Contrary to popular belief, weight training (or resistance training) isn’t just for building muscle! There are five main types of physical fitness and weight training can actually be used to develop all five of these areas. This article takes a look at each type of fitness category as well as how two of these – muscular and cardiovascular fitness – can be improved through regular weight training.
Types of Physical Fitness
- Muscular strength
This type of fitness is concerned with the amount of force a muscle (or groups of muscles) can produce. When you pack on another few kilograms to your bench-press sets or have to move up to a heavier dumbbell for your arm curls, you’re improving your muscular strength fitness.
- Muscular endurance
The fitness of this nature is determined by looking at how long your muscles can perform continuously until they are fatigued. This type of physical fitness can be improved through cycling or by using the rowing machines and step machines. How you know your muscular endurance fitness is growing is when you can see that you’re able to cycle further, step length and row harder for longer periods of time.
- Cardiovascular endurance
Cardiovascular fitness is concerned with how well your heart and lungs can work in tandem to provide the body with oxygen and fuel while performing sustained exercise. Ways to build this type of fitness include speed walking, running, swimming and cycling.
Can you touch your toes? If not, your flexibility fitness might be lacking! Flexibility fitness is how efficiently your joints can move through their intended ranges of motion. If you can’t touch your toes, it means there are joints in your body that are unable to stretch to their full potential. To help you increase your flexibility try going to a Yoga class. The different positions – or asanas as these are termed in Sanskrit – will help you increase your flexibility levels in your entire body.
- Body composition
This fifth and final type of physical fitness is concerned with how much body fat you have as compared to bone, muscle, and organs. Most gyms now have tools you can use to test your body fat percentage. The biokinetics will help you measure this. The higher the percentage, the more body fat you are carrying and the lower your body composition fitness.
How Weight Training Improves Muscular Fitness
Weight training is all about resistance. When you perform a bicep curl without weight, the only resistance there is to your bicep is gravity and the weight of your forearm. When you add weight to the equation, the resistance increases dramatically and this places more strain on the muscle, making it harder to perform the movement. This resistance training through the use of weights, over time, improves both your muscular strength fitness as well as your flexibility fitness (when proper form is followed throughout the resistance training). – a Personal Trainer can help you understand the proper form for weight training.
If you’re looking for a weight training regime that works on all five types of physical at once, consider participating in high-intensity interval training (HIIT). These workouts are fast-paced and feature repetitive bodily movements using dumbbells, kettlebells, and other weights.
How Weight Training Improves Cardiovascular Fitness
There are two ways weight training can actually improve your cardiovascular fitness. The first involves blood: when you lift weights, receptors on blood vessels in your muscles get bigger to allow more blood to flow to the muscle being worked. Simultaneously, these muscles push blood back towards the heart, increasing the amount of blood your heart pumps per beat. This improves cardio fitness.
The second way weight training improves cardiovascular fitness is through the production of a molecule known as pyruvate. This molecule is a by-product of your body processing glucose for energy. It is one of the main sources of energy the body draws on while performing cardiovascular exercises. Through weight training, your body learns how to produce and effectively utilize pyruvate.
As you can see, weight training is a fantastic way of improving overall fitness. Always be on the lookout for ways you can vary your workouts as this will ensure that your body is subjected to new forms of exercise that it won’t get used to and cause you to plateau.