General Strength Training – What intensity & Progression Copy


  • 60% of 1RM is the MINIMUM overload necessary for muscle adaptation in untrained people
  • Remember from the previous section – a 20RM is less than 60% - that means if the person can do more than 20 repetitions before failure they are not working hard enough to see strength changes.
  • This is a RPE (rate of perceived exertion) of 12-13/20 (or 15 reps before form deteriorates)
  • Greater strength effects with 80% 1RM (= RPE of 15-17/20 or 10 reps before form deteriorates)
  • SETS – at least 1, more is better but be careful about form
  • REPS – determined based on your desired intensity
  • Frequency – 2-3 x/week with 24-48 hours of rest between sessions of the SAME muscle group
  • Duration – 12-16 weeks


MUST occur

  • Can increase weight or reps, multiple exercises for same muscle group
  • Continually reassess 10RM – if they can do 12-15 reps then increase load 2-10%



The videos below are optional. Refer back to them if you have questions about strength training with your clients.

A Quick Word on Power Training

Play the below audio clip before proceeding.

important for getting out chair quickly, crossing the street, climb stairs

Once they can do 2 sets with good form, no pain then incorporate power

Quick concentric, slow eccentric

Start at 20%1RM progressed as tolerated to 60%1RM

Avers and Brown, White Paper: Strength Training for the Older Adult Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy; 2009; 32, 4;