How To Design A Resistance Training Program: Part II

If you have not checked out part 1 of How to Design a Resistance Training Program check that out before you read this.

Exercise Order

In Part 1, the foundation was laid on how to design a resistance training program. Now we get to the exercise order, or in other words, making the workouts. Keep in mind, you have already assembled the exercises you will be using in the program and the amount of training sessions per week. The exercise order puts those pieces together. This step has much variability, but there are guidelines to elicit the best adaptations in the most efficient manner. I will discuss four avenues you can take. First, you can order the exercises from power → core → assistance exercises (Haff & Triplett, 2016). This is because power and core exercises require a much higher energy demand than assistance exercises (Haff & Triplett, 2016). It is also important to note that core does not mean abdominal exercises like sit-ups. It refers to multi-joint lifts such as the back squat, deadlift, bench press, etc. With that being said power exercises are usually Olympic lifts like cleans, snatch, and jerks. You need as much energy as you can for these high energy lifts because if done with fatigue, you will be more likely to compensate (which could lead to injury), and will not lift as much weight to elicit the desired adaptations. If you are limited in time, you can also alternate between upper and lower body, or push and pull exercises. This allows time for recovery in one muscle group while performing a different exercise that strains a different muscle group (Haff & Triplett, 2016). Personally, I love this method because it allows me to achieve higher volumes with efficient use of time. Lastly, you can structure workouts through supersets and compound sets. A superset is performing two exercises that work opposing muscle groups with no rest in between sets (Haff & Triplett, 2016). For example, you could perform eight reps for the bench press and move right to eight reps of rows. A compound set is the exact same concept, except the two exercises work the same muscle group instead of opposing muscles (Haff & Triplett, 2016). For example, you can perform a compound set of eight tricep dips and eight tricep extensions. The exercise order is not some random alignment of exercises. The different variations of designing workouts can help you specify your workouts to put you in the best position to achieve your goals.

Specify Your Program To Fit Your Goals

Next, is assigning the training load and repetitions in each workout. One of the many components that make up an effective resistance training program is progressive overload. When you workout, your muscles become damaged and, with rest, repair stronger. If you do the same workout with the same weight, you will not grow the way you may want to. Therefore, it is important to regulate your training volume so there is progressive overload while also giving the body adequate rest.  More specifically, the goal of the training program determines how many sets, repetitions, and load you need to incorporate. The load for each exercise is generally determined by a percentage of your 1 repetition maximum (I made a youtube video on this!). Below is a table I replicated from Essentials of Strength & Conditioning giving guidance on how to structure the sets, repetitions, and load based on your training goal


That concludes the two part series on how to design a resistance training program. Having a structured program keeps you focused, and on the right path to achieving your goals. Although having a well designed training program is important, it is only a small piece of the puzzle to enhancing performance. Each workout you need to be locked in and give as much effort as you can. You also need to have a strong work ethic on a consistent basis. If you follow a well designed program and work hard for two weeks, then take a week off you will not improve the way you would like. On the flip side, if you have a well designed program and follow it to a tee, but go through the motions you will not improve the way you would like. It’s easy to get caught up in the flashy things and think that is what you need to get to the next level, but in reality mastering the basics and doing everything with extreme focus and effort is all you need to get to the next level.


Haff, G., & Triplett, N. T. (2016). Essentials of strength training and conditioning. Fourth edition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.


This site has content that is subject to my thoughts and opinion. Implement the content at your own caution as the author is not responsible for your actions. If you have pain, discomfort, or symptoms of any kind you should seek formal medical care from a medical professional.

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