The gyms reopen this weekend and I have had a few conversations about the nature of lifting weights which most people are still confused about. So here is a sum up – 


What is Resistance Training (RT) ? – Performing a movement where you run out of steam / cannot do any more reps between 1 and 20 times. If you stop at 20 but can actually do 50 if then it is not really resistance training. It becomes more aerobic training, there are some exceptions to this but for most people they should be tired before 15 reps.


Why Do Resistance Training? – For starters it is the only way to build muscle. Alongside this it can increase strength, improve bone density and as well as burning calories it also maintains your metabolic rate when losing body fat. Everyone should be doing it in some form regardless of age. It is the best method for ensuring you can run around and get out of chairs when you are 100 years old. 


What Does RT Look Like? – It comes in many forms, classic weight lifting in the gym is the most well known but you can do resistance training outside with your own body weight. It is done in exercise classes like body pump or hobbies like rock climbing and pole dancing. Normal life events such as lifting during gardening etc can fall into this category. You DO NOT need a gym to do resistance training. My online coaching has a video library of over 400 exercises I can choose to include in your programme.


What is NOT Resistance Training? – The key to RT is the intensity of the movement, picking up a dumbbell does not make it resistance training unless it is hard enough. Though any exercise is still better than watching TV and eating biscuits if you are using a weight so light you could lift it a 100 times it will not give you the benefits you want. This is the biggest reason most people fail with RT.

So remember that the exercise does not make it resistance training… it is the difficulty of the exercise. You should be tired by 15 reps. This means your actual muscles are tired and not you have stopped because you happen to get to the number you are counting towards.


Are There Different Types of RT? – Yes there are, this mostly comes down to the number of reps and the rest period between each time you lift. The main methods are below :


Strength               – 0-6 Reps – Long Rest Between Sets (2-5 minutes)

Power                  – 1-10 Reps – Long Rest Between Sets (2-5 Minutes)*

Muscle Building   – 6-15 Reps – Short / Medium Rest (30-120 seconds)

Endurance           – 10-25 Reps – Short Rest (30 – 60 seconds or circuit style)


*All these phases assume you are close to failure with a near maximal weight in each set for your target reps except power training which purposely uses a lighter weight to focus on speed of movement. This is used mostly for sports performance.


What Is The Best Programme? – There is none, every single programme becomes boring to your body after around 4- 8 weeks of doing it. At this point, though it still works up a sweat and it is tiring you do not respond by gaining more muscle or getting stronger. When this happens you need to change something to force the body to adapt once more, e.g. reps per set, rest, exercises etc. 


What Are Splits? – The majority of people doing RT are trying to gain muscle. After you reach the 4-8 weeks exercise plateau you need to change your plan, the best way to continue muscle gains is usually to increase the number of sets you do on each exercise.

After a few training programmes of adding more sets to the exercises you end up with an insanely huge exercise plan that would take hours to do. At this point the programme is split to make it more manageable e.g. 


1 Day Split – All Body Done in 1 Day – Total Body Workout

2 Day Split – Body Done in 2 Days – e.g. Upper / Lower body, Push / Pull

3 Day Split – Body done in 3 days – e.g. Push/ Pull/ Legs 

4 Day Split – e.g. Chest / Shoulder, Back, Legs, Arms & Abs

5 Day Split – e.g. Chest, Back, Shoulders, Legs, Arms&Abs


The research generally seems to show you should work the muscles twice a week for optimal gains. For most people this sort of split conversation is not applicable because they are simply too inconsistent or do not want to dedicate such time to exercise. You can still make great progress but eventually your size will be limited by time available. If unable to get up to 4-6 sessions a week you will eventually reach a limit. However, 98% of people’s goals are probably not to build the kind of muscle that needs this amount of training time.


What Are The Key Rules For RT? – Fairly simple: 

– Do the exercise so the muscle burns a little before 15 reps

– If you ever feel it in a joint then stop the exercise immediately.

– Change the plan every 1-2 months in some way.

– Monitor progress by checking you are getting stronger gradually over time.


I am sure I had some other questions on resistance training over the last few weeks but for now that will do you! As for the actual issue of gyms opening, studies have shown they do not spread corona virus that effectively and that most users in the gym are not the most susceptible group for corona, e.g. less than 50 years old etc.


I will be there tomorrow when they open no doubt. However, i am not that desperate for them to open. I have trained almost everyday in Battersea park, I have probably done over 100 training sessions since lock down began. I would walk a lap of the Battersea park each day and integrating various exercises during it. I followed a 3 day split of push / pull / legs. 


Photo – A few pictures from various workouts I did during the gym closure in Battersea park. Click here for photo>>>



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