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Introduction To Resistance Training.

Resistance training is a key component to a well balanced training program. Through resistance training we can develop powerful & functional physiques capable of achieving great things. Strength training is not just for performance athletes & dudes in their 20s though as it has many important uses throughout our lives & continuing into old age. (I actually watched a video the other day about an initiative in Australia to provide training schemes getting the grannies & grandads to lift, the results of which has proven to dramatically reduce osteoporosis & falls!) Strength training is key to developing & maintaining good posture which help us to live happy, pain free lives. Aside for the many numerous benefits it also feels great to do it so here’s a bit of info to start thinking more in depth about it along with a bodyweight resistance training program that can be performed anywhere:

We can improve the muscular size, strength & definition of our bodies through numerous means by challenging it against resistance. This resistance can take many forms either by lifting weights, pulling ropes, flipping tyres or using our bodies as the weight to name but a few. Muscular growth occurs due to us putting stresses on the body through the resistance that we engage our muscles to move. This is because our bodies are extremely intelligent & constantly adapt to achieve a state of homeostasis so by regularly lifting weights our body needs to change & adapt to cope with the demands that we are placing on it. This is known as the SAID principle:


Adaption to



This principle also means that we need to keep changing the stimulus as we progress towards our fitness goals to avoid a plateau; if you always run at the same pace you won’t get any faster & if you always lift the same weight on the bench press for example, your muscular growth will level out as your body will have reacted to the stresses or imposed demands on it & achieved homeostasis within lifting this same weight. This is why people who do hard labour for a job may be naturally strong & have built physiques; if you are carrying bricks all day then your body adapts to cope with that demand by bulking up, becoming stronger & as a result becoming a more effective brick carrier.

In terms of resistance training we avoid these plateaus by manipulating various variables; the first & perhaps most obvious one is to increase the weight to impose a higher stress on the body. Another could be to vary the time taken to complete a rep by doing it very slowly. Another way could be to perform 3 back to back exercises on the same muscle group to really torch it & hit it from every angle. Another way could be to adjust the angle of the movement to load the muscle in a slightly different way. There are many different tools at our disposal to work a muscle & it is a good idea to change up different methods all the time to keep the muscle guessing what it will go through next & avoid homeostasis which means plateauing. The same principle applies to cardiovascular training, or in fact any training; we need to continually push to challenge the body, improve & avoid plateau.

There are numerous ways to train a muscle for different characteristics by using different weights & rep ranges (general guide, will be slightly different from person to person & muscle group to muscle group):

1-6 reps & heavy will train strength & power.

8-12 reps & heavy to the point of achieving that range will train strength & hypertrophy (muscle growth).

10-20 reps & lighter weight but still challenging will train hypertrophy.

15-25+ & lighter again will train the endurance capabilities of the muscle.

Within a training program it is possible to cycle through the different rep ranges, for example in a 12 week training program for someone new to resistance training a program may train endurance for the first four weeks to condition the muscles & learn the maneuvers, step up to hypertrophy for weeks 4-8 to put size on & finish with the last 4 weeks in a 1-12 rep range with each set to failure to develop strength & continuing size to compliment the new muscle growth.

There are also numerous different ways of resistance training to go for different effects; The sport of bodybuilding focuses on pure aesthetics & are judged in competition for how their physique looks. They will (very generally speaking) train with a higher rep range with slightly lighter weights then powerlifting or olympic weightlifting to induce hypertrophy (growth of muscles for size) & will focus on building a perfectly proportioned physique. At a pro level they may train twice a day for 6 days a week however a good level of gains can still be made from 2 sessions a week+

Powerlifting focuses on lifting the absolute maximum amount of weight possible, generally in the squat, deadlift & bench press. They will train completely differently to bodybuilders & may go for a schedule of reps of 5×5 (popular rep range) which means picking a weight heavy enough for failure on the 5th rep for 5 sets – 5×5. They also train for 1RM (rep max) which is the maximum they can possibly lift in 1 rep. Powerlifting absolutely hammers the body due to the constant maximal lifts so as a result many powerlifters may only train 3 times a week & put a large emphasis on R & R.

Olympic weightlifting focuses on two exercises which are judged in competition: the snatch & the clean & jerk which are highly complex moves that require the entire body. In this sport as in many others you are only as strong as your weakest part, be it a movement in the lift or a weak muscle group.

There is also strongman training, shotput, discus & javelin as well as numerous methods & schools of teaching within weightlifting. Strength training is also extensively used in team sports, perhaps most notably rugby & american football & so many other applications as well from doing a backflip to lifting something from the top of a cupboard safely & effectively & most importantly, injury free.

Nutrition, rest & recovery.

What we do outside of training is just as important as what we do inside training, perhaps more. If we do not feed our bodies enough of the right fuel then we cannot build muscle & also we have the potential of actually breaking our muscle down, say if we are training all the time & not eating enough; your body needs energy to train & generally live so will take that energy from muscle if it needs to. How many calories we need per day varies from person to person depending on height, age, weight & activity levels which can be calculated using different formulas or easily on an online calculator. Forget the 2000 cals for women & 2500 for men targets, everyone is completely different & needs to be treated so. For example, as a 6 foot 2 very active guy at about 85kg I will need about 3000 calories a day to stay the same. If i wanted to start seriously packing muscle on I may up my calorific intake to 3400 – 3700 a day as I need to fuel the training session plus give my body enough substinence on top of what it normally needs to grow muscle. Do not be put off by this though, it is still very very possible to grow meaningful muscle even when eating in a slight deficit for dietary purposes. For serious mass though you gotta be eating serious food though! Also it is important to eat the right kinds of food to ensure that our bodies are getting all of the nutrients it requires which will then in turn help keep our hormones like testosterone peaked & the other hormones regulated & balanced which in turn will create a favourable muscle building environment within our bodies. More general info regarding nutrition can be found here:

Sleep is also a huge factor when it comes to muscle growth & body repair. Sleep is the only time in which our growth hormone is released so if we have bad sleep patterns then we are limiting our opportunity to grow muscle & repair & feel feel tired to boot which will impact on the next time we train constituting to minimal progress. Sleep is also important to reset the body & mind, preparing it for the next time they need to function. Many athletes due to high training volumes may get 10 hours of sleep a night & nap in the day to keep rested, training & injury free. The quality of your sleep will directly affect the quality of your results.

A beginners bodyweight circuit style strength & cardio training session:

Do the following exercises for 3 rounds, first round 30 repetitions, second round 20 repetitions, 3rd round 10 repetitions. Feel free to alter the rounds & repetitions to suit your needs & ability. After completing all 5 exercises the entire body & all major muscle groups will have been trained.

Squat – Works the Quads (thigh), Hamstrings (back of leg), Glutes (bum), calves & core (abs).

Keep the abs tense & back straight, look forward & hinge at the hips so that your glutes go backwards & stick out.

Breathe in as you go down & out as you come up.

Go only as deep as your flexibility currently allows.

Push through the heels to come up.

Put something underneath your heels if needed until flexible enough to use no elevation.


Mountain climbers – Works legs & core.

Hold the plank with one foot forward & piston your legs forward & back for 1 rep.

Keep the back & bum low if possible.

Be sure to do the same number of reps on each side.


Sit-up – Core.

Palms to the ceiling, engage the core & focus on lifting from the abdominal muscles only.

Avoid jerking as this will eventually hurt your neck.

If you place your tongue on the top of your mouth your neck flexors will engage to protect your neck.

This can be exchanged for the plank if preferred.


Press-up – Chest, triceps, front of shoulders, abs, biceps & back (not as much bicep & back though)

Tuck the arms close to the body with them coming out close to the body or at a 45 degree angle, avoid flaring them directly out to the sides as this will put pressure on the shoulder. Come to halfway down instead of full or go onto the knees if the full press-up is too challenging. Be sure to push with the same force & through the hands so the dominant side does not take over.


Burpee – Every major muscle group in the body.

Feet shoulder width apart,

Starts with a squat down,

Hands on the floor,

Spring back to plank,

Bend the back into cobra,

Spring back to a squat & stand up.

Breathe in to start & out to finish.

Keep the core tight.

In summary strength training is a great way to explore your capabilities, preferences, mindset & self. We learn many lessons about ourselves when we train in any manner, which is why I love training so much & strength training is a great way of learning those lessons. By continually pushing the realms of what you think is possible while strength training you strengthen the mind as well as the body.

Get lifting today! 🙂

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