What Is Resistance Training?

The term “resistance training” is thrown around a lot, but too many people have a narrow understanding of what it means and think it’s not for them. This is weird when you start thinking about it! For example, most people know that the term "aerobics" includes everything from running and biking to hiking, swimming, sports, and cross-country skiing.

Given that so many different exercises and activities qualify as "aerobic," it would be weird to hear someone say they're completely against cardio, right? For example, many people who hate running enjoy hiking in the woods or playing tennis on sunny days. Well, by the same logic, you shouldn't give up on resistance training right away just because you don't enjoy squatting with a barbell or benching with your brothers.

There are also health aspects to consider. Even people who hate running know that there are physical and mental benefits to pushing your heart and lungs to their limits from time to time on an intellectual level. Well, resistance training is no different: it's an essential part of a healthy life, and before you give up on it right away, you should at least understand what it is and how it can benefit you now and in the future.

Read on to learn exactly what resistance training consists of and how many different exercises and training methods qualify, as well as the range of benefits that regular exercise brings to stressing the musculoskeletal system - they might surprise you!

What Exactly Is Resistance Training? Is It Right For Me?

What Is Resistance Training?
In its most basic form, resistance training is simply an exercise designed to increase muscle size and strength. Just as your heart and lungs need stress to function at a higher level, your muscles need stress stimulation ("resistance") to grow and improve. If you're interested in physical fitness, you should incorporate some form of resistance training into your life, even if you don't care about getting bigger pecs or a six-pack.


What Counts As Resistance Training?

What Is Resistance Training?
There are a variety of exercises and training styles that fall under the umbrella term "resistance training," so you should have no trouble finding something that suits your personal preferences. Here are the main categories:

Free weights: including barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, and sandbags. We're talking about independent ("free") weighted objects that help you stress your body in different movement patterns. When most people think of resistance training, this is the first thing that comes to mind.
Resistance Band: A rubber band or tube designed to provide varying levels of resistance in pounds or kilograms. These straps range from relatively lightweight, easy-to-use straps to heavy-duty, industrial-strength straps that can help support half or more of your body weight.


Weight Machines: Weight machines are a beginner-friendly way to train your body through a variety of exercises. They're also expensive, so you may only be able to get them with a gym membership, but they're a great option for those who are intimidated by the technical requirements of free weight exercises.
Bodyweight Exercises/Gymnastics: You can easily learn to manipulate your body to train every major muscle group on your body, from bodyweight squats and push-ups to dips and pull-ups—no equipment required.
You can choose a single training method or mix and match as you like, and whenever you're in doubt about technique, you can consult the internet (YouTube is great for exercise tutorials) or consider hiring a personal trainer or using a personal training app.

Why Weightlifting Builds Muscle?

What Is Resistance Training?
Your body is very good at adapting to stimulation. For example, if you eat a lot of food, it stores some of the excess calories in the form of fat in case of future food shortages. Well, exercise also causes adaptations. Running improves heart function, allowing the heart muscle to pump blood (and therefore oxygen) throughout the body more efficiently.

As far as your muscles are concerned, resistance training causes physical damage to the muscle fibers, and if given enough time and proper nutrition, the muscle fibers will recover by becoming larger and stronger, ready for future resistance training sessions. This process is called "muscle hypertrophy" by exercise scientists.

Will Lifting Weights Make Me Huge?

What Is Resistance Training?
One of the biggest barriers to getting people to do some form of resistance training, especially weight training, is the fear of suddenly turning into the Hulk. Yes, resistance training does build muscle, but anyone who has done it for a long time will tell you that gaining "huge" muscle requires years of hard work and a very specific diet regimen.


If you thought you'd wake up one morning and suddenly realize you couldn't put anything on, think again.

What are the benefits of lifting weights for someone who doesn't care about size or strength?
Well, here’s the thing: If you’ve been avoiding resistance training for whatever reason, you need to know what benefits you’re missing out on. After all, you can't make good decisions unless you make them wisely.

We’ve even left out the two most obvious benefits—bigger, stronger muscles—because not everyone will care about those. Here is a short list of the benefits of regular resistance training