Starting Strength

Great beginner program to gain strength, build muscle, and burn fat by veteran training coach Mark Rippetoe. To be performed on 3 day per week schedule, on non-consecutive days, i.e. Mon/Wed/Fri, Tues/Thurs/Sat or similar. Weight is incremented in every workout. 

Phase 1 consists of two workouts which you alternate:

Day 1

Squat 3×5
Bench Press 3×5
Deadlift 1×5

Day 2

Squat 3×5
Overhead Press 3×5
Deadlift 1×5

Phase 2 introduces the power clean. By now the deadlift should be too heavy to recover from so power cleans are to be performed on day 2 instead of deadlifts. The explosive nature of power clean ensures your deadlift numbers go up. Phase 2 consists of two workouts which you alternate:

Day 1

Squat 3×5
Overhead Press 3×5
Deadlift 1×5

Day 2

Squat 3×5
Bench Press 3×5
Power Clean 5×3

Final phase of starting strength. The pulling movement of deadlift and power cleans is limited to day 1 only and chin ups are to be performed on day 2. Deadlift and power clean alternate every workout. So if you do deadlift on Monday, you will do chins on Wednesday, power clean on Friday. Next week you will do chins on Monday, deadlift on Wednesday, and so on…Again two workouts which you alternate:

Day 1

Squat 3×5
Overhead Press
Deadlift 1×5/Power Clean 3×5

Day 2

Squat 3×5
Bench Press 3×5
Chin ups 3×10

Greyskull LP

Probably one of the best beginner programs to increase strength and muscle mass. Unlike Starting Strength and StrongLifts 5×5, last set is as many reps as possible. Progress with 2.5lb for upper body and 5 lbs for lower body exercises. If you can hit 10+ reps in the last set, then double the weight increase. To be performed on 3 day per week schedule, on non-consecutive days, i.e. Mon/Wed/Fri, Tues/Thurs/Sat or similar.

This program differs from StrongLifts and Starting Strength in three key areas:

  • GSLP puts upper body first then does lower body. This puts an emphasis on upper body but doesn’t neglect lower body at all. Some argue that doing squats at the beginning tires one out resulting in not the optimum bench press/overhead press.
  • While SS and SL stop at 5 reps, GSLP wants you to end the core movements with an As Many Reps As Possible (AMRAP) set. The advantages are
    • It gets your muscles to momentary exhaustion at a higher rep range, which will stimulate better hypertrophy growth.
    • Faster progression if you started too low. In other words it will reveal if your weight is way too low. If you can get 10+ reps even after 2×5 working sets then you double your increment. 
  • SS and SL ask you to repeat if you fail to complete a set. This keeps you at maximal effort level in the next workout. GSLP wants you to deload by 10%. The advantages are:
    • You should be able to get higher reps in the last set which will simulate better hypertrophy growth.
    • You will recover better because you’re not dealing with maximal weight.

The three workouts you need to perform in a week:

Day 1

Bench Press /Overhead press 3×5+
Squat 3×5+

Day 2

Bench Press /Overhead press 3×5+
Deadlift 1×5+

Day 3

Bench Press /Overhead press 3×5+
Squat 3×5+

+ indicates that the last set is as many reps as possible.

This is the base plan. One can add to it as one wishes. There are many variations that can be done such as the following:

Greyskull LP with Arms

As the name suggests, the only addition is that each day, some exercises are performed for the arms. Who doesn’t love a bigger bicep! The three workouts you need to perform in a week:

Day 1

Bench Press /Overhead press 3×5+
Curls 2×10/Chinups 2×8
Squat 3×5+

Day 2

Bench Press /Overhead press 3×5+
Curls 2×10/Chinups 2×8
Deadlift 1×5+

Day 3

Bench Press /Overhead press 3×5+
Curls 2×10/Chinups 2×8
Squat 3×5+

+ indicates that the last set is as many reps as possible.

Phrak’s variant

A variant that became famous on reddit:

Day 1

Bench Press /Overhead press 3×5+
Chinups /Barbell rows 3×5+
Squat 3×5+

Day 2

Bench Press /Overhead press 3×5+
Chinups /Barbell rows 3×5+
Deadlift 1×5+

Day 3

Bench Press /Overhead press 3×5+
Chinups /Barbell rows 3×5+
Squat 3×5+

+ indicates that the last set is as many reps as possible.

Practical Programming

Great beginner program to gain strength, build muscle, and burn fat by veteran training coach Mark Rippetoe. To be performed on 3 day per week schedule, on non-consecutive days, i.e. Mon/Wed/Fri, Tues/Thurs/Sat or similar. Weight is incremented in every workout.

Day 1
Squat 3×5
Bench Press/OH Press 3×5
Chin ups 3×15+

Day 2
Squat 3×5
OH Press/Bench Press 3×5
Deadlift 1×5

Day 3
Squat 3×5
Bench Press/OH Press 3×5
Pull ups 3×15+

+ indicates that the last set is as many reps as possible (AMRAP).

Practical Programming Alternative

This is the alternative version of Practical Programming and has two workouts which you alternate:

Day 1
Squat 3×5
Bench Press 3×5
Chin ups 3×15+

Day 2
Squat 3×5
OH Press 3×5
Deadlift 1×5

+ indicates that the last set is as many reps as possible (AMRAP).

Practical Programming for an advanced Novice

This is a follow up to Practical Programming but for an advanced novice after a back-off period has become necessary. Squats are performed for two days in a week and front squats are introduced to lighten the load of back squats. Power cleans have also been introduced in this routine.

Week 1

Day 1
Squat 3×5
Bench Press 3×5
Chin ups 3×15+

Day 2
Front Squat 3×5
OH Press 3×5
Deadlift 1×5

Day 3
Squat 3×5
Bench Press 3×5
Pull ups 3×15+

Week 2

Day 1
Squat 3×5
OH Press 3×5
Chin ups 3×15+

Day 2
Front Squat 3×5
Bench Press 3×5
Power clean 5×3

Day 3
Squat 3×5
OH Press 3×5
Pull ups 3×15+
+ indicates that the last set is as many reps as possible (AMRAP).

Strong Lifts

Great beginner program to get stronger, build muscle, and burn fat. To be performed on 3 day per week schedule, on non-consecutive days, i.e. Mon/Wed/Fri, Tues/Thurs/Sat or similar. Weight is incremented every workout. There are two workouts which you alternate:

Day 1
Squat 5×5
Bench Press 5×5
Barbell rows 5×5

Day 2
Squat 5×5
Overhead Press 5×5
Deadlift 1×5

Lvysaur’s Beginner 4-4-8

Great beginner program to gain strength, build muscle, and burn fat. To be performed on 3 day per week schedule, on non-consecutive days, i.e. Mon/Wed/Fri, Tues/Thurs/Sat or similar. Weight is incremented in every workout. Deload by 10u0025 on failure. There are two weeks each containing three workouts which you alternate:

Week A
Day 1
Bench Press 4×4
Squat 4×8
Overhead Press 4×8
Chinups 4×8

Day 2
Bench Press 4×8
Deadlift 4×4
Overhead Press 4×4
Barbell Rows 4×8

Day 3
Bench Press 4×4+
Squat 4×4+
Overhead Press 4×8
Chinups 4×4

Week B
Day 1
Bench Press 4×8
Deadlift 4×8
Overhead Press 4×4
Barbell Rows 4×4

Day 2
Bench Press 4×4
Squat 4×8
Overhead Press 4×8
Chinups 4×8

Day 3
Bench Press 4×8
Deadlift 4×4+
Overhead Press 4×4+
Barbell Rows 4×8

+ indicates that the last set is as many reps as possible (AMRAP).

Progression rate is

Squat/Deadlift 15 lbs/week
Bench Press/Rows 10 lbs/week
Overhead Press 5 lbs/week

The 8 rep weight is 90% of 4 rep weight. If 8+ reps on AMRAP(as many reps as possible) set, then double the weight increase for the next week.

Push Pull Legs

Very simple but effective training split which is based on different movements on different exercises:

Pull day

Deadlift 5×5

Barbell rows 5×5

Weighted Chinups 5×5

Curls 5×5

Push day

Bench Press 5×5

Dips 5×5

Close grip bench press

Legs day

Squat 4×10

Leg Press 4×10

Calf Raises 4×10

Wendler 531

Great program when you can no longer make linear gains and adding anything to your max seems impossible. This program works in cycles. Each training cycle lasts four weeks, with these set-rep goals for each major lift:

Week 1   3 x 5+
Week 2   3 x 3+
Week 3   5, 3, 1+
Week 4   3×5 Deload week

+ indicates that the last set is as many reps as possible (AMRAP).

This program would guarantee that you will be more stronger by the end of a 4 week cycle. This program focuses on improving the big lifts: squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press.

Each week you will perform the core lifts with different weights and repetitions:

  Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Set 1 65% x 5 70% x 3 75% x 5 40% x 5
Set 2 75% x 5 80% x 3 85% x 3 50% x 5
Set 3 85% x 5+ 90% x 3+ 95% x 1+ 60% x 5

+ indicates that the last set is as many reps as possible (AMRAP).

These percentages are for your training max, which is a percentage of your 1 Rep Max. The recommended percentage is 90%. So if your 1 RM for a squat is 100 lbs, you’ll train wil 90 lbs. And your Week 1’s lifting weight would be 65% of 90 lbs. 

After successfully completing a training cycle, you increase the training max. The recommended increases are 5 lb for upper body exercises, and 10 lbs for lower body exercises. 

I’m Not Doing Jack Shit

This specific variation from 531 Manual is good for non-beginners who have limited time to train. In this variation, you just do the big lift for the day and then walk out.

Boring but big – variation 1

In this variation, each day you will do your basic lifts and then drop the weight down (ideally 50% of your 1 Rep Max) and bang out 5 sets of 10 reps. This would give you a massive pump and leave you struggling in the final reps and sets.

Day 1
Overhead Press *
Overhead Press 5×10
Chin ups 5×10

Day 2
Deadlift *
Deadlift 5×10
Hanging Leg Raises 5×10

Day 3
Bench Press *
Bench Press 5×10
Dumbell Rows 5×10

Day 4
Squat *
Squat 5×10
Leg Curl 5×10

* denotes 5/3/1 sets

Boring but big – variation 2

This is a variation on boring but big with the only difference that each day you will do your basic lifts and 5 sets of 10 reps of the other upper body or lower body exercise. So if your main lift for the day is squat, you will do 5 sets of 10 reps of deadlift.

Day 1
Overhead Press *
Bench Press 5×10
Chin ups 5×10

Day 2
Deadlift *
Squat 5×10
Hanging Leg Raises 5×10

Day 3
Bench Press *
Overhead Press 5×10
Dumbbell Row 5×10

Day 4
Squat *
Deadlift 5×10
Leg Curl 5×10

* 5/3/1 sets

Bodybuilding (From Blood and Chalk 8 and Wendler’s Blog)

This particular variation is from Wendler’s blog and Blood and Chalk 8 and is designed
not only to improve your big lifts but also to give you a big ‘pump.’

Day 1
Overhead Press *
Dumbbell Military Press 4×12
Side Laterals 4×12
Barbell Curls 4×12
Preacher Curls 4×10

Day 2
Deadlift *
Bent Over Rows 4×12
Chin ups 4×10
Good Mornings 4×10
Hanging Leg Raises 4×12

Day 3
Bench Press *
Dips 4×10
Dumbbell Flyes 4×12
Tricep Pushdown 5×20
Push ups 4 sets to faiure

Day 4
Squat *
Leg Press 5×15
Leg Curl 5×15
Leg Extension 4×12
Ab wheel 4×12

* 5/3/1 sets

Bodybuilding (From Men’s fitness)

This particular variation is from Men’s fitness and is designed not only to improve your big lifts but also to give you a big ‘pump.’

Day 1
Overhead Press *
Upright Row 4×10
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 4×12
Dumbbell Bentover Raise 4×15
DB Curls 4×12

Day 2
Deadlift *
Chinup 4×10
Dumbbell Rows 4×15
Back Extension 4×25
Ab Wheel 4×15

Day 3
Bench Press *
Dumbbell Bench Press 3×10
Dips 4×10
DB Fly 4×10
Tricep Pushdown 4×15

Day 4
Squat *
Leg Press 4×15
Leg Extension 4×12
Leg Curl 4×12
Situp 4×25

* 5/3/1 sets

Bodyweight

In this variation, the assistance exercises are bodyweight exercises. It is recommended to do at least 75 reps per exercise for each workout. We’ve divided this into 5 sets of 15 reps but feel free to change the number of sets and reps to total 75 reps.
Day 1
Overhead Press *
Chins 5×15
Dips 5×15

Day 2
Deadlift *
Glute Ham Raise 5×15
Hanging Leg Raises 5×15

Day 3
Bench Press *
Chins 5×15
Pushups 5×15

Day 4
Squat *
** One leg squat 5×15
Sit ups 5×15

* 5/3/1 sets

** Substitute with lunges if too hard

Periodization Bible

This is from Wendler’s book and blog:

Day 1
Overhead Press *
Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press 5×10
Dumbbell Rows 5×10
Tricep Pushdown 5×10

Day 2

Deadlift *
Leg Curl 5×10
Leg Press 5×10
Hanging Leg Raises 5×15

Day 3

Bench Press *
Dumbbell Bench Press 5×15
Chin ups 5×10
Tricep Extension 5×10

Day 4
Squat *
Good Morning 5×10
Leg Curl 5×10

* 5/3/1 sets

The Triumvirate

In this variation from 531 Manual, each workout is restricted to three workouts including the big lifts.

Day 1
Overhead Press *
Dips 5×10
Chins 5×10

Day 2
Deadlift *
Good morning 5×12
Hanging Leg Raises 5×15

Day 3
Bench Press *
DB Bench Press 5×15
DB Rows 5×10

Day 4
Squat *
Leg Press 5×15
Leg Curl 5×10

* 5/3/1 sets

3 day

This is a 3 day / week program to be performed on 3 day per week schedule, on non-consecutive days, i.e. Mon/Wed/Fri, Tues/Thurs/Sat or similar. Instead of just one lift, two main lifts are done for additional exposure.

Day 1
Squat *, 5×5 @ First Set Last (FSL)
Bench Press *, 5×5 @ FSL
Assistance work

Day 2
Deadlift *, 5×5 @ FSL
Overhead Press *, 5×5 @ FSL
Assistance work

Day 3
Bench Press *, 5×5 @ FSL
Squat *, 5×5 @ FSL
Assistance work

* 5/3/1 sets

Assistance Work
For assistance work, perform one exercise from each category below and complete 50-100 reps. The categories are push, pull and single leg/core.
Push: dips, push-ups, DB bench/incline/press, triceps extensions/pushdowns
Pull: chin-ups/pull-ups, inverted rows, rows (DB/machine/BB), face pulls, band pull-aparts, lat pulldown, curls
Single Leg/Core: any abdominal work, back raises, reverse hyperextensions, lunges, step-ups, Bulgarian one-leg squats, KB snatches, swings

For ease of the user, some exercises following this scheme have been added which can be changed depending on the specific requirements. The exercises are:

Day 1
Dips 5×10
Chin ups 5×10
Hanging Leg Raises 5×10

Day 2
Push ups 5×10
Curls 5×10
Back Extension 4×25

Day 3
Tricep Pushdown 4×15
Pull ups 5×10
Ab Wheel 4×25