T Nation

Long Term Strength and Hypertrophy Routine


Hello Mr, @Christian_Thibaudeau

My desire is for a simple routine that will build strength and a decent amount of size over the long haul. I am 29 with a bad low back and a bit of a trick shoulder (work related injuries). I’m no serious athlete, just a regular married guy with a couple of kids.

I am a missionary in Thailand so I do not have access to a lot of equipment. There is a small gym I go to with a cable machine, a couple of benches, some heavy dumbbells, a smith machine and one olympic bar with around 400lbs of plates (no squat rack or place to do bench other than smith).

Would you please consider critiquing this routine?

All using the double progression method

Monday: Pressing + Squat

Power Clean + Push Press (5x5)

Clean + Front Squat (4x8)

Smith Machine Incline Press (6/ 6/ 6+4RP/ 6+4RP)

A few heavy Tricep work sets

Tuesday: Pulling

Snatch Grip High Pull (5x5)

Pendlay Row (3x5)

Seated Cable Row (4x8)

A few light/moderate Bicep work sets

Thursday: Squatting + Pressing

Clean + Front Squat (5x10)

DB Incline Press (4x8)

Dumbbell Split Squat (4x8)

Plate Front Raise (1x100)

Saturday: Deadlift + Row

Deadlift (5x5)

Chinese DB Row (4x8)

A few heavy sets of Bicep work


Also Coach @Christian_Thibaudeau
What would you recommend for conditioning? In my situation, it is impossible to eat enough calories for powerlifting or bodybuilding. So I’m thinking moderate to light conditioning?
I walk quite a bit naturally, as we don’t have a car here.
Maybe add some heavy carries?
Thank you sir for your time. I am greatful for it and respect it.

  1. The set-up (split) is fine

  2. You are using many exercises that I don’t like… Kroc row and Smith machine squat will never be in any programs I design. Pendlay row will rarely be there, and normally only if I can supervise the person.

  3. 5 reps on the power clean and push press (assuming, clean, press, clean press, clean, press, etc.) is too metabo9lically demanding. It is basically like doing 10 reps of a whole body explosive movement. If you want to do 5 reps per set, do one clean and 5 push press or 5 cleans and 1 push press. If you want to do clean & press on each rep, stick to 3 reps. Note that I do use 5 reps on clean & press from time to time, but as a conditioning exercise, not a strength one.

  4. Smith machine back squat . I know I mentioned it previously but it is worth mentioning again. If you are afraid for your lower back do squats but with a lighter load, doing the eccentric slowly and taking a pause in the bottom, or do front squats. But don’t use the Smith otherwise you might end up with knee problems on top of your back problem. PLUS I will assume that you decided to squat in the Smith because of your lower back… fine… but the deadlift, power clean , high pull and even Pendlay row are more demanding on the lower back yet you are still doing them heavy. I don’t see your logic.

  5. Dumbbell pressing work is not the best choice for rest/pause training because just getting the dumbbells back in the starting position after the pause takes a lot of energy which will kill the benefits of taking a pause.


Coach @Christian_Thibaudeau,
Thank you for your response, I greatly value your feedback. Your response created a few questions…

  1. You dont like Kroc or Pendlay rows.
    What would be your suggestion for replacing the 2 row variations?

  2. For the clean and press suggestion.
    I hadn’t considered that. Thank you!
    I will change to a 5x3 if that is a smart choice?

  3. My choice of smith machine was made because I do not have access to a squat rack. I personally hate working on the smith but I feel like my options are limited. There is no leg press. Maybe I could use straps and do heavy dumbell squats?
    I could do front squats but I am going to be limited by the amount I am able to clean.
    What would be your suggestion?

  4. As far as the DB press with RP.
    Would a 5x5 fit better?

  5. You mentioned using a lot of exercises you don’t like.
    Excluding what you mentioned (smith squat, kroc and pendlay rows.) Are there others listed you would like to see replaced?


Well it depends on the equipment you have. My personal favorites are either Chinese row variations and seated rows


Yes, otherwise I would not have recommended it.


How limited? What is your power clean like versus your front squat? Of course if you can power clean 135 and can front squat 315 it wont work. But you want to do sets of 10 on squats. When doing multiple sets of 10 reps we normally use 65-70% of your max.

So let’s say that your front squat max is 275lbs… 65-70% of that is 180-190lbs. So if you can power clean 180-190 you should be fine (in the exemple above)…

Basically if you can power clean 65-70% of your best, solid technique, front squat you would be fine. If you are closer to 50-55% then you could still use this method but simply make the front squat more challenging… but going down in 4-5 seconds for example, or taking a 2 sec pause in the bottom of every rep.

So if your power clean is anywhere between 50-70% of your front squat, I would do power clean + front squats.

Plus it would give you the chance to practice the power clean more often.


I would use at least 8 reps on DB presses if your goal is hypertrophy. One strength move per workout is enough. If you want to use rep pauses (ou can) use a different exercise… heck, NOW you can use the Smith machine. The Smith is fine for pressing, especially incline press and close-grip bench and is the best tool to do rest/pauses since you have zero effort to do when resuming your set (even with a regular bench you need to unrack the bar again).


No it’s fine. But I would have liked to see what would the “extra stuff” be.


I have never heard of these, do you have a suggested video for proper form? Also, which grip do you like on seated rows?


Thank you! I love those suggestions. Would you suggest, clean squat, clean squat… or one clean plus front squat for reps?


Would you suggest adding in a set somewhere during the week of a 5x5 Flat Press on the smith machine? In all reality though, it seems I would do just fine on sticking with hypertrophy on my chest presses because of the cleans and heavy overhead presses… thoughts?



I use various grips. Honestly try them all and see which ones makes you feel the back the most.


You can’t do clean. squat, clean, squat…same logic as before, too much endurance. One clean just to get the back in place and then your front squats.


No. The Smith machine is a good tool for rest/pause… for your straight sets stick to the free-weight movement


The overhead press does not offer the same overload on the chest. So if your goal is to be both strong and big, I think you will still need one heavy “chest” pressing exercise.


Thank you very much Coach @Christian_Thibaudeau !
I have a couple more questions and I will stop bothering you.

  1. Would you recommend placing pullups and/or dips into this routine. I’ve never really used dips so I am extremely inexperienced at this movement.

  2. Where would you suggest conditioning? On my off days or after my work days. Loaded carries, swings and low intensity cardio (walking a mile). Would you suggest different conditioning? If I can ever find a large tractor tire I would use that for sure. Maybe also make a makeshift sled/prowler


“Intense” conditioning should be done on your training days. If you have 4 hard training days and then do 2 days of hard conditioning on the non-lifting days it gives you 6 hard days… hard to recover from.

\If you put the conditioning work after your workouts each training day might be harder, but you will have 3 days per week where you can recover.

Walking can be done on the off days.


Would be more beneficial to do just 3 days? Say on Monday, Thursday, Saturday? Or will it be more beneficial to hit it hard on all 4 of the lifting days?