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When establishing your workout regimen, resistance training exercises should be a part of it.

“Resistance training is essentially any weight-bearing activities performed in which your muscle fibers contract against the force of external loads,” said James Shmagranoff, fitness center manager and a lecturer at Purdue University Northwest.

It involves a variety of movements, including pushing, pulling or lifting, and provides a variety of performance and health benefits, he said.

“Performance benefits include increased balance, coordination, speed and strength, all of which have carryover outside of training to increase your capacity to perform activities of daily living,” Shmagranoff said.

Resistance training also can help build stronger bones, reduce body fat, increase metabolism, reduce blood pressure and provide various cardiovascular benefits.

Besides that, the exercises can ease symptoms of osteoarthritis, depression and diabetes, said Stephen Bryan, a personal trainer at Franciscan Health Fitness Centers Chesterton.

Bryan said there are many common resistance training exercises, including the leg press, deadlifts, leg extensions, seated row, bicep curl, lat pull-down, shoulder press, ab crunch, back extension and chest press.

Equipment used to create resistance include exercise machines, dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, resistance bands and resistance tubes.

When little or no equipment is available, people can work with a trainer or partner for manual, resistance-tension exercises, Shmagranoff said.

“Essentially this form of resistance training has the trainer/training partner applying resistance to the trainee during various ranges of motion,” he said.

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The American College of Sports Medicine has developed a recommended resistance training workout schedule, which can be helpful for those just starting out. That calls for one to two sets of eight to 12 repetitions for healthy adults.

Bryan said all the major muscle groups should be targeted, and eight to 10 total exercises should be conducted during workouts.

The ACSM recommends that resistance training exercises should be done at least two days a week but on nonconsecutive days.  Recommended exercises for the off days vary by individual. 

“While there exist a variety of general recommendations, training prescription and programming is highly individual and should be customized with regard to the training methods, the duration, frequency, volume, intensity and overall individual goals for the program,” Shmagranoff said.

A recent study by researchers from the University of Glasgow shows the importance of regular resistance exercises for overweight individuals.

The study focused on 10 overweight men. They participated in short-duration, high-intensity resistance exercises three times a week for six weeks.

In addition to enhancing muscles and strength, insulin sensitivity was increased after the training program, according to the study.

That’s significant because those with lower insulin sensitivity can encounter problems when blood sugars rise. Short-term issues can include fatigue. Heart disease and stroke can be long-term complications.

If a person develops insulin resistance, cells don't respond normally to insulin. That can cause glucose to build up in the blood because it can't easily enter cells.

"Being overweight actually affects insulin sensitivity via a number of varying factors and ultimately may lead to the development of Type 2 diabetes and can even lead to the development of metabolic syndrome," Shmagranoff said.

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