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What Is Resistance Exercise?

Push-ups are one form of resistance exercise.
Dumbbell curls are an effective way to build stronger biceps by providing weight resistance to the muscle group.
An anatomical illustration showing many muscles in the upper body.
Exercise bands stretch -- like giant rubber bands -- to provide resistance when used for working out.
The dumbbell lateral raise is a weightlifting move that works the shoulder and trapezius muscles.
Resistance exercises can help a person build and tone muscle mass.
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  • Written By: Kerrie Main
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2014
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Resistance exercise typically is comprised of a strength-training workout that uses some form of resistance or tension. It is used to develop the strength and size of skeletal muscles, such as biceps or quadriceps. Resistance training can be done using free weights, elastic bands or the person’s own body weight and has become a common feature in comprehensive workout plans. Many people do different types of resistance exercises along with cardiovascular exercises to help build and tone muscle mass as well as lose weight.

There are many forms of resistance exercises that can be done with free weights and circuit training machines. To tone and build arm muscles, some people do arm curls, biceps curls and triceps curls. For stronger shoulders, many people use free weights to do forward arm raises, lateral raises, chest presses and rotator cuff exercises. When people want to strengthen leg muscles, they often do dumbbell squats and other resistance training exercises that work the hamstrings, gluteal and quadriceps muscles.

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Some resistance exercises are done with the person’s own body weight. They include pull-ups, push-ups, basic crunches, lunges, rear leg lifts and triceps dips. There are also many tools to help get better resistance, such as elastic resistance bands and fitness balls. One of the most important features of this type of strength training is the need for a full range of motion in the exercise movement, because a person can experience muscle overload if only the specific muscle joint angles are worked.

Resistance exercise, or strength training, can usually be found in many different types of workouts, so a person doesn’t have to be a gym rat to get the benefits of the exercise. Yoga, which uses the majority of core muscles, is one way to begin resistance training. Dance classes, which utilize many leg lifts and moves, is another type of exercise that utilizes some form of resistance training. Swimming is another form of resistance exercise that uses water as the resistor.

There are many benefits of incorporating resistance exercise into a regular workout regimen. When done over time, this type of workout can build muscles, strengthen the core and increase bone mass. Other benefits might include reduced body fat, improved mobility for older people, lowered heart rate and lowered blood pressure. Before incorporating a resistance exercise into a current program, one should always talk to a health professional to ensure there are no health risks. It might be beneficial to speak with a personal trainer to find out which strength training exercises best fit a person’s body type and fitness goals, as well.

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shell4life
Post 4

I think that taking your time is very important when doing resistance exercises. If you hold a position and slowly come out of it, then you will give your body more time to build strength.

If you pop up and down when you do exercises, then you are not getting the full benefit. Your muscles need to stretch to be able to expand, and if you go through a resistance training workout quickly, you are not giving them what they need.

I always pretend that I am lifting a heavy weight, even though I'm not. When people lift something heavy, they tend to go slower and apply pressure slowly. Acting like I am having to give it all I've got just to lift that little ten pound weight slows me down to the right speed, and my biceps and triceps get so much more out of each rep than they would if I only used the amount of strength really necessary to lift them.

orangey03
Post 3

@cloudel – You really can get fit without any outside help or tools. All you really need is a carpeted floor and the will to persevere.

You should probably start slow. Do ten crunches at a time, and if you get sore or fatigued, stop. You will need to build up a tolerance for the workout.

With crunches, it's important to keep your lower back on the floor and use only your abdominals to pull your head and neck up. Hold the position for three seconds and then slowly lower it back down.

For beginners, it's best to do push-ups on your knees. Lie down flat with your palms on the floor and use your arms to push yourself up on your knees.

Lunges will help you develop thigh muscles. Stand with your feet together and then step one foot out in front of you. Bend down and hold the position for a few seconds, and slowly raise up.

cloudel
Post 2

Can you really develop good muscle tone just by using your own body weight? It seems like every fit person I see goes to the gym and uses expensive equipment. I can't afford a gym membership, and I don't know anyone with weights at home.

What are the most beneficial resistance exercises that you can do without using anything but your own body? I would love to give it a try and see if it could work. I would be motivated to stick to an exercise routine if it starts to generate results.

wavy58
Post 1

I have always heard that using your own body weight is good for building muscles. It seems strange, but I have found that pushing my palms into each other and holding the position for thirty seconds is a good resistance exercise for building chest muscles.

I will do four reps of thirty-second presses. Then, I will apply forty short bursts of pressure. Both exercises combined have helped me tone my chest.

You can also build your triceps by sitting on a bench and placing your palms face down beside you. Lower yourself slowly and bring yourself all the way back up. Do this several times, and you will feel the burn in your arms as your muscles start to grow.

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