Resistance Training: What Does It Involve?

You probably know that athletes train with the goal of improving their resistance. But what resistance exactly do they want to improve? And how can you train your resistance? We'll tell you here.
Resistance Training: What Does It Involve?

Last update: 21 September, 2020

Basic physical capabilities or fitness levels of the body should be in a constant state of improvement, right from childhood. The goal is to keep the body in peak physical condition for physical and psychological development. Resistance or strength training is one of the principal recommendations when it comes to exercise, since it’s very important when it comes to certain sports.

However, if you’re thinking about improving your resistance, you might have some doubts or questions. For instance, why should you train your resistance? What exactly is resistance? We’ll try to clear things up for you. Let’s get started by looking at what resistance training is.

What is resistance?

Resistance as a basic physical capability is the ability of a person to keep up a physical effort for a prolonged time. It also has to do with doing physical activity in the most efficient way possible. In other words, you can resist fatigue for as long as possible.

With regard to physical resistance, there are two types of exercise: aerobic and anaerobic resistance.

  • Aerobic exercise: this is when the intensity of the exercise is moderate and long-lasting. It uses high levels of oxygen at a cellular level.
  • Anaerobic exercise: high intensity, short-duration exercises, where it’s impossible to use oxygen at a cellular level. That is the opposite of aerobic exercise.

Goals of resistance training

Now that we’ve clarified the concept of resistance, how should you train in order to achieve positive results? There are various ways to work on your resistance, but basically within two main methods.

Group training can help with motivation

When you train by doing aerobic exercise, the goal revolves around improving your physical condition and strengthening your cardiovascular system. On the other hand, when your training is centered on anaerobic resistance, the idea is to strengthen the body’s response at the muscular level.

Both types of exercise are important. However, depending on the type of sport the athlete plays, one or other should be more of the focus. You should adjust your training according to your needs.

More about the body’s energy systems

Resistance training is linked to the body’s energy systems. Here’s a summary of three key systems that come into play when you exercise. These are the aerobic system, the anaerobic alactic system, and the anaerobic lactic system.

Aerobic energy system

When your body has been exercising for around three minutes, the aerobic energy system starts to work. This carries out the job of synthesizing oxygen to give energy to the muscles. The more oxygen you can breathe, the better your body’s performance.

Anaerobic alactic energy system

This is the exact opposite of the above system. It comes into play during a high-intensity exercise and uses creatine phosphate from within the muscles to generate energy. In other words, it uses the muscle itself to produce more energy.

The period of time that this energy system works in is very short, only about ten seconds. This means that the body doesn’t have time to produce lactic acid (alactic: without lactic acid).

Anaerobic lactic energy system

From roughly between the first and second minutes of an exercise, the anaerobic lactic system is what gives the muscles their energy. This happens thanks to a cellular process called the Cori cycle, where glycogen is transformed into lactic acid.

These three energy systems work together to provide the body with the energy it needs to do an exercise. However, depending on the exercise or training method, one of the three systems will be the most used.

Resistance training methods

It’s not about running a marathon or about lifting weights right, left, and center. Before you start any new training regimens, you should do research on your options and goals.

A man training with a resistance band

A professional trainer will always examine the specific circumstances of each athlete before forming a training plan. However, the following resistance training methods are the most commonly used by trainers. Each one is complex and has its own primary objective.

  • Continuous training: the exercises are uninterrupted, without rest periods or pauses.
  • Interval training: its main characteristic is the division between exercise and pauses. It has short bursts of high-intensity activity alternating with lower intensity exercise.
  • Repetition training: here you’ll be working on repetitions over short distances at maximum intensity. The rest pauses between reps are quite long.
  • Flexibility training: it has three parts. In the first part, you’ll have high intensity, short-duration exercises. In the second part, you’ll improve your aerobic resistance. And lastly, reps of the short exercises.
  • Control competition: in this training method you’ll focus on just one exercise at a time, but with varying intensity levels.

The most common resistance training methods you’ll find are continuous and interval training. These are considered the ‘go-to’ methods for developing greater resistance. However, over time many other regimens have been formed for more flexibility.

Resistance training: one more tip

Developing a physical capability such as your resistance requires much more than enthusiasm; you’ll need a professional guide and thorough knowledge. If you’re looking to design a training plan to improve your resistance, we recommend regular medical checkups, as well as help from a trainer.

Finally, it’s important to know for sure what your training program will involve. With these suggestions, improving your aerobic or anaerobic resistance will be an achievable goal.

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  • Deporte, E. A. del. (1997). El entrenamiento de la resistencia. In Apuntes.
  • Morales Durán, M., & Calderón Montero, F. (2000). Fisiología del ejercicio. Rev. Lat. Cardiol. (Ed. Impr.).

The contents of this publication are written for informational purposes. At no time do they facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.