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Reassessing Training Plans and Workouts

Now that we’re into the second month of our new year’s resolutions it might be time to reassess our training plans. When starting, restarting or progressing a resistance training program there are certain factors that must be considered to ensure you reap the benefits as well as avoid injury. Frustration often develops when training does not produce the desired results so here are a few tips to help you along the way.

When designing your resistance training program it’s important to keep the following points in mind:

Exercise order and workout structure:

There are three training arrangements that are used most frequently. 1) total body workouts; 2) upper/lower body divide workouts; 3) muscle group program.  When deciding on a structure it’s important to consider the amount of recovery time between sessions and the degree of specialisation within the workout.

Exercise selection:

Is an exercise single joint or multiple joint exercise? While both are effective for increasing strength, multiple joint exercises may be more beneficial for improving power and strength.

Muscle actions:

It is important to include both concentric (where muscle fibers shorten as tension develops to move against resistance) and eccentric (where a muscle lengthens during resistance) muscle actions within your resistance training regime.


This refers to either the weight lifted or resistance of each exercise. This can vary greatly depending on the order of exercises done, frequency, volume, speed of the repetitions and the duration of the rest period.

Training Volume:

The number of exercises, sets and repetitions per exercise all add up to give you your specific training volume. Normally there are a lower number of repetitions when a heavier weight is being used.

Rest intervals:

Sometimes this is the part that is forgotten but is equally important as all other aspects of the training program. Rest includes the time between training sessions as well as the time between sets. The amount of rest significantly affects the body’s response to the exercise preformed.

Repetition velocity:

This is the speed in which the exercise is preformed. The optimal speed is dependent on numerous factors. Quite often a moderate velocity produces the biggest increase in strength. However there are occasions when either slow or high velocity exercises are beneficial.


This is the number of training sessions completed in a certain period of time. Various factors impact upon what is the optimal training frequency for a person. For example, a less well trained person may benefit from reduced frequency.

This is just a short summary of the factors impacting of a training program. If you are thinking of beginning exercise consult your doctor or physio who will be able to advise you best as to what you should be doing and what your limits are.

This blog post was written by Kate Canty. Kate Canty specialises in musculoskeletal injuriessports injuriesneurological conditionsneck painback pain. If you would like to find out more about Kate visit “Our Team” section. Kate works in our IFSC and Barrow Street Clinics.

Reference: Kraemer & Ratamess (2004) Fundamentals of resistance training: progression and exercise prescription. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 36(4):674-88.

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