Benefits of Resistance Training
Strength training is viewed by many as the best means to improve “tone” and definition, sports
performance and resistance to injury. As we age, our fast-twitch or explosive muscle fibers,
atrophy at a faster rate than our slow-twitch, or endurance fibers. Strength training helps to
maintain both fiber size and ability.
Strength qualities can be divided into three basic qualities. How training is approached is based
upon the desired strength goal.
Muscular endurance is the ability to perform moderate to low-level work for an extended period
Muscular strength is the ability to generate maximal force irrespective of time.
Muscular strength can be also further subdivided as pure strength or functional
Pure strength refers to strength developed outside of a sport or application context.
Functional strength, or speed strength, refers to strength which has been developed
or transferred to a sport or application context.
Muscular power is the ability to generate the most force possible within a short period of time.
The terms tone and definition are also important, if not from a scientific perspective, as a main
focus of the fitness participant. Tone is the muscular state in which the muscle has greater than
average definition and the fat layer over the muscle is small enough to let that definition show.
As muscles grow in size, the amount of metabolically active tissue increases, leading to a
higher rate of caloric burn especially in the period immediately following workouts.
Resistance training combined with aerobics has proven to be highly effective for
individuals desiring to lose weight. The body-shaping advantages of weight training offer
a visible improvement in appearance within a relatively short time period, further
encouraging the goal-oriented individual.
The basic premise of this concept states that variation of certain training factors will lead to
greater gains than no variation. When presented with a new training stimulus, the body is
‘shocked’ or there is some physiological discomfort and change. The body adapts to the
stimulus, and performance capabilities improve after a brief rest period and repeated training
sessions. In addition, periodization implies the training stimulus must be changed or variety of
training utilized for gains to continue to occur.
Volume, Load and Intensity
Volume refers to the total amount of training, or the total work accomplished during the training
session. Load refers to the actual amount of weight lifted or resistance used in comparison to
one’s maximum in that particular exercise. When the variables of volume, load and intensity are
manipulated or changed in an optimal fashion, then gains result which are much greater than if a
constant training program is used for the same time period.
Types of Muscular Contractions
Concentric or positive contractions are used when one lifts weight or resistance, wherein the
muscle shortens in a dynamic sense.
Eccentric or negative contractions occur when the muscle lengthens, as happens when lowering
Isokenetic contractions are those in which the muscle shortens at a constant rate (like
Static or Isometric contractions are those where the muscle does not change length when
exerted against a fixed resistance (specific only to the joint angle at which it was developed).
Strength Training Systems
The main choices in terms of strength training systems are body building, power lifting and
Body Building methods emphasize building muscle mass and definition. Body building may refer
to the methods of training as well as competition for muscular definition and mass. Body building
techniques are the best developers of hypertrophy. These exercises performed slowly stress the
muscle and work it through the full range of motion, and thereby develop superior vascularization
compared to other methods.
Sub-maximal loads of 30% - 60% of one Repetition Max will produce adaptations which result in
local muscular endurance and not strength. Cords, bands and light hand weights fall into this
Sub-maximal loads of 60%-90% of one Repetition Max and generally correlate with repetitions
which can be performed in the 6-15 repetition range. Loads in this range produce the best
strength and definition gains, with only minor gains in muscular endurance or power. Rest
periods of shorter duration such as 45-60 seconds will produce gains in hypertrophy when
combined with loads in this range. As the rest periods lengthen, there is a greater potential for
strength rather than hypertrophy gains because of the available ATP-PC. (the fuel for anaerobic
Maximal loads are considered to be 90%-150% of one Repetition Max. Training performed in
this range and will consist of 6 repetitions or less. Training in these ranges will produce maximal
strength gains, or strength which is useful in situations in which an all-out attempt may be
Benefits of Muscle Strength and Endurance Include:
Increased capacity to perform work (increased functional ability)
Increased bone mass
Decreased risk of injury
Increased motor performance
Increased strength of connective tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments)
Increased fat-free mass resulting in increased metabolism
Circuit Weight Training May also Result in:
Modest improvements in cardiorespitory fitness (about 5%)
Improved glucose tolerance
Modest reduction in blood pressure
Improved blood lipid profiles