What is strength training?

Strength training is an essential part of each and every single exercise programme. This type of training strengthens our muscles and connective tissues. Muscles are used every day for a variety of different activities. 

The human body has over 600 muscles. These muscles provide movement which is caused by stimuli and input from the nervous system. Every movement that we make – from getting out of bed in the morning to cooking dinner and twitching our eyelids – involves some kind of muscle movement. Some of this movement is voluntary, such as lifting a weight. Some of our muscle movements are involuntary, such as sneezing.

The muscle system has the marvellous ability to become stronger and bigger with the proper stimuli such as strength training. On the other hand, our muscles can become smaller and weaker if not used.

What is resistance training?

Resistance training is a type of strength training which each effort is performed against a specific opposing fore hat is generated by resistance, in other words, resistance to being pushed, squeezed, stretched or bent. Exercises are termed as ‘isotonic’ if a body part is pushing against the force. Exercises are isometric if a part of a body is remaining still against the force. Resistance exercise is used to develop the stretch and size of skeletal muscles.

What is a physiological response to resistance training?

Resistance training functions by causing microscopic damage or tears to the muscle cells, which in turn are rapidly repaired by the body in order to assist the muscles regenerate and grow stronger. The breakdown of the muscle fibre is called catabolism and the repair and regrowth of the muscle tissue is called anabolism.

Hormones, which are secreted by the endocrine glands in the body, are substances that regulate the function of the:

  • Body cells
  • Tissues
  • Organs
  • Systems

Men produce high levels of testosterone in addition to much lower levels of oestrogen and progesterone. Women, on the other hand, produce high levels of oestrogen and progesterone as well as much lower levels of testosterone.

Exercise places a more challenge on the body owing to the increased energy it needs and the physiological demands that it puts on the body’s nervous, muscular, cardiovascular, metabolic and respiratory systems. As a body responds and later adapts to exercise a number of complex hormonal interaction occur simultaneously. 

With resistance exercise, there are direct increases in epinephrine and norepinephrine. These two hormones are responsible for raising blood glucose and are essential for increase force production, the rate of muscle contraction as well as energy production, in other words, the synthesis of ATP which is the energy currency of cells.

Levels of these hormones actually bein to rise before the resistance training workout. This is an anticipatory reply of the body preparing for the challenging exercise to follow. Interestingly the elevated blood glucose levels to not typically lead to an increase in insulin unless protein and/or carbohydrate supplementation precedes the workout.

The greater the update of blood glucose by the skeletal muscle occurs because of an increase in function by the cell’s glucose transporters which raises metabolism in the muscle cell. Frequent resistance exercise training has been shown to boost insulin sensitivity, meaning that the body can take in and use glucose more effectively.

If you’re only starting out with strength training, you should use a lightweight which you can lift or push at least eight times. As soon as it becomes easy to lift this weight, gradually add more weight. When you are comfortable lifting a certain weight, you should increase the weight by about 2 to 10 per cent, and then work on lifting this heavier weight until it again becomes comfortable.

If you are unsure of how to perform strength training it is advisable to consult with a qualified personal trainer to show you the ropes.