Muscle Strength, Hypertrophy, and Power: Differences and How to Program

Introduction: Previously, we have learned what muscle endurance is and the guidelines that follow. Check out the blog on muscle endurance and how to program it. However, we have not talked about the other three types of resistance training components: strength, hypertrophy, and power. Each of them is different, but nevertheless, provide great results in your body. How to note the three types of resistance training and execute each of them properly is key. This can help personal trainers to establish a specific type of resistance training to work with their clients.

Difference between the three:

Muscle Strength Guideline:

Volume 1-3 sets
Intensity 60%-70% 1-RM with 8-12 reps
Frequency 2-3 days for the novice, 3-4 days a week for intermediate
Rest period 2-3 min for multi-joint exercises, 1-2 min for assistance exercises (single joint exercises)


Muscle Hypertrophy Guideline:

Volume 1-3 sets
Intensity 70%-85% 1-RM with 8-12 reps
Frequency 2-3 days for the novice, 4 days a week for intermediate using the split routine (chest + triceps day one, back + biceps day two)
Rest period 1-2 min


Muscle Power Guideline:

Volume 1-3 sets
Intensity Light to moderate load, 0-60% 1-RM, 3-6 reps
Frequency Same for muscle strength
Rest period Same rest time except 2-3 min for high intensity and 1-2 min for lower intensity


*These guidelines are credited to ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription 10th edition*

*These guidelines are also for novice and intermediate individuals, advanced individuals download this PowerPoint Content: ACSM Recommendation for Advanced Individuals*

Although this information is good, I prefer the guidelines from my Professor at Montgomery College. According to my professor at Montgomery College that teaches Advanced Weight Training and Design, muscle endurance guideline should be 2-3 sets, +10 reps, 65% intensity of 1-RM, 30-90 sec rest. Muscle strength guideline is 3-6 sets, 6 reps, +75% intensity of 1-RM, 2-5 min rest. Muscle Power guideline is 3-5 sets, 1-2 reps, 80%-90% 1-RM, and 2-5 min rest. Lastly, muscle hypertrophy guideline is 4-8 sets, 6-12 reps, 65%-80% intensity 1-RM, and 30 sec-2 min rest.

However, in order to follow the guidelines, it is recommended to seek an exercise physiologist or an expert that handles exercise testing. For exercise, testing should be 1-RM of either bench press or squat. This will determine your 1-RM and set the guideline in place.

All of these aspects of resistance training combined are muscle hypertrophy

It is also important to create your SMART goals. Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Time-oriented goals. For example, I want to increase my 1-RM squat from 180 lbs to 200 lbs in 2 months with muscle strength for the full body training.

SMART goals, gears concept
Image taken from Pixabay Source:

Tips: If you want your resistance training to become effective, these tips should help you.

Tip #1: Follow the guideline

Tip#2: Recovery for the workout should be between 48 hours to 72 hours

Tip#3: Upper/lower, split routine, or front/back muscles routine or full body routine depending on SMART goals

Tip#4: Have partner if you want to assist your training

Couple training with exercise ball at gym
Taken from Pixabay Source/Credit:

Tip#5: Progress your training with periodization. For example, the first two weeks intensity is 75%-80% then the next two weeks intensity is 80%-85% and the next two weeks would be 85%-90%. Phases last 2-6 weeks, whereas the cycle phaselast 8-24 weeks.

Tip#6: Varied your exercise choices every 2-3 weeks

Tip#7: Warm-up and cooldown

Tip#8: Consider tempo training. 2:1:2 follows 2 sec of concentric, 1 sec of isometric, and 2 sec of the eccentric phase.

Man during bench press exercise in gym
Taken from Pixabay Source:

This is late in the blog, but the definition of muscle strength is the maximum amount of force that different part of muscles can generate.


-Physical appearance improves

Marvel Spider-Man action figure
Spiderman action figure to represent strong body Source/Credit: Hello I’m Nik from Unsplash

-Increase capacity for physical activities, especially if work or job involves physical work

-Better body composition and weight management

Before and after comparison of weight loss 2015-06-25.png
Source/Credit: Asanagi from Wikimedia CC

-Improve your sport performance

boxer wearing blue short standing in corner of ring
Man preparing for boxing Source/Credit:

-Increase bone density to prevent the risk of osteoporosis

Other relevant information:

Always begin your workout with multi-joint exercises because they work on multiple muscles and complexes like bench presses, squats, lunges, and push-ups. Single-joint exercises should be used last like bicep curls, tricep dips, and chest fly work on only a single muscle. Pull-push system may be used if this is preferable to you. Pull-push system is exercised that mimic pulling and pushing motion. Superset is the example of that where you work on a bicep curl and then rest for 1 min and then work on triceps dips. Make sure you breathe in and out efficiently because if you hold your breath, you put your body in major stress and makes the exercise difficult. The first 2 weeks of your training should start your intensity low so that your body does not put a lot of stress to increase the chance of muscle soreness and injury. Do at least 8-10 exercises. Finally, if the focus is to improve health, do resistance training 1-2 days per week while on the other hand, if the focus is on strength and endurance benefits, do resistance training 2-3 days a week.

For personal trainers, this blog can be helpful to your clients if their goal is doing resistance training. Look out for progressive overload, specificity, and variation. Progressive overload is gradually increasing stress on your body during training as fitness improves. Specificity includes Muscle Action – CON/ECC/ISOM, Velocity of Movement, Range of Motion, Muscle Groups Trained, Energy Metabolism, and Movement Patterns. Equipment, Open/Closed chained exercises, Unilateral/Bilateral Training, and Movement Specific Training – Over/underweight implements for specificity as well. Variation as in different exercises used to prevent boredom. Considered acute program variables like FITT-VP and guidelines while chronic program variables are periodization. Periodization is systematic training depending on specificity, intensity, and volume over periods or cycles of the program. Look at periodization training for research.



Most of the information you see here is based on ACSM. This is helpful for personal trainers and those that want to learn more about resistance training. Most of them depend on your personal goals and preference. As long as you follow the guidelines and gradually increase your training, the program you create will bring you benefits. Good luck with the training.

Acknowledgment: Thank Professor Harrison and Professor Clark at Montgomery College for providing information during the 2 years of Montgomery College.


Ratamess, N. (2012). ACSM’s Foundations of Strength Training and Conditioning. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.

Battista, R., Mayol, M., Hargens, T., & Everett, K. L. (2018). ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *