Updated: Sep 7, 2020
Depending on which health or medical group you ask, most US health organizations prescribe four or five primary forms of exercise to live longer and have a healthier lifestyle.
The difference in groupings is some organizations combine Aerobic and Endurance training together recommend four categories instead of five:
Terms like weightlifting or resistance training are already synonymous with the ubiquitous activity of “working out”. Are these forms of fitness training considered “strength training”?
Are activities like power lifting or yoga considered different types of strength training?
To get us started in the right direction, let’s quickly look at a couple of key definitions.
What is strength training?
The National Institute of Health (NIH) says “strength exercises include lifting weights, even your own body weight, and using a resistance band.”
According to Bodybuilding.com, resistance training is simply a “form of training in which you're working against some type of force that resists your movement.” This includes familiar forms of resistance training like lifting weights and pulling against resistance bands. It even goes beyond that to utilize resistance created by your own bodyweight and with devices like weighted sleds, running parachutes, and even training in water.
Strength training is that simple: use resistance - build strength
So what does this all mean? Let’s keep it super simple: strength training focuses on resistance exercises that builds strength. These exercises can include the use of different forms of resistance, be it water, weights or resistance bands. Strength training is that simple: use resistance - build strength.
As mentioned above, lifting weights is likely the first visual we get when we hear “strength training”. Both free weights and gym machines provide the resistance needed to start and finish repetitions (or reps) and build strength.
Gym machines or stations are accessible and easy to use. Most provide illustrated instructions and are usually grouped by muscle groups (ie. chest, legs, arms). One of the benefits of gym machines is that resistance can be increased or decreased in smaller increments to gradually build strength, and if instructions are followed, there’s a lower risk to injury. Working out on machines is also great if you like to fly solo to the gym and prefer not to ask strangers to “spot” you.
There are a few downsides of training on machines. Due to the focused nature of machines, other supporting muscles may not get activated during the exercise. For example, when using a machine to do a chest press or bench press, the act of pushing out to work your pectoralis muscles is the primary focus of the machine. However, using free weights to do the same exercise will concurrently work supporting muscles like your deltoids, forearms and core, helping build stability and strength throughout your body.
Resistance bands (aka "booty bands") are usually sold in packs and come in a range of tension strengths from light to extra heavy. The beauty of resistance bands is that they enable you to do a wide range of exercises whenever and wherever. COVID locked most of us up in our homes and this caused a nationwide, if not a global shortage of free weights. As a result, many seeking to strength train turned to resistance bands as an alternative.
What I love about resistance bands is not the band specific exercises themselves (who doesn’t love lying in front of the TV and doing clamshells?) but the added complexity it introduces to other types of bodyweight workouts. Body weight squats is great for building strength in your glutes; body weight squats with a resistance band around your thighs intensifies the workout and fires the hip flexors even more.
There are a couple different forms of using water resistance as strength training that I’m personally familiar with. The first is to use hand paddles and swim fins in the pool to increase resistance, forcing your muscles to work harder. Many public pools (like our local YMCA) provide fins and paddles to members. Swimming is already a fantastic total body workout. Adding fins intensifies the work your hamstrings, glutes, quads and calves produce to propel your body through the water. Hand paddles allow your hands to pull more water and cause your lats to work harder. There is, however, a greater risk of shoulder injury when using paddles, especially if your form is not solid or your shoulder and lats aren’t able to produce the standard power you need.
Secondly, water resistance training is a great and safe way to rehab from injury or surgery. My husband runs in the pool when he’s injured and can’t do any of the above. But just because it doesn’t involve weights, don’t assume it isn’t without risk. Standing upright to run or “aqua jog” calls on your primary stability muscles, namely your core and lower back muscles. If these muscles are not strong enough to provide stability to the movements involves, your body will likely compensate with other muscles, causing injury or slowing down your rehabilitation.
I’m a fan of water training as a form of resistance training. But it should be done in tandem with weight training to ensure you build strength in and out of the pool.
Is Lagree considered strength training? YES
For many of its early years, Lagree was categorized as an option under classical Pilates. The Lagree method finally breaking out of Pilates into strength training is more of a recent phenomenon and more accurately fits the type of workout you get on a Mega and Micro.
First, use resistance.
Lagree checks two of the three of NIH’s descriptors for strength exercise: use of own body weight and resistance bands. Both the Mega and Micro utilize a wheeled carriage system for the primary platform to rest your bodyweight. Built in adjustable springs provide a wide range of resistance levels as you push and pull your bodyweight and wheeled carriage along the steel rail channels. Steel cables and bungee cables allow for use of resistance in upper body exercises to deliver a full body workout.
Second, build strength.
Working against the resistance created by springs and your bodyweight as you perform moves like Runner’s lunge and Side Kick is what builds strength in targeted muscle groups. Classes are designed to have you perform multiple reps of a single move and add in small pulses of the same moves over several minutes to obliterate your muscles. This is why a single 45-minute workout of pushing your muscles to failure can burn up to 600 calories.
Strength training is for everyone and is not limited to just lifting weights
Strength training is for everyone and is not limited to just lifting weights. Build strength through Lagree. Grab a Microformer or find a skateboard and booty bands to create resistance - do it from your garage or living room and lets build strength together. Try a Skate Strength or Lagree classes and start strength training today!