Program Designs Guide

Exercise program design is a process that involves manipulation of multiple strength training variables. The successful achievement of a specific training outcome such as hypertrophy, strength, power, muscular endurance, will be largely determined by proper manipulation of the various training variables, done by Program Designers in the Calendar- and Progression builder.



After completing any program, the Program Designs table in the Strength Athlete profile will reveal how much (volume) and how often (frequency) you should train, with what intensity (load and RTF), with which type of exercise and more.

The top Program Designs table in the Strength Athlete profile will display the program designs of those programs where you achieved the highest percentage increase in 1 RM. It can answer questions like:

  • “What type of exercises should I use for my thighs?”
  • “How many reps and sets should I use for my chest per week”?
  • “How heavy and with what effort should I focus training on my shoulders?”
  • “How often should I focus training on my back?”
  • “What is the best program design for my level?”
  • “Which progression model works best for me?”



The more programs you complete, the better the Program Design table can guide you. Use this information to help you search for similar programs using the Program Designs search option.

Using the Program designs search option means you can search for any desired Program design and we will show you the programs that meet your criteria:

  • Category: strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance and/or power
  • Training split: sessions per body part per week
  • workouts per week: number of sessions per week
  • Length of program: number of weeks
  • Test exercise: e.g., “chest” and “barbell bench press”
  • Type of exercise: barbell, dumbbell, cable & machine and/or body weight & other
  • Progression model: intensity, volume and/or frequency

You don’t need to choose all variables, and the fewer options you select, the greater the number of options you will be presented with. For example, if you want to find a program where you can train three times per week, for muscle mass increase with focus on chest, you may choose category: hypertrophy, workouts per week: 3 and body part: chest.




All published programs will be shown in the Program Designs search option. However, this is not the case for The Experience Bank search option, that only displays programs with collated data of other users’ results. So, it may be the case that you will find hidden treasures in the form of very effective programs when using the Program Design search site. You will, for example, get hits on recently published programs that have not yet been tested.

You will find that certain programs will have subjective feedback and reviews from other strength athletes.

The program designs are created in the Program Designer profile together with the program itself.



The program designs are basically the blueprints of the programs. We distinguish between these Program designs:


  • Volume

Volume is the same as reps x sets and can be measured by total reps per body part per week. Volume can also be calculated as reps x sets x load, which is called volume load.


  • Intensity

The intensity of load relates to how much you are lifting (percentage of 1 repetition maximum). The intensity of effort are how close you are to failure (Reps to failure).


  • Frequency

Frequency is how you spread volume and intensity across a training week. Frequency can be measured by training sessions per body part per week.


  • Progression Strategies or models

Volume, intensity and frequency are all interrelated and affect one another. The Program Designer can choose between volume-, intensity- and/or frequency- progression strategies.

  • Rest Period

A rest period between sets is measured in seconds and minutes. A short rest period for example is 30 seconds and a long rest period could be 4-5 minutes.


  • Type of exercise

Barbell exercises are multi-joint exercises that activate several muscles and generate a lot of strength and stress. Dumbbell exercises can also activate several muscles and generate a lot of strength, but the loads are usually lower.  We also have cable-, machine- and body bodyweight exercises.


  • Tempo

E.g. “3-0-2-1”, means three seconds lowering the load (eccentric), zero seconds in the bottom position (stretch), two seconds raising the load (concentric), and one second at the top position (peak).