T Nation

Honest Feedback on Program

If anyone wants to read through some beginner’s mock program, mostly written as a mental exercise, some advice would be greatly appreciated.

M: Heavy Squat, Bench Accessory
T: Off
W: Heavy Deadlifts, Bench Volume
T: Squat Volume, GPP
F: Heavy Bench, Speed Deadlifts
S: Squat Accessory, GPP
S: Off

Top set of a highly-specific variant

Top set of competition lift

24-50 reps of a less-specific variant

Hypertrophy work for lats, biceps, abs and lower back

Every workout will also include some general work for the upper back.

Alternatively, there’s also a nine-day split that I think would help manage fatigue nicely:

1: Heavy Squat, Bench Accessory
2: Off
3:_ Heavy Deadlifts, Bench Volume_
4: Off
5: Squat Volume, GPP
6: Off
7: Heavy Bench, Speed Deadlifts
8: Squat Accessory, GPP
9: Off

You’re overcomplicating things unnecessarily. There is also no reason why a beginner needs a nine day split to focus on recovery. Just use an existing program if you don’t know how to appropriately write your own.


Thanks for the response! However, I’m not planning on doing this training, rather, I’m trying to ‘practice’ writing a program. If the program were to be run by a more advanced athlete, would it be any good?

It kinda looks like Undulating Periodization heavy/light/medium. Or like, Brandon Lilly’s Cube (although I’m not super familiar with the program.) So it’s not totally absurd or crazy.

I think “general” stuff is good. Especially for a Beginner who is presumably skinny, clumsy and will get tired out fast by big barbell lifts. Also, There are lots of muscles in the back, and lots of ways to work them, so back work every day is cool.

I don’t have a problem with the 9 day training week. I’m on a 4 day, upper/lower, upper/lower split. But I only go to the gym 3 days per Calendar week, so it takes 9 days to hit all four sessions. Again, you’re not suggesting anything too stupid.

Your layout is pretty clumsy and amateurish though. Squat heavy, take a day off, then Heavy Deadlift, Squat Volume, Speed Deadlift, and Squat Accessory back to Back To Back! To BACK!! The Uncommon Lower Body Four-peat!

Benching 3 times per week and also doing curls twice per week is exactly what a Beginner would do. And probably not what they should do.


Thanks for the feedback. I think your comments about the split make a ton of sense, and I’ll try avoid that writing stuff in the future. Out of curiosity, what’s wrong with squatting and benching 3x weekly, if intensity and volume is regulated?

No problem man, we’re just 2 guys talking about lifting.

I didn’t mean that benching 3 times a week was 100% Bad. But 3 days benching and 2 other days curling could be a little much on the front delt/chest/upper arm tie-in area.

I agree. Before I did any research on periodization, I thought that I had discovered UP; a heavy day (5x5 ~80%) and a speed day (5x5 ~50%) and it actually helped my bench a decent amount. So the concept of alternating heavy days and light days is viable and it seems to be widely implemented, so that works.

The problems that I see with this split is that you seem to be going heavy on legs in the first 3 days and then not again for until the microcycle is over. I’d swap heavy deads with squat accessory. That’d help you spread your heavy days out so that the athlete isn’t burning out in the first 3 days.

If your bench volume day is sticking to the lower range (24-30 reps) then benching 3x should be fine. Just keep in mind that if your athlete is a true beginner, chances are they aren’t conditioned for a ton of volume. You’d have to start them on the lower end and work your way up through the cycle, which will gradually increase their conditioning and fatigue which will make a deload important. But you know that. Sorry if I answered more than you were asking for lol.

Gotcha, that’s fair enough.

Great point, I think this is what FlatsFarmer was saying too. Not sure how I missed that

Thanks for pointing this out, it didn’t actually occur to me

No apologies needed, this was a great response and is really helpful

@chris_ottawa @FlatsFarmer @lava2007

How about splitting the 9-day program up as:

1: Heavy Squat, Bench Accessory
2: Off
3: Heavy Bench, Speed Deadlifts
4: Squat Accessory, GPP
5: Off
6: Heavy Deadlifts, Bench Volume
7: Off
8: Squat Volume, GPP
9: Off

This is just my opinion.

Squatting and benching 3 times per week is a lot of Specific work. That limits the amount of more General stuff there is time and energy for. This won’t always be an issue for everybody, all the time. But for a “beginner” it could leave some important stuff neglected or under developed. Especially for guys who don’t have the thick/stocky PL build.

Again, just my opinion. If you’re a Power lifter, training for PL meets on specific dates, too much General stuff might take away from your Comp Lifts.

Fair enough, this ‘program’ is definitely very PL-centric. Not much conditioning or alternative movements

Do you think this program would work for a more advanced, competitive lifter? I’m trying to write something I could use in say 3-4 years’ time. Although, by then I’d have probably figured out what works for me

That does look a little better than the first 9 day split.

You’ve got it figured out right here though. The best way to learn this stuff is by doing it yourself. Reading books and articles and studies is certainly a good way to introduce new styles/concepts to your training, but running different programs and trying different styles of lifting is the best way to have a good understanding of how to train and program, at least for yourself. In 3-4 years you’ll be miles ahead of where you are now, so I really wouldn’t worry about it. Pick a few different programs on TN to run during that time and you’ll learn a TON about yourself and how you work.

(The reason I bolded “understanding” is because there’s a difference between “knowing” and “understanding.” There are a lot of trainers and athletes who “know” how to do things, but those same people also quarter squat and base the overall effectiveness of an exercise purely on EMG scores. That sort of thing. Knowing something is good, and is a prerequisite for understanding 99% of the time, but understanding is what separates successful lifters from career plateaued lifters. Just my opinion.)

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Definitely. Right now I’m doing 531 and messing around every few cycles with different templates to see what I like. So far everything but the Press is doing really well with 5x5 FSL (sub-maximal volume) and Jokers (heavy singles, doubles and triples). In the future I’ll probably try higher volume stuff like BBS or 5x531, and maybe Training Maximally (very heavy, lower volume and frequency) and see how all this stuff works for me

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I’ve been doing 5/3/1 for a few months and my bench increases the fastest when I bench every 3-4 days with ~60 reps total, including the main lift. DB floor presses and pause barbell benches help me the most, so give those a try if you want. They seem to have a synergistic effect for me, because doing both of them for 5x5 or 3x10 every session helps a lot, but if I start slacking and leave one of them out, my progress starts to stall a bit.

Agreed, there are so many 5/3/1 variations, it’s awesome. I’ve just been doing OG 5/3/1 but I’m really looking forward to experimenting with JW’s other templates

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I think this is around the same volume I’m getting, and my bench is certainly doing better than it has in ages

Right now, my bench assistance is DB Shoulder Presses, dips and skullcrushers. I have no idea how good these actually are for my bench, but Jim reccommends Dips, my delts are weak as shit and I’ve gathered that strong triceps are never a bad thing