Resistance training exercises: Beginners Guide

resistance training exercises

In this beginners guide you are going to get a better understanding of resistance training exercises. By reading this whole article, you should be ready to begin your own journey with resistance training. 

Like most other topics in health and fitness, there are a lot of misconceptions, be that because of innocent ignorance, marketing deception, or just myths spread by the general public. 

This guide is going to help clear the confusion and go over things like; what is resistance training, how often you should do resistance training, and even how to get started. 

What is resistance training?

Resistance training is a popular exercise strategy where you exert force against some form of resistance. Typically this resistance can be things like weights but also cables, bands, or your own body. The goal by following this strategy is typically to gain strength and build muscle. 

Benefits of resistance training

Improved muscle and strength

The most obvious and direct result from resistance training is the potential to improve your strength and muscle mass. 

Both of these benefits feed off of each other and are essential for most fitness goals in one way or another.

3 main factors of muscle growth occur during resistance training. These factors are time under tension, damage to the muscle and metabolic stress. 

Resistance training is well suited to stimulate all three of those muscle building factors, even a poorly programmed routine could show some muscle growth over time. 

Improved quality of daily life

The quality of life I’m referring to is the ease of going through your daily routine. Maybe that is an office job where you sit at your desk all day or maybe a firefighter who has to rummage through burning buildings. 

Resistance training helps improve your ability to act in your daily life. 

The office job for example needs a lot of correct posture to avoid long term negative health effects from constantly being hunched over in front of a computer.

The firefighter needs muscle endurance and strength to be able to move through damaged structures. 

Resistance training increases your effectiveness in your routine by fixing muscle imbalances and possible range of motion issues on top of improving actual performance. 

Maintaining flexibility and balance

As you age you lose a lot of things you previously had, be that hair, energy or maybe the flexibility and balance you once had. 

By having a resistance training routine, you can practice going through functional movements so you don’t lose the skill as father time wears on you. 

Compound movements like traditional squats or deadlifts incorporate multiple muscle groups. They also are movements you can encounter in your everyday life. 

Improved body composition

Today’s world is, generally speaking, one catered towards a sedentary lifestyle. Because of that weight gain, that is predominantly fat, and muscle loss is common.

These combinations lead to poor body compositions that further worsen any health issues we may have. 

Resistance training increases your lean body mass while raising your overall activity level, something that can greatly aid in weight loss. 

Helps against chronic conditions

Chronic conditions are long term health conditions. Examples of these are such things like cancers, diabetes, and heart disease. 

In this research study by frontiers in physiology, strong correlations were found between positive effects on certain chronic diseases and resistance training. These diseases tested diabetes, age related, cancers and cardiovascular disease.

Improved mood

Having a healthy mental state and good mood is essential to a good quality of life. 

Resistance training has long been known to help release the feel good hormone dopamine. 

So by doing resistance training, even if the idea of it repels you, can lead you to living a happier life.

How to get started resistance training

Actually starting to incorporate resistance training exercises into your routine might seem a little daunting. By following a few steps it is actually pretty simple. 

To get started with resistance training exercises you have to pick your end goal and decide on a suitable routine. From there you start small and make adjustments as you go. Don’t forget to also supply your body with the sufficient nutrients it needs to recover. 


Before you even begin, possibly the most important step to set a path, your end goal.

The end goal is going to help you make decisions on things like your training style as well as time frame. 

The goal will be completely up to you, a few examples for inspiration include; weight gain or loss, improved performance, improving body composition.

Decide on a routine

After you have a goal in mind, it’s time to create or find a routine that will best help you work towards your desired end result. 

When finding a routine, take into account things like the equipment available to you or whether or not you want to work out at a gym. 

An easy starter piece of equipment would be something like resistance bands or an adjustable pair of dumbbells. (affiliate link)

You can purchase an online plan or find a trainer, this way will increase your odds of finding a high quality plan.

There are also a lot of free resources online, for beginners I provide a free workout plan to help get you started, you can check that out here.

Start Small

The next step would be to start, but I say start small. 

What I mean is to avoid letting the feelings of motivation overwhelm you and dictate your actions. 

This can lead to quick burnout.

Your goal should be to create something that can be sustained over the long haul.

If you know you have 5 days to workout, start instead with just 2 or three. The goal here is to find a level of comfort with exercise. It is much easier to add an extra day than to take a step back, which could easily lead to feelings of unmotivation. 

Make adjustments

After you start, it’s time to keep track of how you are performing and feeling. It’s great to understand how you are coming along so you can make the necessary adjustments when need be. 

You might have created a routine with resistance training exercises that are too difficult for you at the moment. 

Don’t be ashamed to go easy on yourself. It is much more beneficial to you to be doing exercises that are lighter with correct form. 

Going heavy or trying difficult movements might be fun and look impressive, but you would be running them with high risk of injury if you don’t have correct form or range of motion. 

What kind of equipment is used for resistance training exercises?

You may or may not know this already, but there are various different types of pieces of equipment out there that can be used for resistance training. 

Resistance training is simply creating movement against a resistance, this allows a lot of variability and variety. 

On one hand you have free weights like dumbbells, kettlebells, and barbells. 

On the other you have things like machines, resistance bands or even your own body!

If you need a reference list to help pick out some pieces of equipment, here is a small list with links to each one. (each link is a affiliate link):

How often you should do resistance training

It’s not enough to just simply do resistance training exercises, you also have to understand that there is an ideal frequency to see good results. 

You should do resistance training at minimum 48 hours apart per muscle group to allow your body to have enough rest. Using that rule, you could hit the same muscle group a maximum of 3 times per week, to take full advantage of the muscle building effects. 

Aside from that brief rule, don’t forget to take your life into account. 

Sure in an ideal world, we could do those 3 workouts per week, but normally the average person has a lot of responsibilities to attend to every day. They would be lucky to get 3 TOTAL workouts per week. 

Like mentioned before, start small and work your way up to avoid burnout. 

A nice tip for busy people is to do full body workouts during each training session. 

Full body workouts are great because you can hit your entire body the maximum amount of times with only 3 workouts in a week. 

An unpredictable schedule won’t be a big issue either, if you hit different muscle groups each day, missing a workout would mean undertraining compared to the rest of your body.

Resistance training vs strength training

You may have heard the term strength training before and are wondering if it is the same thing as resistance training. 

Let’s clear that up.

Resistance training is simply performing movements against some kind of resistance. 

For example when bench pressing, the movement is to put the bar up. The resistance is the weights pushing down towards you. 

Thus, resistance training is a pretty general term for a lot of modalities (training styles)

Strength training on the other hand is a specific modality aimed towards building strength. 

This can be done by using heavy weights for a low amount of weights. 

Strength training is just a phase of resistance training. It is important to cycle through phases to target different training benefits and to avoid plateaus in your progress. 

For example, training for strength allows you to improve the weight you can lift during muscle building as well as the weight you can explosively move during power training phases. 

Now that you should have a better understanding of resistance training exercises, go out there and take the first step!