6 POSITIVE EFFECTS OF RESISTANCE TRAINING
By Gavin Buehler, RMT & Strength Coach
- Increased Sensitivity to Insulin
Research has shown that resistance training improves the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Why does resistance training effect insulin sensitivity? Well the short of it is because with resistance training you primarily stimulate your type I and type II muscle fibres. These are your faster twitch muscles and are more sensitive to insulin. They contain greater oxidative and mitochondria capacity and a higher capillary density. Skeletal muscle is the target tissue where most of the insulin-stimulated glucose uptake takes place. So, it is not surprising that the stimulation and hypertrophy of this tissue would have such an effect. Why is this so important? The more sensitive your body is to insulin, (meaning the less secretion you need for your body to maintain normal range glucose levels) the better your energy use will be, enhancing your metabolism. Insulin regulates glucose in your blood stream so the more glucose you have circulating, the more insulin your body produces. If it can’t find a use for your glucose, it will also stimulate lipogenesis (fat creation and storage) as a way to regulate the levels in your blood stream. Hence, consistently high insulin levels will also increase fat storage. With fat gain you also get the feelings of sleepiness and lethargy.
- Increases Oxygen Consumption & Metabolism Efficiency
As you learned above your type I and type II muscle fibres have greater oxidative and mitochondria capacity and a higher capillary density. This makes your metabolism more efficient and causes greater oxygen consumption. The more oxygen you take in the more calories you will burn, regardless of the activity you choose.
- Increases Bone Density
The muscular contractions caused by resistance training load the bones stimulating the manufacturing of protein molecules that are deposited in spaces between bone cells. This process is called bone modelling which leads to the creation of a bone matrix that becomes calcium phosphate crystals giving the bone a more rigid structure. This reduces the risk of osteoporosis or skeletal injuries caused by weak, brittle bones.
- Joint Integrity
The stabilization of your joints relies on the strength of the muscles, tendons and ligaments surrounding them. Often joint pain and injuries are caused due to a lack of stabilization that causes unnecessary strain and torsion on the joint causing it to eventually fail. Strengthening the muscles around your joints can help prevent this allowing more mobility, flexibility and pain free movement.
- Increased Neuromuscular Control
The communication between your brain and muscles is very important. Studies have shown that when performing a single action, sedentary people activate a lower percentage of their muscle mass than people who resistance train. Resistance training increases the motor activation units in your muscle fibres increasing body awareness and overall muscle activation. This helps improve strength, speed and endurance and also allows you to use more muscle in your day to day activities causing easier body composition maintenance.
- Increased Strength
A lot of injuries occur because of inadequate strength. The body adapts to tasks it is asked to perform to carry through even if it can’t perform it properly, it will get the job done. If your body cannot perform the task properly that compensation pattern can lead to injury, especially if repeated like many do in their professions. My favourite example is grip strength. So simple. Let’s say you carry a bag of groceries home from the store. Everyone can do this but how they do it differs from one person to the next. When you grip that handle and lift the bag if your grip is not really strong enough to bear the load, subtle compensation patterns start to occur, that you think are normal or take for granted, such as shifting your hips a certain way to make it easier to bear the load. Now instead of that load and your body weight being aligned properly over your center, it’s twisted causing stress on other parts of the body. The weakest link will go first which is usually a smaller muscle that had nothing to do with your inability to grip your shopping bag properly or so you thought. This might not occur right away, but how frequently do you go shopping? Eventually this pattern will cause wear.
Of course there are many more positive benefits to resistance training. These are just a few that I believe need mentioning to hopefully help motivate you to put more focus on you resistance training if all you do is run like a hamster.