The IronPlate Guide to Resistance Training

The majority of us are aware that resistance training is an important part of our physical fitness routine and we have some basic idea of how to incorporate it into our workouts, but are you doing so appropriately and in the most beneficial way for our ultimate goals?

Resistance Training can be defined as any exercise using an external force to induce muscular contraction in order to build strength, endurance and size of skeletal muscle. Some of the benefits of resistance training include the strengthening of our bones, ligaments, tendons, and joint movements, as well as an increased metabolism. (

Resistance Training can be broken up into the following categories:

Strength: Maximal amount of force a muscle can generate

Power: explosive component of strength

Hypertrophy: increase in muscle size 

Muscular Endurance: repeatedly exert force over a period of time 

There are some key terms you should be familiar with when it comes to resistance training.

Repetitions:The number of times an exercise is performed

1 repetition maximum (1RM)-the greatest amount of weight that can be lifted with proper technique for one repetition only.

Repetition maximum (RM) most weight lifted for a specified number of repetitions. These Maximum numbers are useful when determining roughly how much weight you should lift for each exercise. 

Sets: The number of times each group of repetitions is performed (ex: 3 sets of 10 repetitions)

Super Set: Two exercises that stress two opposing muscles or muscle areas. (Ex: Chest Press followed by back row)

Compound Set: Sequentially performing two different exercises for the same muscle group (Example: Chest Press followed by Pec Fly)

Common Equipment:

  • Body Weight 

  • Dumbbell

  • Barbell

  • Kettlebell

  • Medicine Ball

  • Resistance Bands

  • Functional Trainer

  • TRX

  • Plyometric Box

  • A million other options out there-but these are pretty standard in most gyms

Your ultimate goals will determine the number of Reps, Sets and Weight load you should be doing. If your goals are:

  1. Strength

    • Load: >85% of your 1RM 

    • Reps: <6

    • Rest Period: 2-5 min

  2. Power

    • Single Effort event:

      • 80-90% of your 1RM 

      • Reps: 1-2 

      • Rest period: 2-5min

    • Multiple-effort event: 

      • 75-85% of your 1 RM

      • Reps: 3-5

      • Rest Period: 2-5 min

  3. Hypertrophy

    • 67-85% of your 1RM 

    • Reps: 6-12

    • Rest Period: 30sec-1.5min

  4. Muscular Endurance:

    •  <67% of your 1 RM

    • Reps: > 12

    • Rest Period: <30 Sec

The order of your exercises matters too! Your IronPlate trainers carefully put together your program to make sure your gains, progressions and muscle function is optimal. 

You should perform all power exercises first. These exercises include things like snatch, hang clean, power clean, push jerk, etc. Next in line, you want to work your larger muscle groups or multi-joint exercises. Then lastly, your smaller muscle, single joint exercises, or things like your biceps and triceps. 

There are a few different techniques that are beneficial to resistance training. 

Drop sets: Performing exercise at higher weight to failure, then decreasing weight and performing to failure again, repeating for 3-5 sets. 

Pyramid sets: Starting with low weight and higher reps, increasing weight and decreasing reps with each set. Full Pyramid includes decreasing weight and increasing reps once you’ve reached peak. 

Giant set: 3 or more exercises performed in a row with less than 60 seconds rest in between

Push-pull superset: Alternating pushing exercise with pulling exercise (ex. Bench press with row)

Pre-exhaustion: Fatiguing large single-joint muscle groups prior to performing multi-joint exercise involving same muscle. 

Weight training routines are generally organized throughout a week in a couple of different ways:

Full Body: Incorporating all the major muscle groups into one workout

  • Best to have at least 1 day (ideally 2-3 days) of rest* in between these types of workouts. *Rest from weight training. You can still perform cardio and other types of physical activity on your “off” weight training days

Split Routine: Training 2 or 3 muscle groups at a time. This allows for increased rest of muscle groups.

  • Split Routines can be broken up into: 

    • Upper body/Lower body

    • Push/Pull (ex: chest, shoulder tri day 1, back, bi, core day 2 OR something like: Day 1:Chest/Triceps, Day 2: Back/Biceps, Day 3: Shoulders/Core) 

As you can see, putting a resistance training program together requires some thoughtfulness. Overtime your goals might change and it’s important to adapt the appropriate changes to your workout routine so you can meet your goals optimally. Ready to make some changes to your workout routine? Contact the trainers at IronPlate Studios or IronPlate Online to help you create the best program for your goals.