Planning Your Personal Resistance Training Program

Planning Your Personal Resistance Training Program

The resistance training programme is a combination of several factors. These variables comprise exercise choice, order and workout organisation, intensity, training bulk (total number of sets and repetitions), rest intermissions, repetition velocity, and training regularity. Altering one or several of these variables changes the training stimuli. As a result, suitable recommendation of resistance exercises encompasses manipulation of each variable to the specificity of the targeted aims.

Exercise Selection

The exercises picked during resistance training play a critical role in performance augmentation and ensuing physiological alterations. From a bio-mechanical viewpoint, exercises can be outlined by the type of muscle contraction, and type of joint motion. All exercises entail concentric (lifting stage or muscle shortening), eccentric (dropping phase or muscle expansion), and isometric (stationary or no change in muscle length) actions. Physiologically, eccentric movements are more advantageous to muscle growth than concentric or isometric movements. Two common types of resistance exercises may be selected: those for a single joint and those for multiple-joints. Single-joint exercises work one joint or main muscle group, while multiple-joint exercises work more than one joint or chief muscle group.

Workout Structure and Exercise Order

The amount of muscle groups trained per workout needs to be deliberated on when designing the resistance training programme. There are three direct workout organisations to choose from: total body workouts, upper and lower body split workouts, and muscle group split routines. Total body workouts include exercises that work all major muscle groups (i.e., 1 or 2 exercises for every major muscle group). Upper and lower body split workouts encompass the performance of only upper body exercises in one workout and only lower body exercises during the next one. These are fairly common amongst bodybuilders. Muscle group split routines consist of the execution of exercises for particular muscle groups during a workout (for instance, a back and biceps session wherein all exercises for the back are executed, then all exercises for the biceps are completed). All of these strategies can be effective for attaining individual objectives. The arrangement of exercises within a training session considerably affects short-term lifting performance and ensuing changes in strength during resistance training. The main training objectives should dictate the exercise order. Studies clarify that performance of multiple-joint exercises (such as the bench press, squat, leg press, shoulder press) drops considerably when done later in a workout (following several exercises that stress comparable muscle groups). Seeing as these multiple-joint exercises are effective for amassing strength and power (and hypertrophy), prioritisation is typically given to these core structural exercises (namely, those

extremely important to affecting programme goals) early in a workout. For hypertrophy training, some exemptions may exist to these guidelines. Although training to maximise muscle size should include strength training, muscle growth is based on factors related to mechanics (force) and blood flow. Contrastingly, strength training exploits the mechanical factors. When the goal of training is hypertrophy, training in a tired state does have a powerful effect on the metabolic influences that boost muscle growth. For instance, some bodybuilders have utilised a method known as pre-exhaustion. Here, a single-joint exercise is executed first (to fatigue a specific muscle group), followed by a multiple-joint exercise.

When exercising all major muscle groups in a single session:

Large muscle group exercises (like the squat) should be executed before smaller muscle exercises (similar to the shoulder press).

Multiple-joint exercises ought to be done before single-joint exercises.

Interchanging between upper and lower body exercises or contrasting muscle groups can permit some time for muscles to rest while the opposite muscle areas are trained. This arrangement strategy is valuable for preserving high training intensities and pursuing repetition numbers.

Some exercises that target diverse muscle groups can be positioned between sets of supplementary exercises to intensify workout productivity. For instance, an abdominal exercise can be completed between sets of the bench press. Because unalike muscle groups are stressed, no extra fatigue would be induced prior to performing the bench press. This is particularly effective when long rest breaks are utilised.

When exercising upper body muscles on one day and lower body muscles on a distinct day, one should do the following:

Execute large muscle group, multiple-joint exercises prior to small muscle group, single-joint movements.

Substitute contrasting exercises (agonist-antagonist relationship).

When training singular muscle groups, one should do the following:

Complete multiple-joint exercises prior to single-joint exercises.

Execute higher-intensity exercises prior to lower-intensity exercises (the sequence can advance from the heaviest exercises to the lightest).


Intensity is the designation repeatedly used to define the amount of weight lifted during resistance training. It is highly reliant on distinct variables, namely exercise order, volume, frequency, repetition speed, and length of rest periods. Intensity recommendation depends on one’s training status and goals. Strength, power, muscular endurance, and hypertrophy may only be taken full advantage of when the greatest amounts of muscle fibres are engaged (hence, heavy lifting). Different intensities exist for stressing definite constituents of fitness, where loads vacillating from 80% to 100% of maximal effort are appropriate for strength training, and 67% to 75% may be typical of a hypertrophy phase. Three simple methods exist for increasing loading during resistance training: increasing relative percentages of 1RM, training within a repetition maximum zone (requires an increase in repetitions with an existing workload up until a target number is reached, thus 6 to 12 repetitions for hypertrophy), and increasing absolute amounts (most common, where loads are increased someplace between 1 to 7kg after having grasped the target objective). In the end, which method or mixture of methods will be used is up to personal partiality as all of these methods have been studied and demonstrated to be very effective for resistance training.


Training volume is a summary of the total number of sets and repetitions executed during a workout. Training volume can be handled by altering the number of exercises performed per session, the quantity of repetitions performed per set, or the amount of sets per exercise. It is important to note that there is an opposite relationship between volume and intensity. That is to say, volume should be reduced if substantial increases in intensity are arranged. Hypertrophy training is linked with adequate to high intensity and volume. Classically, two to six sets per exercise are most common during resistance training, but both greater and lesser quantities have also been used effectively.

Rest Intervals

The quantity of rest between sets and exercises significantly affects the metabolic, hormonal, and cardiorespiratory reactions to a session of resistance training, in addition to performance of succeeding sets and training adaptations. Short-term force and power production are compromised with short rest intervals, although these short rest intervals are beneficial for hypertrophy. For the majority, a rest interlude sandwiched between 2 minutes and 5 minutes between exercises and sets allows for ideal recovery, however it may be advantageous for hypertrophy gains to alternate with smaller intervals, like 1 minute to 2 minutes.

Repetition Velocity

Lifting speed affects the neural, hypertrophic, and metabolic reactions to training. It is highly reliant on loading and exhaustion. Training for hypertrophy necessitates a range of velocities with numerous loading strategies. This too, can be alternated by the individual as, stated earlier, the eccentric phase of the lift delivers a great stimulus for muscle growth. That is to say, deliberately reducing the speed of the movement during the eccentric stage, and then hastening through the concentric phase, can offer optimal training for hypertrophy.


The quantity of training sessions completed during a specific period of time may affect training adaptations. Frequency specifies the number of times certain exercises are done or muscle groups are trained per week. Abundant resistance training studies utilised rates of two to three alternating days per week for untrained individuals. Advanced weightlifters and bodybuilders utilise high-frequency training (namely, 4 to 6 sessions per week). Double-split routines (two training sessions per day with stress on different muscle groups) are quite common during training. At the end of the day, this hinges on the individual’s ability to recover from each session. Those just starting have the largest opportunity for enhancement, and thus recuperate much quicker (24 to 72 hours) than those with more practice. Only the individual can prescribe what is best by measuring how he or she feels, both physically and mentally.


Bompa, Tudor O. Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training. 5th ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2009.

Earle, Roger W., and Thomas R. Baechle. “Resistance Training Program Design.”

NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training. 2nd ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2012. 348-349.

Hoffman, Jay. “Resistance Training.” NSCA’s Guide to Program Design. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2012. 76-77.

Hoffman JR, Ratamess, NA. A Practical Guide to Developing Resistance Training Programs. 2nd edition. Monterey, CA: Coaches Choice Books; 2008.

Kraemer, WJ, Ratamess NA. Fundamentals of resistance training: Progression and exercise prescription. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2004, 36: 674-678.

McGuigan M, Ratamess NA. Strength, In: Ackland TR, Elliot BC, Bloomfield J, eds. Applied Anatomy and Biomechanics in Sport. 2nd edition. Champaign, IL; Human Kinetics, 2009.

Ratamess NA, Alvar BA, Evetovich TK, et al. American College of Sports Medicine’s position stand: Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2009; 41: 687-708.


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

1 of 3