People have increasingly turned to resistance training to reach their health goals. Resistance exercise examples include bodyweight training, elastic bands and weightlifting. Learning about these simple, but effective, exercises will help you decide which of them works best for you.
Read more: 20 Best Body-Weight Exercises
Do Resistance Training at Home
The author of an April 2018 report from the Mayo Clinic notes how doing calisthenics like crunches, push-ups and squats can help you gain strength and mass. Trainers call this type of workout bodyweight exercises because the resistance comes from moving your body against gravity in all planes of motion.
Challenge yourself with exercise variations once you can do 12 to 15 repetitions. An incline board with several rungs will let you make progress on your abdominal strength. Gradually moving from two-handed push-ups to one-handed push-ups will enhance your chest strength. Changing your squat stance and doing one-legged variations can increase your leg power.
A June 2015 paper in the Polish Journal of Sport and Tourism shows the positive effects of this type of exercise. These researchers had 15 younger women do bodyweight training several times a week for 10 weeks. This intervention dramatically improved the women's physical fitness. Their lower body strength increased 5 percent, their trunk endurance increased 10 percent and their aerobic capacity increased 33 percent. The women also showed greater joint flexibility by the end of the study.
Suspension training gives you a great way to do resistance exercises. For these workouts, you hold handles that are tethered to an overhead anchor point. Even though you stay in contact with the ground, suspending your body in this way creates an instability which challenges you to keep your balance while generating power. A door anchor from the TRX company will let you easily do suspension training at home.
Use Elastic Bands
Doing resistance training with elastic bands gives you another easy way to exercise at home. Originally designed for rehabilitation, many people now use these bands for resistance workouts. An online article from the British Heart Foundation offers a list of resistance training exercises you can try with the bands.
For example, you can do traditional movements like lateral raises, chest presses and biceps curls. The color of the band indicates the amount of resistance ranging from easy to hard, so you can progress as you get stronger.
Working with these bands will do more than just build your strength. The writers of a November 2013 paper in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science tested 24 older adults with balance problems to document these added effects.
Compared to a control group, subjects who used the bands twice a week for 5 weeks showed improved balance and had a stable body weight throughout the study. Interestingly, the researchers suggested that exercise-related increases in visual acuity and other senses mediated these effects.
Lift Different Types of Weight
Weightlifting remains the most popular form of resistance exercise. That's because you can use exercise machines or free weights — kettlebells, dumbbells and barbells. You can even lift foam weights while in a pool! A September 2018 article from the Mayo Clinic gives you some useful tips.
The author recommends first working with a trainer to guarantee that you have the correct form. Do a 10-minute warm-up routine, and make time to recover after each workout. It's also important to slow down, concentrate and properly breathe. Increase the amount of weight once you can do more than 12 repetitions.
Read more: How to Get Started With Weightlifting
A November 2015 article in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society shows how the positive effects of resistance training extend beyond your muscles. These researchers had 155 postmenopausal women exercise at least once a week for a year.
The weekly one-hour workout improved the participants' memory. Amazingly, it also altered their brain. Women doing the resistance training had greater white matter suggesting a neuroprotective effect of weightlifting.
- Mayo Clinic: "Is Body Weight Training Effective as a Strength Training Exercise?"
- Polish Journal of Sport and Tourism: "Impact of Ten Weeks of Bodyweight Training on the Level of Physical Fitness and Selected Parameters of Body Composition in Women Aged 21-23 Years"
- British Heart Foundation: "Resistance Band Exercises"
- Journal of Physical Therapy Science: "Effects of Resistance Exercise Using Thera-Band on Balance of Elderly Adults"
- Mayo Clinic: "Weight Training"
- Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society: "Long-Term Effects of Resistance Exercise Training on Cognition and Brain Volume in Older Women"
- McKinley Health Center: Free Weights vs. Resistance Machines