5 Types of Weight Training


You weight train for health, fitness or improved performance using a variety of equipment: dumbbells, barbells, resistance training machines, and even rocks, sandbags and other heavy objects. Some weightlifters also lift for sport. Because of the exercise principle of specificity, the weight training method used will determine the results you get. Five common types of weight training meet different training goals.


  • Bodybuilding is all about building muscle size with little or no regard to improving muscle performance. This muscle growth is called hypertrophy. Bigger muscles tend to be stronger muscles, but increasing strength is a side effect -- not the aim -- of bodybuilding. Bodybuilders perform different exercises on different days so they can perform multiple exercises per muscle group to maximize growth. To develop maximal muscle size, many bodybuilders favor performing multiple sets of six to 12 repetitions using a moderate to heavy weight. Bodybuilding can be competitive or noncompetitive. Competitive bodybuilders are judged on their muscle size, symmetry, shape and leanness, and well as their posing or presentation skills.


  • Weightlifting, also called Olympic weightlifting, is a sport in which athletes compete to lift the heaviest weights possible in two exercises: the clean and jerk, and the snatch. The clean and jerk involves lifting a barbell from the floor to the shoulders, and then the shoulders to overhead. The snatch involves lifting the bar from the floor to overhead in one movement. In addition to being a competitive sport, some athletes perform the Olympic lifts and their variations to develop power and speed for their chosen sport. Less technical versions of the Olympic lifts include the power clean, push press and hang snatch.


  • Powerlifting is an offshoot of Olympic weightlifting and, in competition, the aim is the same: to lift as much weight as possible. However, the lifts are different. Powerlifting competitions involve the squat, bench press and deadlift, although some competitors choose to focus on one lift rather than all three. Some powerlifting federations allow lifters to wear supportive assistance gear, which allows greater weights to be lifted; other federations do not, and are usually described as "raw." Powerlifting exercises are an effective way to train for strength and are used by sportsmen such as football players, hockey players and mixed martial arts fighters.

Strongman Training

  • Strongman training involves lifting any manner of heavy objects and performing a variety of feats of strength. This can include lifting and carrying heavy stones, pulling anything from cars to trains to planes, to holding heavy weights for a specified time. Strongman competitors train with weights or any type of object that they may have to lift in competition. Competitions are local- to world-level, with the pinnacle being the annual World Strongest Man competition. Strongman training has become very popular as a means to developing athletic strength for sports as many strongman disciplines combine lifting heavy loads and moving with them.

Functional Training

  • Functional training describes exercises designed to improve your ability to perform specific physical tasks. These may be sporting or everyday activities. Exercises often involve the use of balance balls, exercise balls or wobble boards, and include a degree of skill as well as challenging your muscles. Functional training is not competitive but may help you perform better in competition. Functional exercises that use weights include single squats, multi-directional hops, jumps and lunges, single-arm presses and squats with bicep curls. Some functional exercises are described as "prehab" as they may prevent injuries.

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