T Nation

Give Me Your Thoughts on My Program


So basically this is a four day upper/lower split with a main lift (Squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press) and assistance lifts. The program layout looks like this:

Lower body - Squat focused
Main lift: Squat
Assistance lifts:
Deadlift variation - 4x8
Squat / lunge / leg press variation - 3-4x8-12
Isolation work

Upper body - Bench press focused
Main lift: Bench press
Assistance lifts:
Overhead press variation - 4x8
Row variation - 3-4x8-12
Isolation work

Wednesday - Off

Lower body - Deadlift focused
Main lift: Deadlift
Assistance lifts:
Squat variation - 4x8
Hip hinge variation (Good morning, Neutral spine pete rubish style Hyperextensions, romanian deadlifts etc.)
Isolation work

Upper body - Overhead press focused
Main lift: Overhead press
Assistance lifts:
Bench press variation - 4x8
Pull up variation - 3-4x8-12
Isolation work

I’ve been thinking about two ways to progress the main lifts. The first way is to periodize it: First week - 3x3 at 90% / Second week - 4x3 at 90% / Third week - 5x2 at 90% / Fourth week - 4x2 at 95% / Fifth week - 3x1 at 100% / Sixth week - Deload / Add 2,5 - 5 kg to main lifts and start the cycle again.

The second way is much more autoregulated: Every week try to increase either weight, sets, reps, decrease tempo, decrease rest time, try to improve on something.

What do you think?


First, what is your current strength level, age, and how long have you been training/competing? Those should be the main determinant to how aggressively you can program your main lifts.

Second, please break out the “isolation work” in more detail. There is absolutely zero tricep or rear delt work in what you have written out. No good. I am assuming it would eventually wind up in the “isolation work” category but for my tastes you should have it programmed.


Like max13, I would also like to see more tricep and rear delt work in the program. Doing something like dips on Monday and Thursday and finishing with band pullaparts would work pretty well. Also some direct ab work wouldn’t hurt.


I’m 18 I’ve been training for a year now I’m 68 kilos bodyweight, 1m 70cm my deadlift orm is 125 kg my OHP orm is 55 kg my pull up orm is 45 kgs added to bodyweight I don’t know my squat and bench maxes. And yes Isolation work will consist of tri’s, bi’s, delts, Facepull(yes I know it’s a compound movement) etc.


Also I have not competed yet, I would like to build up my strength and muscle mass first.


Dude, you’re a beginner. You haven’t even maxed out on two of the competition lifts ever so how would you even program off a 1 rep max?

Your program would add 2.5kg to 5 kg to your lifts every 6 weeks. Let’s say 5 kg for argument’s sake. If you followed Stronglifts 5x5 or Starting Strength you’d add 2.5 kg to your squat per session. That’s 45 kg added to your squat over 6 weeks if you eat and recover enough, as opposed to 5 kg in six weeks on your program.

You tell me what you think is better?


I started with a 5x5 program, followed it for 6 months and plateaued. I’m not saying I’m going to start my program, but running 5x5 again seems pointless to me.I just want your opinion on the program I created.


Okay here’s my opinion: its not good for someone at your strength level. You can progress a lot faster. If you want to go ahead and only gain 5 kg on your lifts every six weeks then sure go ahead. But you’re leaving a shit ton of gains on the table.

Also, 5x5 plateaued because you didn’t eat enough. At 68 kg you weigh slightly more than my wife. You need to eat more to get bigger and stronger.


What about the second way of progressing - start with 5x5 with 80% on the main lifts and do the double progression method - first increase reps/ sets then weight


Also you’re right about me not eating enough, but I’m also not a very big person either - I’m 170 centimeters in height.


Why not just run Madcow 5x5 or 5/3/1 and gain a lot faster and simpler? Do you think there is a single world champion powerlifter in the world who wouldn’t give up his complex training theory for a few weeks and add 2.5 kg to their lifts during every workout? Why not take advantage of that while you can?

More importantly, why do you think a tried-and-true program that has been proven to add muscle and strength to thousands of lifters over the years won’t work for you? Why are you an exception who needs a customized program?


Well again I’m not saying Im going to be using my program, in fact I want to run 5 3 1 after I finish my current program (which is Thibaudeaus Fixed weigth block program). I just want to get good at creating programs so that one day when I need it I could create my own programs not having to rely on anybody else.


Also I’m a very self conscious(don’t know if I used the term right) person and I just want to know if im doing things right.


Okay … At your level you shouldn’t be designing programs. You should learn how to stick to a program for several months and make progress. One day when you have better defined goals I would suggest investing in a coach to help you program. Then you will have a better understanding. But one step at a time.


Max13 has it on lock, at your level, you can see benefits from 5x5, 5x5 double progression, madcow, 5/3/1, texas method, etc. Hell 5x5 usually advises to give yourself one or two plateaus/ drops before deciding you have outgrown it so did you just plateau on each lift once then call it quits? Instead of that, work up to a plateau then drop weight slightly and continue climbing, with enough food that stagger of a couple weeks should push you right through the plateau. Also, find your maxes, this is key because the power lifts are all about that, once the weight gets up there you can go to 2rm or 3rm work if you have no desire to compete but at your level, you will need a 1rm to even begin to know what percentages to program.


I think your lay out is good.

Face pulls are great for rear delts. They are like a row, up high.

I think your plan to work in waves, and deload regularly is good. I even Like the way you are going to start over, but ratchet the weights up. Young bros always have a problem taking weight off the bar, ever. So you’re already ahead of the game.

The only thing I don’t like is your set/rep scheme. The way you change the sets and reps, it’s hard to tell if you got any stronger.

Lately, I’ve been using “plus sets” to set rep records, at a fixed weight.

After 6 weeks of that, I switch to 6 weeks of ramped sets, working up in heavier sets of 5.

Doing the rep stuff first is cool, it gives you good feedback on the actual weights to use for the “linear progression” part of the plan.


I want to ask you guys what do you think about the Greyskull lp program?


Grey skull for 6 weeks. Go in 3 week waves, so you add reps for 3 weeks, then add weight and start new plus sets 4th week. Double Progression method! Milk the gains!

Then rotate before you get stale.

Ramping sets for 6 weeks. Ramp to a top set, then do back offs. Go in three week waves, so week 3 and week 6 are the heaviest. Lift heavy weights for strength gains!

Then rotate back to Grey skull, and plus sets before you plateau on the ramped sets.

Run it for 6 weeks


Get all the gains! Never stall!


If I were you, I’d have a read of Chad Wesley Smith’s article on making any program work. Then i’d do 531 for beginners, it’s much better than what you’ve written.

Squat 5/3/1 + 5x5 (fsl)
Bench 5/3/1 + 5x5 (fsl)

Deadlift 5/3/1 + 5x5 (fsl)
Press 5/3/1 + 5x5 (fsl)

Bench 5/3/1 + 5x5 (fsl)
Squat 5/3/1 + 5x5 (fsl)

At the end of each day you choose ONE movement from each of the following groups for extra work:

  • dips, push-ups, DB bench/incline/press, triceps extensions/pushdowns
  • chin-ups/pull-ups, inverted rows, rows (DB/machine/BB), face pulls, band pull-aparts, lat pulldown, curls
  • any abdominal work, back raises, reverse hyperextensions, lunges, step-ups, Bulgarian one-leg squats, KB snatches, NB swings

and do lots of reps for each one (eg 5x10-20, 10x5-10, 100 straight reps, 4x50 or whatever floats your boat).

If you feel crap you can do only 2 or 1 movement or skip the extra work all together.

Go to Jim Wendler’s website for more details.