Strength training and resistance training are forms of exercise that can be good for many people. It’s low-impact and has a core foundation to create strength. In this article, you’ll find exercises for strength training (aka resistance training exercises), and will learn all the benefits as to why these types of exercises can be a whole lot better than doing high-impact exercises like running and other cardio-based exercises.
What are high-impact exercises?
We can define high-impact exercises as movements and exercises that include jumping and landing that creates an impact as feet hit the ground. To be considered high-impact, your feet must leave and then come back in contact with the ground.
Injury: People who engage in high-impact exercise are more likely to get injured when compared to people performing low-impact exercise.
Joint pain: High-impact exercise also increases forces going through your joints, and this may cause joint pain, especially in people with arthritis. Low-impact or no-impact exercises may be a better option in this case.
Risky for people with bone weakening diseases: While high-impact exercise may be beneficial for bone health, it also should be avoided by people with bone-weakening diseases like osteoporosis. If you have a loss of bone mineral density, starting a high-intensity exercise program may not be a reasonable choice. Side note: You’d want to look into osteogenic loading exercises which you can find at specialized training centers if you’d like to strengthen the bones.
Is there a difference between strength training vs resistance training?
No. Most commonly, resistance training is also known as strength training, so for all intents and purposes, they’re synonymous. Strength training uses the same fundamental framework as resistance training and vice versa.
The only subtle difference, if we wanted to get extremely technical, is that resistance training can be seen as a slower-paced and lower-impact training program than strength training (but it depends on how people perceive the word strength vs resistance considering they’re really speaking about the same kinds of exercises fundamentally).
Either way, we look at it, the practice consists of doing upper body and lower body exercises using free weights like dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, your own body weight, etc.
Resistance Training vs. Cardio
There’s a book that has taken a hold of what resistance training means and why it can be extremely beneficial for our bodies and it’s called Resistant Training Revolution by Sal Di Stefano (which you can find here). The one thing that this book covers is that the whole “cardio craze” has actually done our bodies more harm than good.
“Cardio, also called aerobic exercise, is any form of repetitive movement… The cardio-fat loss relationship is greatly misunderstood. In fact, cardio is absolutely the wrong form of exercise for fat loss.” The book goes on to state, “But the one form of exercise that does not accelerate your metabolism is cardio. This form of exercise stresses the body…sensing the stress, the body aims to become more resilient to this stress so it can better handle it next time around.”
Many people have experienced the issue that when they start jogging to kick things into shape, the jogging tends to work for a bit and they may see some changes or are losing some weight, but then these results slow down and then progress comes to a grinding stop.
This is where resistance training may come into play.
However, if you don’t understand your metabolic type (especially for all the women reading this), this is an important step to figuring out what kinds of exercises are best for you. There are the “good kinds” of exercising and “bad kinds” for different bodies. Every body is unique. So, it’s smart to learn what your metabolic type is. You can do this by doing a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA), and you can find out some more information on this here: https://therootcauseprotocol.com/a-magnesium-primer-part-5/
Resistance training can (often) take people past that plateau phase and start working more deeply with the body at the metabolic level. Now, since every body is unique, it’s essential to understand what’s best for you (we know best when it comes to our own bodies, so always use discernment).
“Resistance training is different. Lifting weights, or using machines, bands or bodyweight in a way that builds strength, sends a very different adaptation message. Getting strong requires more muscle since bigger muscle fibers contract harder, and since performing traditional resistance training doesn’t require the same kind of slow-burning endurance that cardio asks for, your body has no qualms about burning a lot more calories. In this scenario, your body becomes LESS efficient with calories. You get a faster metabolism.” - Mind Pump Podcast
Here’s a list of some resistance training exercises that you can do pretty much anywhere with just a few pieces of equipment: resistance bands, a stability ball, your own bodyweight, and dumbbells.
- Start and end with stretching (always do warm-ups and cool-downs)
- Squats with weights
- Dumbbell row (do each hand separately)
- Chest press
- Dumbbell overhead press
- Hammer curls
- Overhead triceps press
- Slow crunches
- Sumo deadlift
- Dumbbell pull-over
You can find videos on The Resistance Training Revolution youtube channel as well that will show many of the exercises that are listed here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZXp8ALwX1sBRV9d7nEaN9g/videos
What are the benefits of resistance/strength training?
Here’s a great list from Exercise Right (which you can find here) which has a lot of the major benefits of resistance training (and if we brainstormed some more, there’d probably be a lot more to add!). I’d also like to note that most of these are the benefits of exercising, in general, not just the specific benefits of doing resistance training.
- Improves focus
- Improves cognitive function
- Decreases anxiety
- Reduces depressive symptoms
- Improves feelings of well-being
- Increases self-esteem
- Decreases risk of dementia
- Reduces markers of inflammation (particularly in people who are overweight)
- Decreases cholesterol
- Decreases blood pressure
- Improves insulin swings for those with type 2 diabetes
- Improves insulin-sensitivity
- Boosts metabolic rate
- Reverses aging factors in mitochondria and muscles
- Increases bone mineral density (and prevents bone loss)
- Increases muscle mass
- Improves movement control
- Reduces chronic lower back pain
- Decreases arthritic pain
- Reduces pain from fibromyalgia
- Improves balance
- Increases walking speed
There are cons to getting involved in high-impact exercises like joint pain or injury, but resistance training is lower impact and can work better with the body overall. Resistance training is also known as strength training, so for all intents and purposes, they’re synonymous. Strength training uses the same fundamental framework as resistance training and vice versa.
Resistance training exercises can be done pretty easily anywhere with just a few pieces of equipment like resistance bands, a stability ball, your own bodyweight, and dumbbells.
There’s a huge list of the pros to doing this type of training, but just making a concerted effort to move is the most important part -- get that body moving in the best way for you!