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Strength Training: The Basics

Strength training (or resistance training) involves the performance of physical exercises that are designed to improve your strength. It is often associated with the lifting of weights. It can also incorporate a variety of training techniques such as calisthenics, isometrics, and plyometrics.

The principles of strength training involve manipulation of the number of repetitions (reps), sets, tempo, exercises and force to overload a group of muscles and produce the desired change in strength, endurance, size or shape.

Resistance training increases muscle strength by making your muscles work against a weight or force.

Different forms of resistance training include using

- Free weights

- Resistance machines

- Resistance bands

- Your own bodyweight

A beginner should train 2/3 times per week to gain maximum benefit. Rest each muscle group for at least 48 hours to maximise gains in strength and size. Whilst varying exercises can help with a plateau, it’s important to continue with what we know works and sticking to it but progressing (increasing weight/ achieving progressive overload) rather than changing your exercises/ sessions every single time.

Once you are more advanced, you may need to look in to changing exercises and working on the things you’ve learnt need more attention. For example, if you are a Powerlifter who is struggling most during the lockout of the deadlift – your trainer may programme Rack Pulls in to your training plan.

Strength Training Benefits

- Improved muscle strength, to protect your joints from injury

- Maintaining flexibility and balance (particularly helpful as you get older for risk of falls etc)

- Weight management (as you gain more muscle, you will burn more calories at rest)

- Reducing/preventing cognitive decline in older people

- Improve stamina

- Prevention or control of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, back pain, depression and obesity

- Pain management

- Improved posture

- Decreased risk of injury

- Increased bone density and strength and reduced risk of osteoporosis

- Improved self confidence and sense of well-being

- Improved sleep

- Enhanced performance of everyday tasks

The Basic Principles of Resistance Training

Resistance training consists of various components. Basic principles include:


Your training plan is composed of various exercise types such as aerobic training, flexibility training, strength training and balance exercises.


Different weights or other types of resistance, for example a barbell, kettlebell,, body weight or resistance band will be used for different exercises during your strength training session


A particular movement, for example a leg extension, is designed to strengthen a particular muscle or group of muscles (quads/legs)

Reps (repetitions)

The number of times you continuously repeat each exercise in a set


A group of repetitions performed without resting, for example, 3 sets of squats x 10 reps would mean you do 10 squats then rest before doing another 10 squats x3.


You must rest between sets. Rest periods vary depending on the intensity of exercise being undertaken.


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