T Nation

Looking for a Jack of All Trades Program


Unfortunately for me, I fall into the “wanna do it all” category of people, so a typical program is usually missing something I want to do and I end up being tempted to alter it or keep looking for new programs.

Now, what am I talking about? I want to focus on both raw strength powerlifting movements as well as technique heavy olympic weightlifting movements. As if that wasn’t tough enough mix to achieve, add in a bit of hypertrophy work so that it looks like I actually lift.

So, what do I want a program to involve? Squats (front and back), Bench, Deadlift, Overhead Press, Snatch, Clean & Jerk with possibly some assistance work as well as exercises to target hypertrophy. Any suggestions?

###To put things into context, here are my stats and goals
Height: 6"3’ (191 cm)
Weight: 170 lbs (77 kg)
Current work: Planing to finish a cut by the end of 2016, hopefully landing at 165 lbs or below. The cut has been going on since mid September starting at 185 lbs. Goal is to shed unnecessary fat to have a good base to start gaining strength & size from.
Long term goals: Have an aesthetic and functional physique with strength numbers to back it up. Goal body weight is around 200 lbs maintenance, meaning not too shredded but not a fat slob either. Talking non-enhanced here.
I don’t plan to do physique competition, most likely ever. As for powerlifting or weightlifting, I’d enjoy taking a part in meet/competition once my numbers become relevant but no world class aspirations. I lift mostly because I enjoy it.

Current (abysmal) numbers:
Bench Press: 5x180 lbs (80 kg)
Back high bar Squat: 5x200 lbs (90 kg)
Deadlift: 3x285 lbs (130 kg)

Still learning the technique, started like 2 weeks ago, so take these with a huge grain of salt but for what it’s worth
Snatch: 5x65 lbs (30 kg)
Clean & Jerk: 5x110 lbs (50 kg)


you can take a look at this, it might help


it’s fairly easy to write programs like these yourself. You just group the similar exercises together.

So you could have a squat day where you start off front squatting working up in 5s, then when you hit a top set of 5 switch to back squats starting at the same weight you used in your last set of front squats and work up to another 5. Then a few sets of assistance for your lower body.

Then an upper day where you’d pick either bench or military press, do whatever with that, then some upper body assistance stuff.

Other lower day could be like an O-lift, deadlift day. Work up to a top 3 in the snatch, then take that end weight and use it as the first weight for your C&J and keep working up in 3s. Then when you hit a decent 3 for that start deadlifting, again using the same weight you finished the C&J with and keep working up. Throw in some lower body assistance work and everything’s gravy.

Final upper day would be whatever press you didn’t do on your first day, followed by assistance work for upper.

Something like that.


How many days per week are you looking to train? CT Posted his current routine in a thread a few weeks ago it was something like this

4 days per week the 5/3/1 routine (or a limited version of it at least)
2 days per week olympic lift + isolation lifts

Because your trying to do “everything” I would count on my hypertrophy coming from the frequency of hitting muscles rather than targeting muscle groups as a typical bodybuilding split would.


Yeah forget cutting at 170lbs when 6’3 -you are already under weight. You will prbably need to get to 190 just to look like you even lift.

With those lifting numbers you just need to focus on getting much stronger on the basic moves and everything else will follow. Basically make getting a 4 plate deadlift, 2 plate bench your overwhelming priority for now.
Run through proven template like these…

Anyway this is an ‘All in one template’ you could dabble with 6 months down the line


Squat 1-3 sets of 3-8 reps RPE 8
Bench (pause all reps) 1-3 sets of 3-8 reps RPE 8
3-6 sets 10-20 reps Chest-Supported Row (light weight)
Run 1-2 miles outside

Snatch 10-20 singles RPE 5-6
C/J 10-20 singles RPE 5-6
20 minutes BW exercises

Squat 1-3 sets of 3-8 reps RPE 8
Bench (paused) 1-3 sets of 3-8 reps RPE 8
3-6 sets 10-20 reps Chest-supported rows (light weight)
Run 1-2 miles outside

10-20 singles Snatch RPE 5-6
10-20 singles C/J RPE 5-6
20 minutes BW exercise

Squat 1-3 sets of 3-8 reps RPE 8
Bench (paused) 1-3 sets of 3-8 reps RPE 8
Deadlift 1-3 sets of 3-8 reps RPE 8
Run 1-2 miles outside

Strong Man medley if available
If Strong Man equipment is not available, do 20 minutes BW exercises and a 1-2 mile run outside or rest.

Rest, avoid physically activity and pack away the calories.

I wrote this for someone on here who wanted to do everything at the same time. I don’t think he even bothered to try it, but it is still a very good way to manage your variety of goals. I would cut out the running, strongman, and BW exercises. I would put more emphasis on powerlifting and just work on technique and speed for OL.


Here’s my program and I’m only sharing it b/c you listed 5 out of my 6 main lifts as priorities. You could do back squats Wed & Fri instead of front squats and then switch after 4 or 8 weeks. You could work on your snatch where I do snatch grip high pulls. I’m enjoying this so far but I’m just starting week 3.

Power Clean 5/3/1
Front Squat 5/3/1
Pull Ups 3 x 10 (usually 2 x 10, then a double rest/pause set)
DB Bench 2 x 6 (RPE 7 out of 10 on these sets), 6-8-10 drop set (6 reps, drop weight, 8 reps, drop weight, 10 reps)
DB Row 2 x 6, 6-8-10 drop set
Lateral Cable Raise 2 x 6, 6-8-10 drop set
Romanian Dead Lift 2 x 6, 6-8-10 drop set (this sucks)

Front Squat 3 x 10 (40%, 50%, 60%)
Overhead Press 5/3/1
Hang Snatch Grip High Pull 5/3/1
Neutral Pull Ups 3 x 10
Reverse Cable Fly 2 x 6, 6-8-10 drop set
Bi’s & Tri’s 2 x 6, 6-8-10 drop set

Front Squat 3 x 10 (40%, 50%, 60%)
Bench 5/3/1
Deadlift 5/3/1
Cable Row 2 x 6, 6-8-10 drop set
Shoulder Press 2 x 6, 6-8-10 drop set


It would take me 4 hours and a mid workout nap to complete each of those sessions


Not true. Takes me about 45 minutes except for Monday but I’m off work that so I planned it that way. I combo set everything but the 5/3/1 stuff. Pull ups with squats and then I pair the pushing and pulling exercises for hypertrophy at the end. I do 5/3/1 for strength work and then use CT’s Best Damn Workout For Naturals approach for the other exercises.


You could check out PHAT by Layne Norton or Power Bodybuilding by Mike O Hearn or AMP by Marc Megna


If your short on time any day you can skip some parts and just do the nap.


Why would anyone want to be a jack of all trades? That generally translates into “I’m not good at anything, and suck at most things.”


Others translate it as “I’m not an expert at anything, but at least don’t suck at anything either”


Since I’ve pretty much the same goals as him how bout…

Focusing 100% on one goal doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be the best. Statistically speaking, you’ll pretty much never be the best. As for being good, what would you define as good?

Lets use 2 guys as example…

Guy A is a powerlifter.
Benches 3 plates.
Squats 4 plates.
Deadlifts 4.5 plates.

Guy B “sucks at most things”.
Snatches 2 plates
Clean and Jerks 2.5 plates
Bench 2.5 plates
Squats 3.5 plates
Deadlifts 4 plates

I pulled this numbers out of my ass but the numbers aren’t unrealistic.

I don’t know about you but guy B seems way more enticing to me.


Guy B sounds extremely unrealistic to me and Guy A sounds like he hasn’t been training his ass off enough


A simple way of looking at it from just a single perspective of powerlifting, would apply to the others too.

If you don’t do powerlifting guy B is better in general (or at least equal)
If you do powerlifting, guy A is only better a few days of the year, but not the rest.


I think you have confused “jack of all trades” with “guy who sits on couch all day A.K.A. Homer Simpson”.

I’m never going to be fast by elite or professional terms but I’m faster than most people my age (and younger).

I’m not LeBron James but I entertain myself by playing pickup basketball at the YMCA with people younger than me. I’m taller (6’5"), more muscular, stronger, and have a better vertical than 95% of the people that show up. My favorite part is dunking on the youngsters as an old white guy.

I’m a never-was college pitcher who does pretty damn good at rec league softball (fielding and hitting). No MLB aspirations for me though.

It seems that through my training I’ve managed to maintain a lot of my athleticism and continue to be pretty damn good at recreational sports. Does this matter? Hell, no! Do I enjoy life in the body I’ve developed? Absolutely.

I’m not elite at anything…not strong by Jim Wendler’s standards…probably not even that good at most stuff that people on here think is important.

I’m a jack of all trades and that’s fine by me. I enjoy it. Hell, I’m even a decent bowler LOL!


Thats my point though, YOU are happy being happy as you are and thats great. My point earlier was that by focusing in on one or two goals and becoming extremely proficient at them, while simultaneously maintaining the other lifts that build off of them, you can achieve an overall package.


Back at your point, I am damn near every one of guy b’s numbers (aside from snatch being lower, bench dead and squat higher) and I never really train a snatch or clean and I barely bench, only to raise my overhead numbers (so close grip and high incline basically). What I was meaning earlier was that by spending time wisely and getting really good if not great at two maybe three compounds at the most while maintaining other ones, you can build an overall good build. Once you hit goals with the first few, swap them out for the other compounds and throw the first set into maintenance. Thats my idea on training, because it really is impossible to become really good if not great at everything all at once. Thats why olympic weight lifters lift, nfl players play football and powerlifters perform the powerlifts.


I get where you’re coming from but at the same time, you make it sound as if weightlifting and powerlifting are two vastly different goals. I do believe that they can both be done at the same time with a reasonable amount of success in both areas. The lifts do have some amount of carry over. The heavier your deadlift, the odds are the heavier your clean. The squat is a mutual lift that pretty much has carry over to everything.

The snatch/clean&jerk is nothing like the powerlifts. It takes quite a fair amount of effort to make this lifts even remotely resemble those done at the higher levels, even with light weight. You can’t just take a weight and jump and get it over your head and call it a snatch. Technically, you aren’t wrong but you get where I’m coming from.

Cleaning 100kgs while having a 110kgs front squat compared to cleaning 100kgs while being able to front squat 140kgs for reps is very different.

Oh and to add on to my point, how many even mildly successful weightlifters do you know who started off with a heavy powerlifting background, especially at a later age?