You’re not alone if you came out of the doctor’s office with the recommendation of doing some exercise.
Increasing physical activity levels is always positive in a society that is becoming more sedentary than ever.
Exercising has many benefits for cardiovascular health. But it also prevents different types of cancer and metabolic problems.
There are different types of exercise, and weight training is one of them. We also have aerobic exercise and many variants, such as high-intensity interval training.
This article will focus on weight training and how it helps patients with prostate ailments and healthy individuals.
What is weight training?
Weight training is a type of training that involves increasing the weight you lift to increase muscle strength and muscle mass. It is also known as resistance training.
Resistance training is a broader term because it also includes strength training that does not have weights. For example, bodyweight training and calisthenics. They are alternatives to the usual weight training performed at the gym.
Weight training involves different types of loads and weights. They can be dumbbells, kettlebells, a bar with loaded discs, and a carry-on bag with weights. Anything that adds a challenge to the exercise through increasing loads is beneficial.
The classic example of weight training is the bench press and the bicep curl. The former is done with one bench, an Olympic barbell with support, and weighed discs. Doing the exercise usually involves 8-10 repetitions in 3-4 sets separated by a resting time in-between. It activates the chest muscles and is appropriate for men and women.
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Types of weight training
As noted above, there are different types and subtypes of weight training. They are all included in the description of resistance training. This is a brief list with types and subtypes:
This is a broad term that includes different types of exercise that involve loads or another kind of resistance. They all work similarly and have similar effects on the body, and the main difference is the source of the resistance.
- Weight training: In weight training, the resistance comes from different types of weights. There are different exercises and variations depending on the body parts involved from barbells to carry-on sandbags.
- Bodyweight training: This type of weight training usually does not involve additional equipment. As the name implies, it uses your own weight as a resistance to train. Some exercises may require bars and different types of support. Bodyweight training is also known as calisthenics and includes a progression of exercises that include push-ups, planks, and pull-ups.
- Resistance band training: Resistance bands have varying degrees of tension. More tense resistance bands involve greater difficulty and more resistance. Using resistance bands requires some degree of creativity to reach your goals or appropriate guidance. Here is a guide on how to use resistance bands.
Besides the subtypes of weight training listed above, we can also divide weight training depending on the goal:
This type of weight training is focused on building strength. Strength training involves very heavy weights and a limited number of repetitions.
When the muscle handles the weight successfully, it is time to increase the load. The goal is constantly using heavier weight to challenge the muscle.
Muscle building training
Weight training focused on muscle building is similar to strength training. It features a constant challenge to the muscle and increasing loads to keep it engaged. However, the weights are not meant to be extremely heavy.
The number of repetitions increases, and the load reduces significantly. There’s always a variation in the number of repetitions to engage different muscle fibers and stimulate their growth.
Strength training is used to increase your physical ability. Muscle-building training is helpful for bodybuilders who want to bulk up.
Mixed training is different because it involves aerobic activity and various types of weight training to obtain the benefits of both worlds. It is the healthiest way to approach exercise through a combination of movements.
How to do weight training
There are guides and complete books to teach about different exercises and recommended combinations to do weight training. They are divided into different muscles, and the idea is to exercise all of the body instead of one or two groups.
The ideal would be building a routine following a pattern that ultimately involves all of the body. We can choose between a full-body routine, an upper/lower body approach, or what we call Weider training.
The full-body routine works if you’re exercising a few times a week. It tackles all of your body simultaneously, and you can build it by including one or two exercises per muscle group.
The upper/lower body approach uses two days. On day one, you will work out the upper body and include exercises for your biceps, shoulders, triceps, core, and chest. On day two, you will work out the lower body and combine different exercises for different parts of your legs.
Weider training is only recommended if you go to the gym at least 4-5 days a week. The routine is usually broken down into three days. Each day you will work out a big muscle with a minor muscle—for example, chest and biceps or back and triceps.
You can combine different approaches to make your own routine and challenge your muscles differently each time.
Benefits of weight training for prostate health
Why would you want to focus on weight training if your primary concern has to do with your prostate? Is there any benefit in changing your lifestyle?
A beneficial effect has been tested in animals and humans. Resistance exercise has a protective effect on the prostate, as noted in animal models.
A study was made on rats carrying strapped weight loads for 13 weeks. They were also given ethanol in a dose that would usually cause prostate damage. But the group treated with strength training improved their prostate injuries.
The authors explain that weight training was beneficial in the prostate hormone receptor pathways and lipid receptors. They suggest using resistance training as a therapeutic strategy in case of injuries in the prostate caused by ethanol (1).
However, most applications of weight training in prostate health are found in patients with prostate cancer. They receive a type of treatment that impacts different parts of the body, including their muscles. Prostate cancer patients receiving hormone therapy may suffer from severe muscle mass breakdown.
Testosterone acts in the muscle and promotes the growth and maintenance of the tissue. This therapy prevents testosterone-driven proliferation in the prostate but also in the muscle tissue. Thus, many authors propose weight training to reduce muscle mass breakdown in prostate cancer patients.
According to studies, it may also help recover bone density, sexual health, and fatigue problems that prostate cancer patients feel after undergoing therapy. As such, many authors recommend weight training during rehabilitation to treat the side effects of treatment (2).
But you don’t have to wait until cancer treatment is finished to start your weight training routine. According to studies, physical exercise speeds up the recovery from prostate cancer. It increases the markers of apoptosis in the prostate gland. More cancer cells undergo programmed cell death and curbs tumor growth (3).
A final concern is the cardiometabolic health of patients with prostate cancer. Therapy is hard on various organs, including the heart. But weight training combined with aerobic exercise will improve blood pressure, C-reactive protein level, fasting glucose levels, and body composition in these patients (4).
Other health benefits of weight training
Even if you’re not suffering from prostate problems, weight training can help you in different ways (5):
- Weight training increases aerobic capacity and fitness levels. It gives you some endurance, especially related to carrying loads.
- It increases your strength and improves your athletic performance.
- In older adults, weight training is a countermeasure from sarcopenia. It prevents severe muscle mass breakdown and chronic fatigue.
- Another benefit in seniors is an improvement in mineralization. Weight training may prevent osteoporosis in males and females.
- In younger patients, weight training may also contribute to increased testosterone levels.
- Exercising is a positive way to relieve stress, improve mood, reduce anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.
- It helps increase the number of burned calories throughout the day. Weightlifting along with cardio should also be included in a healthy weight loss strategy.
- In patients with diabetes, building muscle and developing muscular strength may also increase the sensitivity to insulin and help them control their blood sugar.
The benefits of weight training go beyond increasing muscle size. Lifting weights can also be beneficial for patients undergoing prostate cancer treatment. It maintains their skeletal muscle mass and may prevent and treat side effects such as fatigue and sarcopenia.
Combined with cardiovascular exercise, all patients should adopt weight lifting to reduce sedentary behavior and achieve better health. It improves metabolic problems such as diabetes and insulin resistance. It relieves stress and protects mental health.
Having stronger muscles improves your physical and athletic performance. And it may protect your prostate from further damage and accelerate recovery, causing apoptosis in cancer cells.