What is Resistance Training 

What is resistance training

What is Resistance training? Paradoxically it’s more modern view is adopted to give the image of people exercising using rubber bands, ropes/pulleys or medicine balls etc.

Essentially; a slightly less intense mental out-look toward using resistance to develop muscle and tendon strength as well as increasing bone density and physical endurance.

Whether you’re new to resistance training or not, resistance training can be accomplished at home, in a gym, your back yard, basement or Community Park. Resistance Training is: almost any form of physical activity or exercise you preform using your own body weight or external resistance to increase the force against gravity.

The Definition of What Is Resistance Training? 

Whatever your view of resistance training is; it’s simple by definition: using your body or eternal objects to increase the body’s daily efficiency. You can Use: ropes, bands, rocks, bricks, pails of water including barbells, dumbbells or weight machines found at your local gym, anything that adds resistance.

What is The Purpose Of Resistance Training

Any form of resistance exercise that forces the muscles to contract harder than they would normally, without resistance so... 

A better question might be, what is resistance training going to give you – resistance produces a muscular contraction, there are 3 different types of contractions; 2 of these can be referred to as (Isotonic).

Concentric contraction
  • Concentric contraction - is where muscle tension increases and contracts the hardest against the sticking point in the exercise, e.g., such as bench pressing in the push part of the exercise or lifting in the barbell arm curl. As the muscle shortens the intensity can be felt with a greater degree of difficulty.

The concentric force of the muscle contraction is the positive and contracting phase of the first half of each exercise, as a positive force is made in the repetition. This is where strength and muscle size is created... if enough sets/ reps and intensity is applied.

  • Eccentric contraction - is where the muscle lengthens due to the resistance being greater than the force the muscle is producing. Meaning: as the weight is being lowered to its starting point from a pressing or pulling motion.
Eccentric contraction

The eccentric portion of motion is the negative or releasing phase of the second half of each repetition performed. This is where muscular endurance, density and control are created. This isotonic action is generally most responsible for the soreness you feel the next day, but is important in each repetition.

  • Isometric contractions:  is a third type of contraction where the muscle or particular group of muscles are held in a contraction and not moved; but stay stationary or static in position for a full flex and receive a blood-pump or a momentary endurance-based contraction.

This type of contraction can be used to stimulate some further muscle growth; this also increases the pump, muscle shape and its definition.

Different Types of Resistance Training

There are Four Broad based categories that you can choose from:

  1. Free Weight Training – is probably the most common and popular type of resistance training found in most homes and commercial gyms today. This is where dumbbells and barbells are used to produce strength, forcing stabilizer and supporting muscles to fire simultaneously in each repetition.
  2. Body Weight Training -  Is just that, using your  body weight  as resistance to produce muscle endurance and strength results from the simple resistance of gravity against your own body. Common body weight exercises are: push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, lunges etc.
  3. Weight Machines – have pros and cons depending on your fitness goal, there great for some beginners, adding a degree of safety. Weight machines are a great form of resistance exercise, but they do not produce the same strength benefits as free weight training.
  4. Using what’s available – what is resistance training, it can be anything; using rubber bands, walking up-hill with weights, using paint pails or medicine ball exercises or lifting, packing, or pushing rocks, bricks or tires it all falls under resistance training. 

The Basics of Resistance Exercise Movements

Free weight resistance: there are 2 basic exercise groups:

Compound Exercises:  often involve unilateral movements with the use of the barbell, compound means more than one muscle group comes into play to assist with the lift. This assisting action from multiple muscle groups, allows for more resistance to be used, these exercises are ultimately used to increase strength and muscle size.

Compound exercises

The Barbell Bench Press – shoulders, chest and triceps

Barbell Squat – quadriceps, shoulders, lower back Hamstrings and glutes

Barbell Deadlifting – shoulders, biceps/forearms, back hamstrings and glutes

Standing Barbell Military Press – shoulders lower back, traps, triceps and legs

Barbell Bent over Row – upper and lower back, traps and biceps/forearms

Barbell Lunges – hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes

Free weight training Rep and Set Ranges vary with each athlete’s goal:

5 – 7, for building and increasing Strength

10  – 12, for increasing hypertrophy or muscle size

15 – 20, rep range will ultimately increase endurance

Isolation Exercises:

Dumbbell side laterals

As the name suggests are resistance exercises for isolating specific muscle groups, often used by bodybuilders to increase and enhance the look, shape/size of a particular area of a muscle belly.

These exercises are not as important to use in the beginning – until enough muscle mass has been obtained to shape or enhance into the desired contour that the athlete has set his or her goal towards, here are a few examples.

Isolation training where free weights are concerned can often be performed with dumbbells, making a strong momentary contraction at the termination point of each exercise.

Dumbbell Flyes – to enhance inner and outer pectoral development

Seated Concentration Curls – to enhance the lower and mid biceps peak

Seated or Standing Dumbbell Laterals – to enhance the mid and rear deltoids

Incline Dumbbell Press – to enhance the upper and inner pectorals

Body Weight Training:

Body Weight Training

Body weight training’s degree of difficulty varies from how much total body weight is used as resistance in each exercise, in exercises like:

Wide Grip Chins  


Parallel Bar Dips – these use the entire weight of the body, these are great strength and shaping exercises, but a strong athletic ability is needed.

Other body weight exercises don’t encompass as much body weight resistance allowing for a little less athletic ability such as:



Rope pulls etc.

Weight Machines:

Resistance Machines

Most gyms carry a wide verity of weight machines; machines are a great, safe even fun way to preform resistance training. Machines vary in there nature as to what areas of the body you what to target.

I personally have built a good deal of weight training equipment over the years and I would break machines down into 2 categories:

Machines for increasing muscle and strength:

Often these use a single hinge point or a roller or sleeved bearing system.

Angled leg press

Angled leg or Vertical leg press and Smith machines increase quadriceps leg strength... if enough resistance is used.

Other hinged machine systems that do a good job of taxing your strength reserves are the bent–over T-bar row or the Standing calf raise machine also are good choices to build muscle size and strength in these areas.

Cable, pulley and cam based machines:  also provide great resistance, cable machines pick-up where free weights leave-off; meaning: cable machines often stimulate body parts that can’t be reached effectively through free weight training.

Cable machines allow the athletes nervous system time to focus on the contraction to stimulate the muscle more intensely, as stabilizer muscles don’t come into play as intense as they do where free weights are concerned. Cable machines produce strength, shape and muscle tone.

Cable Lat-Machine

Using a cable-based, Lat - machine provides endless verity with different attachments.

Wide-grip Cable Pull-downs provide great resistance/stimulation to the outer and upper back muscles, narrower grips often stimulate the biceps and mid back muscles, whereas...

seated cable rows with a narrow-grip attachment, produces strength and muscle size across the upper back from the great stretch achieved from this movement.

Cable leg extension machines typically isolate the front quadriceps muscles, whereas cable curls isolate the rear leg biceps.

Often - advanced lifters use free weights to stimulate the biggest body parts first; then graduate to cable machines as greater fatigue sets in, allowing the athlete to focus deeper on muscle movement.

Using Creativity Anything Goes in Resistance Training

Resistance anything goes

What is resistance training? its using whats available; if a gym is is not in your area, you can achieve this anywhere, with anything. If all you have is rocks, bricks or bags of sand use them: if you don't, you can use body weight exercises.

If you need more resistance to increase strength, lift pails of water or paint, lift tires or slide a tire or two onto a metal or wooden bar, to mimic a barbell or dumbbell. You can even use a tree branch for pull-ups, rubber bands, bungee cords or a medicine ball: it all provides resistance.

Perhaps you live near a community park, and can use some of the apparatuses there to challenge yourself. I don't know how many excuses I've heard over the years from people complaining and procrastinating, (they have no equipment or cant find the time).

Equipment lies in creativity: time is not something you find... time is something you make. 

No matter what you use it's all resistance training, from the time we get out of bed and start each day, just having gravity's force on us is taxing by days end. building a resistance to gravity is a means to increase your strength, which in turn, makes each day easier.  

What is Resistance Training Tips!

o   If you’re a beginner, use good sense of judgment… know your physical limits; if you’re not sure, start with a (go easy attitude) giving your body time to adjust to resistance training.

o   Give your body adequate time for recovery, between workouts depending on intensity this is commonly 40 – 60 hrs before re-training.

o   BeginnersIntermediates should always use good lifting form in any resistance training.

Barbell Resistance

o   Using compound exercise movements builds the most strength and effectively the most muscle, while isolation exercises increase muscle shape and tone.

o   Be sure to always take the time to warm-up properly to avoid injuries.

o   Add verity with all resistance training, focus on pushing movements one day; emphasizing the shoulders, chest, triceps and the powerful leg muscles of the quadriceps. On the next day - focus on pull movements stimulating the upper arm biceps/forearms, back and rear leg biceps.

o   Make a fitness plan and set a goal, you have greater than 72% chance of succeeding with a planned goal.

o   Use the right resistance with your goal in mind applying good lifting form... and remember: intensity is always the underlying key to your success.

In Summery

Resistance training has endless verity and possibilities, it really depends on what your goal is: if you want to increase total body strength and significant muscle mass, Free weight compound exercises using barbells would be a great place to start.

If your young and cannot afford expensive gym memberships or maybe you want to work out at home, or are a little self-conscious of using a gym; body weight exercises might be a great avenue to explore.

Ultimately what is resistance training - can be answered by: what do you what to get from it? Match the type of resistance to your athletic goal and don’t give up on your dream of self-improvement.

Interchange exercises with different ones, change the angle, (foot and hand position) including the resistance, the more persistent and progressive you are at any resistance training the greater the results will be reflected by the mirror. Above all resistance training is about creativity, change, verity and some fun... 

So include all of them. DWT

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