Resistance Training 101

An introduction to resistance exercise scheduling, reps & sets, and rest.

Regardless of how many movie villains have said it, resistance is FAR from futile. In fact, if your fitness goals include anything other than running marathons or iron man races, it is imperative that you feature resistance exercises in your exercise program.


*face palm* How silly of me passing stranger! You're absolutely right, there is NO fitness goal that shouldn't include resistance work in some form or frequency. Not only does it improve the strength and overall functionality of my musculature, but it improves bone density especially in more seasoned exercisers.

End scene.

My goal this week is to give you an introduction to resistance exercise. Follow me won't you.

Scheduling - Bodybuilding Splits vs Circuits (Cross Training) Programming

One of the most common questions members and clients ask me is how to organize their workouts. A good program has a mix of work and rest and in that sense it extremely subjective, meaning that depending on your level of conditioning and recovery you can train more frequently based on your sleep, nutrition, etc. That qualifier out of the way, there are a few of the most common strategies for scheduling your resistance workouts:

1. Bodybuilding Splits are the most common scheduling strategies I see used relative to strength and volume training. One of the main reasons for this that it is a simple concept that is easy for even an inexperienced gym goer to digest and implement. One body part per day. Monday - Chest & Triceps. Tuesday - Back & Biceps. Wednesday - Legs & Abs. And so on and so forth. The benefit to this type of scheduling is that you put all your eggs in one basket and focus all your resistance work on fatiguing that muscle group as well as all your nutrients and recovery mechanisms in the aftermath. If you're a beginner and you decide on this strategy, I recommend starting off with a 2-day body part split that includes an upper body day and a lower body day wherein you focus on compound exercises with thorough warm up and cool down sequences.

2. Circuit Training is the practice of putting together a variety of functional resistance exercises with certain amount of reps/time per exercise assigned to each and performing those exercises with minimal rest in between sets. The idea is to exhaust one muscle group before moving to the next muscle group and exhausting it, before moving to another one - rinse and repeat - all the while maintaining a high level of metabolic output that maximizes calorie burn and changes body composition. You can train more frquently implementing this strategy because it involves primarily full body circuits but I recommend not doing heavy resistance and/volume circuits more than 3 days in a row. This is the style of training I use for most of my clients because of its effectiveness in changing body composition in a positive way, its seemingly endless combination of movements, and its efficiency in terms of the time it takes to complete. Contact me directly at to schedule a session!

Quantity - How much? How long? How many?

When it comes to quantifying your work in a resistance workout, it all depends on what you want to accomplish. Your repetitions, rest intervals, and amount of weight used are all subject to change depending on your goals, not just for that workout, but for your overall programming. What follows is guide to how to determine what rep ranges and amount of resistance to use but keep in mind, none are mutually exclusive, nothing purely black and white. Anytime you are dealing with the human body there is plenty of grey.

Training for Strength - We refer to exercise as training without thinking about the fact that we are literally training our body how to respond to various stimuli. When it comes to strength you are gradually adjusting your body's skeletal strength and muscular coordination to be able to handle larger and larger loads. So to gradually improve your strength, the strategy should be lower reps (1-8 reps per set) and heavier resistances with longer rest intervals in between sets (1:00 - 3:00). It is ALWAYS good practice to start with a warm up set and then gradually pyramid up to the higher weights/lower reps not just to warm up the joints, but to work on a prepare the coordination of that specific movement.

Training for Size - The practice of training to increase the size of your existing muscle by maximizing blood flow to your muscle fibers and encouraging lactic acid buildup is known as hypertrophy. When trying to train for hypertrophic effect, you want to keep your rep count in the 8-15 range and your weight challenging enough to make you reach muscle failure on an exercise around your target rep count. Rest intervals should be kept around 1:00.


The key to a successful resistance program is working hard - but more important than that is working smart. Before jumping head first or just grinding it out 5 times a week for the sake of grinding, do your homework and figuring out if what you are doing will yield you the results that you are after. Stay tuned for more content every Friday! Thanks for reading!

To schedule a session with me check out the personal appointments page or contact me directly at 251-751-3043!


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