What is Resistance Training?

Resistance training increases muscle strength and endurance by making your muscles push, pull, or lift against a weight or force. This resistance can come in the form of free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, or your own body weight.

The ultimate goal of resistance training is to challenge your muscles and force them to adapt. During this type of training, muscles will experience micro-tears. While that may sound a bit scary, it’s actually the key to getting stronger! These small tears in the muscle initiate a repairing process, during which the muscle fibers grow back bigger and better.

Types of Resistance Training

There are a number of types of resistance training, each offering its own unique benefits. A well-rounded workout routine will include a combination of several types, each of which will target the muscles in different ways.

Free Weights

Free weights refers to weights that aren’t attached to a machine or cable. These include dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells. Because they aren’t attached to anything, they often allow for a wider range of motion than other forms of training.

Which form of free weights is best? Well, it depends on your goals!


If you’re focused on powerlifting and building overall strength, barbells are excellent as the required two-handed grip provides more stability. You’ll also be able to more easily add weight for progressive overload.


Want to increase functional strength or isolate specific muscles? Dumbbells require a stricter focus on balance and symmetry, and allow for a greater variety of exercises.


Kettlebells are great for increasing functional strength, as well as cardio endurance. They are ideal for more dynamic movements such as swings, snatches, or cleans. Many of these moves are more cardio-based in nature, so you’ll definitely get your heart pumping while building muscle strength and endurance.

Weight Machines

Unlike free weights, weight machines use a system of levers, pulleys or cables to provide resistance. Commonly used weight machines include the leg curl, seated row, lex extension, chest fly, lat pulldown, and calf raise machines.

Weight machines offer a number of benefits, including:

Muscle Isolation

The limited range of motion allows for targeting specific muscle groups.


Because they provide a more controlled form of resistance than free weights, weight machines are great for beginners or those recovering from injuries. Many machines will often display instructions, helping to ensure correct form for each exercise.

Time Efficiency

In the right gym setting, exercisers can quickly transition between machines, allowing for a quicker workout with less downtime.

Easier Progressive Overload

Weight machines provide easily adjustable resistance, and often allow for smaller weight increment changes than many forms of free weights. Changing the resistance on a weight machine is also much faster than swapping out dumbbells or weight plates, which can save time during a workout.

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are made from elastic rubber or latex, and provide resistance when stretched. They can challenge the body in similar ways to other forms of resistance training, but without putting so much pressure on the joints. They come in a number of sizes and resistance levels, making them great for both beginners and advanced exercisers.

A few benefits of resistance bands:


Resistance bands are small and light, perfect for tossing into a suitcase or duffel bag for a workout on the go. No excuses!


With a number of sizes and resistance levels to choose from, it’s possible to get everything you need for a great full-body workout routine all on a very small budget.

Low Impact

Resistance band movements are easy on the joints, making them perfect for anyone rehabilitating from injury or who suffers from joint issues.

Improved Balance & Coordination

Because muscles are in constant tension during most resistance band exercises, smaller stabilizer muscles are activated. This improves overall balance and muscle coordination.

Increased Flexibility

Resistance bands allow for a greater range of motion than many other forms of resistance training.

Bodyweight Exercises

Bodyweight exercises are a great way to build strength and endurance, without the need for equipment. Common bodyweight exercises include push-ups, squats, pull-ups, lunges, and planks. You can also try suspension trainers like TRX, which use your own body weight for resistance and leverage gravity to build strength and stability.

Bodyweight exercises share many of the same benefits as resistance band exercises, with the top benefits including:


Workout anytime, anywhere!

Low Impact

They’re gentle on the joints, making them great for beginners or anyone recovering from injuries.

Budget Friendly

With no equipment required, there is literally no excuse for not getting in a workout!

You can also try suspension trainers like TRX to build strength and stability. These systems use your own body weight, along with leveraging gravity, to provide resistance.

Benefits of Resistance Training

Resistance training offers a number of benefits. In addition to improved muscle strength and endurance, it can also lower risk of chronic diseases and other health concerns.

Top benefits of resistance training include:

Muscle Maintenance

As we age, we lose approximately 3–8% of our muscle tissue per decade, after the age of 30. Resistance training can help preserve – and build – muscle mass at any age.

Weight Loss

In addition to calories burned during a workout, resistance training provides a lasting impact on our metabolism. As we build muscle, our resting metabolic rate increases – meaning we burn more calories even at rest!

Increased Strength

The breakdown and rebuilding of muscles that takes place through resistance training helps increase muscle strength over time – helping us perform everyday tasks with more ease and efficiency.

Improved Cardiovascular Health

When performed in a more cardio-centric way (think high intensity interval workouts), resistance training can decrease resting blood pressure, bad cholesterol and triglycerides, and increase good cholesterol.

Improved Bone Health

Studies have shown that resistance training can increase bone mineral density by 1% to 3%.

Resistance Training Workouts

New to resistance training? Try one of the resistance training workouts below!

A few tips before you begin:

  • Start slow, especially if you’re new to resistance training
  • Include variety in your workouts to target different muscle groups
  • Begin each workout with a warm-up, to prepare your body and reduce the risk of injury
  • Include plenty of rest and recovery – this is when your muscles repair and grow stronger!
  • Complement your workouts with adequate hydration and a balanced diet to support your muscle building efforts

(Bodyweight) Full-Body Resistance Training Workout

Complete 3 rounds of the following:

  • Squats: 10-12 reps
  • Push-Ups: 10-12 reps
  • Mountain Climbers: 30 seconds
  • Plank: Hold for 30 seconds
  • Lunges (alternating legs): 10-12 reps per leg
  • Burpees: 10-12 reps

(Dumbbell) Full-Body Resistance Training Workout

Complete 3 rounds of the following:

  • Squats: 10-12 reps
  • Push-Ups: 10-12 reps
  • Bent-Over Rows: 10-12 reps
  • Chest Press: 10-12 reps
  • Bicep Curls: 10-12 reps
  • Lunges (alternating legs): 10-12 reps per leg
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

Resistance Training Workouts in VA & MD

Need help creating a great resistance training workout routine? Schedule a session with one of our expert personal trainers at Method Gym locations in Dale City, VA, Leonardtown, MD and California, MD! We’ll customize a workout for you, tailored to your unique goals and lifestyle.