Strength Training vs Resistance Training: What’s the Difference?

Strength Training vs Resistance Training: What’s the Difference?

Embarking on a fitness journey might feel like entering a maze of unfamiliar terms and diverse workout methods. Among the various questions that arise, the ongoing discussion about resistance training vs weight training is a prominent one. Are these approaches essentially two sides of the same coin, or do they guide individuals down distinct fitness paths?

Chances are, if you’ve been in a gym, on social media, or - heck - anywhere really, you've heard about THIS debate: Which is more effective for building muscle quickly? Resistance training machines or weight training? A question as old as the gym you set foot in every day, but no one seems to be answering the question.…and yeah, there is an answer, but people keep asking, so I’m going to talk about it some more.

The truth – it’s both. Strength training is all about making your muscles or muscle groups more powerful. Resistance training is a broader concept that includes different methods to challenge your muscles by working against a force or resistance. Let’s take a look at the differences between the two in greater detail.

Strength Training vs. Resistance Training: Which Is Right for You?

Both of these involve using resistance to build muscle mass and get stronger, but the main difference is in what they aim to achieve.

Strength Training:

Strength training is designed to enhance your raw power and force. It's characterized by lifting heavier weights for fewer repetitions, focusing on compound movements like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses exercise. This method aims to boost maximal force production, making it ideal for individuals aiming to lift heavier loads to build a solid foundation of strength and gain muscle

Resistance Training:

On the other hand, resistance training encompasses a broader spectrum, incorporating various forms of resistance, such as bands, body weight, or free weights. Resistance training emphasizes muscular endurance, toning, and overall functional fitness. Resistance training is versatile, making it suitable for individuals with diverse fitness goals, from weight loss to muscle definition.

Weight Training Principles

In the world of weight training, there are fundamental principles that serve as a guide for general fitness, whether you're focused on getting stronger or building resistance.

Progressive Overload: This principle emphasizes the gradual increase in the intensity of your workouts over time, ensuring a continuous and steady path toward improvement. By consistently challenging your muscles with slightly higher demands, you pave the way for lasting and significant advancements in your fitness goals.

Consistency: This plays a pivotal role in the effectiveness of your training routine. Regular and steadfast commitment to your workouts is the cornerstone of achieving enduring results. It's the day-in, day-out dedication that transforms fitness aspirations into tangible accomplishments.

Proper Form: Executing movements with precision not only maximizes the effectiveness of each exercise but also minimizes the risk of injuries. Ensuring that your body image maintains the correct alignment and posture throughout your workout not only enhances safety but also optimizes the gains you derive from your training efforts.

Who is Weight Training For?

Weight training, or strength training, isn't limited to bodybuilders or athletes; it's a versatile tool accessible to people of all ages and fitness levels. Regardless of whether you're a seasoned gym enthusiast or just starting out, integrating weight training into your routine can bring about a multitude of benefits, contributing to an improved metabolism, increased bone density, and an overall boost in well-being.

It's about finding what suits you best and progressively challenging your muscles. The adaptability of weight training allows you to tailor your workouts to align with your unique fitness goals and preferences.

Pros and Cons of Strength Training and Resistance Training

Both approaches offer unique benefits and considerations, and understanding their pros and cons is essential in tailoring a fitness regimen to individual goals.

Strength Training:


  • Rapid strength gains: Like sprinting towards a fitness summit, strength training excels in delivering quick and noticeable increases in raw power.
  • Efficient for building muscle mass: It lays the foundation for a sculpted physique, promoting the muscle growth of lean muscle mass.
  • Boosts metabolism: The fire of a robust metabolism burns brighter, aiding in weight management.


  • Higher risk of injury with heavier loads: As with any high-speed journey, there's an increased risk of stumbling with strength training, especially when lifting heavier.
  • Longer recovery times: Scaling peaks requires rest, and strength training often demands more extended recovery periods.

Resistance Training:


  • Versatile and accessible: Resistance training is the open road of fitness, accommodating various resistance forms and catering to a broad audience.
  • Suitable for various fitness levels: From beginners to seasoned fitness enthusiasts, resistance training is adaptable and inclusive.
  • Lower risk of injury: Like a steady stroll, resistance training has a much lower risk of injury, making it a sustainable long-term approach.


  • Progress may be slower: The journey is steady, and progress may not be as immediately noticeable as with strength training.
  • Limited in building maximal strength: If your goal is to lifting weights, resistance training may not be the express lane to maximal strength.

Choosing the Right Training Method for You

Choosing between strength training and resistance training depends on your fitness goals. If you aim to develop raw power and build muscle, go for strength training. This involves lifting heavy weights with fewer repetitions, focusing on maximizing force in specific muscle groups. It's great for those wanting overall physical power, improved athletic performance, or increased muscle mass.

On the other side, if you're looking for a more balanced approach that emphasizes anaerobic endurance, flexibility, and strength, resistance training is an excellent choice. This type of training involves proper technique such as bodyweight exercises, resistance bands, and lifting lower weights for more repetitions. It caters to individuals seeking not only muscle endurance but also a well-rounded fitness routine that includes toning and flexibility without necessarily prioritizing maximum strength gains.

Understanding Strength Training

Strength training is a form of exercise that involves lifting heavy weights for a reduced number of repetitions, strategically designed to elevate maximal force production within targeted muscle groups.

Low Reps, High Weight: The emphasis is placed on executing exercises with a lower number of repetitions while using heavy weights. This approach is purposefully designed to challenge muscles with substantial resistance, fostering the development of raw power and overall strength.

Compound Movements: At the core of strength training are compound movements, which prioritize engaging multiple joint function and muscle group simultaneously. Compound exercises are instrumental in promoting functional strength, enhancing overall muscle coordination, and delivering comprehensive fitness benefits.

Popular Strength Training Exercises

Bench Press: Targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps, fostering substantial upper body strength.

Dumbbell Lunges: Intensifies the challenge on the legs and buttocks, fostering lower body strength and stability.

Deadlifts: Engage the muscles in the back, glutes, and hamstrings, promoting overall strength and stability.

Dumbbell Chest Flyes: Isolates the chest muscles, enhancing chest definition and contributing to a well-rounded body.

A knowledgeable and experienced conditioning coach can provide tailored guidance and personalized training program to optimize the effectiveness of popular strength training exercises

Resistance Training is Suitable For

Beginners: Individuals can start resistance training with minimal resistance and gradually increase as they build strength. This allows newcomers to establish a solid foundation without feeling overwhelmed.

Weight Loss Seekers: Resistance training boosts metabolism and preserving lean muscle mass. As individuals engage in resistance exercises, they burn calories not only during the workout but also during the post-exercise recovery period.

Individuals with Chronic Conditions: When performed under proper guidance of a personal trainer, resistance training can be beneficial for individuals with chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease. It helps manage symptoms, improve overall fitness, and enhance quality of life.

Stress Reduction and Mental Health: Engaging in this training has been shown to have mental health benefits by reducing stress and anxiety. The focus required during training exercises can serve as a form of mindfulness, promoting overall well-being.

Take Advantage of Fatigue Sets'

Fatigue sets involve performing an exercise until the muscles reach a state of near exhaustion. Rather than adhering strictly to a set number of reps, the emphasis is on pushing beyond the familiar boundaries, challenging muscles to work to their limits.

How to Incorporate Fatigue Sets:

  • Adjusting Intensity: Unlike traditional sets, fatigue sets require a flexible approach to intensity. Start with an appropriate weight that allows for a moderate number of reps, gradually increasing until each set becomes an all-out effort.
  • Varied Repetitions: Experiment with the number of repetitions within a fatigue set. This could involve a descending pyramid (starting with higher reps and reducing with each set) or an ascending pyramid (the opposite approach).
  • Mind-Muscle Connection: Engage in each repetition with a heightened focus on the muscle strength being worked. Concentrate on the contraction and extension, ensuring a full range of motion.

Best Resistance Training Exercises

Utilizing own body weight for resistance training means using the natural weight for strength building. Incorporating regular physical activity into your workout routine amplifies resistance training benefits of the best resistance training exercises, fostering overall health, stamina, and muscular endurance.

Squats: Targeting the thighs, hips, and buttocks, squats promote lower body strength and stability, making them a cornerstone of resistance training.

Bent-Over Rows: Work the muscles in the upper back, improving posture and contributing to a well-rounded, sculpted physique.

Lunges: Target the muscles in the legs and buttocks, enhancing lower body strength and balance.

Push-Ups: A classic bodyweight exercise, push-ups work the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core, providing a comprehensive upper body workout.

Free weights in resistance training not only enhance the effectiveness of the best resistance exercise but also engage muscle strength, promoting functional body weight and a comprehensive workout experience, while incorporating weight machines into your fitness routine can provide targeted resistance, enhancing the effectiveness of professional strength training exercises by isolating specific muscle groups and allowing for controlled, guided movements.

Strength Training Principles

Progressive Overload: Gradually increase the challenge and help muscles adapt.

Compound Movements: Focus on exercises engaging multiple muscle groups for efficiency and functional strength.

Rest and Recovery: Allow muscles time to repair and grow stronger by balancing workout intensity with rest periods.

Individualization: Tailor workouts to personal fitness levels, goals, and physical conditions.

Form and Technique: Prioritize precision in movement execution to engage muscles effectively and prevent injury.

Consistency: Regular, sustained effort over time is crucial for realizing strength gains.

Should You Be Doing Strength Training or Weight Training?

The choice between strength and resistance training depends on your fitness goals and preferences. It not only impacts physical fitness but also plays a significant role in self confidence.

When comparing which is more effective, a study that pitted the two against one another found that they both elicited the same results following 8 weeks.

Ultimately, building muscle and packing on mass comes down to these 3 things.

  • Daily Protein Intake: Prioritized by some, and criminally overlooked by many, protein is the key to building lean muscle and aiding in recovery. The recommended daily intake is 1.6g-2.2g per kilogram of your body weight.
  • Progressive Overload: Research suggests that incrementally overloading your muscles by adjusting sets, reps or weight to gradually improve your lifts with each session. So pump out a few extra reps, slap on a half kilo to your lift, it all counts!
  • Eating a Calorie Surplus: Quality nutrition is key, and to get the job done you are going to need to boost your calorie intake with nutrient-dense, protein-rich foods. To get your precise calorie and macro intake try our advanced calorie and macronutrient calculator.

So, you want mass? Focus on intensity, nutrition, personal preference. If you are making gains with either type of training, stay the course and smash out your training block. That's how you build real muscle.

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