10 Things You Need To Know About Resistance Training


Whether your goal is fat loss, gaining muscle or improving your physical conditioning, resistance training is going to be the key ingredient required to reach those goals. This article will teach you about the importance of resistance training and what specific modes of resistance training are the best. I think you will find this information very useful, and once applied, these guidelines will begin to produce results for you!

#1 – Perfect Tool For Enhancing Aesthetics 
Let’s face it, we are all about aesthetics and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. We all want to feel and function better, but most importantly we all want to look better.

The great news is that resistance training is the perfect tool you can use to non-surgically improve the way you look. Resistance training will greatly help you alter your body composition, allowing you to drop body fat and maintain or gain muscle mass, ultimately helping you achieve the ‘TONED’ look you seek, because that’s all toning up is! Fat loss and simultaneous muscle gain. There is no magical process whereby the fat can be toned and ‘turned’ into muscle.

People who try to lose weight without using resistance training will not achieve this ‘TONED’ look we all seek. If they lose weight they will still have a soft look, as they have not done anything to attack and condition the muscle tissue of the body. If you want to improve the way you look and feel, make resistance training the number one tool in your arsenal.

#2 – There’s No Such Thing As ‘Toning’ Or ‘Sculpting’ Exercises
I already referred to this above in point number 1, but I want to make it clear that there really is no such thing as sculpting or toning exercises. Personal trainers always have clients coming to them asking what exercise is best to tone or sculpt their arms, legs, etc.

Obviously, certain exercises attack certain body parts, but that doesn’t mean that you will improve the look of or achieve toned arms by simply performing arm exercises. As I said, achieving the toned look requires fat removal, in this case from the arm area, along with adding a small amount of muscle. Often the best arm exercises to use will be indirect arm exercises and you have to remember that spot reduction is a myth. Performing arm exercises does not mean that the energy being provided to fuel the activity (arm exercises) will come from the arm in the form of stored body fat The fuel provided could come from fat stores in your ankle for all you know.

Also, a lot of people think that the big compound movements like bench press just add bulk, while isolation exercises like dumbbell flys help sculpt or shape the chest muscles. You can’t change the shape of your muscles, you can only change their visual appearance and you do that by burning off the fat and adding lean muscle.

#3 – There Are MANY Resistance Training TOOLS
Resistance training doesn’t have to be just about lifting weights in the form of dumbbells and barbells. There are numerous resistance training tools on the market today which are very useful and allow the trainee the option of training pretty much anywhere.

Here’s a list of what I feel are the best resistance training tools to use:

  • Barbells
  • Dumbbells
  • Kettlebells
  • Medicine Balls
  • Heavy Resistance Bands
  • TRX Suspension Trainer
  • Strongman Training Equipment (sleds, tires, sand bags, wheelbarrows, etc)

I think these pieces of apparatus are the most versatile pieces of equipment to use. The exercise training options with these tools allow are virtually limitless. This type of equipment is easily found in countries across the globe.

#4 – FREE Weights Are Better Than Machines
10-things-resistance-training-1If you choose to use typical weight training equipment that you find in normal gyms, then it is best that you perform free weights over machines. Free weights are far better for you to use.

The problem I have with machines is that the majority of them require you to be seated and totally disengage your core and stabilization muscles, meaning the machine is doing half the work for you to maneuver the weight.

Free weights, on the other hand, require you to engage much more muscle and also target your stabilizing muscles to perform the lifts. Free weights will help you improve muscular coordination and can help eliminate any muscle imbalances you may have.

There are numerous other benefits free weights have over machine weights, but just know that you should skip the machine weights and stick with free weights.

NOTE: Cable pulleys should not be considered a machine weight. I think it was strength coach Charles Poliquin who referred to cable pulleys as redirected dumbbells. Unlike regular machines the cable pulley is directed by you and your ability to control and direct the cable pulley.

#5 – Body Weight Is Better Still
Body weight is KING when it comes to resistance training. Body weight exercises are difficult for many to master, but the benefits of Body weight exercises are enormous. Not to mention the fact that all you generally need is your own Body weight and a small amount of space to get in a great training session or workout.

You will of course need certain apparatus to perform chin ups, pull ups, dips, etc.

Body weight exercises require you to use your own Body weight as the sole loading agent and require you to control your body as you execute the exercises. For example, you must control your lower body from swaying as you perform chin ups, thus requiring you to engage your core muscles.

These bodyweight exercises are also excellent for improving your balance and coordination. Once you become proficient, you can progress to single hand and single leg bodyweight exercise variations.

The best Body weight exercises include push ups, chin ups, pull ups, bar dips, squats, lunges, step ups, single leg squats and Body weight jump based exercises such as squat jumps and burpees.

#6 – BIG Movements Are BEST
BIG compound movements that work the major muscle groups of the body are best whether the goal is fat loss, muscle gain or improved physical conditioning. These lifts utilize multiple joints and muscle groups simultaneously.

Too many people perform far too many isolation based exercises, when they could be getting leaner, bigger and stronger by primarily utilizing big compound movements like benching, squatting, and pushing and pulling.

Isolation exercises have their place, but before you start using isolation based exercises you must:

#7 – EARN The Right To Isolate
I like to tell people that isolation exercises are like the icing on the cake. The problem is that far too many people are trying to apply the icing before the cake is ready to be iced. What I mean is that you must be strong enough and able to lift heavy on your compound lifts before you start isolating muscles with single joint isolation exercises.

ISOLATION RULES! I personally love performing certain isolation exercises, but what I do is set out isolation rules that I must meet before I allow myself to use them. This also makes things fun and keeps a person focused on improving their physical performance.

Some isolation rules I might enforce before I allow myself to perform bicep curls and triceps extensions, etc are:

  • Bench press 100kg x 10 reps
  • Perform 10 chin ups with a 15kg weight plate
  • Perform 10 bar dips with a 40kg weight plate
  • Perform 10 unassisted wide grip pull ups
  • Perform 50 push ups in under one minute
  • Develop 15 inch arms

Now these are just samples of what your isolation rules might look like. There is no real scientific reasoning for these rules, but it makes things fun and keeps you focused on making progress and improving your strength and conditioning levels.

So get to work and start creating your own isolation rules, making sure they are challenging and specific to you and your goals.

#8 – Resistance Training is Cardio Training
10-things-resistance-training-2One thing that bugs me is people who seem to think that cardio training is something you must perform via walking or using a treadmill, cross trainer, etc.

Cardio training is anything that is going to bring about an elevation in heart rate and respiration. I am pretty sure I have being able to achieve an increase in my heart rate and respiration when lifting weights or performing circuit training.

You should consider everything you do as being cardio training and that includes your resistance training. If you want to make your resistance training more ‘cardio based’ then you need to make it more metabolic in nature by lifting moderately heavy loads and moving the weight faster.

#9 – Train for Increased Strength
Training for increased strength is very important regardless of ones goals. Whether you are looking for improved physical performance or to improve your physical appearance, you need to train for improvements in strength.

If you are getting stronger, I’m pretty confident you will be getting leaner, bigger and faster. Getting stronger doesn’t mean low repetition training only. You must get stronger across the spectrum of repetition you use.

Most people who are making no progress in the way they look, fat loss progress, etc are usually the ones who are lifting the same weights (loads) today as they were lifting 4, 6 and even 8 weeks ago. There’s no change in their training, thus there will be no change in their body.

If you want to improve some aspect of your body or performance, improve your strength!

#10 – HEAVY Resistance Training Is BEST
This is basically the same point as number 9. You don’t and won’t get stronger by lifting light loads. Heavy resistance training is best.

Many people think heavy lifting automatically leads to muscle gain and are therefore scared to lift heavy if muscle gain is not their goal. Lifting heavy does not automatically guarantee anyone muscle gain. For those who want to gain muscle, heavy lifting is a must but the heavy lifting only opens the doorway to potential growth. They will have to rest and feed the body in a manner to spur on the muscle growth they seek.

If your goal is fat loss, you still need to train for improved strength which means lifting heavy weights. Most of your work will be metabolic in nature, meaning you will want to lift moderately heavy loads that you can move faster.

Lifting really light weights for really high repetitions will do you no good and IS NOT how you tone your muscles. Go back and read points 1 and 2 if you need more clarification on toning.

I hope you found this information on resistance training useful to you and your situation. Remember there is no other tool better than resistance training to help you achieve your physique related goals. I now strongly urge you to take action, apply this information and take control of your goals. Ultimately, you will take control of your life, allowing you to become and feel more energetic, so you can focus on the things in life that are most important to you.

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About Author

Ian Graham

My training philosophy is to always train individuals like they are athletes. Even if they are not competing in any sport, they can gain from this athletic approach. We are all designed to perform like athletes. The athletic approach can help anyone achieve their health and fitness, fat loss and muscle building goals! See my profile page for more information!

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