Thalia Wynne, PT, DPT, AT, RYT-200
Our bodies adapt to the demands we place on them – Wolff’s law. This is the foundational rule for why we need resistance training. Our brains, the CEO of our body system, want their companies, our bodies, to be efficient. This means if you don’t use it, the brain says “lose it”. Therefore, if we do not load the body appropriately, we get weaker, and weaker. The brain stops sending resources to musculoskeletal tissue because there is no reason to.
Seemingly so suddenly you are wondering why you are getting winded up the stairs, or why you can’t carry in as many grocery bags at once as you used to. You find yourself avoiding picking up heavy items off the floor. The plight of musculoskeletal weakness often goes unnoticed for way too long. Don’t let this become you.
Today, you are going to learn why you should fall in love with resistance training. If not for a love of the accomplished feeling and endorphin rush you get after picking something heavy up and putting it back down again (like I feel), then at least for the love of your beautifully designed musculoskeletal system – your human body. To help it thrive so that you may live a balanced, healthy lifestyle. Because as Mr. Wolff lays out for us – your body adapts to the demands you place on the system.
To thrive, you need to load your body. This came naturally in the old days of human evolution when we had to build our own shelters, make our own clothes, gather our own food, and fight for our survival. The blessing of our modern world is that for many of us, the basic needs of food, safety, and shelter are a given. We get to use our incredible brains towards other pursuits – like technology, economics, and higher-level education. However, don’t forget – humans evolved to be animals in motion. Desk jobs do not serve our physical evolution. In fact, we are devolving physically. The way we hunch with our shoulders rounded, arms dragging, and head forward is oddly similar to a caveman, don’t you think?
Because of the lack of movement and physical labor in our lives, there is a new problem arising – we are weak, and in physical pain from underloading the body, staying still for too long, and overstressing our minds. Enter strength training a.k.a. resistance training to save the day!
Now like most things in life, strength training is not a one-size-fits-all solution, nor the only solution to our modern-day problems. However, it is a powerful and underutilized one. The National Institute of Health1 raves about the benefits of strength training. Here are a few of them:
- reduced body fat
- increased basal metabolic rate
- decreased blood pressure
- decreased cardiovascular demands to exercise
- improved blood lipid profiles
- improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity
- increased muscle and connective tissue cross-sectional area
- improve functional capacity
I could go on and on. With this list of benefits, why wouldn’t you want to start training?! There are many ways to get the job done – bodyweight resistance training, cross-fit, bodybuilding, and my personal favorite, Olympic lifting, just to name a few. The important thing is to pick a strength training strategy to start with and go!
How often should you be strength training? At least 3 times per week. How long? Well, that just depends on what you are doing. The more important question to be asking is simply how? How am I going to strengthen my body? If it is bodyweight only, that’s a great place to start. Work on your movement mechanics and body awareness. Manipulate time under tension – this means go slow and move through the motion with intentional muscle engagement. Your LYT practice is perfect for this type of training. Haven’t tried LYT yet? Check out the 2-week free trial on the streaming platform, LYT Daily, to see what I mean. It’s like the Netflix of yoga!
Eventually, you will plateau with bodyweight only exercises. Remember Mr. Wolff? We adapt. Let’s say you can do 25-50 bodyweight squats in a row and by the end you are barely breathing heavy at all. Clearly, you’ve adapted to this exercise. I bet at first, it was really challenging, and over time, it became easier and easier. Eventually, you reach a plateau – where it can be done easily and you are no longer receiving the same amount of physiological and physical benefits as you were when you started. Continuing to do the same thing repeatedly will not yield more strength or better results. There needs to be a progression of load.
This is why it is important to add load in the form of weights to your weekly training plan. Once you reach a certain level of fitness, bodyweight training likely won’t be enough for you to keep making physical adaptations. LYT has you covered here, too. Don’t worry. Try a Set with Weights class or the all-new LYTStrong series – coming soon!
The next key to resistance training is load variability. To keep improving the physical body, it is valuable to keep the CEO, your brain, guessing. This will keep the brain from trying to turn off the lights on your weak areas – ahem, talking about your scapula muscles. Keep experimenting with new movement patterns, different repetition schemes, and switch up your routine often. It will keep your body and your brain guessing so you can continue building strength and increasing your longevity potential.
Remember, the great part about resistance training is that it is part of your blueprint to being functional in your daily life. You’ll climb up the stairs with ease, wow your partner when you say “I’ve got this, honey” and pick up the heaviest grocery bag, and most importantly – you will maintain your independence.
I hope it is clear to you what makes resistance training so valuable and that you feel inspired to pick up those dumbbells and start or continue your strength training. Check out the LYT Daily platform for inspiration with our all-new series, LYTStrong!
Stay strong friends,
Thalia Wynne, PT, DPT, AT, RYT-200
Kraemer WJ, Ratamess NA, French DN. Resistance training for health and performance. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2002;1(3):165-171. doi:10.1249/00149619-200206000-00007