Understanding Resistance

Understanding Resistance is the Most Important Field of Knowledge for Any Trainer in the Fitness Industry

One of the most fascinating things in the exercise world today is that everyone is doing their best in coming up with “new” philosophies of training, “new” methods of exercise, and maybe a “new” revelation of rediscovering the old. My view is very simple, if you have a fixed training philosophy, you will lean towards pushing everyone to fit within the boundaries you have created as a trainer, and you would take a big part of personal away from personal training.

Whether you call the training you do running, Pilates, CrossFit, powerlifting, yoga, GX, spinning, swimming or even stretching, in reality, it all boils down to applying force to the body and looking for a specific body adaptation out of it.

How Cardio is in Fact a Resistance exercise

Think of your running, cycling or swimming, in running you need to push against the ground to transfer your weight in a vertical and horizontal manner, you overcome gravity in every stroke, you have acceleration and deceleration forces at every stroke, friction forces with the running surface will also act on you.

When you are cycling you are undergoing a series of pushes and pulls at every stroke, with force being transferred through a chain to spin a wheel, of course, there is much more complicates engineering in the gear system, but the point is it is a push and pull action. Maintaining the upper body in a forward position against gravity, while keeping shoulders loose is all about resisting gravity.

Swimming has different strokes, but all of them have one thing in common ( I am sure there are more commonalities) is you are pushing against the water to propel your body forward, plain and simple, the better you are at pushing against the water, the faster or more efficient you become at it. Of course, being better at a stroke is a result of you can be better at producing force, or you can be better at the technique of stroke, or both.

In all “cardio” exercises you apply the resistance repeatedly over a prolonged period of time, causing systems like the heart to work harder and do the adaptations it needs to do, without that resistance, your muscles can’t get any exertion, therefore your heart would not have to adapt.

Pilates Is Pure Resistance Training

One of the funniest claims in the fitness industry is “Pilates gives you long muscles”. This is a flat-out wrong statement, muscles do not understand “I am doing Pilates, let me grow in a long manner”, muscles do not accommodate for activities, they simply contract and relax. Pilates activities are all about applying resistance to the human body in different positions while attempting to emphasize specific muscles in countering that resistance. Yes, you will not see anyone bulking form Pilates, but the reason is so obvious, you do have limitations of muscle growth by capping the resistance to body weight, the reformers strings or any other form of resistance used.

Pilates is great at paying attention to details during training, as a matter of fact, if everyone in the gym floor pays attention to details the way Pilates instructors do, results and efficiency will improve while injuries will reduce.


The story goes on, CrossFit, for example, is dependent on creating momentum to move an object or a human body to achieve a specific number of repetitions, or best time etc.

Yoga mostly applies force to joints and soft tissue to achieve a specific pose.

The list is endless, all you need is to pause for one second look at the activity from the outside and you will realize that force application is the constant in all forms of physical activities and exercise


As brought to my attention by Tom Purvis, we in the industry spend so much time analyzing results and outcomes of exercise and spend too little time diving into the input. If we are to balance the scale we need to spend more time analyzing force application to the human body and studying resistance.

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