What is Resistance Exercises?

Resistance exercise are exercises that allows for repetitive contraction of your skeletal muscles. With resistant exercises, we typically use different types of weights:

  1. Body weight
  2. Free weights
  3. Weight machines

It is these weights that allows for the muscle contractions and allows you to build muscle mass and increase your overall strength. Therefore, regardless of what type of weights you use, if it allows for muscle contraction, it is considered a type of resistance exercise.

Resistance exercises that uses body weight:

  • Push-ups
  • Pull-ups
  • Basic body weight lunges
  • Basic body weight squats
  • Plank

Resistance exercises that utilizes body weight is one of the best types of resistance exercises to do. Reason being, you can pretty much do these exercises anytime and anywhere without the worrying about the need for exercise equipment! Regardless if you are a frequent traveler, or a stay-at-home mom with lots of chores to do on a daily basis, you can throw in a quick set of 15 squats, 15 lunges, 15 push ups, and 60 seconds of plank right there and then! (Obviously, I don’t mean you could literally plop down and do this in a bus or a running train)

Visit my page on most useful resistance exercise tips for frequent travelers to find out how you can remain in shape and continue to build muscles and burn fat even when you are constantly on the go!

Resistance exercises that uses free weights:

  • Basically exercises that adds on the use of a dumbbell, kettle-bell, resistance band etc will fall under this category
  • An added benefit of utilizing free weights is the activation of your stabilizing muscles (secondary) and in turn leads to more effective muscle growth

These are good and useful in adding a tad bit more resistance to your routine workout. These types of exercises can also be done anytime and anywhere with the help of resistance bands that you could purchase from any sporting goods store! Bear in mind that these types of exercises may be a little more advanced compared to the different types of exercises done solely with body weight itself.

Once you are comfortable with using your body weight for routine resistance exercises, you may consider using a resistance band, dumbbell or kettle-bell to add on that little bit more of ‘ooomph’ in your work out session!

Resistance exercise with weight machines:

  • There are multiple different types of weight machines. These are typically safer to use and more user friendly for those that are not as familiar with different types of resistance exercises.

This is the third type of exercises that you can do with weight machines. Typically, this may be a safe option for those that are looking to bulk up but have yet to familiarize themselves with the right technique with using free-weights. However, please be sure to seek guidance from a fitness instructor on the correct posture and usage of each different type of machines before using it. Many injuries are caused by people that are unfamiliar with such weigh machines and not only end up hurting themselves, but damaging the machine as well.

What are the goals for Resistance Exercises Ultimately?!

There are different goals for resistance exercises:

  1. Build muscle mass:
    1. Try working with more weight but few repetitions per set (4 to 6)
  2. Increase overall strength:
    1. Use a bit less weight, increase the number of repetitions per set (12 to 15)
  3. Increase level of endurance:
    1. Use small amount of weight, do many number of repetitions per set (20 to 24)

You may want to focus more on the larger muscle groups, such as your leg or chest muscles. Working on these group of muscles will allow more energy to be burned and more muscle mass built in lesser time with lesser effort. This is ideal for those that would like to remain lean and not become bulky.

In addition to the tips shared above, please do take into account the amount of work needed for each muscle groups may vary, below is a rough guide on what you could start with:

  • Forearms, calves, core muscles may require only a few sets (one to five sets)
  • Your small muscles such as your shoulders may require slightly more sets (five to eight sets)
  • Your large muscles may endure the highest amount of sets (eight to twelve sets)

Ultimately, if you are serious about resistance exercise training, the ideal scenario is to search for someone that has been doing this for a while and understands the dynamics of it. I always emphasize that we should be very wary of injuries, especially for people that would like to do resistance exercise training with free-weights or weighted machines. Safety first, always!

If you have any comments or queries, please feel free to leave it below. As an alternative, you may also consider reaching out to me at merrell@sustainableweightlosshabits.com.

Speak soon,



  1. Reply

    This is very interesting. I had no idea that there was such a specific way to approach these types of exercises.

    Meaning, I didn’t know that I building muscle mass was different than building actual strength or endurance. Although, it does make sense that different exercises would be core to working on strength versus stamina.

    However, I’m uncertain what the difference is between muscle mass and building strength, can you help me better understand this?


    • Reply

      Hi Jack, thanks for the comment and the follow up query. I may have to rephrase some things as building strength and muscle mass may not be all too different. But building endurance or stamina is indeed a separate issue. The muscles built with resistance exercise is going to lead to the fat burning effect and weight loss, your muscle fibers are being stretched and pushed to the limit, and this allows for the fat-burn effect throughout the day or as some experts may claim- up to 36 hours!
      But with endurance training (e.g. running), only if the athlete is actually hitting a certain heart rate or metabolism level, this is the only time when fat-burning occurs. Once this same person steps off the treadmill and his/her heart rate goes back to normal, there will be no more fat-burning effect that remains throughout the day. This is why a lot of the long distance runners are skinny and Usain Bolt is lean and muscular as a sprinter (their training regimen is quite different, which includes a lot of resistance exercises).

      Hope I clarified your query, please leave me more comments or queries, if any! Have a great weekend!

  2. Katie


    I have observed that people who use their own body weight (yoga, pilates, parkour, etc) seem to have smaller muscles but also seem to be in a little bit better overall shape. They seem to move more freely with ease while people who use weights to bulk up definitely have huge muscles but don’t seem as balanced or proportionate. What are your opinions on this? Which do you think is more beneficial for overall health?

    • MLim


      Hi Katie, thanks for the query. It depends on what body type the person is going for and the amount of flexibility that is needed. Exercises such as yoga, pilates, parkour etc. that utilizes your body weight and build lean muscles are equally valuable and important as those that want to bulk up. There is always a trade off, those with bulky muscles as you pointed out, may not be as balanced or proportionate, but some people desires such a ‘look’. On the other spectrum, some folks lay a heavier focus on being lean with a lower percentage of body fat (but still a good amount of muscles) and maintaining their flexibility. It is all up to personal preferences, my final take is that as long as your body fat percentages are within normal ranges (Men: 10% to 19%; Women: 20% to 29%) You will be fine.

      Speak soon,


  3. stephanie


    the article is pretty thorough, thanks for sharing the info!

    I do like fitness and know some of the basics but i didnt realize such a simple workout of pullups, pushups, lunges and planks could be such a good full body workout on the go. I think i always try to complicate it and dont know how to get a good workout on the road. ill try this though for sure.

    • MLim


      Hi Stephanie, thanks for the comment and feedback, all the best with your journey!

      Speak soon,


  4. ShirleyJH615


    I enjoyed the different exercises you seem to have demonstrated in your project. You are defintely thoughtful of what you wanted out of this topic. It is informative and very well thought out.I understand what you was going for with this topic on body strength and body mass. It is a good post.

    • MLim


      Hi Shirley, I am glad that the message was clear about the importance of resistance exercise on building body strength and mass. All the best!

      Speak soon,


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