Most people have heard of resistance training and strength training before, but do you really know the difference between the two and how to choose which one is best for achieving your fitness goals? Whether it’s to stay in shape, improve overall health, try to live to 100, or look forward to beach season, choosing one over the other, or a combination of the two approaches, can help you reach your goals.
Resistance training involves lifting free weights to increase muscle strength, endurance, size, and tone. This type of exercise works all major muscle groups; it also helps improve balance, coordination, posture, and flexibility. The resistance can come in the form of free weights, such as dumbbells and barbells; weight machines, which use resistance coils to generate the resisting force; resistance bands, which are rubber straps of varying thickness that offer resistance when stretched; or even bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups, pull-ups, or squats. As with any type of exercise, resistance training should be done in moderation, always with proper technique, and with safety first on your mind, especially if you are just starting out.
Strength training is different from resistance training in that it focuses more on building muscular strength rather than just muscle size or tone. While resistance training incorporates lighter weights (e.g. dumbbells) with higher repetitions of an exercise to increase muscle endurance and size, strength training uses heavier weights (e.g. barbells) with lower repetitions of an exercise, seeking to increase muscle power and strength. Strength-building exercises typically target specific muscle groups such as biceps or quadriceps; however they can also work on the whole body during compound movements such as the bent over row.
It may seem like an easy enough choice between these two types of exercise; however, there are certain situations where it would make sense to incorporate both into one workout routine. For example, if you wanted to improve overall fitness while still gaining strength, you could use resistance exercises like squats or deadlifts along with strength exercises like bench presses or shoulder presses. Another example would be someone wanting to achieve a certain body composition goal: they could combine resistance exercises that focus on toning specific areas (like curls for the arms) along with higher-intensity strength exercises (like clean & jerks for developing explosive power).
The Choice Is Yours
No matter what your fitness goals are – whether it’s lifelong health maintenance or improved physical performance – understanding the differences between resistance training and strength training can help you create an effective workout plan that meets your individual needs and gives you room to mix and match exercises depending on the day.
Both types of exercise can have positive effects on your health: increased muscular strength and endurance, as well as improved posture and coordination. Ultimately, combining elements of both resistance training and strength training into one workout routine can give you maximum results while avoiding the boredom of doing the same thing every time you go to the gym.