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  • Dr. Allison Andre, DPT

The Ultimate Guide to Incorporating Resistance Training into Your Fitness Routine

If you're new to resistance training, the gym bros grunting over their bench press might make you feel a little intimidated. However, it is worthwhile to pick up those weights and give it a shot. Resistance training can help you build muscle and tone your body while also increasing your metabolism, improving bone density, and lowering your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and osteoporosis. What's the best part? To get started, you don't have to be a fitness expert or a hard-core athlete. You can dive into resistance training and discover the benefits for yourself with a few key tips and a positive mindset.

Check out Part I of this post (detailed benefits of resistance training) if you haven't already! In this blog post, I'll demonstrate that resistance training can be approachable and even enjoyable by discussing various types of resistance training and providing practical tips for getting started. This post is for you, whether you're a beginner or an experienced fitness enthusiast. So, grab your dumbbells and let's begin!

Kettlebell Free Weights
Kettlebell Workout





With so many different types of resistance training available, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. But fear not! With some guidance and a bit of trial and error, you can find the right type of resistance training to fit your goals and preferences. I personally mix up the different types of resistance training depending on my goals or how I feel that day. Don't be afraid to try different things. The following is a list of some of the most prevalent methods of resistance training:

Bodyweight Exercises, Plank and Push-ups
Bodyweight Exercises


Exercises using only one's own body weight are an excellent approach to develop one's strength and general level of fitness without the need for any special equipment. Pushups, squats, lunges, and planks are all examples of the kinds of workouts that employ your own body weight as resistance. Workouts that are performed using only one's own bodyweight are particularly useful for those who do not have access to a gym or who prefer to exercise in the comfort of their own homes.

Bodyweight exercises are a fantastic way to build a strong, lean physique. They engage multiple muscle groups at once, helping you to develop functional strength and athleticism. - Coach Dan John, Strength and Conditioning Coach

Split-Squat Lunge
Split-Squat Lunge


Dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells are two examples of free weights that are commonly used for resistance training. Because you may isolate certain muscle areas while lifting big loads, free weights are great for boosting overall strength and muscular size while actively stabilizing your joint. Exercises like bicep curls, shoulder press, and goblet squats may all be done using free weights.

"Dumbbell training is a versatile and effective way to build strength and muscle. By allowing for a full range of motion and unilateral training, dumbbells can help to improve muscle imbalances and prevent injury." - Coach Mike Boyle, Strength and Conditioning Coach

Resistance Bands
Resistance Bands


Resistance bands are a form of resistance training equipment that is both portable and adaptable. They can be used to target a wide variety of muscle groups and provide a challenging workout all on their own. They are available in a variety of strengths and can be utilized for a variety of workouts, including leg presses, lateral raises, and shoulder rehab exercises. Those who are constantly on the move or who wish to exercise at home will find resistance bands to be a very helpful piece of exercise equipment.

"Don't underestimate the power of resistance bands. Even though they're lightweight and compact, they can provide a challenging workout that targets multiple muscle groups at once." - Dr. Sarah Johnson, Fitness Expert

Resistance Machines
Resistance Machines


Resistance machines are a type of machine that can be found in most gyms and fitness centers. These machines offer a regulated environment in which strength training exercises can be performed. Machines are typically equipped with weights and settings that may be adjusted to cater to the specific requirements of the user in addition to being designed to focus on particular muscle groups. Machines include things like leg press machines, chest press machines, and cable machines, just to name a few examples.

"Resistance machines are an excellent tool for building strength and muscle mass. They allow you to target specific muscle groups and provide a controlled environment for your workouts, which can help reduce the risk of injury." - Dr. Lisa Nguyen, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Back Squat with a Barbell
Back Squat


Strength training using barbells is an excellent approach to improve both your strength and your general level of fitness. They are especially helpful for compound workouts like squats, cleans, presses, snatches, deadlifts, and bench presses, which engage many muscle groups at once and require the use of more than one joint. Exercises performed with barbells are frequently utilized by powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters, but they may be included into any resistance training plan.

"Olympic weightlifting is an incredibly challenging and rewarding sport. It requires a combination of strength, power, speed, and technique, and can provide physical and mental benefits that extend far beyond the gym." - Coach Mike Burgener, Olympic Weightlifting Coach

Medicine Ball- Great for Circuit Training
Medicine Ball - Great for Circuit Training


A medicine ball is a heavy, weighted ball that may be used for a number of workouts to enhance strength, power, and coordination. These benefits can be achieved via regular use of the medicine ball. Exercises like as overhead slams, Russian twists, and wall balls can all benefit from the usage of medicine balls, which are available in a variety of weights and sizes. They are an excellent method to add variation and intensity to your program of resistance training, which is something you should definitely consider doing.

"Medicine ball training is a great way to challenge your body in new and different ways. It can help you break through plateaus, build muscle, and improve your overall fitness level." - Dr. Jade Teta, Metabolic Conditioning Specialist

You may make your program of resistance training more engaging and difficult by incorporating a wide range of exercises and pieces of workout equipment. If you want to create a comprehensive plan for resistance training, you should think about include a variety of exercises in your routines, including those that use your own bodyweight, free weights, resistance bands, machines, barbells, and medicine balls. Personally, I love using resistance bands to warm up and activate my muscles and will vary the types of equipment I use depending on my goals.


Whether you're a newbie or a seasoned pro, one of the most important factors to consider is your reps and load ranges. But with so many different options out there, it can be tough to know where to begin. But don't worry, I've got you covered! Let's get into the specifics of selecting the best reps and load ranges for your fitness goals.


  • Training to sustain exercise for a period of time.

  • Use light weights (50% of your 1RM)

  • Rep count between 12-20 reps

  • Aim for 2-3 sets.

"Muscular endurance is the foundation for all other forms of exercise." - Tony Horton

Muscular endurance allows for peak performances over long periods of time. This type of resistance training is great for athletes who need to maintain a high level of performance throughout a game or event, or for anyone who wants to improve their ability to perform daily tasks without getting fatigued.

To train for muscular endurance, you should use lighter weights (around 50% of your 1RM) and perform exercises with a higher rep count of 12-20 reps. The lighter weights and higher reps help your muscles to become more efficient at using energy and can increase the endurance of your slow-twitch muscle fibers.

Aim for 2-3 sets of each exercise, with minimal rest time between sets. This can help to improve your cardiovascular endurance as well as your muscular endurance. In fact, some muscular endurance exercises can even double as cardio workouts, such as bodyweight squats or lunges.

Some great exercises for muscular endurance include bodyweight exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, and squats, as well as light weightlifting exercises like bicep curls, tricep extensions, and lateral raises.

Remember, the key to improving muscular endurance is to keep moving and maintain a steady pace, rather than focusing on lifting the heaviest weight possible.

Incorporating muscular endurance training into your fitness routine can help you to improve your overall endurance and fitness levels, making it easier to tackle daily activities with ease and enjoy the benefits of a healthier, more active lifestyle.

Dumbbells - A Good Option for Muscular Hypertrophy
Dumbbells - A Good Option for Muscular Hypertrophy


  • Muscle Building

  • Use Moderate to heavy weights (75-85% of your 1 rep max (RM))

  • Rep count between 6-12 reps with 90 seconds between sets.

  • Aim for 3-4 sets.

"Muscle hypertrophy is a marathon, not a sprint. Stay consistent and stay patient." - Mike Robertson

Muscle hypertrophy is all about building muscle mass, and this type of resistance training is perfect for those who want to increase their muscle mass and see significant gains in their strength and physique.

The key to hypertrophy training is using moderate to heavy weights (around 75-85% of your 1 rep max) and performing exercises with a rep count between 6-12. This range is optimal for building muscle because it puts the muscle fibers under enough stress to cause microscopic damage, which then repairs itself and leads to muscle growth.

To achieve hypertrophy, aim for 3-4 sets of each exercise, with 90 seconds between sets to allow your muscles to recover. This rest period is important because it allows you to lift heavy weights for multiple sets, which is essential for building muscle mass. Additionally, lifting heavier weights with fewer reps can help you build strength, which in turn can lead to improved performance in other areas of your fitness routine.

Some great exercises for muscle hypertrophy include compound movements like squats, deadlifts, and bench press. It's important to note that muscle hypertrophy takes time, so don't be discouraged if you don't see significant results right away! Consistency is key, so make sure to incorporate hypertrophy training into your workout routine regularly and fuel your body with proper nutrition to support muscle growth.

Circuit Training
Circuit Training


  • Full-body conditioning.

  • Cycle through exercises with little to no rest between sets.

  • Exercises incorporated into circuit training are usually performed at a moderate intensity level, with 10-15 repetitions or a time of 30–90 seconds.

  • Very time efficient!

"Circuit training is a fantastic way to build strength, endurance, and stamina all at once." - Bob Harper

Full-body conditioning is a type of resistance training that targets all major muscle groups in a single workout. This type of training is great for improving overall fitness levels, as well as for burning calories and building endurance.

To achieve full-body conditioning, you should cycle through a series of exercises with little to no rest between sets. This type of training is often incorporated into circuit training, which involves performing a series of exercises back-to-back in a set sequence.

Exercises incorporated into circuit training are usually performed at a moderate intensity level, with 10-15 repetitions or a time of 30-90 seconds. This type of training is great for building endurance and improving cardiovascular fitness, as well as for burning calories and promoting weight loss.

One of the best things about full-body conditioning is that it's very time efficient. Because you're working multiple muscle groups at once, you can get a full-body workout in a relatively short amount of time. Additionally, the lack of rest time between sets helps to keep your heart rate up and can increase the overall intensity of your workout.

Some great exercises for full-body conditioning include bodyweight exercises like push-ups, pullups, and step-ups as well as weightlifting exercises like kettlebell swings and shoulder press. Remember, the key to full-body conditioning is to keep moving and maintain a steady pace, so focus on performing each exercise with proper form and technique to get the most out of your workout.

what's 5 5
The Back Squat - One of the Big 5 Lifts


  • Strength building.

  • Use heavy weights (build up to a 1 Rep Max, find a new 1RM)

  • Reb count between 2-6.

  • Best to do after you perfect your form and are a more experienced lifter.

"To achieve maximum muscular strength, you must be willing to push yourself to the limit and overcome your physical and mental barriers." - Mark Rippetoe

Maximum muscular strength is all about building raw power and strength in your muscles. This type of resistance training involves using heavy weights and low reps to build up to a new 1RM (one rep max) over time.

To train for maximum muscular strength, you should use heavy weights and aim for a low rep count between 2-6 reps. A popular rep scheme is the 1 5x5, in other words, you perform 5 reps at moderate to heavy weight for 5 rounds. You do this 1 time. The goal is to lift the heaviest weight possible with proper form and technique.

However, it's important to note that this type of training is best to do after you have perfected your form and are a more experienced lifter. Lifting heavy weights with improper form can lead to injury, so it's important to take the time to perfect your technique before focusing on building strength.

When performing maximum muscular strength exercises, the main compound lifts, such as the squat, deadlift, and bench press. are great places to start. These exercises target multiple muscle groups and are great for building overall strength.

Remember to start with a weight that you can lift with proper form and technique, and gradually increase the weight over time as you build strength. It's also important to give your muscles plenty of time to rest and recover between workouts to avoid injury and overtraining.


1. How Often Should I do resistance training?

You don't need to do resistance training every day. The CDC recommends adding strength training as least two days per week. If you focus on compound movements, you will work more muscles during a single session. Aim for 2-3 sessions per week, giving your muscles enough time to rest and recover between workouts. Additionally, an appropriate exercise duration depends primarily on exercise frequency. If you decide to work out more often, the duration of your sessions can be shorter, for example.

2. How do I know when to increase my weight?

It is important to increase your weight as your training progresses, this is known as progressive overload and what will help you gain strength. To prevent injury and burn-out it is important to know when to increase your load. The 2-for-2 Rule suggests that if you can perform 2 extra repetitions on 2 sets with PERFECT form, you can increase your weight.

3. What resistance training exercises should I perform?

A good place to begin strength training is with the Big 5 compound lifts, which are:

  • Deadlift

  • Bench Press

  • Squat

  • Shoulder Press

  • Pull-up (Lat Pulldown is a good substitute)

Additionally, the 7 foundational exercises of Primal Movement are amazing as they are all functional movements to movement and fitness. They include Push, Pull, Squat, Hinge, Lunge, Rotation and Gait. Check out my article about Primal Fitness for a very comprehensive guide to the 7 Foundational Exercises, including different examples of exercises within each movement pattern and how to perform.

4. How do I start strength training?

Make sure you include a decent warm-up before lifting. I like to start with a few minutes of cardio to get my blood flowing and my muscles warmed up. I then follow with some dynamic functional stretches and a few easy movements to get my muscles activated. For instance, If I am going to deadlift, I will add glute bridges into my warm-up routine. If you are new to strength training, start with lighter weights and build up and you progress.

Focus on your form. Ensure your movement patterns are correct, you 'feel' where you should be feeling the exercise. Do not sacrifice quality for quantity or increased weight!

5. What are the best ways to recover after my work out?

Adding in a cooldown is a great way to flush out the lactic acid you may have just accumulated. Proper hydration and nutrition are also essential in preventing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Additionally, there are some great holistic recovery methods like an ice bath, a percussion massage gun, foam rollers and other myofascial release methods to help work out those kinks!

Get our Kinks Out with a Percussion Therapy Massage Gun
Get our Kinks Out with a Percussion Therapy Massage Gun

6. During resistance training, how quickly should you move?

When it comes to resistance training, the speed at which you move depends on the specific exercise you're doing. However, it's important to maintain control and proper form throughout the movement. Personally, I like to incorporate tempo movements into my strength training routine. For example, during a squat, I lower for 5 seconds, pause at the bottom for 3 seconds, and then explode up to the top in 1 second. This technique combines eccentric control, an isometric hold, and a concentric movement, making it an effective way to identify any weaknesses, improve strength, and enhance control.

Resistance training is a fantastic way to achieve your fitness goals and improve your overall health. Don't let the intimidation of the gym discourage you from trying it out! Remember that you don't need to be an expert to get started; with just a few tips and a positive mindset, you can start seeing results in no time. Whether you prefer bodyweight exercises or using machines, there's a type of resistance training that will work for you. By incorporating resistance training into your fitness routine, you'll not only build strength and tone your body, but also reap the benefits of increased metabolism and decreased risk of chronic diseases. So, let's start lifting those weights and reaching our full potential!

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