The role of resistance training in your workout

Posted on 16 March 2017

Life is a series of pushes and pulls, and that’s a good template for your exercise regime too.

It’s pretty much common knowledge that exercise is important for your overall health. However, the term ‘exercise’ encompasses a whole range of activities. Will lifting a dumbbell at gym prevent a heart attack? Will running a marathon result in a slim ’n trim new you? Not necessarily. It’s more complicated than that. We asked biokineticist Pea Blaauw about the role of resistance training, or strengthening exercises, in your workout.

‘Resistance training refers to any exercise that causes muscles to contract against an external resistance with the expectation of increases in strength, tone, mass and/or endurance,’ explains Pea. ‘It primarily improves muscular strength and the integrity of supporting structures.’

If you’re already quite active, strengthening exercises are key tools for injury prevention and rehabilitation after an injury. However, the benefits of strengthening exercises are felt all over the body – even on the muscles you can’t see, like your heart. Pea says scientific literature shows that strength training can result in decreased blood pressure, increased HDL (good) cholesterol and a decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol, increased bone mineral density and improved sleeping patterns, along with an increase in cognitive function.

Resistance training: the moves

The resistance used in these exercises can be anything from bottles of water to your own body weight. You don’t need a gym membership to tone up and build strength. Classic moves like push-ups, crunches and pull-ups are great at-home resistance moves. Additionally, Pea suggests using elastic bands. ‘There are a hundred and one different body weight and elastic band exercises one can do. Don’t be afraid to make them up as you go, just use your common sense to guide you,’ he advises. But remember – exercise should never be painful.

If you’re looking for more ‘ohm’ and less ‘oomph’ in your strengthening exercises, yoga and pilates are ‘low-impact exercise modalities that promote core strength, increase flexibility and balance, and improve joint range of motion,’ says Pea.

Slow and steady

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer as to how much resistance training one should do. As a general rule, Pea recommends 20- to 60-minute sessions two to three days a week for beginners. You should see some physical changes in around eight weeks. Speak to a trainer or find a programme online that will help you gradually increase your workouts.

Build your body from the inside

Your body needs fuel, just like any machine, to build and fortify muscle. After a workout, what you eat and when you eat it has an effect on your gains. Aim for a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio, which is optimal for muscle recovery, and take advantage of the half-hour window after your workout ‘when your muscle cells are most susceptible to nutrient uptake needed to restore damaged fibres and replenish depleted stores,’ says Pea.


BODYTEC is offering 15 Mediclinic Prime members the opportunity to trial BODYTEC (valued at R195 per session) at any one of their 28 studios nationwide.

To enter: Send an e-mail to with the subject line BODYTEC and include your telephone number and name in the email body text. Closing date: 24 March 2017.

BODYTEC® ( is personal training using electro muscle stimulation (EMS) for muscle strength and endurance training. EMS allows for 90% of muscles to be activated simultaneously, with the contractions reaching a much higher intensity than those done voluntarily. These impulses are combined with traditional low-impact exercises for an intense full-body workout.

BODYTEC EMS Training South Africa (resized)

Published in Exercise

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.

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