What are the basic principles of resistance training?

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Personal/Fitness Training Blog

The term strength training often used interchangeably with resistance training and weight training. But, they are not synonymous:

  • Resistance training – any form of exercise that causes the muscle to contract against an external resistance. Weights are just one tool but, there are many different methods of resistance you can use.
  • Strength training – any form of resistance training engaged in to enhance muscle strength.
  • Weight training – any form of resistance training where weights are used to provide resistance and challenge strength.

The difference between bodybuilding and strength training

Bodybuilding differs from strength training in that the primary goals are the maximise muscle mass (promote hypertrophy) while reducing body fat, so sculpting the physique. It is a cosmetic activity where any strength gain is an after-thought.

On the positive side, bodybuilding has no doubt inspired a good number of people to get involved in strength training as well as to think about improving their fitness levels. The sport provides some spectacular visuals especially at the highest competitive levels.

Resistance training for life

The average person wants to look better increase small amounts of muscle mass and reduce body fat levels. Most people want to train to help them cope better with the increased demands of daily life and to continue to do this into their later years.  Resistance training can help achieve these goals.

Strength training for sport

Athletes need to engage in strength training to enhance their sport performance. Sport-specific conditioning may include aspects of general training (including those with a biomechanical-specific slant), weight training, powerlifting, and even bodybuilding where it would enhance their specific sport.

The development of resistance exercises

Many resistance exercise techniques today were developed in the gym through simple trial and error. These were approached through predetermined goals, such as the desire to gain more strength or muscle mass. Little study of the functional anatomy and biomechanics were taken into consideration.

Today, resistance training is far more functional and stress is put on correcting biomechanical techniques when training. The human body is composed of highly integrated systems. The body is not constructed simply for aesthetic appeal or merely strength. It is designed to produce a highly variability of movement, specifically movement within the environment of this planet. Technique is the key for receiving the greatest amount of benefit while also reducing the risk associated with any resistance exercise selected.

Establishing fitness goals

When you’re establishing goals with one of personal training clients, you will first establish whether the goal is an aesthetic based goal or a performance-based goal, as you would use an entirely different thought process when selecting exercises and allocating technique options for the different goals:

  • Performance-based goals – the focus is on increasing neuromuscular control and you would logically select movements according to their movement pattern it produces. Isolated joint exercises selected are done to address specific muscle weakness or correct imbalances. Most exercises are performed in asymmetrical positions as it increases proprioception activity and requires more neural demand.
  • Aesthetic-based goals – the focus is on muscle hypertrophy and balancing the body parts aesthetically. These types of exercises offer high amounts of external support and use bilateral movement patterns. So, with less demand on the neural system for providing stability, there is a greater ability to provide for maximal motor recruitment of the working muscles. This is ideal for isolating specific muscles for loading and achieving higher amounts of volume in order to gain hypertrophy.

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