What Is Resistance Training?
Resistance exercise is training that progressively overloads your muscles. Some examples of resistance training would be traditional weightlifting, bodyweight exercises like pushups and pullups, and resistance band exercises. These types of exercises are meant to make your muscles bigger, stronger, more powerful, and more functional.
Specific adaptations to resistance training begin within the muscle cells. However, you’ll still get systemic benefits ranging from muscle growth to cardiovascular benefit.
To gain a deeper understanding of the whole-body performance and health effects of resistance training, read into how resistance exercise affects muscle at the microscopic level.
How does muscle adaptation work?
The point of resistance training is to make muscles function more effectively. This all starts with the contractile proteins that act to control muscle shortening and lengthening.
When you do resistance exercise, some of those proteins get yanked apart. That, along with the stress your muscle experienced, is the
stimulus for your muscle to rebuild – this time bigger, stronger, or more powerful than before.
After resistance exercise, your muscle synthesizes proteins (this is aided by nutritional stimuli i.e. protein consumption). Special cells known as satellite cells also spring into action to help build up the broken down muscle. They normally lie quietly adjacent to muscle cells, but resistance exercise tells them to get to work.
Satellite cells combine with the muscle cells that were strained and damaged during your resistance training session. In doing so, they lend their molecular machinery to support protein synthesis that leads to muscle hypertrophy.
Resistance training with loads over 60% of your 1-repetition maximum results in hypertrophy of primarily type II fibers (‘fast-twitch’). These fibers are capable of rapid contraction with high force but tire more easily.
These micro-level adaptations matter to athletes and the general population alike. When you make measurable gains in muscle mass, strength, or power, you can thank the protein synthesis and fiber-specific adaptations that occurred within your muscle cells.