Designing a Resistance Training Program

Your fitness goal

The first step to designing a resistance training program is establishing your fitness goal. The type and number of exercises, as well as the number of sets and repetitions will differ based on your fitness goal.

WEIGHT TRAINING PROGRAMS
Program Goal
Sets
Repetitions
Resistance
Rest between Sets
Endurance
3
15 to 25
50-65% of 1 Rep. Max
30 to 60 seconds
Health/Fitness
1 to 3
10 to 15
60-80% of 1 Rep. Max
30 to 60 seconds
Strength
3 to 6
5 to 6
80-88% of 1 Rep. Max
3 to 5 minutes
Size
3 to 6
8 to 12
80-85% of 1 Rep. Max
30 to 60 seconds
Power
3 to 6
2 to 4
80-90% of 1 Rep. Max
3 to 4 minutes
Table content taken from Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning,
edited by Thomas Baechle for the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Endurance and Health/Fitness programs are appropriate for inexperienced or currently inactive individuals. Strength and Power programs are appropriate for individuals training for sports. The Size Program is appropriate for individuals who wish to participate in bodybuilding.

Your fitness plan

The next step in designing your program is determining how many exercises you will include for each of the muscle groups. Below are 2 sample programs that will work well for nearly everyone. They can be adjusted based on your fitness goal. Each rotation should last 4-6 weeks.

Rotation 1

DAY 1
Muscle group

# of exercises

Chest
2
Back
2
Biceps
1
Triceps
1
DAY 2
Muscle group

# of exercises

Shoulders
2-3
Quadriceps
1
Hamstrings
1
Whole leg
1
Calves
1
DAY 3
Muscle group

# of exercises

Chest
2
Back
2
Biceps
1
Triceps
1


Rotation 2

DAY 1
Muscle group

# of exercises

Chest
2-3
Back
2-3
DAY 2
Muscle group

# of exercises

Biceps
2
Triceps
2
DAY 3
Muscle group

# of exercises

Shoulders
2
Quadriceps
1
Hamstrings
1
Calves
1
Whole leg
1


Exercise suggestions

The last step is choosing the specific exercises you want to do for each muscle group in your program. There are numerous ones, but some basic suggestions are below.

Upper Back
Prone/seated rows
Push-ups
Pull-ups
Lower Back
Superman
Trunk extension
The plank
Chest
Bench press (flat, incline, decline)
Flys
Push-ups
Biceps
Curls
Hammer curls
Preacher curls
Triceps
Dips
Overhead extension
Shoulders
Shrugs
Lateral raise
Front raise
Push-ups
Overhead press

Abdominals
Crunches
Trunk twists
The bicycle
The plank
Reverse crunches
Hamstrings
Leg curl
Quadriceps
Leg extension
Squats
Whole leg
Leg press
Squats
Gluteals
Squats
Lunges
Prone hip extension


Your resistance training program should be designed with your fitness goals in mind! However, every routine should share these elements: