BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO RESISTANCE TRAINING
Get fit at home FAST with simple resistance exercises.
If you’re new to exercise you’re probably looking for a home exercise routine that is simple, effective and quick – and that’s exactly what resistance training can offer you. It’s one of the best types of workouts to burn excess fat and build lean muscle – and it doesn’t take long before you start to feel and see the results.
As a personal trainer for 20 years, I’ve always used resistance workouts as my ‘go-to’ when my training clients needed quick results – because it works. It’s also why I’ve made it a core component of my home fitness workout program, 28 By Sam Wood, which has helped over 400,000 people get fitter at home. So, if you’re ready to learn more, let’s go through some of my favourite home resistance exercises designed to get you fit and toned at home… fast!
Resistance workouts are the best workouts for beginners who want to improve their fitness at home because the exercises are simple to follow, and it’s proven to get real results, quickly.
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What is resistance training?
Resistance training is any exercise where your muscles ‘resist’ against some kind of weight or force, to make your muscles work harder.
The purpose of resistance training is to strengthen and tone your whole body, so you’re fitter, stronger and leaner.
What is resistance training good for?
Resistance workouts help you get fitter and stronger by making your muscles work harder, thereby improving your muscle strength and muscle endurance.
Resistance work is great for everybody and every fitness goal. Some people use light resistance training to get leaner, and others use a heavier form of resistance training to build up their muscle size. The outcomes depend on the types of resistance exercises and the intensity of the exercise you choose.
Is ‘weight training’ the same as resistance training?
No. Weight training and resistance training are often confused, but they aren’t the same thing. Weight training is just one type of resistance training. Whereas resistance training is a much broader term, and it can include exercises using kettlebells, suspension straps, resistance bands and medicine balls – but it can also involve exercises that don’t require any equipment at all.
On my 28 program, my resistance workouts are designed to help you build lean muscle, so you gain strength without the bulk.
The biggest myth about resistance training…
I know a lot of women resist doing resistance training because some ‘expert’ somewhere told them it would make them bulky. After 20 years as a personal trainer, having trained thousands of women one-on-one, I can tell you that this just isn’t true. Almost everyone who tries resistance training loves it, because not only do they feel and see immediate benefits, not a single client ever experienced the bulking they had originally feared.
Resistance training makes you stronger, but it does NOT make you bulk up.
If you workout with light resistance exercises, you don’t have to worry about getting too big or bulky. There are so many benefits of resistance training and, once you give it a go yourself, I bet you’ll kick yourself that you didn’t start sooner!
Why should I include resistance training in my home workouts?
Because everyone needs lean, strong muscles, with strong joints and bones. And, because we all need a simple way to get leaner and fitter at home, so we can get the most physical benefits in the least amount of time. If you need more convincing, I have 7 more reasons why you should try resistance for you further down the page.
Over the course of my 20-year PT career, I have designed countless variations of resistance exercises to target specific body ‘problem’ areas, but most beginners are more concerned about improving their general fitness and strength. If this is you too, then the best option is to choose full-body resistance exercises because they’ll give you the most bang for your buck. Full-body resistance exercises will work all your major muscle groups at once – they are the quickest way to work up a sweat in a short amount of time – and because of how efficient they are, your workouts don’t have to go for very long in order to see real fitness results.
Lots of people exercise at home because they don’t have the time to get to the gym. So, if you’re already time-poor, it makes sense to choose the best home workout that takes the least amount of time and, after 20 years as a personal trainer, I can tell you the answer is: resistance training!
What kinds of resistance workouts are there?
When it comes to resistance training, the options really are endless. There are so many ways to use resistance as part of just about any exercise routine, whether you’re at home or at the gym.
For days when I’m not doing heavier HIIT workouts, I’m a fan of Pilates and yoga. They’re both good forms of resistance training, and Pilates specifically focuses on using resistance to build your core strength, which we all need in order to move well and avoid injury in our day to day lives.
However, if you are looking for the most bang for your exercise buck, and fitness results in the shortest time then you can’t go past a full-body resistance workout.
Full-body resistance workouts to get every muscle group in your body working
To find a full-body workout that has a lot of resistance exercises, you should consider:
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
- Circuit training
- Stability work
- Functional group sessions
- Or, you can join my online home exercise program
Do I need to be fit to do a full-body workout?
No. There’s a resistance workout routine for every age, stage and fitness level.
As a general rule of thumb, absolute beginners who are new to exercise should take more recovery time between sets of exercises compared to someone who already exercises regularly; and as your fitness improves you’ll find your body is able to handle more, and recuperate faster, so you won’t need to rest for as long. For example, on my program, we have 5 intensity levels. Our ‘rookie’ level allows for a gentle 40 seconds rest between each set, the next level up allows for 30 seconds rest, whereas our top ‘maniac’ level doesn’t let you rest at all – so it’s a tough 28 minutes even for the fittest amongst us!
Do I need cardio if I’m doing resistance or weight training?
Yes. You need some regular cardio to work your heart and lungs because part of ‘being fit’ is having a good level of cardiovascular endurance as well as having good muscular strength and endurance. On the flip side, if you only did cardio without any weight-bearing exercises, then you would miss out on important physical conditioning that helps keep your body functionally fit and in good working order.
Achieving a good level of overall fitness is important, and something I encourage in my online program. Not only will you have daily workouts with me that includes resistance and cardio work, but my program also provides home pilates and home yoga workouts too, which is a great way to combine resistance training while improving your flexibility (which is yet another important part of being ‘fit’!).
What kind of gym equipment do I need for resistance training?
You don’t need a lot of exercise gear, in fact, many resistance workouts don’t require any equipment at all! However, if you want to feel the burn a little more, then resistance training can include exercises that use equipment such as:
- elastic resistance bands
- suspension straps
- medicine balls
- any kind of free-form weight (like dumbbells)
A fast resistance band workout to tone your arms at home
Want more resistance workouts like this?
Can you do resistance training without equipment?
Yes, you betcha! Resistance training doesn’t require equipment to be effective. Instead, you can simply use your own body weight as the force your muscles resist against.
If you want to try resistance training, you don’t need to buy home exercise gear (unless you want to) as there are lots of fast and effective resistance-workouts you can do at home, using nothing but your own bodyweight!
Is resistance training just as effective without equipment?
Resistance training can be very effective simply using your body weight. From squats, pull-ups and push-ups right through to Pilates and Yoga movements, they’re all brilliant forms of resistance exercises that deliver real results no matter whether you do them at home or at a gym class.
READ: How to exercise at home without gym equipment (and still get a great workout)
7 big benefits of resistance training at home
Resistance exercises are an easy and effective way to get fit, and you can do it any time, and anywhere. And if you need more reasons than that… here’s 7 more!
1. You’ll lose more body fat (and burn more calories) than any other home exercise
One of the many benefits of resistance training is that it tones and shapes lean muscle. When we have lean, toned muscle we increase our metabolism. A higher metabolism means that you will burn more calories all day long – long after you have finished your workout. You’ll even be burning calories at a higher rate while you’re sleeping… and how great is that? Don’t forget that lean muscles are really important… they’re the reason you’re going to lose more weight, naturally!
2. Resistance increases lean muscle & builds strength without bulking up
One of the most common reasons women avoid resistance training and they’ll often even avoid HIIT workouts with light resistance is because they are afraid of ‘bulking up’. This is a misconception. Building more strength doesn’t mean building more bulk. Bulking up and getting ripped just cannot physiologically happen if you’re only doing light resistance work.
Don’t confuse an increase in muscle strength with an increase in muscle size. Your body can get stronger without getting bulkier.
3. Resistance work increases bone mass, decreasing your risk of osteoporosis
Resistance training not only strengthens your muscles; it strengthens your bones. Resistance training increases bone density (which reduces the risk of fractures and broken bones) to create a strong and healthy spine and is critical to combat natural bone attrition as we age.
4. Your body will feel stronger and be less prone to injury
Resistance training increases the strength of your connective tissues and joints. Strong joints, ligaments, and tendons can help you prevent injury. Strengthening muscles and connective tissue will reduce your chance of injury from daily tasks and routine exercise, and it can even improve your sports performance.
5. You can help reverse your bad posture caused by inactivity or sitting for too long
Resistance-training will strengthen your back, shoulders, and core, which can help correct poor posture so you can stand taller, with your shoulders back and spine straight.
A stronger back and core also helps prevent lower back pain.
Having strong joints, ligaments, tendons can also relieve pain from osteoarthritis, as you’ll find your improved strength reduces the amount of strain/stress on your joints. (Reference Arthritis Australia)
6. Resistance training naturally reduces stress & anxiety and boosts your mood
Weight-training can brighten your entire day or help you overcome a bad one by releasing feel-good endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that can prevent pain, improve mood, and fight depression. An increase in your endorphins also naturally reduces stress and anxiety, and it stimulates your mind so you’ll feel more energised and alert.
Exercise and strength training release endorphins, which provide a natural, ‘happy high’.
7. You’ll see positive changes in your entire body… fast.
To continually change our body, we must continually challenge our body – and this means changing up the intensity and type of exercises we do.
Resistance training can provide so much variety as there are countless exercises and routines available, so you’ll never get bored. When we ‘change it up’ it helps us to stay motivated and stay on track with our fitness, because our mind stays stimulated so it looks forward to doing something new.
Resistance training promotes the growth of lean muscle which helps you look toned and lean.
The easiest way to get fit at home
If you want a trainer to keep you accountable and guide your daily home workouts, then I’d love you join me and my 28 family.
For $59 a month (or $49 a month on our quarterly plan) you’ll receive a new 28-minute workout with me, and you’ll get a big dose of morning motivation via my ‘Sam Cam’ that I record in real-time, every day. And, to ensure your body has everything it needs to stay fit, active & healthy, every week you’ll receive a delicious eating plan from 28’s head nutritionist that can be customised to suit your taste and dietary preferences.
How to get started with resistance training at home
With all the health and fitness benefits you can gain from resistance training, I hope you’ll be motivated to try it yourself. It’s now just a question whether you want to workout at home or if you prefer going to a gym or outdoor bootcamp.
- Prefer the gym or a boot camp? Any experienced fitness trainer will be able to create a resistance program for you to ensure you get the best results that will build up your fitness.
- At home? If you want all the health benefits of resistance training from the comfort of your own home – resistance training is a perfect option and I’ve included a few resistance exercise routines for you to try.
Learn how to tone your arms at home
Try this home resistance workout video to tone your arms with 7 simple resistance-based exercises. All you need is a simple resistance band.
When is a good time to add weights to my home resistance workout?
Any time you feel like increasing the intensity! Once you’ve achieved a certain level of fitness and strength, if you want to push yourself past your comfort zone you might need to add weights to your resistance exercises; however, until then, resistance equipment is completely optional!
How to stay fit & healthy at home with 28
My online fitness & nutrition program has helped more than 500,000 Australians cook healthier meals, get fitter faster, and live healthier lives. I’d love to help you too.
Try this quick home resistance workout to target your upper body
Workout time needed: 28 minutes.
How to do an upper-body resistance workout at home with a resistance band
- Band Push-Ups (do the max you can)
Loop the resistance band around your hands and behind your back. Get yourself into a plank position with your hands on the floor slightly wider than your shoulders. Perform a push-up movement, lowering your chest to the floor and pushing back up. You can also perform this exercise on your knees if you find push-ups challenging.
- Band Overhead Tricep Extension (20 reps)
Loop your resistance band under the couch or under a table. Hold the band with both hands behind your head. Push the band overhead while keeping a slight bend at the elbows. Brace your abs, make sure you don’t arch your back. Slowly lower your hands back behind your head, using your forearms. The upper arms should stay in the same place, with elbow pointed throughout the whole movement, engaging the triceps.
- Half Kneel Row – Right Side (15 reps)
Loop your resistance band under the leg of a couch or table. Hold the band with your right hand and get yourself into a half-kneeling position with your left leg bent. Now pull the band back, bending your elbow until your right hand is close to the right side of your ribcage. Note: Make sure you maintain great posture and don’t shrug as you execute the movement.
- Half Kneel Row – Left Side (15 reps)
Swap hands, taking the resistance band in your left hand, change your legs so your right leg is bent. Now repeat the half-row movement, this time your left hand is pulling the band back towards the left side of your ribcage.
- Band Shoulder Press (15 reps)
Using a smaller resistance band loop pull the band to create tension. Maintain the tension as you press it above your head. Return the band to just in front of chest and repeat.
- Band Curl (20 reps)
Stand inside the band with both feet Hold the band at hip height and focus on your biceps, while you curl the band up with your thumbs facing the sky. Curl up until your fists finish near your face.
- Band Upright Row (15 reps)
Loop your resistance band under the couch or under a table. Hold the band with palms facing inwards in front of your thighs. Keeping your back straight, pull the band up towards your chin. Make sure to keep your elbows higher than your forearms as you pull upwards. Lower the band back to starting position.
Repeat the entire workout sequence for another 3 rounds to get a great upper body resistance workout.
FREE EXERCISE GUIDE: how to get a great home workout with resistance bands
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My final piece of advice…
Don’t resist the resistance and you’ll burn more calories for longer.
If you want to burn fat quickly, resistance training not only helps you burn more calories in your workout, but your body will build more lean muscle which means you’ll naturally burn more fat every day… even when you’re asleep!
P.S. If you’d like my help, join my online home fitness program, and I’ll become the personal trainer in your pocket. I’ve helped over 400,000 people get fit and live healthier lives, and I’d love to help you too.