What do we mean by the term resistance training?
When we consider what resistance training is we must break the phrase down. The consistent use of exercise in a coordinated and systematic way can be defined as training. Doing this with steadily increasing intensity and/or volume through resistance is the most effective way to build muscle mass and lose fat. Doing these together, and coupled with smart eating & drinking habits, can be labeled resistance training.
If resistance is used in an un-coordinated way it is tempting to call this resistance training, and often is, but in reality it is just resistance exercise. While exercise in and of itself is always better than inactivity, insofar as it will increase the expenditure of energy, the effects will be very limited and often disappoint causing many to give up. When training consistently and following a controlled program the effects of true resistance training can be remarkable and set you up for a meaningful and good quality of life as you age - and aging is something that regardless of social status, race, creed or nationality affects every single one of us!
What is the most effective form of resistance training?
The short answer to the most effective form of resistance training is the one that you actually do! Seriously, taking action and being consistent is the single best decision you can make for your health, life and outcomes. Doing any form of resistance training is infinitely better than doing none.
The research shows that weight based resistance training is the most effective form of resistance training, which includes barbell squat, bench press, overhead press, deadlift, leg press, glute bridges, pull ups and chin ups, lat pull downs, dumbbell exercises, cable machine exercises, and more.
The reality though is that for these to be performed effectively you need to be a member of a gym that has at least a power rack, complete set of dumbbells and cable machines, as well as specialized trainers to ensure that you use correct form and appropriate weight to perform safely. Many of the commercial gyms do not have such facilities, or correctly trained trainers - having a Smith Machine only is a poor substitute as it does not provide correct range of motion or load bearing characteristics, and many of these gyms actually frown on people using weights as this may intimidate other 'guests'.
The other key limiting factor is time - it takes dedication and time to get to the gym on a set schedule so that you can undertake an effective strength resistance training program. You may have the desire but we all know life and reality get in the way. If the consistency starts to slip because you're working away from home, or your child has become sick then so will the progress of your resistance training program. This can lead to a downward spiral until you give up altogether.
Are resistance bands effective for resistance training?
As previously mentioned doing weight based resistance training is the most effective way to train, and for those who are able to commit the time and dedication this should be their primary method. Indeed many intermediate and advanced lifters actually add resistance bands into their training to add extra variety and resistance profiles.
For those who have other competing pressures for their time, whether that be their job or their family, using a set of resistance bands can be the single most effective way of following a resistance training program. Why? Well, these are small and portable allowing you to easily take anywhere you go so there is never an excuse to say you can't do it because you have no access! A good set of resistance bands will have increasing tensions so that you can steadily increase the resistance, which is the crux of strength resistance training. You should be able to mimic the 'classic' training moves with resistance with the components of the band kit. In a separate post we outlined the five top reasons you should be using resistance bands.
Building on the statement that any resistance training is better than none, a resistance band kit that can be taken anywhere and take up only a small amount of space makes for an ideal solution. The key is consistency and to keep it up - it is easy to become demotivated and give up on training.
It is vital for your personal health as you progress through life that you keep up with your training.