I'm looking for a workout routine between 4-6 days per week to get generally stronger. I've seen a bunch of questions here and webpages with routines, but the schedules seem all contrived. Is there any research into effective strength weight training routines?


4 Answers 4


Weight training has been going on for well over 100 years using basic tools like barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells (originally cannonballs with handles attached). The reason you don't see much active research on the matter is a combination of the following factors:

  • What works has been handed down from coach to student over the years.
  • Research is only performed when funded, and the government isn't so keen on what makes optimum athletes.
  • Access to elite athletes is very difficult--particularly if experimental training is involved.

The basics of what we know, and what can help you decide on the best approach to gaining strength is found in the book "Practical Programming for Strength Training" by Mark Rippetoe and Dr. Lon Kilgore. The bulk of experimental training and fomalized programs are based on Russian programs, because that government was interested in what makes an optimum athlete.

Making the long story short:

  • Focus on these compound lifts: overhead press, deadlift, squat, and bench press
  • Add assistance exercises as necessary
  • Proper amounts of rest are necessary for building muscle

Any program that takes these factors into account will help you get stronger. As you get stronger, it will take you longer and longer to adapt. That's why there are so many different programs. Below is a list of lifting maturity based on time of adaptation and an example program that is a good fit:

  • Beginner: adaptation in 48-72 hours--Starting Strength
  • Intermediate: adaptation in about 1 week--Texas Method
  • Advanced: adaptation 3-4 weeks--Wendler 5-3-1

Anything above this, and you have to take the principles you've learned and manufacture your own program based around the way you train.

There are other factors as well that determine what your program will ultimately look like:

  • Your schedule: can you lift 4+ times a week, or only 2?
  • Your goals: lifting to supplement a sport, or as a sport? Looking to be big? Conditioning?
  • Your skills: what can you do? What do you need to learn?
  • (+1). Could you please elaborate on what you mean by "...to adapt"? Adapt to what? How do you know if your body has adapted? Feb 21, 2012 at 3:00
  • To adapt to the stress of the training. Essentially, if you increase your weights on a schedule, you'll know if you didn't adapt because you won't be able to get your desired reps at that weight. Beginner programs make 5lb increases every session. Intermediate makes 5-10lb increases every week. Advanced makes 5-10lb increases every 3-6 weeks (depending on the program). Feb 21, 2012 at 3:08

I recommend Starting Strength. It is three days a week, but the rest time is just as important as the lifting days. I am not sure what you mean by "contrived" but it seems to me that unless you are hunting zebras and climbing trees, any workout routine created by humans in the modern world is contrived. The developer of this program has extensive experience but I am not aware of any research in the clinical sense. There is nothing I can add that has not already been discussed on this site.

  • What I mean by contrived is the workouts seem made up to whatever sounds good. I expect that someone out there has tested different workout routines on many individuals to see what works, what doesn't and reasons. But I haven't found anything resembling any kind of even basic research.
    – at.
    Feb 19, 2012 at 21:56
  • @at. Your concern is addressed in this question: fitness.stackexchange.com/q/5773/1771 May 5, 2013 at 13:49

There are many of programs you can find on the Internet, much for free. When you say research, this is where YOU come in. Everyone and everyone's body is different. Our bodies react different to different routines and weights. This goes just as well for diet. No one knows your body best than you. I'd say, find a program that fits your desires from scheduling to results. Take it slow, but staying consistent. There are plenty of plans (weight training and diet) at Bodybuilding.com to use as guidance.


If you want to build strength, do body weight training.
I've been doing weight lifting for almost 3 years, and when i shifted to body weight training i can tell you this is what really makes you have more endurance, flexibility, stronger muscle fiber, and even good shape!

weight lifting alone of course build strength, but its more designed and focused at shape and pump (looks).

Body weight training will give you advanced strength and energy boost, also mix it with some HIIT like skip rope and kettle bell from time to time.
I recommend using mark lauren's book. He has more than 100 variations of body weight exercises, and has complete workout routines, one for each level: beginner, advanced, elite...
His workouts are max 30 minutes, but believe me even the beginner level is hard enough. check it out, its pretty efficient.

  • -1. weight lifting done right will make you stronger than bodyweight training done right. whatever your argument is for bodyweight training you'll have more load if you strap a weight vest on, which is now weight training.
    – Eric
    Nov 8, 2014 at 3:39

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