Types of successful weight training programs

Any successful weight training program is based on what is known as sets, repetitions (reps), tempo, resistance and rest periods. These training variables will help to build muscle strength and size.  Generally, a fitness program features eight to 15 repetitions. However, you can also opt to do eight to 12 exercises. You must focus on both your upper and lower body. Always start out slow. You should avoid heavy lifting but also don’t go too light and easy. After the final rep, you should feel fatigued but not be exhausted. Creating a firm foundation in any weight training program is imperative, and then you can start to build towards your goals.

Various weight training programs

When you decide to embark on a successful weight training program you will need to determine if you will be focusing on strength, muscle hypertrophy, power, or endurance. In many cases, you might be shooting for a whole body workout to attain all of your goals. However, you will need to understand exactly what it takes to meet or exceed your expectations.

Are additional training sessions beneficial?

Many people, when they first start out with strength training, mistakenly believe that more is better, but this is not always the case. Bartolomei, Hoffman, Stout and Merni (2018) find that one or two weekly strength training sessions are just as useful as three times a week.  In fact, six training sessions per week are found to offer no additional benefits. For all the beginners out there, 2 sessions per week is a good place to start. It is all about being consistent, stick to what you will realistically achieve!

Understanding how to train for strength

If you are training to build physical strength, then you can achieve your goal by lifting heavier for fewer reps. You will lift a determined amount of weight for a certain amount of reps. Once that set has been completed then you will increase the weight. So an example would be five sets of five repetitions, increasing the weight each set. When increasing the load, you can also take a more extended rest periods between sets. Your rest period can be three minutes when following this protocol.  When training for strength, your overall muscle size might not grow, but your power will gradually increase.

Examples: Max Strength variables according to experience

Novice lifter:

REPS: 6-8, SETS: 2-4, RESISTANCE: 60-75%1RM, SPEED: Mod-Fast,  REST: 1-3mins

Intermediate lifter:

REPS: 3-6, SETS: 2-5, RESISTANCE: 30-60%1RM, SPEED: Mod-Fast,  REST: 2-4mins

Advanced lifter: 

REPS: 1-5, SETS: 2-10, RESISTANCE: 60->85%1RM, SPEED: Mod-Fast,  REST: 2-6mins


Training for muscle hypertrophy

If you want your muscles to increase in size, then stress is required also known as time under tension. The muscle must be worked to the point of internal damage to force lactate to build.  For the tissue to repair itself, you are required to rest and consume a nutritious diet that fuels your body. The muscle will start to rebuild and increase in size. To gain size, you will need to do many repetitions in each set to push muscles to their breaking point. A typical session would include three sets of 8 to 12 reps. The loads used must push your muscles to the failure point.

Examples: Hypertrophy and general strength variables according to experience

Novice lifter:

REPS: 8-15+, SETS: 2-4, RESISTANCE: 60-75%1RM, SPEED: Slow, REST: 1-3mins

Intermediate lifter:

REPS: 6-15+, SETS: 2-4, RESISTANCE: 45-75%1RM, SPEED: Slow-Mod,  REST: 1-3mins

Advanced lifter: 

REPS: 5-15+, SETS: 2-10, RESISTANCE: 45-75%1RM, SPEED: Slow-Mod,  REST: 1-3mins


Power training rest intervals

Power training is often used to increase a person’s sports performance ability. You will practice the speed or the ‘acceleration’ of the lift combined with resting and repeating. Moderately heavy weights are used for power training. You need to rest sufficiently before doing the next set. With power training, everything is done at an accelerated pace. Speed is what it is all about. To be successful, you are required to maintain a quick tempo. The rest interval is going to depend on your strength level. A two-minute rest interval is often enough if you are already strong and an experienced lifter, but an inexperienced person might require a three-minute rest interval before proceeding.

Examples: Power training variables according to experience

Novice lifter:

REPS: 6-10, SETS: 2-3, RESISTANCE: <30%-60%1RM, SPEED: Mod-Fast, REST: 1-3mins

Intermediate lifter:

REPS: 3-6, SETS: 2-5, RESISTANCE: <30-85%1RM, SPEED: Fast,  REST: 1-3mins

Advanced lifter: 

REPS: 1-6, SETS: 2-10, RESISTANCE: <30-85%1RM, SPEED: Fast,  REST: 1-3mins


Building strength for endurance

To build muscle endurance, you will need to do additional repetitions in each set; often up to 20 or 30 when using lighter weights. In order to achieve endurance capabilities, you should focus on the part of your body you will be prodominately using. If you are a runner, then your lower body, if you are a swimmer, then your upper body.

Examples: Endurance strength training variables according to experience

Novice lifter:

REPS: 10-20+, SETS: 2, RESISTANCE: <30%-60%1RM, SPEED: Mod-Fast, REST: 30sec-1min

Intermediate lifter:

REPS: 10-20+, SETS: 2-3, RESISTANCE: 30-60%1RM, SPEED: Mod-Fast,  REST: 30sec-1min

Advanced lifter: 

REPS: 10-20+, SETS: 2-4, RESISTANCE: 30-60%1RM, SPEED: Mod-Fast,  REST: 20sec-1min


Resistance training and strength

Resistance training is beneficial in building strength and improving endurance. Before resistance training, you will need to warm up with either a general warm up or a specific warm up. With this form of exercise, you move your body against resistance such as particular exercise machines, kettlebells, weighted bars, and barbells.  One of the key benefits of such training is an improvement in joint stability.

Any weight training program should include the above variations tailored to your specific needs. When the correct balance is achieved you will gain muscle definition, create muscle while burning fat, and increase your strength. Day-to-day activities and your range of physical motion will become more natural. Your metabolism will also improve. The health improvements in fitness training are undeniable.




Bartolomei, S., Hoffman, J. R., Stout, J. R., & Merni, F. (2018). Effect of Lower-Body Resistance Training on Upper-Body Strength Adaptation in Trained Men. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research32(1), 13-18.

Davó, J. L. H., Ruiz, J. B., & Sabido, R. (2017). Influence of strength level on the rest interval required during an upper-body power training session. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research31(2), 339-347.

Schoenfeld, B. J., Grgic, J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J. W. (2017). Strength and hypertrophy adaptations between low-vs. high-load resistance training: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research31(12), 3508-3523.

Colquhoun, R. J., Gai, C. M., Aguilar, D., Bove, D., Dolan, J., Vargas, A., … & Campbell, B. I. (2018). Training Volume, Not Frequency, Indicative of Maximal Strength Adaptations to Resistance Training. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research32(5), 1207-1213.