Resistance builds muscle, not free weights

Yes, that’s right, resistance is what builds muscle, not free weights.

Hold on, hold on.  Before you hurl that 60 pound dumbbell at my head hear me out. Most of us have heard from every trainer, fitness magazine or neighborhood gym rat that weights are the key to bulking, sculpting and cutting. And yes, weights are a pathway to this.  But it’s not the dumbbells and and plates. It’s resistance.

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If you are placing resistance on the muscle to the point of failure, then you are tearing that muscle, thus causing it to grow.  And that resistance can come from dumbbells, machines, bands or your own bodyweight.

And how you use that resistance can cause challenge the body to grow and become stronger. Switching up angles, pace, tempo, rest and a number of other factors can challenge your mind and your body.

  • Increase your intensity. Stop daydreaming. Stop chatting. Focus on the task at hand.
  • Adjust the angle. Elevate your feet during a pushup. Elevate one hand during a pushup. Get creative.
  • Slow down your reps.  This cuts momentum and makes your muscles work harder.
  • Use negative reps. The eccentric movement will cause more microtears in the muscle, thus making it grow bigger.  Focus on slower, smoother negative reps.

Don’t get me wrong.  The barbells, benches, plates and dumbbells will certainly build muscle, but they are not the only way. Body weight, bands, kettlebells, medicine balls all build muscle too.  Not convinced? Think about gymnasts, martial artists or boxers.  Most, if not all, of their conditioning is not centered around heavy lifting, but creative bodyweight and calisthenics.

So let’s sum it up and dispel those myths. Resistance is what builds muscle, not free weights. It’s all in how you use resistance and variation. Whether you are pushing a barbell off your chest, or pushing up your body off the floor, it’s the resistance of the movement that is key.

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