Resistance training

Is Resistance Training Good?

Resistance training was something that I’d never heard of until my neighbour mentioned it.

“What is resistance training?” was my first question – maybe it’s yours, too.

What is resistance training

Resistance training is a type of training that is known to be good for gaining muscle mass and strength. For a really long time, “endurance training” was the more well-known training method, but it’s good to see that resistance training is getting its moment to shine.

Resistance training offers a number of methods to improve skeletal muscles. And, as noted in an article in IJMS,

“Regular repetitive training leads to adjustment processes on neuronal and morphological levels. The neuronal adaptations lead to an increase of maximal strength and quick force in the early training phase. Following this first phase, morphological adaptations occur when regular training continues.”

The authors of this review explain in detail the importance of resistance training and the role of myokines in the body.

Does that mean aerobic exercise isn’t good?

It is, but it’s becoming clear that in order to improve the body and cardio-vascular health in general, more than just running and swimming may be good. Our heart and blood vessels benefit, but overall muscle mass and strength don’t benefit in the same way. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that exercise like bicep curls can actually help health and longevity.

Aerobic exercise is good for you, certainly, but the value of resistance training has started to change some previously entrenched opinions on what kinds of exercise were best.

Mention in the Washington Post

In an article written in the Washington Post, “For longevity, muscle strength may be as important as aerobic exercise“, the article above is cited when talking about the new research coming out about resistance training.

What are myokines?

The article cited by the Washington Post discusses the importance of myokines. But, what are they?

Myokines are a sort of cytokine. Loosely speaking, cytokines are a kind of small protein that is important in cell signalling. Some of the more well-known cytokines are interleukin and interferons, and they are involved in cell growth and activity. According to the review above, “myokines have positive effects on metabolic, cardiovascular, mental, and immunological processes”. All of these myokines are released by muscles when they are working. They have various positive impacts on the body. Besides being involved in anti-inflammatory, metabolic and immunological processes, they’re being studied for use in relation to non-communicable diseases. This research includes cancer and neurological diseases.

Other research on resistance training

Because of the way that people live sedentary lifestyles these days, research on exercise is becoming more and more relevant. In a study on young adult females with obesity, researchers examined the effects of various types of exercise. The authors found that moderate-intensity endurance training, moderate-intensity resistance training, and moderate-intensity combined training consistently reduced proinflammatory cytokines. This included the serum levels of IL-6 and TNF-α.

Sometimes it’s not just training, but also supplementation that can help with resistance (and other) training methods. In a fascinating review in the journal JPM, the author compiled a review on the effects of fenugreek on muscle performance. Fenugreek is in the same family as soy and has qualities that are similar to clover. Some of the results that were found in this review included that fenugreek supplementation helped with significantly improving muscle strength, reps to failure (in reference to muscle endurance), lean body mass, reduced body fat, etc.

In an article from Brazil, the authors looked into the mechanisms responsible for the similar muscle growth attained with high- and low-load resistance training. Because this has not yet been fully explained, it’s a valuable source of information in the context of resistance training. Factors that were reviewed here included muscle thickness, muscle activation, and total energy intake of macronutrients. The authors are careful to note that further studies are needed to investigate the efficacy of using metabolites correlated with muscle growth as biomarkers.

Exercise and resistance training

It goes without saying that, these days, knowledge of the importance of exercise is commonplace. But there can be a lot of confusion regarding what the best kinds of exercise might be for any given person. Obviously, it is important to consult with a medical professional in the event of possible complications (injuries, physical state, etc.). But as most reports suggest that even light exercise is of significant benefit relative to a sedentary lifestyle, we start to see value in research. Researching the different kinds of exercise more thoroughly might be life changing for some.

Like many people, my New Year’s resolution included “be more healthy”. It seems that now I have another way to exercise that might help me to achieve this goal. Hopefully, knowledge about resistance training and its health impacts can help others too.