Weightlifting has been a popular sport for centuries. Resistance training, though, is slowly catching up to its elder in terms of popularity and effectiveness. The right option for the athlete, however, is in a blend of both the young and the old.
The Good and Bad of Weightlifting
Strength training is awesome for people who want to tone their muscles, reduce body fat, or maintain a “macho” image. It is also good for your health, especially in the region of your bones.According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, a half-hour of strength training per day has shown to decrease risk of fracture in those with deteriorative bone diseases. The same has proven true for patients with arthritis, a study by the Mayo Clinic revealing a dramatic decrease in joint pain and stiffness after the introduction to the exercise.
So, when can muscle building go wrong?
Even when not suffering from another illness, lifting barbells and building muscle can often prompt you to push your body further than it is ready to go. Oddly enough, the majority of athletic injuries happen in weightlifters.
Some examples of injuries sustained through strength exercises are:
- Joint and shoulder pain, from the repetitive movement of joints and appendages. Weightlifters are not alone, though; the condition is common in dancers and football players, athletes whose joints also experience a great deal of identical movements in succession.
- Strained and torn muscles, which happen after the muscle has been “overloaded.” These can range from mild to severe, and require several days to properly heal.
- Stress fractures, which are often caused by the lifting of too much too soon. Requiring up to six months of physical therapy, broken bones are often not worth challenging yourself beyond what your body can handle.
In short, you should ultimately take your lifting slowly and steadily. Even if you are looking to become the next professional bodybuilder; muscle is not something one can gain overnight. Your body will thank you, and likely perform better, as well, if you have patience.
The Strengths and Weaknesses of Resistance Training
Resistance training has become a new trend in fitness, the elastic tubes and bands coming out of physical therapy offices and into the gym. Resistance bands are far less expensive than the traditional dumbbell or free weight, and they work wonders in the muscle recovery of runners, dancers, and swimmers.
In addition to being helpful in preventing injury, elastics are also more versatile than the machines on which one can spend hundreds – even thousands – of dollars. With proper training, you can target more areas than would be possible, should you opt for dumbbells, instead. The portability of the items allows you to carry them about, too, which gives you a leg-up on those who might be lugging their weights for miles.
Resistance bands, while a favorite with fitness lovers who are searching to spice up their routines, have a few drawbacks:
- They can snap. While this usually only happens after a prolonged term of use, there are the infamous few that basically come broken in their plastic wrapping. Although they are generally very safe; it would be wise to proceed with adequate caution.
- It is difficult to tell how much mass you’re pulling. Unlike dumbbells, resistance bands do not have a set “weight” they are guaranteed to provide. The products are typically set in ranges, like 5 pounds to 7 pounds or 20 pounds to 22 pounds. While you are not completely in the dark, you still do not have the certainty you would with normal weights. Some bands carry the ability for attachment, like those made by JS Fitness, which allows for increased resistance.
- Bands are not for building bulk, however they are wonderful for maintaining it, as well as developing lean muscle. Trainers who are looking for bulk, stick with the good, old-fashioned weights.
What and When?
The best advice for any athlete would be to alternate, and keep the workout fresh in order to bring the body to its optimal level of fitness. Personally, I prefer to use traditional tools at the gym in conjunction with the set of resistance tubes I have, at home or when I am travelling. The frequent swaps gives my body the opportunity to adapt to an environment that is constantly changing, which I believes contributes to my being a versatile athlete.
I encourage you to take a peek at resistance band buying guide in order to find what is best for you. Resistance bands, which can cost as little as few dollars per band, will not be a hefty investment that will turn into money wasted if you find they are not your style. They make an excellent gift for any athlete, as well, should you wish to rid yourself of the mechanisms.In all, both forms of exercise make for both internal and external health.