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Do you even lift?

It's great to see so many in the community participating in health based challengers at the moment. Whether it be hitting your strength or aesthetic goals at Definition, crushing a week of benchmark WODs at JAK, nailing a pump class at Beaton Park or smashing a 6-day week of F45 workouts.

Resistance training, in the form of weight training, should be a component of any complete fitness program no matter what the goal. I thought I would synthesize current research on the health and wellness benefits of resistance training to either motivate you to include it or to keep you ‘throwing the tin around” no matter what your age or ability.

It’s the fountain of youth:

Lopez et al (2018) in their systematic review (a comparison of research of a decent standard) found resistance training resulted in increased maximal strength, muscle mass and muscle power, all of which reduce naturally as we age. These changes are directly related to increased functional capacity and reduced risk of falls in aged populations. The review went on to recommend a frequency of 1-6 sessions a week, 1-3 sets of 6-15 repetitions and an intensity of 30-70% of 1RM (repetition max).

It reduces inflammation:

Forti et al (2017) reported 9 weeks of resistance training, irrespective of load, reduced inflammatory markers within the body. Furthermore, training at higher loads (80% of 1RM for 10-12 reps) improved the bodies anti-inflammatory profile.

It helps you think:

Northey et al (2018) in their systematic review report that resistance exercise of at least moderate intensity on as many days of the week as feasible is effective in improving cognitive function.

It helps you sleep, improving anxiety and depression:

Kovacevic et al (2018) concluded from their systematic review that consistent resistance training improves all aspects of sleep, with the greatest benefits seen for sleep quality.

Secondly I thought I would provide some insight into two questions regarding resistance training I get asked.

1. Heavy or light?

Obviously this is goal dependent. Recent research reported high load (>60% of your 1RM) resulted in greater gains in maximal strength e.g increasing your 1RM. It was reported that no significant difference was seen between high or low load methods for muscle hypertrophy or isometric strength. The training protocols included in this analysis were for 6 weeks or more and sets were to failure (Schoenfeld, 2017)

2. Squat depth?

Again it is goal dependent. A quality study in 2002 using EMG to determine levels of muscle activity (2 quad muscles, hamstring and glute), at sub maximal load, at three different squats positions (partial, parallel and full) revealed some great info (Caterisano et al).

  • The VMO (medial quad) was more active in a partial squat, but there was no significance difference for the quad and hamstring muscles across the three levels in the concentric (going up) phase.

  • The glute becomes more active as the depth of the squat increases, not the hamstring as traditionally thought.

  • Injury/condition may predetermine depth e.g the load on knee cap varies at different levels and knee pain with determine the level or the modification e.g. smith machine/wall variation.

Before I go remember at Evolve we pride ourselves on assisting patients succeed in their health and wellness goals. We achieve this through treatment, movement education and modification, injury management and maintaining effective communication channels between trainers, the client and therapist.

Live smart. Evolve

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