive effects on things like blood pressure,insulin resistance, and heart disease.

What exercises should I do?

Resistance training isolates one muscle group at a time, so it’s important that you do several different exercises to target all of your muscle groups for balanced strength throughout your body. The more muscle you have overall, the more calories you will burn while resting – so workout both your upper and lower body. For starters, there is a simple, but effective resistance band workout routine you do try here: Resistance Band Workout. Of course, there are 100+ workout routines on this site that you can also choose from.

What should my intensity be?

Start at an intensity that you feel comfortable with, but is also challenging. Try to work out with resistance bands 2 to 3 time per week for 20 to 30 minutes per workout. You should be able to do 2 sets of 16 repetitions for each exercise (i.e. bicep curls) and the last few repetitions should be difficult. If you are struggling early in a set, just give yourself a little more slack on the elastic band so that you can do more reps with the next set. As you get stronger with time, keep readjusting by “choking up” on the band so that you remain at this intensity and continue to make gains.

Resistance training should be something you do along with aerobic exercise because both types of exercise are good for your health By combining aerobic exercise and resistance training, you will optimize your increases in strength, physical ability, weight loss, and heart health. A good plan is to go for a fast walk or jog on one day and do resistance training on the next.

What next?

If your resistance band workout is no longer challenging enough, you can buy stronger resistance bands, dumbbells, or even join a gym. Many of the same exercises done with resistance bands can be adapted for dumbbells and vice versa. Although not necessary, dumbbells may give you more variety that you may desire. Also, combining dumbbells and resistance bands together for a workout is a great way to challenge your muscles in different ways. By continuing to challenge yourself, you will not only maintain your milestones, but continue to improve your health. Always remember  that this is about improving yourself and your livelihood – stay motivated and you can do it!

Click here to view this article in a handout format and to see picture demonstrations of resistance band exercises. 

This article and resistance band printable handout provided by Phil Hitchcock, a Tulane University School of Medicine student.