Resistance training, whether using just body weight, free weights or weight machines, is an important part of a fitness routine.
Anyone who is serious about their chosen sport or who is following a training schedule for their next swim, bike or run event, is almost certainly including at least one day a week of resistance training. Benefits of resistance training include maintaining muscle balance by improving strength in underused muscles, and strengthening the main muscle groups used for their event.
For general health and fitness, resistance training is equally important. As we get into our 40s and beyond, resistance training can help offset, or even reverse, age-related decreases in muscle mass, bone density and flexibility. Performing a whole-body workout three times a week with recovery days in between will produce results we can see and feel.
Training for increased muscle size normally involves three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
If you are training purely for maximal lift strength, the routine will involve multiple sets of low repetitions, say five sets of five reps, using weights heavy enough to induce near failure on the fifth repetition. After a suitable introductory period of general weight training it is reasonably straightforward to follow any of the tried and tested routines available online.
If your goal is to achieve a harder, more toned, more athletic, healthier and better-shaped body without becoming bulky, then consider a routine with higher repetitions in the 50 to 100 range using weights that are lighter, but still induce near failure in the final reps.
It is advantageous to include body-weight exercises as they often engage a larger group of muscles, require multiple joints to move together or at various angles, involve more balance (core work) and are generally more functional, helping you become stronger for those everyday life movements.
Adding a little cardio by minimising breaks and including short periods of high-intensity efforts will help raise your metabolism so that you burn more calories throughout the day, not just during your workout.
A great way for beginners to get started or for experienced exercisers to combine all these resistance training options is to take a class.
To get the best experience, your workout should include: lifting weights or heavy objects, functional body-weight exercises, periods of high-intensity work and breathlessness, and an exercise with a little impact.
Perhaps most important of all, a good class includes safe movements that can be modified with options for everyone in the class, including beginners, by adapting the movement or adjusting the weight.
Tony Watts is a 50-something-year-old fitness fan who teaches cardiovascular and weight/resistance training classes at gyms on