Most of us at some time or another have been puzzled about the nature of resistance. The very nature of resistance lies in its strength to block or make
difficult something trying to move forward. Political resistance tries to prevent a specific group from making headway. Resistance often creates struggle.
Gravity is a form of resistance which acts against us, yet benefits us at the same time by keeping our feet on the ground. Then there's resistance exercise
that opposes our muscles to make them stronger. Resistance and its properties are identical, yet not all resistance is negative.
Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), ex-slave and abolitionist, once said, "If there is no struggle, there is no progress." That is as true in the gym as it is
in the world at large. Working out in a gym without resistance means no struggle and ultimately no work. Some might say, "Sounds good to me!" But without
work, without resistance, there is no progress. This is the nature of resistance.
If you have worked out for years, you know resistance is a positive force that has built a physique from a mere framework. When you think of resistance,
you doubtless visualize barbells, dumbells, weight stacks and cable pulleys. These are the most commonly used forms of resistance, but other kinds can also
provide benefits, and can be used either alone or in conjunction with those traditional types. Learning these alternative forms of resistance and their
properties can be an invaluable tool to add to your already comprehensive training arsenal.
I will list six different types of resistance training. Each benefits muscles in a different way. Though these are not new inventions - and no one has
reinvented the wheel yet - they could be sources of resistance that you have not considered in your quest to add muscle to your frame. Using these forms of
resistance alone, in combination with one another, or in combination with the more traditional resistance apparatus, can enable you to diversify your efforts
to produce valuable results.
In each of these six types some sort of apparatus may be utilized to create an environment for resistance. The uniqueness of these sources can be found in
the way they are implemented. You might use a dumbell for a particular exercise in some of these alternative resistance methods, but the way you use the
resistance through a range of motion may be altogether different.
Dynamic Constant Training
The most distinctive feature of dynamic constant training is that the resistance is, as the name suggests, constant. A good example of DCT occurs when you
use free weights or machines that do not alter resistance, but redirect it instead. The emphasis shifts to different planes along the muscle group being worked.
When you work on a shoulder-press machine, for example, the resistance remains constant over the entire range of motion. It is identical from the bottom of the
movement to the top and back down again. Only the direction of the resistance varies. The resistance redirects itself through the arc and then redirects itself
again when the shoulders let the weight come back down to the starting position.
Dynamic Progressive Training
Resistance increases progressively as you continue to exercise. DPT is often used as a rehabilitative measure and offers the sort of resistance that builds
gradually while remaining completely within the control of the person using it. Equipment includes rubber bands and tubing, springs, and an apparatus controlled
by spring-loaded parts. They are low-cost items that are easily accessible and can be used anywhere. Though commonly employed for rehabilitation of torn ligaments,
joints, muscles and broken bones, it is also convenient for travelers on either vacation or business trips. This form of resistance can be combined with traditional
forms of resistance training to create a better-balanced program, and to provide the muscles with a welcome alternative from time to time.
Dynamic Variable Training
This form of resistance exercise takes up where dynamic constant training leaves off. Whereas DCT employs constant resistance, never varying to accommodate the
body's mechanics, DVT can be adapted to the varying degrees of strength of a muscle group throughout a range of motion. Though very few machines succeed in this
goal, a few have come close.
Hammer Strength emphasized common fixed areas of resistance. However, the Strive line of equipment has been able to give the user much more choice in resistance
levels during an exercise. Strive equipment uses the DVT principle most effectively because it allows the user ! to increase resistance at the beginning, middle
or end of the range of motion. If your joints are stronger at the end of a movement (the top) or the beginning (the bottom), you can set the resistance accordingly.
The Strive line is the most flexible yet of all gym equipment designed to adhere to the DVT principle. It lets you tailor-make your workouts based on your body's
Here the muscle is contracted at a constant tempo. Speed determines the nature of this resistance training, not the resistance itself, though it is based on
movement carried out during a condition of resistance. IKT can be done with the body's own weight. In isokinetic training resistance is steady while velocity
remains constant. For example, isokinetics are at work with any machine that is hydraulically operated. The opposing forces mirror each other throughout the
range of motion. A good example would be pressing down for triceps on a hydraulic machine and having to immediately pull up (the resistance is constant in both
directions) into a biceps curl while maintaining the same speed. IKT often involves opposing bodyparts. Trainers can use a variety of apparatus with their clients
to achieve isokinetic stasis between muscle groups.
Familiar to most people, isometric training is an excellent way to build strength with little adverse effect on joints and tendons commonly associated with
strength training and lifting heavy weights. Though it appears simple in comparison to traditional resistance training, it must not be underrated in its effectiveness.
IMT is a method in which the force of contraction is equal to the force of resistance. The muscle neither lengthens nor shortens. So how, you may ask, does any training
occur without lengthening and shortening the muscles? Well, the muscles act against each other or against an immovable object.
Isometric training is what you see swimmers do when they press their hands against a solid wall, forcing all their bodyweight into the wall. Another common IMT
exercise is pressing the hands together to strengthen the pectorals and biceps. Pressing against the wall can involve muscles in the front deltoid, chest and biceps.
Isometric training has been proven very effective for gaining strength, but this method usually strengthens only the muscles at the point of the iso contraction. If
the greatest resistance and force are acting upon the midportion of the biceps, that is where most of the benefit will occur. A comprehensive isometric routine can
serve to increase strength in certain bodyparts.
This method demands constant tension, typically with free weights. Though this approach may sound a lot like dynamic constant training, it is different because it
does not necessarily redirect the resistance through a range of motion, but rather, keeps tension constant as in the negative portion of an exercise. Complete
immobility of the muscle being worked is required. For example, in the preacher curl the biceps are fixed against the bench. They lift (positive), then release the
weight slowly downward (negative), keeping the same tension on the muscles in both directions. This is one reason that free-weight exercise is considered the best
form of isotonic training. Merely lifting a dumbell or barbell, however, isn't necessarily enough to qualify as isotonic. The true essence of isotonic training is
keeping resistance constant in both the positive and negative portions of each repetition.
The most effective type of resistance-training routine employs a variety of techniques to create a workout program that is complete and runs the gamut from basic to
specialized. Learning different methods of training and of resistance can help to create a balanced, complete physique. I don't mean to imply that these training
methods will help everybody to win competitions, but you will learn how to tune in to your body and its functions through resistance and movement. This is a valuable
skill because it allows you to become more adept at finding what works best for you on any given day.
We're not all cut out for one particular type of resistance and movement. Those who move weight through basic exercises, employing little or no knowledge outside of
those basics, will always have a physique which is just that... basic. I can't promise you'll find satisfactory results with each of these types of alternative
resistance. However, I can say that you'll discover a great deal more about your body. Whether we compete or just exercise to look our best, learning to work with the
body is often what draws us toward a gym in the first place.