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Back in the days, the first thing that comes to mind when we hear the term “resistance training” was huge, bulky, sweaty men with carved muscles lifting tons of weight beyond our strength. But times have changed, resistance training is looked upon and used even more efficiently now. Men and women are equally active and engage in resistance exercises.
Resistance training, in simple words, is exercises done with the help of weights i.e. an external opposing force commonly in the form of dumbbells, weight cuffs, therabands, medicine balls, barbells, water bottles, bricks, etc.
Resistance exercises allows your muscles (skeletal muscles) to contract voluntarily. The contraction helps in gaining muscle strength, muscle mass, muscle tone and endurance. Resistance training is a major part of rehabilitation program after a long period of immobility and loss of muscle function in injured persons. Strength training is an important step to be followed by a physiotherapist after the signs and symptoms of the injury or any other musculoskeletal condition subsides. It helps regain the muscle power and strength which was lost.
Resistance training exercise can take some major forms;
- Open kinetic chain exercises and
- Closed kinetic chain exercises.
Open kinetic chain exercises involves free engagement of the hands and feet. It allows a limited range of muscles of the body to be strengthened. Whereas, closed chain exercises includes fixation of the limbs allowing contraction of more muscles. Examples of open chain exercises: bicep curls, triceps extensions, bench press, leg extensions, etc. Example of closed chain exercises include push-ups, pull-ups, dips, planks, squats, lunges etc.
Also, resistance training can be done with the help of free weights. This is one of the most effective types of resistance training exercises, as there is an increased amount of resistance in the form of an external force. It increases the amount of work to be done by both primary and secondary muscles (stabilizers).
Resistance training exercise can done with the use of machines, which are usually available in gyms and rehabilitation centers. It is a good alternative for beginners who have diminished muscle strength as it provides a stable and safe mode of exercise. Once the patient gains enough muscle strength, it is important to progress and take up more challenges such as seated chest press, seated shoulder press, seated leg press, rowing machine etc.
Aqua-therapy commonly called hydrotherapy provides an excellent amount of resistance to the limbs along with low impact on joints due to water buoyancy. Resistance is provided in water against its flow in all directions. There is a higher amount of resistance provided by the water as compared to exercising on land. And hence a better resistance training can be achieved.
Before beginning with the resistance training there are certain things that you must keep in mind. Begin with less amount of weight in initial stages and gradually progress. Starting with heavy weight might cause injury and too less weight may be insignificant and show no improvement in muscle strength. Another thing to consider is frequency of training the same muscle repeatedly may lead to a reduced muscle growth. Give your muscles break intervals of at least 2-3 days.
Opinions expressed by physiogramworld contributors are their own.
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