If we wanted to train for endurance then we would do some kind of aerobic exercise and if we wanted to be more flexible then we would train using stretching exercises such as Yoga. If it is strength we want then we would train with weights.
Weight Training is an Isotonic exercise where the muscles increase or decrease with the movement yet the force will stay the same as opposed to a Plyometric exercise where the muscles stretch and contract at speed building power for endurance. So with weight training we are concentrating on our skeletal muscles and making them stronger and depending on the type of weight training bigger.
To make the muscles bigger the form of training that is used is called Bodybuilding and although it is similar in that it is using the same kind of exercises as weight training the main object is to make the muscles as big as possible, this is done through heavy weights with low reps and a strict diet with possible supplements and in some extreme cases it has been known that many Bodybuilders result to using Anabolic Steroids to enhance their performance and therefore their muscle size. Steroids are dangerous and should never be used to enhance any kind of training.
So with weight training we are not looking to be the size of the Hulk we are just looking to build muscle strength. But having said that there will be a certain amount of muscle growth, the body shape will change to a certain extent and there is a good chance of weight gain as muscle weighs more than fat. There are many people, especially women that stay away from weight training because they fear that they will develop huge bulging muscles. This will not be the case unless that is the prime aim through Bodybuilding. The essence of building large muscles is to overload them with such weight that the muscle fibres tear and they will repair with more size.
For general weight training (not building huge muscles) it is best to lift a manageable weight that will load the muscle with some resistance and then perform around 10 to 15 repetitions and do 3 sets for each exercise with a short breather in between. Weight can be added as the strength increases but not to the extent of the kind of weight that Bodybuilders tend to use.
Weight Training can be performed using either Free Weights or Machines and this is normally down to personal choice, but put simply free weights are exactly that, they allow freedom of movement and the emphasis should always be on technique. Machines are more of a fixed movement and tend to isolate a muscle group more so than free weights.
The combination of both free weights and machines is a good one under the heading weight training, but should we do weight training as our only exercise. This again is up to the individual but it does make sense to add in a bit of aerobic exercise such as running to create a good balance of strength and endurance. These two types of exercise combined into a Program will provide the body with a great all round level of fitness.
Always consult your Doctor before starting a new exercise program.