Different forms of resistance training.


. Isotonic, Isometric and Isokinetic are all different forms of resistance training

. Important to incorporate a program that is diversified and not one-dimensional

. Elastic resistance is a useful alternative to conventional resistance

Why is it important?

Resistance training is designed to make your muscles, tendons and joints stronger and more flexible. It can act as some combination of injury management and injury prevention as well as helping with your general health and overall quality of life by developing flexibility, stamina, strength, self-confidence, endurance and weight loss. If you are looking to understand the benefits of a comprehensive resistance training program this is a good overview, but in this article we will be specifically looking at the different forms of resistance training available to you.

What are the different variations?

Isotonic, Isometric and Isokinetic exercises are considered some of the different classifications of resistance training. Isotonic refers to exercise where you apply weight and then ask the muscle to complete a full range of motion. Most exercises at the gym fall under this category as do sit-ups and push-ups and everyday activities like walking and swimming. It covers quite a broad range of activities. The benefits include the improvement of muscle strength, endurance and bone density. These are great exercises to improve your overall quality of life and functionality.

Isometric exercises are generally lower impact and more body friendly. They are designed to be not quite as strenuous and perhaps a great option for those suffering from injury, illness or overuse. The biggest difference is perhaps the range of motion you put your body through with your own body weight used as resistance from a stationary and stable base. The benefits are that of convenience (they can be done from anywhere) and time (they can be done quickly). Examples include planks, bridges and yoga. These sort of exercises are great to improve flexibility, balance and core strength.

And finally, isokinetic exercises are speed controlled exercises where the muscle contracts and shortens under a controlled environment at constant pace. However, it has to be said that while these type of exercises can diversify your program they aren’t quite as important if you’re just starting out. Initially, it’s perhaps best to lock down the basics first as these are slightly more advanced exercises or more tailored towards specific clients in regards to injury rehabilitation or elite athletes looking to boost a specific muscle group by developing power at speed. It also often requires specialised equipment to carry out the function. As a general rule, it’s fine to work exclusively with isotonic and isometric exercises.

Structuring your program

In terms of how you formulate and structure your program there are different options available but what often emerges is that the best way to achieve optimal benefit is to diversify your program to cover as many bases as possible. As this study suggests it’s important to consider all the variables when compiling your program: ‘Variables that should be considered include motor performance increases, amount of strength gains and range of motion of the strength gains.’

The next point to consider is what specific exercises to put into your program. This study states: ‘One of the many variables that coaches and researchers face when designing RT programs is exercise selection. They can be classified as multi-joint (MJ) or single-joint (SJ) exercises. Most popular recommendations postulate that RT sessions should involve 8 to 10 exercises performed in multiple sets with both single (SJ) and multi joint (MJ) exercises.’

Both are certainly beneficial but because they are a little more challenging multi-joint exercises are great for a more holistic workout and will perhaps result in the most benefit. Give your body time to recover, let your muscles rest and recuperate and make it a point to apply the correct technique when doing any exercise. Start with a smaller weight if necessary but make sure you apply the correct body motion as you work through your program to prevent injury and accidents.

Load building

The next concept is load building. Load management is an important concept to consider when deciding if you want to place the emphasis on increasing strength or building endurance. A large load with low repetitions will build strength while a smaller load with more repetitions will develop endurance. In terms of your overall goals, a high intensity workout is the fastest way to burn fat, build strength and lose weight, while a steadier program is great for injury prevention, injury maintenance and building long term stamina.

This study looked at the difference in impact between moderate load resistance and low load resistance. The program ran for six weeks, eight exercises, four times a week. The study concluded that both variables help to achieve muscle strength and achieve body composition: ‘RT performed with moderate-to-heavy loads is recommended to recruit fast-twitch muscle fibres…RT with a low  number of repetitions and intermediate RM is considered an appropriate stimulus to increase strength and skeletal muscle mass. Alternatively, RT performed with a higher number of RM is well recognized to increase muscular endurance.’

Elastic resistance and Medicine balls

And the final point we will look at is the use of Medicine balls and the difference between elastic resistance and conventional resistance. One of the benefits of using elastic bands is versatility and portability. You can take them wherever you go and it’s a great cost-effective option that provides a holistic and total body workout. The drawback is that you might not get as strenuous of a workout as you would with free weights and conventional resistance but it’s certainly a piece of equipment that is worth the investment because of the convenience and options they provide.

This study suggests that elastic resistance is a very valuable tool and doesn’t lose anything in comparison to conventional resistance: ‘Evidence from this study suggests that resistance training with elastic devices provides similar strength gains when compared to resistance training performed from conventional devices. These findings allow coaches, physiotherapists, and even patients to opt to use devices with low costs, ease of handling, and which can be used in different places, such as elastic devices, for maintenance and gain in muscular strength.’

Medicine balls are a great vehicle to achieve total body fitness which is a large part of what resistance training is all about. All of the things that you want to achieve like strength, endurance and power are possible through the use of Medicine balls along with flexibility, balance and weight loss. When used properly, this is one of the most simple, convenient and most functional pieces of equipment that can be incorporated into your weekly exercise program. The reason why it is so effective is because it is a high impact workout that covers a broad range of movement that touches every aspect of your body. Healthline gives a rundown of some excellent exercises you can incorporate to achieve your full body workout.


NCBI: Types of strength training


NCBI: Resistance Training with Single vs. Multi-joint Exercises at Equal Total Load Volume: Effects on Body Composition, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Muscle Strength


NCBI: The Effect of Different Resistance Training Load Schemes on Strength and Body Composition in Trained Men


NCBI: Effects of training with elastic resistance versus conventional resistance on muscular strength: A systematic review and meta-analysis


Healthline: 10 Medicine Ball Moves to Tone Every Muscle in Your Body