Resistance training has many aspects. It can be utilized to gain muscular size, endurance, recovery of an injury or as part of an athlete’s training program. This article will cover some of the principles of resistance training and how your client can benefit from them.


To some, resistance training is only for the aspiring bodybuilder who does not give preference to performance or conditioning. That cannot be further from the truth. Resistance training can be applied to anyone’s fitness routine and have differing results depending on how it is implemented.

Resistance Training Methodologies

First we will cover the different methodologies of resistance training. Training in repetition ranges (rep ranges) is a commonly practiced method of resistance training. Depending on the client’s goal, the rep range will change. If the client is seeking to gain size and strength the 4-6 rep range should be utilized. Risk for injury is more prevalent in this rep range, so any joint pain or discomfort should be monitored and a routine revision should be made to prevent further damage. The 12-15 rep range allows for strength and size gain while building greater energy stores in the muscle. The 20-25 rep range allows for the body to build mitochondria, improving muscle endurance, and expends stored glycogen to promote fat loss during recovery.

The Circuit Routine

During a circuit routine, all major muscles are worked in a preconceived pattern. This pattern is then repeated, the number of times that is desired. Circuit training can be used for several reasons based on client goals. Performing compound movements is recommended since they involve larger muscle groups.

An example of a basic circuit routine would be performing a bench press followed by a leg press, then a back row. This circuit is then repeated. A circuit routine can be used if the client is new to weight training. This will serve as a preparatory phase to get the body ready for a more demanding split routine. This preparatory phase can also be used for older clients or for someone that is in poor physical condition. A specificity routine can be used for an athlete. This circuit routine will need careful consideration of rep range and movement selection to best suit the athlete’s specific needs. The movements should be based on the athlete’s sport and what the demands of the sport are.

An endurance circuit is just that – a circuit routine that calls for muscle endurance. Using the 20-25 rep range will best fit here. This circuit can be used for swimmers, long distance runners and fat loss. The stamina circuit uses the 12-15 rep range and is used for sports such as basketball, football and other sports that require a combination of strength and endurance.

A strength circuit enhances muscle strength by using the 4-6 rep range. Sports such as wrestling can use this type of circuit routine. When using the stamina and strength circuits, special attention should be paid to recovery. If signs of overtraining are present, a split routine should be considered.

Antagonistic Muscle Training

Antagonistic muscles are muscles, or groups of muscles, that provide movement in opposing directions by contracting. By using the antagonistic muscle training method, removal of lactic acid from the muscles is enhanced. This allows for faster recovery, allowing for more effective and shorter workouts that result in the same muscle damage. This is a more advanced technique, and recovery time between movements will be dependent on the client’s ability.

Negative Repetitions

Negative training can be incorporated into many fundamental training styles. Negative repetitions use near maximum load during the eccentric phase of a movement. With the assistance of a training partner, the weight is then returned to the starting position. Risk of injury can be greater with negative repetitions, but they can also provide great results. Too many negative reps can be contraindicated, though, so careful monitoring of the client is imperative during negative training. Since muscles are 20%-30% stronger during the eccentric phase than in the concentric phase, not incorporating negative reps into a training program may hinder overall results.

Continuous Tension

Continuous tension is similar to negative training, but not the same. Continuous tension is a safe and effect method. It involves slow controlled movements as opposed to fast reps. According to this principle the quality of reps is important, not necessarily the quantity. During a continuous tension set, full range of motion should still be used. The difference in a set will be the total number of reps. Fewer reps will be achieved using the same weight in a continuous tension set than in a conventional set. The end result would be greater muscle damage during the set. Continuous tension may not be for everyone. Overtraining can occur with this style of training.

Weight Training for Fat Loss

Resistance exercise is one of the most effective fat loss tools for you to use for clients. After a resistance workout, the muscle uses fatty acids to replenish the used up energy stores. The greater the intensity, the greater amount of fatty acids the muscle will take up. Higher repetitions use more stored muscle energy during the set. With the lessened intensity of using higher reps, the client can have shorter recovery periods. This means that the client can exercise more frequently, keeping the body in a constant state of recovery and releasing fatty acids.

Resistance training can be used for many different applications. Whether the client is an athlete, general fitness, endurance, fat loss, a powerlifter or bodybuilder – resistance training is needed. Long gone are the beliefs that resistance training is detrimental only to athletic performance. Use resistance training with clients of all types to maximize their results.


1. National Federation of Professional Trainers, Resistance Training Specialist Manual, 3rd Edition 2008, 30-34, 42-47, 50-57, 76-78, 87-89, 95-96

About the Author

Blake Wade is currently serving NFPT as its Vocational Director. With his 10 years experience in the fitness industry , his NFPT CPT certification, and his subject matter expertise in SMT testing, Blake is equipped and prepared to answer questions NFPT trainers may have about exercise science and physiology.


These resources are for the purpose of personal trainer growth and development through Continuing Education which advances the knowledge of fitness professionals. This article is written for NFPT Certified Personal Trainers to receive Continuing Education Credit (CEC). Please contact NFPT at 800.729.6378 or with questions or for more information.