Resistance training is basically any formatted exercise we do that overloads our muscles, so it’s not just going to the gym and using dumbells; exercises involving bodyweight and other forms of resistance (such as lifting babies) also count.

Resistance training can:

• Decrease your chance of injury (think back pain)

• Increase and maintain your bone density and decrease your likelihood of getting osteoporosis

• Shape and define your muscles

• Increase your metabolism

A common concern for some women is that training with weights will make them get muscles that are too big or bulky. If only it were that easy! The makeup of our bodies makes getting big muscles very difficult so you can be assured that a regular, all round weights workout is not going to make you all hulky, especially if you are combining your resistance work with cardio and stretching.

Anyway, any changes to your body take time so if your muscles start getting bigger and you don’t like it you have plenty of time to make changes to your programme.

It’s easy to forget resistance training when trying to lose weight, as it is cardio that burns the fat but resistance training is just as important for maintaining a healthy bodyweight long term, as lean muscle requires energy to exist- the more muscle we have, the more energy we burn! Perfect!

So think: Cardio burns fat while I do it, strength training helps burn fat when I’m not doing anything.

Good old-fashioned dumbells are readily available outside a gym setting. Working with dumbells also allows an infinite variety of exercises so you can vary your exercise more easily. And if you lack dumbells you can start off with 2 litre milk bottles – full and with the top done up tightly!!

Dumbells also make your left and right side work separately so you can address imbalances caused by lopsided living (think computer work, or a heavy baby carried round on one hip).

For non-gym bunnies there are plenty of exercises you can do to improve your muscle mass using just bodyweight.

When choosing what size weight to lift remember that you are looking to overload your muscles; you need to do this in order to get results. If you can happily do 15 or more repetitions without too much effort you need to up your weights. An easy measure is to make the weight heavy enough so that by the time you get to the last repetition (12-15 for general training) your muscle should be totally ready to rest.

Make sure you warm up before you lift weights, with at least 5 minutes of something that gets your heart rate up (walking springs to mind). End your workout with a stretch and leave at least a day between weights workouts.

Strength training only works when you overload the muscles more than you do in everyday life. So if you lug around a couple of kilos of handbag all day then you will need to lift a weight heavier than that to get results from your workout.

If you need some extra motivation then head over to www.julzdarroch.co.nz for some exercise you can do at home (or at the gym) to get your strength training programme started now!
NEXT TIME: We’ll look at working your abs and lower back area- everyone’s favourite!


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Julz Darroch provides education and resources for those who want to get fit and introduce exercise into their lives but aren’t sure where to start- the exercise allergic are her speciality! Julz is also mum to two great kids who help keep her moving. You can find out more on her website.

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