Resistance Training Programme Design

This page contains a reading list designed to help build scientifically informed resistance training programmes.

At the top, I've posted 3 papers that are great places to start if you're pushed for time. There are then two main sections; "Resistance Training Guidelines" is slightly more focused on individual session planning and the second section, "Periodisation" is more focused on longer term planning over weeks and months. These two sections are not entirely independent though and many papers in each section will be relevant to the other theme.

Key Recommended Papers

Lopez, P., Radaelli, R., Taaffe, D. R., Newton, R. U., Galvão, D. A., Trajano, G. S., Teodoro, J., Kraemer, W. J., Häkkinen, K., & Pinto, R. S. (2020). Resistance Training Load Effects on Muscle Hypertrophy and Strength Gain: Systematic Review and Network Meta-analysis. Medicine and science in sports and exercise,

Schoenfeld, B.J., Grgic, J., Van Every, D.W., Plotkin, D.L. (2021) Loading Recommendations for Muscle Strength, Hypertrophy, and Local Endurance: A Re-Examination of the Repetition Continuum. Sports 9, 32.

Suchomel, T. J., Nimphius, S., & Stone, M. H. (2016). The importance of muscular strength in athletic performance. Sports medicine, 46(10), 1419-1449. [www]

Suchomel, T. J., Nimphius, S., Bellon, C. R., Hornsby, W. G., & Stone, M. H. (2021). Training for Muscular Strength: Methods for Monitoring and Adjusting Training Intensity. Sports Medicine, 1-16.

Wackerhage, H. and Schoenfeld, B.J. (2021) Personalized, Evidence-Informed Training Plans and Exercise Prescriptions for Performance, Fitness and Health Sports Medicine

Resistance Training Guidelines (see below for Periodisation)

Baechle, T.R., Earle, R.W. (2008). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (3rd Ed.) National Strength and Conditioning Association. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics. [google books] [pdf outline of guidelines]

Behm, D. G., Alizadeh, S., Anvar, S. H., Hanlon, C., Ramsay, E., Mahmoud, M. M. I., ... & Steele, J. (2021). Non-local Muscle Fatigue Effects on Muscle Strength, Power, and Endurance in Healthy Individuals: A Systematic Review with Meta-analysis. Sports Medicine, 1-15.

Bird, S.P., Tarpenning, K.M. and Marino, F.E. (2005) Designing Resistance Training Programmes to Enhance Muscular Fitness: A Review of the Acute Programme Variables Sports Med Vol.35, No.10, 841-851 [full text]

Buckner, S. L., Jessee, M. B., Mouser, J. G., Dankel, S. J., Mattocks, K. T., Bell, Z. W., ... & Loenneke, J. P. (2020). The Basics of Training for Muscle Size and Strength: A Brief Review on the Theory. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 52(3), 645-653.

Carpinelli, R.N., Otto, R.M., Winett, R.A. (2004) A critical analysis of the ACSM position stand on resistance training: insufficient evidence to support recommended training protocols.. JEPonline 2004;7(3):1-60.[full text]

Castagna, C., Impellizzeri, F., Chaouachi, A., Bordon, C., Manzi, V. (2011) Effect of Training Intensity Distribution on Aerobic Fitness Variables in Elite Soccer Players: A Case Study Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research Vol. 25, No. 1, 66-71[abstract]

de Salles, B. F., Simao, R., Miranda, F., da Silva Novaes, J., Lemos, A., & Willardson, J. M. (2009). Rest interval between sets in strength training. Sports Medicine, 39(9), 765-777.

DeWeese, B. H., Hornsby, G., Stone, M., & Stone, M. H. (2015). The training process: Planning for strength–power training in track and field. Part 1: Theoretical aspects. Journal of sport and health science, 4(4), 308-317.

DeWeese, B. H., Hornsby, G., Stone, M., & Stone, M. H. (2015). The training process: Planning for strength–power training in track and field. Part 2: Practical and applied aspects. Journal of sport and health science, 4(4), 318-324.

Earle, R.W. & Baechle, T.R. (2004) NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics [google books]. Ch15

Fleck, S.J. and Kraemer, W.J. (2004) Designing Resistance Training Programs (3rd Ed.) Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics [google books]

Grgic, J. , Schoenfeld, B.J., Davies, T.d., Lazinica, B., Krieger, J.W., Pedisic, Z. (2018) Effect of Resistance Training Frequency on Gains in Muscular Strength: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine DOI: 10.1007/s40279-018-0872-x

Haff, G. G., & Nimphius, S. (2012). Training principles for power. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 34(6), 2-12. [full text]

Haff, G. G. (2010). Quantifying workloads in resistance training: a brief review. Strength and Cond, 10, 31-40.[researchgate]

Heyward, V.H. (2010) Advanced fitness assessment and exercise prescription (6th Ed.) Champaign IL: Human Kinetics. [novice][intermediate][advanced]

Hody, S., Croisier, J. L., Bury, T., Rogister, B., & Leprince, P. (2019). Eccentric muscle contractions: risks and benefits. Frontiers in Physiology, 10, 536.

Hoffman, J. (Ed) (2012) NSCAs Guide to program design Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics

Iversen, V. M., Norum, M., Schoenfeld, B. J., & Fimland, M. S. (2021). No Time to Lift? Designing Time-Efficient Training Programs for Strength and Hypertrophy: A Narrative Review. Sports Medicine, 1-17.

Graphic Abstract from: Iversen, V. M., Norum, M., Schoenfeld, B. J., & Fimland, M. S. (2021). No Time to Lift? Designing Time-Efficient Training Programs for Strength and Hypertrophy: A Narrative Review. Sports Medicine, 1-17.

Kraemer, W. J., and Ratamess. N. A. (2004) Fundamentals of Resistance Training: Progression and Exercise Prescription. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., 36(4), 674–688, [full text]

Morton, R. W., Colenso-Semple, L., & Phillips, S. M. (2019). Training for strength and hypertrophy: an evidence-based approach. Current Opinion in Physiology, 10, 90-95.

Peterson, M.D., Rhea, M.R. and Alvar,B.A. (2004) Maximizing strength development in athletes: A meta-analysis to determine the dose-response relationship. J. Strength Cond. Res. 18(2):377–382.[full text]

Phillips, W.T. and Ziuraitis, J.R. (2003) Energy cost of the ACSM single-set resistance training protocol. J. Strength Cond. Res. 17(2):350–355 [full text]

Radaelli, R., Fleck, S. J., Leite, T., Leite, R. D., Pinto, R. S., Fernandes, L., & Simão, R. (2014). Dose Response of 1, 3 and 5 Sets of Resistance Exercise on Strength, Local Muscular Endurance and Hypertrophy. Journal of strength and conditioning research

Ratamess,N.A. et al (2009) ACSM Position Stand: Progression Models in Resistance Training for Healthy Adults Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., 41(3):687-708 [full text]

Rhea, M.R. [no date] Resolving the Single- Versus Multiple-Set Strength Training Debate. NSCA Hot Topic Series [full text]

Ribeiro, A. S., Aguiar, A. F., Nunes, J. P., Cunha, P. M., & Schoenfeld, B. J. (2019). Potential role of pre-exhaustion training in maximizing muscle hypertrophy: A review of the literature. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 41(1), 75–80.

Rønnestad, B. R., Nymark, B. S., & Raastad, T. (2011). Effects of in-season strength maintenance training frequency in professional soccer players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 25(10), 2653-2660. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31822dcd96

Rønnestad, B. R., & Mujika, I. (2014). Optimizing strength training for running and cycling endurance performance: A review. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 24(4), 603-612.

Sands, Wurth, Hewit (n.d.) The NSCA's Basics of Strength and Conditioning Manual [full text]

Schoenfeld, B., & Grgic, J. (2017). Evidence-Based Guidelines for Resistance Training Volume to Maximize Muscle Hypertrophy. Strength & Conditioning Journal.doi: 10.1519/SSC.0000000000000363

Schoenfeld, B., & Grgic, J. (2018). Can drop set training enhance muscle growth? Strength and Conditioning Journal, 40(6), 95–98.

Schoenfeld, B. J., & Grgic, J. (2019). Does training to failure maximize muscle hypertrophy?. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 41(5), 108-113.

Seitz, L. B., Reyes, A., Tran, T. T., de Villarreal, E. S., & Haff, G. G. (2014). Increases in lower-body strength transfer positively to sprint performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Sports medicine, 44(12), 1693-1702.

Stoppani,J. (2006) Encyclopedia of Muscle and Strength. Champaign,IL: Human Kinetics [google books]

Willardson, J.M. (2008) A Brief Review: How Much Rest between Sets? Strength & Conditioning Journal 30(3) 44-50 [full text]

Wilson, J. M., Marin, P. J., Rhea, M. R., Wilson, S. M., Loenneke, J. P., & Anderson, J. C. (2012). Concurrent training: a meta-analysis examining interference of aerobic and resistance exercises. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 26(8), 2293-2307. [full text]

Wolfe, B. L., LeMura, L. M., & Cole, P. J. (2004). Quantitative analysis of single- vs. multiple set programs in resistance training. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 18(1), 35–47.[full text]



Many experts (e.g. Plisk & Stone, 2003) have defined periodisation however, based on a critical analysis of much of this literature, Haff (2016: 406) has defined it as...

"the logical integration and sequencing of training factors (i.e. volume, intensity, training density, training frequency, training foci, exercise selection, and mode) into mutually dependent periods of time designed to optimise specific physiological and performance outcomes at predetermined time points".

The goals of periodisation

Haff (2016) also outlined four goals of periodisation which are as follows:

  • Elevate the athletes performance at predetermined time points

  • Maximise specific physiological and performance adaptations

  • Reduce over-training potential

  • Provide for long term athletic development

General principles of periodisation

The pursuit of periodisation goals outlined above requires an understanding of how the body responds to certain stimulii and the interplay between positive adaptations, fatigue and maximal performance. The General adaptation syndrome, the stimulus-fatigue-recovery-adaptation theory, and the fitness-fatigue theory have all been highlighted as key concepts for developing such an understanding. Find out more in this excerpt from Hoffman (2012)

Image from: Hoffman, J. (Ed) (2012) NSCAs Guide to program design. Human Kinetics.

Further Reading

Afonso, J., Nikolaidis, P. T., Sousa, P., & Mesquita, I. (2017). Is empirical research on periodization trustworthy? A comprehensive review of conceptual and methodological issues. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 16(1), 27.

Ayllón, F. N., Moody, J., & Chapman, M. (2013). Applied periodization: a methodological approach. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise 8(2): 350-366 [full text]

Bompa, T.O. and Claro, R. (2009) Periodization in Rugby. Maidenhead: Meyer & Meyer Sport [google books]

Bompa, T.O. and Haff,G.G. (2009) Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training. (5th Ed) Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics [google books]

Chiu,L.Z.F. and Barnes, J.L. (2003) The Fitness-Fatigue Model Revisited:Implications for Planning Short- and Long-Term Training Strength and Conditioning Journal 25(6) 42–51 [full text]

Cunanan, A. J., DeWeese, B. H., Wagle, J. P., Carroll, K. M., Sausaman, R., Hornsby, W. G., ... & Stone, M. H. (2018). The General Adaptation Syndrome: A Foundation for the Concept of Periodization. Sports Medicine, 1-11.

Fleck, S.J. (1999) Periodized Strength Training: A Critical Review J Strength Cond Res , 13(1), 82–89 [full text]

Gabbett, T. J. (2020). Debunking the myths about training load, injury and performance: empirical evidence, hot topics and recommendations for practitioners. British journal of sports medicine, 54(1), 58-66.

Haff, G.G. (2004) Roundtable Discussion: Periodization of Training— Part 1 Strength and Conditioning Journal 26 (1); 50–69 [full text]

Haff, G.G. (2004) Roundtable Discussion: Periodization of Training— Part 2 Strength and Conditioning Journal 26 (2); 56–70 [full text]

Haff, G (2014) Peaking for competition in individual sports In David Joyce & Daniel Lewindon High Performance Training For Sport. Champaign:IL. Human Kinetics. 291-300

Haff, G (2016) The Essentials of Periodisation. In Jefferys, I & Moody, J. Strength and Conditioning for Sports Performance London, UK: Routledge: 404-448

Halson, S.L. and Jeukendrup, A.E. (2004) Does Overtraining Exist? An Analysis of Overreaching and Overtraining Research Sports Medicine 34 (14) 967-981 [full text]

Halson, S. L. (2014). Monitoring training load to understand fatigue in athletes. Sports Medicine, 44(2), 139-147. [full text]

Hartmann, H, Bob, A, Wirth, K, and Schmidtbleicher, D. (2009) Effects of different periodization models on rate of force development and power ability of the upper extremity. J Strength Cond Res 23(7): 1921–1932 [full text]

Hornsby, W. G., Fry, A. C., Haff, G. G., & Stone, M. H. (2020). Addressing the Confusion within Periodization Research. Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology, 5(3), 68.

Issurin, V. (2008). Block periodization versus traditional training theory: a review. Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness, 48(1), 65.

Issurin, V. B. (2010). New horizons for the methodology and physiology of training periodization. Sports Medicine Vol.40, No.3, 189-206 [full text]

Issurin, V. B. (2016). Benefits and limitations of block periodized training approaches to athletes’ preparation: a review. Sports medicine, 46(3), 329-338.

Issurin, V. B. (2019). Biological background of block periodized endurance training: a review. Sports Medicine, 49(1), 31-39.

Kataoka, R., Vasenina, E., Loenneke, J., & Buckner, S. L. (2021). Periodization: Variation in the Definition and Discrepancies in Study Design. Sports Medicine, 1-27.

Kelmann, M. (Ed.) (2002) Enhancing Recovery: Preventing underperformance in athletes. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics [google books]

Kiely, J. (2018). Periodization theory: confronting an inconvenient truth. Sports Medicine, 48(4), 753-764.

Kiely, J. (2012). Periodization paradigms in the 21st century: evidence-led or tradition-driven. Int J Sports Physiol Perform, 7(3), 242-250.

Lorenz, D., & Morrison, S. (2015). Current concepts in periodization of strength and conditioning for the sports physical therapist. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 10(6), 734.

Mujika, I., Halson, S., Burke, L. M., Balagué, G., & Farrow, D. (2018). An integrated, multifactorial approach to periodization for optimal performance in individual and team sports. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 13(5), 538-561.

Mujika, I. (2009) Tapering and peaking for optimal performance. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics [google books]

Mujika I. (2011) Tapering for triathlon competition. J. Hum. Sport Exerc. Vol. 6, No. 2, 264-270 [full text]

Mujika, I., & Padilla, S. (2003). Scientific bases for precompetition tapering strategies. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 35(7), 1182-1187.[full text]

Owen, A. L., Lago-Peñas, C., Gómez, M. Á., Mendes, B., & Dellal, A. (2017). Analysis of a training mesocycle and positional quantification in elite European soccer players. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 12(5), 665-676.

Plisk, S. S., & Stone, M. H. (2003). Periodization Strategies. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 25(6), 19-37.[full text]

Plisk, S., & Director, S. P. (2004). Periodization: Fancy Name For A Basic Concept. Olympic Coach, 16(2), 14-18.

Ratamess, N. A. (2012). ACSM's foundations of strength training and conditioning. Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. (Ch 17)

Rhea, M.R., Ball, S.D, Phillips, W.T. and Burkett, L.N. (2002) A comparison of linear and daily undulating periodized programs with equated volume and intensity for strength. J. Strength Cond. Res. 16(2): 250–255.[full text]

Sousa, A. C., Neiva, H. P., Izquierdo, M., Cadore, E. L., Alves, A. R., & Marinho, D. A. (2019). Concurrent training and detraining: brief review on the effect of exercise intensities. International journal of sports medicine, 40.

Turner, A. (2011). The science and practice of periodization: a brief review. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 33(1), 34-46.[full text]

Wallmann, H. and Rosania, J. (2001) An Introduction to Periodization Training for the Triathlete. Strength and Conditioning Journal. Volume 23, Number 5. Pages 55-64. [full text]

Williams, T. D., Tolusso, D. V., Fedewa, M. V., & Esco, M. R. (2017). Comparison of periodized and non-periodized resistance training on maximal strength: a meta-analysis. Sports Medicine, 47(10), 2083-2100.

Wilson, J. M., Marin, P. J., Rhea, M. R., Wilson, S. M., Loenneke, J. P., & Anderson, J. C. (2012). Concurrent training: a meta-analysis examining interference of aerobic and resistance exercises. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 26(8), 2293-2307.[full text]

Yule, S. (2014) Maintaining an In-Season Conditioning Edge In David Joyce & Daniel Lewindon High Performance Training For Sport. Champaign:IL. Human Kinetics. 301-318

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