San José State University
Department of Human Performance
C. L. Christensen, HuP 163


I Resistance Training Methods

There are three basic methods for resistance training. Each involves a very different type of activity and each has advantages and disadvantages, some of which are summarized below.




Other names:

  • static exercise


  • variable resistance
  • dynamic
  accommodating resistance


  • increasing tension
  • unchanging length


  • constant or variable resistance
  • decrease or increase length


  • accommodating resistance
  • decrease length
  • constant speed


  • low injury risk
  • no equipment used
  • less soreness
  • easy to perform
  • good for rehabilitation


  • good strength gains
  • can duplicate sports movements
  • good endurance gains
  • can monitor intensity and improvement easily


  • good strength gains
  • no 'sticking point'
  • work opposing muscles in same exercise
  • no momentum used
  • maximum resistance throughout movement
  • good for rehabilitation
  • less muscle soreness (no eccentric phase)


  • angle specific
  • limited use in sports
  • limited strength and endurance gains
  • cannot monitor intensity
  • large increases in blood pressure


  • higher injury risk (free weights, uncontrolled movement)
  • expensive
  • weight lifted is limited by the 'sticking point'
  • more muscle soreness


  • most expensive
  • speed controlled
  • hard to duplicate some sports movements
  • cannot isolate muscles as effectively as with free weights

II. ACSM* general recommendations

* American College of Sports Medicine (1995). ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 5th Edition. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins.

III. Terminology

IV. Safety Guidelines

Follow these guidelines to reduce incidence of injury.

  1. Always warm-up and cool-down (including stretching).
  2. Use progressive increases in repetitions and resistance.
  3. Use proper or strict form. 'Cheating' may increase the risk of injury.
  4. Start program with light weight to learn proper form and prevent injury.
  5. Never train with weights at a high level of intensity without having mastered the lifting technique involved in performing the exercise.
  6. Allow rebuilding time; workout muscle or muscle group every other day.
  7. Decrease muscle soreness by making gradual changes in exercise program.
  8. Isolate muscles to increase strength in a particular area.
  9. Inhale or exhale while lifting a weight. Breath holding can cause the Valsalva maneuver which may result in fainting.
  10. Wear footwear in order to cushion a blow from a falling weight and to avoid stubbing toes.
  11. Use spotters when lifting free weights that are heavier than 90% of your maximum. The spotter's duty is to prevent the weight from dropping on the person lifting.
  12. Always be sure that the plate collars for free weights are securely tightened.
  13. Load or unload a barbell evenly (so both sides have the same amount of weight).
  14. Remember the weight room is not a playroom. Put weights away and be considerate of others.

V. Selected References

Silvester, L. J. (1992). Weight training for strength and fitness. Boston, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers. A good book for beginning lifters.

Pearl, B. (1986). Keys to the inner universe. Phoenix, OR: Bill Pearl Enterprises. An excellent book for the serious weight lifter -- contains hundreds of exercises.

Revised: 7/99 Write to page creator: Carol Christensen