Entering a gym can be a daunting task with people’s main complaint being that they don’t feel confident in using the equipment ( eg. what weight to use, how many reps, how many sets etc). From a physiotherapists perspective, avoiding exercise is not very beneficial for injury rehabilitation or prevention (or performance enhancement)! Below is a quick rundown about the different types of parameters for resistance training and the meaning behind them.

Very basically, the four main prescriptions of resistance training are:

1.    Power

2.    Strength

3.    Hypertrophy

4.    Endurance 

Each category has different parameters in terms of recommended weight, reps and sets (See Table below).

lifting blog table used.png





What is % of 1RM?

1 RM relates to the maximum amount of weight you could move with one repetition of an exercise. Percentage of 1 RM is then calculated and prescribed depending on the above table. There are specific ways to test 1RM but it must be done in a controlled environment with at least two people to help you with the weights.

1. Power (Exerting maximal force in as short a time as possible) 

  • Characterised by low repetitions and sets, high weight and quick movement speed.

2. Strength (Ability to carry out work against a resistance)

  • Characterised by lower repetitions and sets, higher weight and normal movement speed.

3. Hypertrophy (Growth and increase of the size of muscle cells)

  • Characterised by medium repetitions, low sets and medium weight.

4. Endurance (Ability to work over an extended period of time)

  • Characterised by high repetitions and sets and low weight.

Rest times

2-3 minutes is recommended for most of the above categories especially for power and strength which utilises heavier weight. The muscles need time to replenish their energy source to be able to perform the required repetitions in the next set.


When lifting heavier weights or doing an exercise for the first time, it is best to have someone with you who is experienced. Most gym goers will have a “spotter” when they lift heavier weights. A “spotter” is there to assist you with handling the weights especially during the exercise where fatigue might mean you can’t complete the repetition.

What to choose?

Some people think that each of the above categories are discrete however there is good evidence that following your “strength” parameters will also result in an improvement in power and hypertrophy. The choice of category might come down to a person’s specific goals Eg. body builders might select hypertrophy as a focus. Keep in mind the World Health Organisation’s exercise recommendations for a healthy adult include two strength training sessions per week.

During an exercise rehabilitation program post injury, your physiotherapist should help to guide you with your program in terms of exercise selection. Usually there is a blend of all of the above categories at different stages of the recovery.

Here at East Vic Park Physiotherapy, all of our physiotherapists have had extra experience in strength and conditioning including coaching and our clinic is equipped with a gym so book in today to get a program sorted. Clinic on the BOOK NOW button on the top of the page or call us on 9361 3777.