Weight training is a common type of strength training for developing the strength and size of skeletal muscles. It uses the weight force of gravity (in the form of weighted bars, dumbbells or weight stacks) to oppose the force generated by muscle through concentric or eccentric contraction. Weight training uses a variety of specialized equipment to target specific muscle groups and types of movement.
Weight training differs from bodybuilding, Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, and strongman, which are sports rather than forms of exercise. Weight training, however, is often part of the athlete's training regimen.
Weight training versus other types of exercise
Strength training is an inclusive term that describes all exercises devoted toward increasing physical strength. Weight training is a type of strength training that uses weights rather than elastic, Eccentric Training or muscular resistance to increase strength. Endurance training is associated with aerobic exercise while flexibility training is associated with stretching exercise like yoga or pilates. Weight training is often used as a synonym for strength training, but is actually a specific type within the more inclusive category.
Weight training versus resistance training
Resistance training involves the application of elastic or hydraulic resistance to muscle contraction rather than gravity. Weight training provides the majority of the resistance at the beginning, initiation joint angle of the movement, when the muscle must overcome the inertia of the weight's mass. After this point the overall resistance alters depending on the angle of the joint. In comparison, hydraulic resistance provides a fixed amount of resistance throughout the range of motion, depending on the speed of the movement. Elastic resistance provides the greatest resistance at the end of the motion, when the elastic element is stretched to the greatest extent.
Weight training versus isometric training
Isometric exercise provides a fixed amount of resistance based on the force output of the muscle. This strengthens the muscle at the specific joint angle at which the isometric exercise occurs, with some lesser gains in strength also occurring at proximal joint angles. In comparison, weight training strengthens the muscle throughout the range of motion the joint is trained in, causing an increase in physical strength from the initiating through to terminating joint angle.
Weight training and bodybuilding
Although weight training is similar to bodybuilding, they have different objectives. Bodybuilders use weight training to develop their muscles for size, shape, and symmetry regardless of any increase in strength for competition in bodybuilding contests; they train to maximize their muscular size and develop extremely low levels of body fat. In contrast, many weight trainers train to improve their strength and anaerobic endurance while not giving special attention to reducing body fat far below normal.
The bodybuilding community has been the source of many of weight training's principles, techniques, vocabulary, and customs. Weight training does allow tremendous flexibility in exercises and weights which can allow bodybuilders to target specific muscles and muscle groups, as well as attain specific goals. Not all bodybuilding is undertaken to compete in bodybuilding contests, and, in fact the vast majority of bodybuilders never compete, but bodybuild for their own personal reasons.