Ashley Joi performs a bodyweight squat, Luke Zocchi lifts a kettlebell and Torre Washington uses a c
Centr Team

Confused about bodyweight, free weights & machines?

Centr Team

Resistance training: is there anything it can’t do? From pumping up muscles to improving functional fitness and even igniting calorie burn for weight loss, resistance moves have serious benefits.

But there are still some major misunderstandings about which style is best for different results.

Before you set off down the wrong track, let’s bulk up your knowledge on the three main types of resistance training and which is the best workout for you.

1. Bodyweight: easiest to start

Ashley Joi performs a bodyweight squat.

It’s all in the name: bodyweight resistance training is when we use the weight of our own body as resistance in an exercise.

Look at squats – when we sit back and down into a squat we hold the weight of our body (the resistance) through our glutes and legs. To return to a standing position, we engage glutes, quads, hamstrings and calf muscles to push the resistance of our body upwards.

Is it right for my goal?
Bodyweight exercises have multiple benefits. Functional training moves, such as those Da Rulk uses in his workouts, mimic everyday movements to increase overall strength, coordination and mobility. Torre Washington uses lunges and glute bridges to build muscle in his workouts – which is why you should never skip leg day.

And it’s good news for weight loss, too. When we use our own muscles as resistance, they need fuel to make the movement happen. The bigger the muscle group or the more muscle groups we use in a resistance exercise, the more fuel used to get through it. Fuel = calories and calories used = weight loss.

Plus, unlike free weights, with bodyweight exercises you don’t have to keep increasing weights as you build muscle: you just progress the difficulty of the moves.

How do I start?
Easy – you have a body, now create the resistance! There are so many bodyweight moves: push-ups, squats, lunges, tricep dips, planks, pull-ups and so on. Ready to jump in? Try Ashley Joi’s free bodyweight workout.

2. Free weights: low-equipment level up

Luke Zocchi lifts a kettlebell over his head.

When we say ‘free weights,’ we’re talking dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, tires – anything you can pick up that isn’t connected to another piece of equipment. When using free weights for resistance training, we challenge our muscles to complete an exercise under stress. Stressing our muscles might sound bad, but as the body repairs and restores itself, it gains strength – that’s why resistance training is known as strength training.

For example, when using dumbbells for a bent-over row, we engage the same muscle groups (latissimus dorsi, rhomboids and biceps) and movement pattern that we use when we pull open a door. By adding the ‘stress’ of the free weights to the movement, our lats, rhomboids and biceps grow stronger.

Is it right for my goal?
Free weight training gets results by:

  • building strength to make everyday activities easier

  • increasing lean muscle mass and shaping the body

  • burning calories to promote weight loss

How do I start?
Safety is a must when using free weights – that means correct form and lifting a manageable weight.

A good indication that you’re lifting the right weight is feeling a muscle burn during the last few reps of a set. If you think you could keep going for another five or so reps, you may be ready to increase the weight. On the other hand, if you can’t get past half-way because it’s too hard, you may be lifting too heavy too soon.

Chris Hemsworth’s personal trainer Luke Zocchi can get you started safely and with good form.

3. Machine-based: make the most of your gym membership

Torre Washington uses a cable machine in a gym.

Machine-based resistance is an easy, safe and effective way to do strength training. The machines create the structure, guiding how far and in what way you can move – you just have to set the weight and perform the movement.

For example, a pin-loaded leg press machine sits you up straight with your legs bent and your feet rested on a plate. You push your body away from the plate by straightening your legs, then return to the starting position. This movement mimics a squat and involves the same muscle groups: quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves.

Is it right for my goal?
Machines are great for isolating individual muscle groups – there is a resistance machine for pretty much every area of the body. So if you really want to grow or balance out your biceps, hit the cable machine for targeted work.

They are also a perfect way to introduce different movement patterns with little room for error – a shoulder press machine will show you exactly where to place your hands, support your posture, and movement is restricted to a fluid upward/downward motion.

If your goal is increasing strength, shaping and toning for definition and creating lean muscle mass, machines tick all the boxes.

How do I get started?
To jump into resistance machine strength training you will need access to a gym or home gym set up. Once you’re set, Torre will show you the way. His workouts meld compound exercises with targeted machine exercises to get maximum benefits.


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