The Ultimate guide for Resistance Training

“This article will save time, raise your awareness, knowledge & your outcome measures through increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of your workouts

The Longevity Blog   •   April 22nd, 2020

For my friends, family, and followers

Time to lead again you on the path of evidence-based and proven (or at least statistically significant) exercise advice.

What Is Resistance Training?

Resistance Training (RT) is a form of human movement that causes muscles to adapt and get stronger by working against resistance.

Why Muscles Exist – a brief history

Gravity is the first form of resistance our bodies have work against and the reason why we have muscles.

Muscles working against this form of resistance is why we can move around on this earth.


Unless your an astronaut heading back to earth, an alien living in a different gravity environment or have been immobile in bed for an extended period of time, gravity is a relatively unnoticeable form of resistance. 

Imagine it,

All of a sudden your on Mars and now you weight 38% of what you normally would have. 

For those weighing 70kg, you would now weigh 26kg. 

Easy way to lose weight!

This is why gravity is the first form of resistance and our muscles are accustom to the level of resistance we have placed upon them.

Our muscles have adapted to handle the level of resistance we have asked of them and therefore we feel Earth’s gravity as relatively easy form of resistance (at least for some of us).


Imagine you got put on a planet with 2x Earths Gravity… or maybe a more imaginable example, you increase your body weight to double what it is now. 

So for you 70kg humans out there, you are now 140kg!!!

Feeling the weight now?

This increase in resistance feels heavy because your muscles are not used accustomed to the resistance you have placed upon them!

So why is this important?

“It all boils down to what your muscles are used to and what they are used not”

This is where I will introduce you to…

Resistance Training

RT which we will now refer to it, is a method of performing movement by which we provide an effective stimulus to the human physiology. This results in the body laying down extra muscle (increased muscle mass) and thereby improving muscular strength (Schoenfeld et al., 2019, Phillips, 2014 & Radaelli et al., 2015). 

The effective stimulus is the essential part!

What is an effective stimulus?

I like to refer to my buddy (thanks to Tim Ferriss) for introducing me to the term Minimal Effective Dose (or MED for short).

This term is used for describing the minimal level of the stimulus (or resistance to relate it directly to this article) needed in order for our muscles to adapt and become stronger!

Increasing the level of resistance above what your muscles would normally work against can be relatively easy.

This can be done in a number of ways:

Putting your own body weight in an unfavorable position so you can increase the load of resistance on these muscles and joints.

Exercises such as:

    1. Push-ups
    2. Squats
    3. Glute bridges
    4. Chin-ups

Other resistance can include external equipment.

These include:

      1. Thera-bands
      2. Resistance bands
      3. Free weights such as barbells, dumbbells, and yes even water after can provide some form of resistance for your muscles to push against.

The final way I will describe adding resistance is through a means of increasing the stimulus the muscles are receiving. I will be diving into the following a lot further in the article.

This can include:

    1. Frequency of stimulus or resistance (sessions of RT per/wk)
    2. Sets (number of rounds of the movement/exercise)
    3. Load (the amount of weight/resistance)
    4. Repetitions (number of times you complete the desired range/movement lifting the resistance)
    5. Rest Periods or rather decreasing the Rest Periods (periods of inactivity between sets and/or sessions)
    6. Tempo (time spent lifting, lowering and pausing between those two aspects of the movement)
    7. Time Under Tension (amount of time that force is being generated by the muscle while lifting the resistance; can be concentric and/or eccentric)
    8. Volume (adding up the total amount of time spent lifting and/or weight moved in a session and/or in a week)

Now for the GOLDEN Questions!

How many Sessions! Sets! Amount of Weight! Reps! Rest! Tempo!

There is a plethora of experts out there with advice on every aspect of this so I won’t pretend to be one. You want a mental picture of who is giving you this article? 

Well here’s an actual one…


Not jacked.

But a comfortable 77kg.

Adequate (for my liking) strength and fitness in the aspects of life that matter to me but by no means superior in anything in particular.

Now that I’ve said that, I understand (and you should too!) that anecdotal evidence is the lowest form of evidence.

That is why I researched the s*** of this topic!

Clinicians, Coaches, and all other onlookers, before the specifics, you can be confident in the following…

Why Resistance Train?

Once you’ve revie the benefits you’ll soon be asking why wouldn’t I!!!

The benefits of Resistance Training:

Build and/or Maintain Muscle Mass (Baechle et al., 2008; American College of Sports Medicine, 2009Cauza et al., 2009; Gregory & Travis, 2015)
 Increase and/or Maintain Bone Mineral Density (BMD) (Pruitt et al., 1992Layne & Nelson, 1999Going & Laudermilk, 2009 & Bolam et al., 2013)
Decreases body fat (Ciccolo et al., 2010) and Waist Circumference (Mekary et al., 2015)
Improves mental health (O’Connor et al., 2010 & Andrade et al., 2018)
Helps avoid injuries as it will strengthen connective tissues
Prevent and help with the treatment of certain chronic diseases and degenerative conditions such as (but not limited to):

This is especially important if you are over 30 as you will start to lose 3-5% of your muscle mass every decade through (Thomas, 2007 & Giallauria et al., 2015):

 in nerve cells responsible for sending signals from the brain to the muscles to start a movement.

 concentrations of hormones (growth hormonetestosterone, and insulin-like growth factor).

in the ability to turn protein into energy.

in calories and/or protein each day to sustain muscle mass as appetite for protein decreases with aging.

What Does The Research Say?

K ey Takeaways:

A brief overview of the Current Recommendations from the American College of Sports Medicine:

Level of Experience

Novice: An untrained individual with no RT experience or who has not trained for several years it is recommended that loads corresponding to a repetition range of an 8-12 repetition maximum (RM).

Intermediate: Individuals with approximately 6 months of consistent RT experience

Advanced: Individuals with years of RT experience


Novice – 2-3 days per/wk

Intermediate – 3-4 days per/wk

Advanced – 4-5 days per/wk


The only mention here was progressing to 3-5 Sets


1 to 12 RM


Novice – 8-12 repetition maximum (RM)

Advanced – 1 to 12 RM with a focus on 1-6 RM

Rest Periods

Advanced using ranges between 1-6 RM 3-5 minutes between Sets

Novice-Intermediate using ranges between 6-12 RM to focus on 1-2 minutes rest between Sets

1- to 2-min


Advanced – 1-2 seconds concentric; 1-2 seconds eccentric

Additional Recommendations (American College of Sports Medicine, 2009):

Large before small muscle group exercises, multiple-joint exercises before single-joint exercises, and higher-intensity before lower-intensity exercises).

Overload Principle: When training at a specific RM load, it is recommended that 2-10% increase in load be applied when the individual can perform the current workload for one to two repetitions over the desired number.

Hypertrophy Specific: Higher volume, multiple-set programs are recommended for maximizing hypertrophy.

Muscular Endurance Specific: Light to moderate loads (40-60% of 1 RM) to be performed for high repetitions (>15) using short rest periods (<90 s).

Lastly: Recommendations should be applied in context and should be aligned with an individual’s current training experience, target goals, and physical capacity.


Where do they get their recommendations from?

Stay tuned for a deeper dive into the research in future posts!

I would love to know what you think of the article

Any questions please feel free to comment below!

“Knowledge withheld is knowledge wasted”

Accredited Exercise Physiologist

Jake Holness

References List:

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  2. American College of Sports Medicine. (2009). American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 41(3), 687–708.
  3. Baechle, TR and Earle, RW. Essentials of strength training and conditioning. In:Anonymous. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2008.
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