Resistance Training: Definition and Tips

Different Types of Resistance Training Provide Health Benefits

resistance training
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Resistance training is a form of exercise that improves muscular strength and endurance. During a resistance training workout, you move your limbs against resistance provided by your body weight, gravity, bands, weighted bars or dumbbells. Some exercise machines can also be used for resistance training.

Also known as: strength training, weight lifting

Resistance Training Definition and Types

The definition of resistance training is simple.

Any exercise where you move your body against resistance can be considered resistance or strength training. The definition of resistance in this form of training is simple as well. Resistance is any force that makes the movement harder to perform.  

Resistance can be provided simply by moving your body against gravity or by adding weighted dumbbells. You can also add resistance by using machines at the gym or by using equipment such as weighted bars, bands, or kettlebells . This form of training can also be called weight lifting or weight training.

The benefits of resistance training are significant. If you start a weight training program, you can expect your body to get stronger, tighter and leaner.  People who participate in this form of training usually have an easier time moving through activities of daily living (ADL) because their muscles move more efficiently.

Resistance Training FAQs

There are some myths about resistance training that may keep you from starting a program.

These are the most common questions that new exercisers ask about strength training.

  • Will weight lifting make me bulk up? Most women will not bulk up if they start doing resistance training exercises. But both men and women may notice more muscle definition when they start lifting weights. But this form of exercise helps the muscles to look tighter and more sculpted, not fat. The amount of muscle definition that you see will depend on the amount of fat that is covering the muscle. 
  • How does resistance training affect my weight? Weight training may increase your weight slightly. But muscle mass weighs more than fat mass. So even though your body weight may increase, your body size may shrink. In addition, muscle helps you to maintain a healthy metabolism. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so if you build muscle and reduce fat, you'll burn more calories all day long.
  • Can I do resistance training every day? You can lift weights every day, but you shouldn't train the same muscles every day. Muscles need time to repair and rebuild. Many exercisers do some strength training every day, but alternate body parts. For example, they might do upper body exercises one day, and lower body exercises the next.
  • Should I take supplements or protein powder if I start resistance training? Most exercisers don't need protein powders or supplements to make the most of their resistance training program. In fact, some supplements can do more harm than good. You can get the protein and nutrients you need from eating a healthy, nutritious diet.
  • What's the best form of resistance training? There is no form of strength training that is necessarily better than the others. For that reason, many smart exercisers combine different methods to get benefits from each. For example, they might lift weights one day and use exercise machines the next. Or they might do body weight exercises one day and take a class that incorporates resistance bands on another day.
  • Do I need to belong to a gym to do resistance training? No, absolutely not! In fact, some of the best strength training routines include primarily body weight exercises. These are movements done against the resistance provided by your own body weight and gravity. For example, a push-up is a body weight exercise. Lunges and squats are also body weight exercises. The best part about doing a body weight exercise is that it requires no equipment, so no gym membership is required.

How to Start Resistance Training

There are different ways to start a resistance training program. You can join a gym and hire a trainer or you can start your own program at home.

Either way, be sure to start slowly to avoid burnout and injury. You might also want to connect with a friend who wants to exercise with you and help keep you accountable.

Start by lifting less weight (many exercisers start with 2-3 pound weights) and focus on good form. That means that you learn to perform each movement through a complete range of motion and without compromising good posture or alignment. You can do a program 2-3 days per week for just 15-20 minutes to start seeing benefits.

A Word from Verywell

Any kind of physical activity can help to boost your health. But if you are really serious about getting fit and improving the quality of life as you age, you'll begin a program of resistance training. After a few weeks of consistent workouts you'll begin to notice that your body moves more comfortably and you are able to move through activities of daily living with greater ease. Resistance training can also help to improve joint stability and helps you to avoid injury. Give it a try and see how it makes your body feel. 

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