Flexing in front of the mirror actually makes your biceps bigger!!! Well maybe. A study just out showed that focusing on the targeted muscle/movement during weight-training (watching oneself in the mirror might fall into that category) increased arm circumference by 12.6% (internal focus) compared to a group who focused on the outcome/weight itself/ or action (external focus) – 6% increase.
Using an external focus of attention (the outcome rather than the movement) has been shown to improve sporting performance and endurance and is used extensively in sports coaching, where there is a good amount of research to support it. Studies on weight training are more limited and so far show conflicting results. See Effects of Attentional Focusing Strategies on Muscular Power in Older Women, Jul 15) which comes up with the opposite finding. I’m afraid the jury is still out on this one!
There are compelling reasons to incorporate resistance training into your exercise routine. Benefits of resistance training include improved physical performance, movement control, walking speed, functional independence, cognitive abilities, and self-esteem.
Using load in your training may assist prevention and management of type 2 diabetes by decreasing visceral fat and improving insulin sensitivity; enhance cardiovascular health by reducing resting blood pressure, decreasing bad cholesterol, and increasing good cholesterol; promote bone development, with studies showing 1% to 3% increase in bone mineral density.
Resistance training may also be effective for reducing low back pain and easing discomfort associated with arthritis and fibromyalgia and has been shown to reverse specific aging factors in skeletal muscle
If it’s a time issue that’s stopping you from adding weights to your routine then there’s good news in this piece of research just out: Do We Need a Cool-Down After Exercise? Sports Med, April 2018
The conclusion is no. Existing evidence would suggest that a cool down does not significantly ameliorate either delayed onset muscle soreness or muscle stiffness after exercise, prevent injury, or improve exercise performance later the same day (though it might to a bit the next!). I’m not sure I’ll be giving up my warm down just yet, but I won’t beat myself up too much if I don’t have time either.
Enjoy the sun, and do work on those abs, guns, and buns if you get the chance!
Image: Still from The Legend of Ron Burgundy