Resistance training is one of the core elements of the eight-week fitness challenge which Sean Walsh, Michael Marigliano, and I, at The Mayo Advertiser, have taken up with the McWilliam Park Hotel leisure centre.
Working off a thrice weekly schedule, we each received a programme of resistance work which alternates on each visit between upper body (arms and torso ) and lower body (legs ).
Speaking for myself, my previous bursts of gym activity were largely dominated by cardio work - pounding away on the treadmill, pedalling or stepping for an hour or so.
But not on this programme. Just 20 to 30 minutes of each gym visit is made-up of cardio (treadmill or cross trainer ).
The rest - about 60 minutes - is all resistance and core work.
I think for Sean and Michael, resistance work has not been as much of a revelation, but for me, it is more or less all new.
Resistance is something I have always been a little bit scared of. I tended to stay away from ‘that part’ of the gym, thinking it more the domain of quite serious looking, body builder, types who pass around huge, unwieldy weights in front of the mirror with veins and sinews aplenty popping under the pressure.
But now that I have been given a programme of doable (but definitely challenging ) resistance training, I am starting to see it in a different light.
Firstly, I was wrong about who does and does not do resistance. On each visit, I see people of all shapes, sizes, and ages, both male and female, diligently working away on their own version of the endless combinations that can make up a resistance programme.
Secondly, I do not feel as ridiculous as I thought I would swapping and switching my way through dumbells, kettlebells, and the various benches and machines, now that I have clear instructions on how they work and how I can manipulate them to help me meet my fitness goals (build muscle, burn body fat, get some shape and definition ).
According to Fallon McDonnell, manager at the gym, resistance work is absolutely the best and fastest way to get results in the gym.
“It increases your metabolic rate, so it makes you burn calories faster,” says Fallon. “Resistance training doesn’t just burn calories while you do it. You actually continue to burn calories into that night and the next day.”
Even when you are not working out, having lean muscle mass helps keep you trim.
“Each pound of muscle in your body burns an extra 50 calories a day, compared to a pound of fat which burns nothing,” added Fallon.
There is a host of other benefits too from improved posture and increased stamina to better bone density and even healthier sleep patterns.
During our resistance training sessions, Fallon makes sure there is no dawdling. If you are not pushing it, she is quick to up the weight and make sure you are not wasting time on something that is not really tough enough to deliver results.
The focus is very much on keeping good posture and getting the movement just right (form ) and repeating, repeating, repeating (reps ).
It might sound boring but it is actually incredibly challenging, you definitely sweat and feel your heart rate increase. It is also very rewarding to push yourself, muscles shaking and weary, to the last to finish those final reps. After just two weeks, I already feel stronger and I am getting through more of the reps, which seemed impossible to complete on day one.
Resistance might be futile when you are talking the Borg, but when it comes to fitness, do not be afraid to get some resistance in there.
For more information on the leisure facilities at the McWilliam Park Hotel, contact Fallon on (094 ) 9378048.