Hey everyone! In the last article, I talked about the different types of exercise and how to identify your workload. This time, I will discuss in more detail why adding resistance training is so beneficial, especially when it comes to breaking plateaus and building a better physique. Also, I am here to bust the myth of becoming big and bulky if you were to lift heavy weights.
Have you hit a sticking point in your weight loss journey? Have you tried to do anything different with your workout routine?
Maybe it is time to incorporate some resistance to your workouts.
First, I am going to provide a brief summary of the physiological response that occurs when we add external resistance to our body.
When you add resistance training to your workouts you create different hormone responses that can go in favor of your weight loss. For instance, whenever you add resistance—weights, bands, chains, stones, bodyweight, among others tools—you start to increase secretion of hormones such as testosterone, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and insulin. The effect of the secretion of these hormones create an anabolic (building) environment which can have a reaction of better insulin sensitivity, a higher metabolic rate, faster muscle contraction, a stronger immune system, enhanced sexual function and, of course, increased bone and muscle strength.
Now, there is another hormone that is released during exercise—cortisol, which is a steroid hormone. You may know it as that “nasty stress hormone” that we all tend to produce too much of from time to time. Despite the negative connection this hormone has, it plays a crucial role for our body. “The vital functions that cortisol governs are the regulation of inflammatory responses in the body and the balancing of blood sugar in times of stress.” (R. David 8/4/2014.)
How do we improve our cortisol management you may ask?
Adequate exercise, sleep, stress control, meditation, decreasing your intake of stimulants (i.e. caffeine) are some of the cortisol control remedies.
However, whenever we are in a constant cortisol release due to stress, a variety of medical conditions are at large. Excess cortisol release can produce osteoporosis, reduction of testosterone level, memory loss, learning difficulties, accumulation of abdominal fat storage and decreased muscle mass.
In a later article, I will further discuss the effects of cortisol in our bodies.
Alright, let us go back to the benefits of resistance training exercises… Strength training exercises are a huge bonus to weight loss. Large muscle groups (legs, back, and chest) burn up more calories because of the amount of energy they require to perform controlled compound movements, and later on to recover.
Example: The squat–this movement requires concentration from the individual to do it correctly as well as strength to perform the movement.
When you perform a steady state exercise such as walking or a single pace jog, you are only going to burn the calories that it takes to perform the motion. Whereas, with strength training you are requiring a great deal of concentration from different muscle groups. This includes execution of the movements and, afterwards, the muscles need to recover and rebuild.
Another key point of resistance training exercises is bone health. As you age, you are at risk of losing both bone and muscle mass. Postmenopausal women are at a greater risk due to the decline in the production of estrogen. Resistance training is a simple way to prevent bone loss and keep the body toned and strong.
Now, let us continue onto the weight loss plateau information for those of you struggling to get out of it. I will recommend you ask yourself the following questions:
• Have you tried changing up your exercise routine?
• How often do you push yourself from a walk to a jog or a quarter squats to a full squat?
The body adapts fairy quickly to changes in physical activities that you put it though. After four to six weeks of the same routine, a new exercise routine is needed to brake weight plateaus.
The beauty of resistance training is that there are endless possibilities to create workouts, monitor progress and switch up routines. You can do them anywhere at any time. Develop a plan and then execute it at the gym, home, park, community center, wherever it is you feel comfortable doing them. If you are going to a gym add something else besides the row of machines, try taking a dumbbell and squatting with it. Trust me no one is going to judge you for taking the initiative for doing something different and helping with your own progress.
Here is a basic example of plan to follow:
• Circuit One
A) Push movement (exp: bench press, dumbbell press, pushups, chest fly’s, dips)
B) Leg movement (exp: squats, lunges, leg press, hack squat, leg curl, leg extension)
C) Pull movement (exp: pull ups, lat pull down, rows, triceps pull downs, bicep curls)
• Circuit Two
A2) Push movement
B2) Leg movement
C2) Pull movement
(This routine flows from an upper body to a lower body muscles targeting different muscle groups and ensure you get a total body exercise. This is also set up as a circuit. A “circuit” is one completion of all prescribed exercises in the program. When one circuit is complete, you can begin the first exercise again for the next circuit. You can repeat circuit one as many rounds as you want before moving to the next circuit.)
As promised, it is time for the myth buster.
For the ladies: “I don’t want to lift heavy weights because I don’t want to get big and bulk and be manly.”
Well…I hate to take away your excuse to avoid entering the weight resistance room but the reality is that this is not going to happen unless you start using muscle enhancement drugs.
Women naturally do not build a substantial amount of muscle mass like men do. We do not produce enough testosterone to increase muscle mass like our male counterparts. The odds of you getting bulky are slim to none. As long as you follow a healthy nutrient-dense diet and have a consistent workout regimen, the possibilities are endless for your physique. What you will get is a healthier body composition, a release of endorphins from your brain and thus improving your mood, stronger bone and muscle structure, normal vitals such as blood pressure and resting heart rate, and a cognitive boost which also raises your self-confidence!
As a woman and an exercise specialist, I greatly encourage all of my clients and patients in our exercise program to adopt strength training exercises in their fitness routine. After only a few weeks, you will notice the difference losing weight and you can break the plateau stage.
If you need examples of workout plans, exercise demos, or just want to learn more about this topic, here is a great resource to help you out: http://www.exrx.net/Exercise.html
The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The Aesthetic & Wellness Center is not responsible or liable for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or products that you obtain through this site. After reading articles, watching videos or reading other content from this website, you are encouraged to review the information carefully with your professional healthcare provider or fitness trainer.
Robinson, David. “The Implications Of Cortisol Release!”Bodybuilding.com. Bodybuilding.com, 4 Aug. 2014. Web. 30 Aug. 2015.