Three Reasons Not to Resist Resistance Exercise

A brief history of resistance exercise

Milo of Croton, a famed Greek wrestler from the 6th century B.C. is said to have carried a bull daily from the time it was a calf until it became a full size bull.  

This story is said to have influenced a well known principle of resistance exercise, called progressive resistance exercise (PRE) which is the gradual increase in the load a muscle carries in order to build increased muscle mass and strength over time.

Resistance exercise is practice of loading muscles with an external resistance in order to grow stronger, denser muscle tissue. Body weight can also serve as resistance for some exercise.

Today, The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that healthy adults perform two non-consecutive days of resistance exercise each week, however we suggest healthy adults practice some light resistance training every day.

Resistance exercise is highly beneficial to our bodies and mind and continues to be practiced today, thousands of years after Ancient Greeks, Indians and Chinese athletes used early stone weights to improve their physique and athletic prowess. Below are three reasons why resistance exercise is so beneficial.

First and most obvious, resistance exercise improves muscle health

Using resistance or weight to develop our muscles produces denser, stronger muscle tissue. When we perform balanced exercises that recruit all major muscle groups, the result is an improved muscle tone throughout our entire body which is the goal. Since joints are surrounded by muscle having a balanced muscular system also allows our joints to function smoothly and move freely and unimpeded.

Muscle health improves bone health

Each time a muscle contracts or expands, the muscle moves the bone via a tendon, a fibrous strap of tissue that attaches muscle to bone. Overtime, the tension transmitted from the muscle to the bone stresses the bone enough that it strengthens overtime.

Muscle health is closely tied to bone health which is why resistance exercise is so important for maintaining bone health and bone density which diminishes naturally as we age.

Metabolism, weight loss + energy

Muscle tissue houses our mitochondria, sub-cellular units that convert energy from the food we eat into a form of energy our bodies can use. The more muscle tissue we have, the more energy we have access too and the better we feel. Also, our metabolism increases with more muscle tissue as our bodies require more fuel to function and thrive. This means that with stronger muscles it becomes easier to maintain a healthy weight.

Using resistance to enhance our athleticism is actually an ancient practice. However, today we know the benefits associated with resistance exercise include enhanced bone health and improved metabolism. For these two reasons resistance exercise is even more important for the chronic medical and health issues we are encountering today

Additional Resources

  • Milo of Croton and the principles of resistance training here

  • History of resistance exercise here