Weight training, strength training and resistance training are all methods adapted to improve the resistance and size of the skeletal muscles. Weight training involves the application of a variety of equipments to target specific muscle groups and types of movement, such as weighted bars, dumbbells, Kettlebells, and weight stacks. Though weight training differs from body building and weightlifting, it forms a vital component of any well rounded fitness routine. Weight training is not just for athletes but also for all types of men and women, since it offers a continuum of benefits such as increased muscle strength, enhanced muscle tone, better flexibility as well as balance, prevention of muscle and joint injury, minimized risk of osteoporosis, and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Above all, weight training has been proven to be effective in building endurance, thereby enabling your body to work harder.
Now that we know how beneficial weight training is for the human body, let’s take a tour of the origins of weight training. Weight training has a long history dating back to ancient China as well as the Greek culture. Ancient Greek texts report that Hippocrates described the principle on weight training while writing "that which is used develops, and that which is not used wastes away." Furthermore, some texts elucidate that mighty Hercules took resistance training under the supervision of his tutor and coach, Chiron. It was also the ancient Greeks that invented the Olympic games, where weight lifting was a very popular sport. According to some Chinese texts, many of the great emperors utilized strength training for their subjects. Likewise, during the reign of the Chou dynasty (1122-249 BC), soldiers were required to undergo a strength test in order to gain enrollment into the army. References to weight training are also mentioned in the Indian culture. As a part of weight training in India, blood sacrifices were made to their gods during Vedic Soma festivals. Also, included was drinking ceremonial hallucinogenic liquor called vajpeya meaning "the drink of strength."
Weight training became more popular in the 6th century, during which such competitions as athletes lifting heavy stones were conducted. Later, this period came to be known as the "age of strength." It was during this period, Milo of Crotona, a military hero, developed a form of progressive resistance exercise. The importance of weight training is also found mentioned in Preservation of Health, a treatise by Galen, one of the ancient physicians and philosophers. Additionally, weight training and its significance were written by Roman poets like Martial. As a result, the Romans originated formal weight training, which resulted in the development of one of the most feared armies in history.
The actual text on weight training grew with the introduction of paper as well as printing. In 1531, Sir Thomas Elyot published a book on exercise to build strength. Weight training first became a part of the curriculum in Europe in 1544 when some of the universities in Germany and France offered weight training classes coupled with certain books. They also recommended weight training as an integral part of a school’s curriculum. Later, weight training became vital in the field of physical rehabilitation, followed by John Paugh’s publication A Physiological, Theoretical and Practical Treatise on the Utility of Muscular Exercise for Restoring the Power to the Limbs, in 1728. After a century, the British Army introduced a formalized training regimen, which included in it the application of dumbbells and barbells.
With the onset of the 20th century, many innovative techniques were employed in the weight training arena. However it was in the 1960s, that exercise equipment gradually entered strength training gyms. Weight training gained much fame in the 1980s, with the release of the bodybuilding movie "Pumping Iron." Later in the 1990s, women began to take up weight training, influenced by such programs as Body for Life.
Whether it is men or women, it is now estimated that people around the world consider weight training as an essential part of their training regimen.