Once you have worked out your overall training goals (hypertrophy, strength, endurance etc) and the amount of time you are going to spend in this phase – ask yourself the following questions:

1) What is my training split / week?

OPTION A – Upper and lower body splits
I.e.: Squat, Horizontal push/pull, Deadlift, Vertical push/pull
Common for Power Lifters, Athletes and Body Builders

OPTION B – Full Body Sessions
Common for Athletes and Olympic Lifters.

OPTION C  – Muscle groups
Chest/Shoulders, Back/Arms, Legs or Complete Muscle Group Isolation: Chest/Shoulders/Back/Hamstring/Quads, etc
These are for Body Builders

There are obviously many other unique ways but these are the main three.
Once you choose your split – you will then determine your training frequency.

2) What is my exercise order?

A) Power exercises such as Olympic Lifts or Plyometrics must be performed first.

B) Main compound exercises should then follow, if no plyometrics are in the program then these multiple-joint movements should be first.

C) Isolation exercises or accessory lifts should be placed later in the program.

D) When the goal of training is hypertrophy these theories may be thrown out the window due to pre-exhaustion strategies discussed below.


A)  Olympic lifts require explosive force production, therefore creating fatigue which reduces the force output. These exercises need to be performed early in the workout – especially since they are technically demanding and complex. The chance of injury will increase if these are completed later in a program.

B) Exercises performed earlier in the workout have the potential to be completed with less fatigue, yielding greater rates of force development and more weight lifted. As such, exercises that you want to primarily target during the workout should be performed here, especially if they are strength based with lower reps. Studies show that performance of multiple-joint exercises (bench press, squat, leg press, shoulder press) declines significantly when done later in a workout (following several exercises that stress similar muscle groups) (Hoffman, 2018).

C) Isolation exercises are single-joint movements that require less energy, target fewer muscle groups and are placed with less priority. If you are super-setting (discussed in point 5) you may have an accessory lift early in your program.

D) Training in a fatigued state does have a positive effect on the metabolic factors that induce muscle growth. In this case, the exercise order may vary to
emphasise the metabolic factors involved in muscle hypertrophy. For example, they may perform a single-joint exercise that fatigues the muscle group prior to the main compound movement.


Single-joint exercises may be performed at the beginning of your program as a warm-up – aiming to activate your Nervous System without fatiguing the muscles.

3) Do I need unilateral exercises in my program?

A) Always include at least 1 x unilateral exercise per program

Upper Body Example: Single Arm Shoulder Press
Lower Body Example: Walking Lunge

B) Beneficial for Injury Prevention

C) Useful for facilitating rehabilitation


A) Unilateral exercises prevent imbalances from occurring. We want to create the most effective symmetry in the body possible to increase strength equally in all areas. Performing unilateral exercises prevents the weaker limb from compensating in strength over the other.

B) Bilateral exercises may mask weaknesses. Unilateral exercises highlight the imbalance between limbs. This allows you to get them stronger in isolation, improve balance and core strength which will in turn help prevent injury.

C) Bilateral transfer is the transfer of learning from one side of the body after training this limb, to the other without directly training it (Lee et al, 2010). So, for example, after training a task with the right hand, there is an improvement in left hand performance due to the stimulation of the same neural pathways from the brain. This is therefore very useful with injury rehabilitation. Incredible stuff!


4) What are supersets, the types and when should I use them?

Supersets are two types of exercises paired back to back with <30s rest in between. There are three general types:

A) Agonist / Antagonist relationship for upper and lower body day splits.

B) Complex / Post Activation Potentiation for power training or hypertrophy

C) Upper and Lower Splits


A) Alternating between opposing muscle groups (agonist-antagonist relationship) exercises can allow some muscles to rest while the opposite muscle groups are trained. This sequencing strategy is beneficial for maintaining high training intensities and high repetition numbers. Focusing on this relationship will help to improve consistency between push : pull ratios (i.e. Chest to Back). These can also improve power output due to antagonist activation prior to the lift.

B) Going from a strength exercise to a plyometric exercise has been proven to enhance power (Rahimi, 2007). This performance improvement is due to the muscles being placed into a ‘potentiated’ or ‘activated’ state (Ruben et al 2010).

C) Alternating between upper and lower body exercises is useful for full body workouts. Supersets also provide a metabolic benefit (EPOC) beneficial for Fat Loss and Hypertrophy.

Overall, supersets save time and allow for more load on the body. The main question every lifter should ask is, does the rationale fit for the superset’s use in my program? It all comes back to goals.

5) What are the sets, reps and rest periods for my goals?


Training Goal

Total Working Sets

Repetition Ranges

Training Intensity (% of 1RM)


Maximal Strength/Power




3 mins+

Functional Strength and Hypertrophy




2 mins

General Hypertrophy


8 – 12


1 – 2 mins

Muscular Endurance






6) What are my fillers?

Fillers allow for improvement on one area of the body while the other is resting. Some exercises that target different muscle groups can be staggered between sets of other exercises to increase workout efficiency.


– What mobility exercise can I add into my rest periods?

– Which accessory exercises can I add into my rest periods ?


– These are extremely useful for programs with long rest periods or equipment hold ups. When done in a controlled manner, you will not waste valuable rest periods from over exerting. Improving mobility will allow for main lifts to be performed more efficiently during the session.

– At TWM we call these our ‘targets’, we set these throughout our strength sessions to allow for people to focus on improving mobility or stability in vulnerable areas or areas that are lacking in the specific phase of training.

I.e: Perform 100 x Calf Raises throughout the session.

Daniel Maitland

Owner – TWM
Strength & Conditioning Coach
0435 900 844

8 Steps To Consider When Creating Your Own Training Program(Opens in a new browser tab)


Eur JAppl Physiol (2002) 86: 287-294.

Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 15(2), 94-101.

Sports Med. 2007;37(1):1-14

Hoffman, J (2018) Workout Structure and Exercise Order.

Lee M, Hinder MR, Gandevia SC, et al. The ipsilateral motor cortex contributes to cross-limb transfer of performance gains after ballistic motor practice. J Physiol 2010; 1588: 201–212.

Rahimi R. The acute effect of heavy versus light-load squats on sprint performance. Phy Educ Sport 2007; 5 (2): 163-9

Ruben, R.M., Molinari, M.A., Bibbee, C.A., Childress, M.A., Harman, M.S., Reed, K.P., & Haff, G.G. (2010). The acute effects of an ascending squat protocol on performance during horizontal plyometric jumps. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(2), 358–369.