Introduction to Resistance Training

Developing muscular strength and endurance are described as fundamental components within health-related physical fitness. An increase in the number of scientific publications have been seen over the years, ranking resistance training as a top 10 world-wide trend (1).

Studies show that participating in regular resistance training yields positively on body composition (1,2), blood pressure (1,3), bone mineral density (1,4) and insulin sensitivity (1,5). For older adults above the age of 50 years, resistance training has been reported to decrease age-associated loss of muscle mass, which is referred to as sarcopenia (6).

In general, a good resistance/strength training programme should focus on improving health and fitness variables, and should include a variety of different exercises that target different major muscle groups at each training session (7). An increase in lean body mass as a result of resistance training is reported to contribute to basal metabolic rate (BMR), whether maintaining BMR or increasing it. In general, resistance training involves a specialized application of physical exercise and conditioning that includes progression, and a wide range of resistance (also termed load) into different exercise and training modalities that promote the development of muscular fitness (1).

Physical function and health-related quality of life can be enhanced by regularly engaging in resistance training by circumventing age-related weight gain, and promoting enjoyment and independence of the individual through doing resistance-type exercises that they like participating in (1).
In series on resistance training, we unpack the scientific evidence behind hypertrophy, strength, muscular endurance, and power resistance training approaches, as well as broadly covering the FITT-VP framework (explained in Chapter 2) that should be included in each type of resistance training programme. FITT-VP stands for Frequency, Intensity, Type, Time, Volume and Progression. In resistance training (also referred to as strength training) programming, a variety of exercise modalities can be explored, namely (9):
  • Isotonic, isometric and isokinetic training
  • Plyometric training
  • Medicine ball training
  • Resistance  bands and chords
  • Kettlebell   training
  • Suspension training
In resistance/strength training, involving the different modalities of exercises listed above, the individual is encouraged to adopt multi-joint exercises (compound exercise) instead of isolated or single joint exercises. With respect to the muscular action, dynamic exercises that combine concentric, eccentric and isometric actions are also recommended (7).
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In this Research Digest instalment, we provide an overview of each type of resistance training, with recommendations, guidelines, programme design considerations, and evidence-based results from research studies.
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To bring you the most evidence-based and cutting information in the fields of sports and exercise science and health, SSISA works alongside the UCT Research Centre for Health through Physical Activity, Lifestyle and Sport (HPALS) to disseminate the latest research. HPALS research focuses on optimizing human performance and promoting health and well-being through physical activity, sports participation, healthy eating and good sleep hygiene. Their work begins at the DNA, to the human performance laboratory and ultimately to the community.


  1. ACSM. ACSM Resources for the Exercise Physiologist by American College of Sports Medicine. 2018.
  2. Sillanpää E, Laaksonen DE, Häkkinen A, Karavirta L, Jensen B, Kraemer WJ, et al. Body composition, fitness, and metabolic health during strength and endurance training and their combination in middle-aged and older women. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2009;106(2):285–96.
  3. Bennett GG, Wolin KY, Puleo EM, Mâsse LC, Atienza AA. Awareness of national physical activity recommendations for health promotion among US adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Oct;41(10):1849–55.
  4. Kohrt WM, Bloomfield SA, Little KD, Nelson ME, Yingling VR. Physical activity and bone health. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004 Nov;36(11):1985–96.
  5. Brooks N, Layne JE, Gordon PL, Roubenoff R, Nelson ME, Castaneda-Sceppa C. Strength training improves muscle quality and insulin sensitivity in Hispanic older adults with type 2 diabetes [Internet]. Vol. 4, International Journal of Medical Sciences. 2007. Available from:
  6. Csapo R, Alegre LM. Effects of resistance training with moderate vs heavy loads on muscle mass and strength in the elderly: A meta-analysis. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2016 Sep 1;26(9):995–1006.
  7. Ketelhut S, Ketelhut RG. Type of Exercise Training and Training Methods [Internet]. Xiao J, editor. Vol. 1228. Springer, Singapore; 2020 [cited 2022 Dec 17]. Available from:
  8. Schoenfeld BJ, Grgic J, van Every DW, Plotkin DL. Loading Recommendations for Muscle Strength, Hypertrophy, and Local Endurance: A Re-Examination of the Repetition Continuum. Sports. 2021 Feb 1;9(2).
  9. Brown LE. Strength training. Second Edition. National Strength & Conditioning Association (U.S.); 2007. 391 p.
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