If you are just getting into the world of fitness, all of the different terms may be a bit confusing for you.
Lifting weights and going to the gym may appear simple from the outside. However, when you get into it, you realize that there are many nuances to be aware of.
For instance, one thing that seems to cause a lot of confusion is what the difference between strength training and weight training is.
Now, right off the bat, what you need to know is that strength training and weight training are not mutually exclusive.
Although they aren’t quite the same things, they do belong to the same realms. Let’s take a closer look at both strength training vs weight training to determine what they are.
Strength Training – A Broad Category
As we mentioned above, although they may be viewed as being different, strength and weight training are closely related.
What is Strength Training?
So, first off, what is strength training? As you can probably tell, the main goal of strength training is to build strength.
In other words, the main goal is to build muscle. It’s all about building bigger and leaner muscles that can handle bigger and bigger loads. It’s all about training your body to become stronger.
As you can see, this sounds like a very broad category. After all, there are many different things that you can do to build strength.
Yes, lifting heavy weights in the gym is going to build strength, as does crossfit and more. So, that said, what then exactly is weight training?
What is Weight Training?
Well, weight training is a form of training that involves using weights. Weight training involves the use of various types of weights and lifting them repeatedly. This could involve dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, and even just basic gym exercise machines.
As you can probably tell, weight training does, of course, also build muscle. The main goal of weight training is to build muscle and to build strength. Generally, the goal here is to be able to lift more and more as time goes on.
Hmm, so if weight training is about building strength, then is it not also a form of strength training? Yes, of course, it is, which is why we said that these two are not mutually exclusive.
Weight Training is a Form of Strength Training
Let’s just hash this out in a logical manner here. Strength training is all about building muscle strength and endurance.
The main benefit of weight training is to build muscle strength and endurance, as well as muscle size. Therefore, logically speaking, weight training is a type of strength training. It’s a subcategory.
This is like asking the difference between Angus beef and beef. Beef is the broad category, and Angus is a specific type of beef. It’s the same with strength training and weight training.
That said, as you are going to see below, there are various forms of strength training out there.
Types of Strength Training
Seeing as there are different types of strength training out there, let’s figure out exactly what they are. Yes, there are even more nuances here than just strength vs. weight training.
We’ve already covered this, so we won’t spend much time on it. Weight training is when you use machines and free weights to train your body.
It has various benefits, with increased muscle strength and endurance being the main ones. However, weight training is not the only form of strength training out there.
Another form of strength training that you need to be familiar with is bodyweight training. Whereas weight training sees you using actual weights or pieces of equipment, bodyweight training does not.
As the name implies, bodyweight training is all about using your own body weight as the resistance or weight. For example, pushups are a perfect example of bodyweight training. Other examples include squats and lunges, pullups, sit-ups, crunches, and more.
It’s anything that uses nothing other than your own body weight to produce the challenge. This kind of strength training is convenient because you can do it anywhere without the need for special equipment.
Yes, this is something that is going to confuse people. That said, yes, CrossFit is a type of strength training too. Sure, it is quite different than traditional weightlifting. Although, it does involve aspects of weightlifting.
Crossfit, for those that don’t know, is a modern type of exercise. It generally sees a combination of cardiovascular training and strength training. CrossFit can involve a variety of strength training types, mainly weightlifting and bodyweight training.
CrossFit is, of course, geared heavily towards cardiovascular fitness. It’s not quite as good for building big muscles as weightlifting, but it does build muscle strength. More importantly, CrossFit is all about building lean muscles that can endure.
Olympic and Powerlifting
No, Olympic lifting and powerlifting are not the same thing. Olympic weightlifting involves two specific lifts, the snatch, and the clean and jerk. Powerlifting then involves the bench press, deadlift, and squat. That said, these are also both different categories of strength training.
Yes, the main focus here is, of course, strength, and lots of it. Unlike normal weightlifting that involves many reps and many sets, these kinds of lifting are all about big weights.
Olympic and powerlifters may only do one or two reps, but they’re going to be some of the heaviest lifts you’ve ever seen. In terms of building actual strength, and lots of it, these two lifting types are at the forefront.
Although bodybuilding is in a world of its own, it is also a type of strength training. Yes, the main point of bodybuilding is to get those muscles as huge and as defined as possible.
Well, the only way to achieve this is through strength training. If muscles are to get bigger, they need to get stronger. Bodybuilders generally stick to weight training and may also engage in Olympic or powerlifting activities too.
Some may even do some bodyweight training. That said, just bodyweight alone is usually not enough to make a person look like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Ronnie Coleman.
So, What is Resistance Training?
We’ve covered quite a few terms now. However, something we haven’t yet touched on is resistance training. This is something else that tends to cause a bit of confusion.
Resistance training is defined as any exercise that increases muscle strength by forcing your muscles to work against force or weight. Well, this is exactly what strength training, weight training, CrossFit, and lifting of all sorts involve.
These all involve working against some kind of force or weight, whether your own body, a resistance band, or a dumbbell, to increase muscle strength and endurance.
Strength training and resistance training are more or less interchangeable. Weight training, powerlifting, crossfit, and bodyweight training are forms of resistance training, and are forms of strength training.
Some Benefits of Strength Training
Seeing as we are here talking about strength training, it only makes sense to talk about some of its benefits.
In terms of strength training, weight training is one of the best ways to build muscle. Lifting weights breaks down muscle fibers, and they then heal and grow back bigger and stronger.
There is also the fact that lifting weights causes the body to increase its production of both testosterone and human growth hormone. These are both things that will then also lead to more muscle growth.
Looking Better – Getting Shredded and Losing Fat
As you can see from above, muscle strength is one of the main benefits of strength training. However, it’s also about appearance. If you want to look shredded, jacked, ripped, or whatever else you want to call it, then strength training is the way to go. On that note, heavy weight training does, of course, also burn a ton of calories. This, in turn, can lead to some pretty serious fat loss.
Increasing Muscular Endurance
There is even more to it than that because strength training also builds muscular endurance. Not only will your muscles be able to lift more, but for prolonged periods of time too.
Improving Cardiovascular Health
The above point, endurance, does have a lot to do with cardiovascular fitness. A lot of people don’t think about this, but strength training increases cardiovascular fitness.
No, lifting weights won’t provide you with the same cardio workout as a stair climber. However, it does still tax your cardiovascular system. The more reps and sets you do, and the more weight you lift, the harder your heart and lungs have to work.
For one, this allows more oxygen and blood to get to your muscles. This, in turn, allows you to lift more for longer periods of time. Of course, general cardiovascular health is another bonus here.
Strength Training vs. Weight Training – The Bottom Line
To sum it up, strength training is the broad category that all of these other training types fall into. Yes, this includes weight training, powerlifting, bodyweight training, CrossFit, and more.
At the end of the day, whichever one you choose to go with, take comfort in the fact that you are doing something healthy.
Whether you want to do squats, use resistance bands, or lift some huge barbells, building those muscles is what you will accomplish.