Strength Training: More than simply lifting weights

Strength training (resistance training) involves using muscular contraction to overcome resistance forces. The process helps to build muscle size and strength. There is a big misconception that strength training requires fancy weight lifting equipment and a gym membership, but this isn’t the case. There are many activities you can do without the need for free-weights, squat racks and weight machines. The use of medicine balls, resistance bands and your own body weight can all provide you with the resistance needed to develop and maintain strength, as well as provide you with a challenging work out.

There are a number of benefits of alternative training programs, which use fundamental movements and body weight or resistance bands to supply the resistance to the workout. Firstly, this type of training can be convenient and very practical for travellers or people who do not have access to a gym. There are many exercises can be performed without the use of equipment. Secondly, these workouts can be conducted both inside and outside, which is a great way to workout if there is good weather. These days, many parks have training stations built in locations about the park. Lastly, these types of workouts can help provide a bit of a change up to a regular program, which can help motivation and provide something that is new and interesting to do.

Functional workout areas appear to have become more popular in newly developed health and recreation centres. These areas have come about because of a concept shift to training, which focuses on training a number of areas of the body simultaneously, rather than targeting muscle groups in isolation (e.g. chin ups vs.
seated bicep curls). Functional workout spaces incorporate resistance bands, suspension training (TRX bands), monkey bars and climbing ropes and so on. The type of activities in the program can be modified to suit the level of person. Basic exercises include squats, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups and handstands, whilst variations of these primary movements can be used to decrease difficulty (e.g. adding a resistance band to assist with chin ups) or increase difficulty (e.g. suspended push-ups).

Under the functional banner, primal movement training takes a less conventional approach to building strength. Programs incorporating primal movement training will have you performing crawling movements and different bending and twisting manoeuvres that appear like breakdancing derivatives. These types of activities can be deceptively challenging. They involve multi-plane movement and work muscle groups across the body. If you are looking for some new, challenging but fun workout activities – I suggest giving these a try.

If you are undertaking a resistance program in attempt to decrease body weight, you might be interested in undertaking some fast paced circuit training work with little rest in between each exercise. This type of training falls under what has been coined ‘metabolic resistance training’ or MRT. The best part about these workouts is that they can be completed with little or no equipment and they have been indicated as effective forms of combining cardiovascular and resistance training. If you are too tight on time to get out to the gym, this is the type of activity you can do without leaving the house. If you have a really busy schedule, you might become a fan of the “7-minute” workout, which is a high-intensity body weight training circuit that can be completed with just a chair. If you are interested in giving it a shot – there are different combinations of MRT exercises that you can find online.

In closing, the purpose of this article was not to suggest that you should ‘do in’ with your weights program and convert to a body weight based program. Rather, it is to indicate that there are a number of different exercises that can be added into your strength-training schedule. Different activities can be incorporated into your current program, or there are exercises that can be put together to provide you with an enjoyable, yet challenging work out that can be conducted at any time, in most places outside of a gym setting.