I'm looking for sources where I can get information on design of exercise routines, specifically information that has good scientific backing.

My ultimate goal is to design an exercise routine that has an aerobic component, aimed at increasing my cardiovascular health and endurance potential, as well as an strength/power component.

So far, I've been exercising in such a way that I follow a 10 day cycle, every other day I run 30 minutes, and on the adjacent days I weight lift, alternating 5 different muscle groups (legs, arms, chest/abs, back, shoulders). The weight lifting is structured in such a way that if I do arms on one day, the next time I train my arms will be at the beginning of the next cycle.

My worry about this exercise regime is that it's not optimally designed. I don't think I'm utilizing effects such as supercompensation or other effects I might not know about.

Other issues I'm worried about are a lack of plyometrics or stability muscle exercises, which may be useful day to day and important not to forget about. Or whether or not I'm resting enough during my work outs and between the work outs themselves.

At the end of the day, I want a work out routine that utilizes the time I put into it best (towards my goals), while minimizing the risk of injury.

1 Answer 1


Lots of programs are "scientifically based". That doesn't mean that looking for "scientifically based" programs is a good way to find a program that works well for you. Most quality, applicable strength and conditioning research is done with athletes, sports teams, and gyms--not generally in universities or by people who write their results up in a scientific journal.

If you want the science anyway, start by reading Practical Programming by Rippetoe & Kilgore (or Andy Baker? the second author changes by edition). Supertraining is another scientific strength-and-conditioning powerhouse, and I like the enormous number of studies cited in detail in The Science of Sports Training by Tom Kurz.

Your routine

Let's critique your routine.

Running 30 minutes consistently provides a consistent stimulus. Your body is probably used to this and isn't getting the same benefit as when you first started. Why not try fartleks, or sprints, or occasionally running longer?

Alternating muscle groups is known as a "split" lifting program. Colloquially, it's a "bro-split", since it's so common among bodybuilding bros. It doesn't sound like you want to bodybuild, so why not try a whole-body routine, such as 5/3/1 or a Starting-Strength-like program of squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, and presses?

In the literature, plyometrics are generally not recommended before achieving rather high levels of strength. I don't see the need for you to do them. As for stability muscle exercises, using free weight exercises like barbell squats, overhead presses, and so on should cover the bases. If you want to go further, look into Olympic lifting (snatch and clean-and-jerk). If what you mean instead is that you want to do joint prehab work in order to prevent injury, then yoga is a good choice, as is finding specific mobility and strength issues and addressing them directly. "Stability" work often devolves into useless silliness like curling while on a bosu ball--avoid this.

  • The image of someone curling on a bosu ball is pretty funny to think of, I'm not sure why anyone would do this! I've looked at the literature, and you're right. Often, the it's hard to get much practical information out of the studies. Another issue I was concerned about was the rest/set/rep structure I should adopt during a work out. If I do the 5/3/1 routine, that structure would be in place, but I curious about some generalized philosophy. (Also, it seems I can't upvote you even though I want to, I don't have enough reputation...)
    – Ron
    Commented Dec 27, 2014 at 14:20
  • @Ron Practical Programming will explain the generalized philosophy. I think it's the best fit for your situation.\ Commented Dec 27, 2014 at 16:16
  • I got the book, it looks good! Thank you so much for the reference, this book is great.
    – Ron
    Commented Dec 27, 2014 at 19:44
  • You may need additional books, though, given Rip's skepticism on the topic of running. But for strength training backed by actual science, this is a great recommendation. Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 2:49
  • Rip gives wacky advice on a number of training issues, but for an overview of the science he's one of the most accessible and to-the-point. Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 20:59

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