ISSA Chapter 12: Concepts of Resistance Training 5

Chapter Goals:

  • Know the benefits of resistance exercise.
  • Find and discuss the acute variables for resistance training.
  • Find the common modes of cardio training.
  • Be able to explain the common environmental influences on physical activity.


The Five Categories of Strength are:

  • Starting Strength: this is the ability to instantly recruit as many motor units as possible at the beginning of a movement.
  • Relative strength: this is determined when looking at the person’s body weight in creation to the amount of resistance they can overcome. The calculation is one-rep max weight divided by body weight equals force per unit of body weight.
  • Max strength is the ability of muscles and muscle groups to recruit and engage as many muscles as possible.
  • Power combines strength and speed, or the ability to generate max tension as quickly as possible.
  • Speed strength is the ability of a muscle or muscle group to absorb and transmit forces quickly.

Power is equal to force times distance, all divided by time.

Force is mass times acceleration.

Benefits of Strength Training

The many benefits of strength and resistance training will fall into the categories of longevity, quality of life, physical capacity, metabolic health, and body composition.

Just 10 short weeks are enough to increase lean body mass, increase metabolic rate, reduce fat mass, help manage diabetes, enhance cardiovascular health, and promote bone health.

Increasing Lean Body Mass

Just 12 – 20 exercise sets, 2 – 3 days per week, can increase muscle mass in all age groups.

This is also called hypertrophy, the increase in muscle size as an adaptation to exercise.

Increasing Resting Metabolic Rate

Muscle protein turnover is stimulated through resistance training, requiring around 100 calories per day of additional energy.

Chronic strength training increases the amount of muscle mass, which will, in turn, cause this increase of burned calories at rest, thus raising the metabolic rate at rest by around 20 calories per day per pound of muscle added.

Microtraumas done to the muscle raises the body’s energy needs by 5 – 9 percent for 3 days after exercise.

Reducing Fat Mass

20-minute circuit training workouts burn around 200 calories during exercise and then another 50 calories during the first hour following exercise.

A routine with just two weekly circuit training sessions would burn over 5,000 calories over 30 days.

With proper nutrition, the calorie deficit can help reduce body fat overall.

Type 2 Diabetes Prevention and Management

Resistance training programs with higher volumes and higher intensities have been shown through research to improve insulin resistance and glucose tolerance.

The recommendation for these effects is that all major muscle groups are exercised 3 days per week, gradually progressing to 8 – 10 reps at high intensity.

Exercise at this rep range is best for decreasing visceral fat and has been shown to reduce hemoglobin A! c, which is hemoglobin linked to sugar.

Visceral fat accumulates in the abdomen and around our internal organs. It has more negative effects on the arteries, liver and the breakdown of sugars and fats.

Enhancing Cardiovascular Health

Strength training is well known to reduce resting blood pressure levels.

Just 20 minutes of aerobic activity paired with resistance training, 2 – 3 days per week for at least 10 weeks, has shown significant results in this realm.

Resistance training may increase high density lipoprotein cholesterol by 8 – 21 percent, decrease low-density lipoprotein cholesterol by 13 – 23 percent, and reduce triglyceride levels by around 11 – 18 percent.

Promoting Bone Development

Each year, bone mineral density decreases by 1 – 3 percent for adults without resistance training.

Resistance training has increased bone mineral density by more than 3 percent for women. Young men build mass by 2.7 – 7.7 percent with resistance training.

Reversing Aging in Skeletal Muscle

There is a lot of research into the fact that exercise can slow and reduce the effects of aging to some degree.

The muscle cells are improved in many ways, as well as the health of our bones, when they must adapt to the new demands placed on the body with resistance training.

There are also positive aging effects on physical performance, movement control, balance, posture, walking speed, functional independence, and more.

Classifying Strength

Strength can be broken down into many different forms. Some of the common ones are: anaerobic, aerobic, linear, and nonlinear.

Anaerobic strength is strength without the use of oxygen, and aerobic is the opposite, so with the use of oxygen.

Linear strength is two or more strength variables that directly correlate with one another.

Nonlinear strength is two or more strength variables that do not directly correlate with one another.

Anaerobic and Aerobic Strength

Anaerobic strength activities use energy from the ATP / CP energy pathway and anaerobic glycolysis.

This form of activity can be sustained for 60 seconds before the stored energy is used up.

Activities involving anaerobic strength are seen with a shot put, high jump, powerlifting, golf, sprinting, and HIIT training.

After this all-out effort, the body generally takes 3 – 5 minutes to restock the cells with adenosine triphosphate or creatine phosphate.

Aerobic strength also has the name endurance strength. This sustains a sub max activity for a long time.

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Aerobic strength requires oxygen and is fueled by aerobic glycolysis, oxidative pathway, and gluconeogenesis processes.

Linear and Nonlinear Strength Endurance

Any activity requiring a sustained effort for an extended period is a linear strength endurance activity.

A nonlinear strength endurance activity can be either anaerobic or aerobic. This is an activity with intermittent activity and rest periods.

Strength Curve

This visual represents the amount of force produced over a range of motion.

Strength curves are different for exercises and individuals and are important to understand regarding exercise selection and equipment used.

Ascending Strength Curve

In this, more force is applied to the end range of motion than during the beginning or middle.

A good example of this is the squat. Lifting more weight at the squat’s top than at the bottom and middle is typically easier.

Descending Strength Curve

This is the opposite of the ascending curve and the load is easier at the bottom range of motion.

Rowing exercises are a good example of ease at the beginning of the move compared to the end.

Strength Training and Training Principles

There are many general fitness principles and training variables, but some fitness principles will be specific to strength and resistance training. Load, intensity, time under tension, and exercise selection are some specific variables.

Principle of Specificity

As training continues, exercises will progress from a general type to a more sport-specific or goal-oriented one.

To improve general health, fitness, and functional capacity, the training program should balance several kinds of exercise.

General Exercises

General exercises are foundational exercises used to train overall strength.

Some movements can produce overall strength, but it does not mean it translates well to performance in sports or other specific skills.

General exercises include things like bench press, cable row, plank, squat, and leg press.

The benefits of including general exercises include reductions in injury risk and increases in motor unit recruitment, muscle hypertrophy, bone density, connective tissue strength, and increased cardiovascular capacity.

Isolation Exercises

Isolation exercises are single-joint exercises mainly activating an individual muscle or muscle group.

Some examples of this are the bicep curl, tricep extension, leg curl, and leg extension.

Isolation exercises can help target muscles that aren’t fully activated during compound movements.

Compound Exercises

Compound exercises are those that engage multiple joints and require the use of many muscles or muscle groups.

Common compound exercises are squats, lunges, deadlifts, bench presses, and chin-ups.

Specific Exercises

These are exercises that directly improve functional capacity and performance.

When properly done, the best specific exercises target a particular skill set and enhance that ability.

Specific exercises must be like the target activity and mimic specific joint movements, movement direction, range of motion, and speed of movement.

Cross-Body Exercises

These exercises will mimic natural body movements more closely.

Explosive Exercises

These exercises engage many muscles in a quick, powerful, sequential movement.

Many sports require explosive movements, like Olympic lifting, sprinting, boxing, etc.

Phase 1 is the eccentric action, where the loading phase occurs.

Phase 2 is amortization, which is the transition from phase 1 to phase 3.

Phase 3 is the concentric action which is enhanced by the stored energy from phase 1.

Choosing the proper explosive movement is key to success in a program.

Principle of Progressive Overload

For fitness to progress, the body must be forced to adapt to and overcome stress larger than what it is used to.

Frequency, density, intensity, volume, and range of motion may all be progressively overloaded to influence adaptations.

Trainers must consider and understand which acute variables must be overloaded for each result.

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Principle of Reversibility

“Use it or lose it” applies to every aspect of fitness, especially resistance training.

Some observations regarding detraining specific to resistance training are:

  • detraining will happen 3 – 4 weeks after ceasing training
  • muscle atrophy will occur as soon as 2 weeks after stopping training
  • endurance performance declines by 4 – 25 percent after 3 – 4 weeks of no exercise
  • VO2 max goes down by 6 – 20 percent at around four weeks of detraining
  • flexibility declines by 7 – 30 percent after four weeks of detraining
  • bed rest or immobilization increases the rate of muscle atrophy


Tapering involves planning a reduction in training to avoid detraining and increase gains before competition is maximized.

Tapering needs to meet three things:

  1. reduce fatigue as much as possible
  2. increase or maintain fitness at competition levels
  3. enhance specificity

Physiological Adaptations to Anaerobic Exercise

Anaerobic exercise uses glycolysis without the presence of oxygen.

Anaerobic exercise is harder and shorter movements that increase the size and quantity of fast-twitch fibers.

More fast-twitch fibers mean more strength, power, and muscle size.

Typically, the main activities included in anaerobic exercise are weightlifting, powerlifting, sprints, and high-intensity intervals.

Anaerobic activity cannot last as long as aerobic activity.

Muscle hypertrophy happens with increased mitochondria, myoglobin, extracellular and intracellular fluid, capillarization, and fusion of muscle fibers to surrounding satellite cells.

Besides muscular hypertrophy, the cellular changes of endurance training do not usually happen with resistance training.

Resistance training increases the development of connective tissues, which strengthen to support more powerful muscular contractions and prevent injury.

Modifying the Acute Variables of Training

The commonly manipulated variables will be frequency, intensity, time, type, tempo, range of motion, reps, sets, and rest.


The overall fitness level is the most important consideration when prescribing exercise frequency.

Daily workload and on-job tasks need to be considered, in addition.

Beginner and Novice Training Status people should train no more than 2 – 3 nonconsecutive days per week when training the whole body. There should be about 1 – 3 days of rest between sessions for optimal recovery.

An intermediate training status should train for 3 – 4 days per week. These are slightly more experienced exercisers.

Intermediate clients may follow a split routine when the frequency is increased.

Split routines allow for more recovery for specific areas of the body.

Advanced training status is rare, as most people will not reach this level. This is an increased training frequency and volume from intermediate levels.

Total training volume is equal to sets times weight times reps.


This is the amount of effort being put out and is expressed as a percent of one-rep max for resistance activity.

The ratings of perceived exertion are another way to measure intensity, although they are usually more reserved for aerobic training.

Resistance Training Intensity Protocol by Goal

  • Muscular endurance = 67 percent or less
  • Hypertrophy = 67 – 85 percent
  • Max strength = 85 percent or more
  • power (single rep event) = 80 – 90 percent
  • Power (multiple rep event) = 75 – 85 percent

Time / Duration

Time refers to how long an activity or exercise session lasts.

Time is more often a planned part of cardio sessions, but it can also be a part of resistance training.


The set training goals should find the type of exercise chosen.

Grip and breath control are two sub-variables of type.

The grip is our hand placement option, and there are many.

  1. The supinated grip is when the palms face up to the ceiling
  2. The pronated grip is when the hand or forearm is rotated and the palm faces down or back
  3. A neutral grip is when the palms face one another
  4. The alternated grip is when one hand is supinated and the other is pronated.
  5. The hook grip is when the barbell is held by gripping the thumb between the barbell and fingers.
  6. The open grip is when the thumb does not wrap around the bar.
  7. A closed grip is when the hand fully wraps around the bar.

Grip strength is the force applied by the hand to pull or suspend a load.

How someone breathes during the exercises is an important variable.

In most exercises, trainees should exhale with exertion and inhale during eccentric action.

If you look at the bench press, you exhale as you push the bar up and inhale as you lower the bar back down. This allows focus for the hardest part of the move, unconsciously activating abdominal bracing and protecting the spine.

The Valsalva maneuver is the act of forcibly exhaling with a closed windpipe, where no air is exiting via the nose or mouth.


Tempo will be written as: eccentric count: isometric hold count: concentric count: isometric hold count

Tempo Based on Training Goal:

  • Muscular endurance: 4:0:6:0
  • Hypertrophy: 3:1:3:1
  • Max strength: 3:0:1:0
  • Power: Fastest controllable tempo


A repetition is one completed movement through the set range of motion for one exercise.

Modifying the reps directly affects the exercise outcome.

The ideal rep count will be based on the desired training outcome:

  • muscular endurance is 15 or more reps
  • hypertrophy is 6 – 12 reps
  • max strength is 1 – 6 reps
  • power is 1 – 5 reps


This is the number of times an exercise or group of reps is completed. This also links to the desired training outcome.

Set Protocol for Training Goals:

  • Muscular endurance = 1 – 3 sets
  • Hypertrophy = 3 – 4 sets
  • Max strength = 3 – 5 sets
  • Power = 3 – 5 sets


This is as important as most of the other variables. Rest can be between reps, sets, and sessions.

For resistance training, rest is mostly considered as the time between sets.

  • Muscular endurance = 30 – 60 seconds
  • Hypertrophy = 30 – 60 seconds
  • Max strength = 2 – 5 minutes
  • Power = 1 – 2 minutes

Warm-Up and Cooldown

Before resistance training, warm-ups are recommended. Both general and specific warm-ups are good ideas to warm up the muscles and ligaments while also increasing muscle force production.

After a training session, the cooldown should be enough to allow the heart rate and body temperature to return to baseline.

After resistance training, the cooldown should ideally have some flexibility training to help with the range of motion.

Resistance Equipment

The fitness industry is well known for its ingenuity in creating new types of exercise equipment.

Some equipment will train single movement patterns or groups of muscles, while others are multifunctional.

No matter the trained part, the equipment will be one of these four categories: Constant, Variable, Accommodating, or Static.

Functional isometrics is the combo of partial rep training and isometric holds.

Comparing Free Weights and Weight Machines

Both free weights and weight machines are common modalities of resistance training.

Free weights are loads that are not attached to an apparatus. An example would be barbells and dumbbells.

Weight machines are pieces of equipment with a fixed or variable range of motion that uses gravity and a load to generate resistance.

Benefits of Free Weights:

  • Free weights are less expensive and take up less space. Possibly more practical in home gyms.
  • The free weights are more versatile. Exercise may target any muscle group with this simple equipment.
  • Free weights help to develop greater power, as compared to machines.
  • Exercises done with free weights mimic neurological patterns of fitness and sports skills better than a fixed range of motion.
  • Free weights recruit more of smaller synergist and stabilizer muscles.

Benefits of Weight Machines:

  • Certain machines are much better at isolating a single muscle or muscle group to generate progressive overload.
  • Machines use space more efficiently in a gym, where many people are working out simultaneously.
  • Working with machines can be faster. Changing resistance is quick and efficient.
  • Novice clients may find machines to be safer.

Body Weight Exercise

These are movements done without additional load other than what the exerciser’s body provides.

The one drawback of bodyweight training is that there is no way to add resistance well with this form of training.

Therefore, body weight training does not adhere as well to the principle of progressive overload.

Benefits of Body Weight Training:

  • Body weight training is accessible and inexpensive
  • The intensity of body weight training can vary by tempo, speed, time under tension, and adding plyometrics
  • Body weight exercises are largely functional and can improve core strength
  • Body weight movements work to improve balance and stability

Rep and Set Schemes

Single set training uses one set per exercise or muscle group.

Multiset training is multiple sets per exercise per muscle group.

Straight set training is done by using the same weight for every set.

Supersets are done with two exercises, normally opposing muscles, performed back-to-back with very little rest.

Drop sets are a technique where a set is done until failure, then the weight is dropped to a lower one, and the exerciser continues until failure, which can go for multiple rounds.

Ascending pyramids are when lighter weights start the workout and it gets progressively higher with the next sets.

German volume training is a method where 10 sets of 10 reps are done with one minute between sets.

ISSA Chapter 12: Concepts of Resistance Training 6
ISSA Chapter 12: Concepts of Resistance Training 7
ISSA Chapter 12: Concepts of Resistance Training 8
Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read

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