T Nation

Program Review? (Yes I Included a Background)

I weigh about 140-145 lbs
5 feet 8 inches
18 years old
I have been lifting for 1.5 years
Last year for a few months I was using the Better Leaner Stronger for a few months. Recently, I have been using the Best Damn Workout for a few months, then I switched to Built for Battle for 2 weeks, and now I am in exam study mode, so only using the 20 Minute Muscle Builder.

Lifts (1RM) (I know they are very low):
Bench- 120 lbs
Front Squat- 140 lbs
Deadlift- 240 lbs
Military Press- 70 lbs
Seated Cable Row- 122 lbs

My goal is hypertrophy (although I feel I should try to get stronger)
I am asking please for feedback on this SSP that I am able to do in my home gym.

Upper 1
Bench Press- AVT1, 2 rounds, 6 reps
Pec Deck- AVT2
Lat-Pulldown- AVT1, 2 rounds, 6 reps
Rear Delt Fly- AVT2
Barbell Curl- 2 sets, 8 reps
PJR Pullover- 2 sets, 20 reps

Upper 2
Barbell seated Military Press- AVT1, 2 rounds, 6 reps
Lateral Raise- AVT2
Machine Chest Press- AVT2
Seated Cable Row- AVT1, 2 rounds, 6 reps
Dumbbell Shrug (3-second hold)- AVT2
Incline Dumbbell Curl- 2 sets, 20 reps
Bench Dips- 2 sets, 20 reps

Lower 1
Leg Press- AVT1, 2 rounds, 12 reps
Front Squat- 1 top set of 6-8 reps
Leg Extension- AVT2
Spider Curl- 2 sets, 20 reps
Tricep Pushdown- 2 sets, 20 reps
Myotatic Crunch- 1 set, 10 reps

Lower 2
Bulgarian Split Squat- AVT1, 2 rounds, 12 reps
Romanian Deadlift- 2 sets of 6-8 reps
Leg Curls- AVT2
Rope Hammer Curl- 2 sets, 20 reps
Dumbbell Kick Backs- 2 sets, 20 reps
Zercher Holds- 2 sets, 10 seconds

Do you think I should replace the lat exercises with these?
Straight Arm Pulldown
Lat Prayer

I don’t know the real name for the myotatic crunch, that it how Tim Ferriss calls it and I just stick with it. Heres what it is:

Weekly structured, depending on the week, something like:
Upper 1
Lower 1
One day off
Upper 2
Lower 2
2 Days off


Upper 1
Lower 1
One day off
Upper 2
One day off
Lower 2
One day off


Upper 1
One day off
Lower 1
One day off
Upper 2
One day off
Lower 2
One day off

Dude you’ve been training 1.5 years (this is still noob territory), and still have a mega butt ton of potential for growing just by getting stronger.

Once again, the study I posted up has a GREAT program for noob/intermediate types to get stronger and grow from.

Bench -
Incline -
Overhead -

Leg Press -
Squats -

Pulldowns -
Cable Rows -
Upright Rows -

That’s it. You’re doing stuff you have no business doing and have switched routines 3-4 times in the first 18 months! Do the above for 18 months. Don’t change anything, don’t do anything but focus on adding reps and weight.


Well like I said, I feel I should be stronger. But would that still be the best approach if I want to gain the maximum amount of muscle in a short time? (Obviously there’s a limit)
Like my main goal is hypertrophy but I’m asking it to reach that goal quicker, should I gain strength first?

I am also a type 1b neurotype.
So I enjoy switching it up alittle but not as often as a 2a.

Throw out the neutrotyping stuff. Man you’re 1.5 years in!

You’re flat out going to have to learn how to buckle down to some solid movements for a while and get really strong on them in the right rep ranges, i.e. 8-12. That’s all you need to be doing right now.

I read somewhere that you wrote that as a beginner I am able to do more frequency. Is that beneficial to me right now?

Read this article by Paul. It’s great! https://www.t-nation.com/training/5-years-of-insane-gains

1 Like

The answer is probably yes, but would increasing my strength in the 2-5 rep range help translate to the 8-12 rep range?

To prepare for a 800m do you run 200s?
Why not just increase strength in 8-12?

Dude you are a classic over thinking. That’s why you’re changing routines 4-5 times in your first 1.5 years. It’s not because of some neurotyping. It’s because you can’t settle on some time tested and proven principles. And in three years from now, when you’re even more frustrated because you can’t do this, you’ll keep searching for that special and wonderful and magical routine. Like you’re doing now…


Don’t make the mistakes I made.
I wasted so many hours (that could’ve been productive gym time instead) trying to find the perfect routine and frequency.

Also tried to figure out how to incorporate Thibs’ neuro charge sessions.
This is not a swing at Thibs, but a lot of his stuff is a pure ADHD injection to new/young (and bright) training minds. Your analytical thought process is actually going to work against you at this early point in your lifting journey.

Do yourself a favor and stop reading about neurotypes. (That doesn’t mean you should stop educating yourself).

Forget about ‘strength rep ranges’.
A properly selected weight in the 8-12 rep range is still heavy! And you’ll get stronger for sure. Set rep PRs week after week, increase the weight, set rep PRs… Repeat for (at least) 3 years.

And cut down your t-nation forum time in half.

Eat A LOT!

Do Paul’s suggested routine - or upper/lower option 1 or 2 that you wrote yourself. Don’t sweat the details. You might do option 1, then miss a session because life happened. Then you train the next day instead - and it becomes option 2.

“But I want the perfect frequency!”
Okay… Let’s break it down to calm down your inner training ADHD gremlin.

Mon - Upper
Tue - Lower
Wed -
Thu - Upper
Fri - Lower
Sat -
Sun -

Mon - Upper
Tue - Lower
Wed -
Fri - Upper (Phew… You made it!)
Sun - Lower (Squeezed in 45 min of legs!)

Mon - Upper
Tue -
Wed - Lower
Thu -
Fri - Upper
Sat -
Sun -

The third week was busier than usual. So you adjusted. Only 3 sessions - but still plenty of frequency to keep moving forward.

Mon - Lower
Tue -
Wed - Upper
Thu -
Fri - Lower
Sat -
Sun -

See what I did there? 3 sessions again. The last 2 weeks, each muscle group got hit directly every 4-5 days.

Bottom line:
Rotate upper/lower, doing 3-4 sessions each week.

I scoffed at my training partner’s low volume bro split with “only” 2 exercises per muscle group - which he hit directly ONCE A WEEK.

I, on the other hand, thought I knew better. And. I. Made. No. Progress.

Hope this doesn’t seem too harsh, pal. This post is out of compassion because you remind me of younger me.

6-8 years from now, a much bigger and wiser version of you will look at this thread, and you’ll chuckle… “Those old farts were right. I did sweat the small stuff.”

Don’t let the answers discourage you. Your journey has just begun, and you’re trying to find your own way. That’s cool.
But know that there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Trust the veterans (I’m not one of them, so take the above for what it’s worth…)

1 Like

I thought CT said certain neurotransmitters causes people to bounce from plan to plan.

Yes, the type 2A. However, it seems most people on here are trying to justify not being able to stick with something as “their neurotype traits”.

Listen… Figure out what training PRINCIPLES (not programs/methods) that appeal to you and provide the building blocks for your own productive training philosophy.

This is a lot to ask for a newb who gets pulled in a million different directions from reading to much.

And this is EXACTLY the reason why they should pick something, stick with it, and then evaluate after MONTHS of consistency.

As with everything, people like to peg themselves as this or that.

Neurotype 2A.
Born in the year of the Fire Dog.

Neurotypes were meant to be a tool to evaluate your own training preferences.

How do you truly know your preferences and core principles less than 3 years into your lifting journey?

My guess is that things will come full circle for those who stick around long enough.

At first, a set was just a set.
Then you heard about neurotypes, EMG studies, YouTube fitness celebs, conjugate and Westside…
Then you understand the principles. Now a set is just a set (albeit, you are now equipped with a much deeper understanding from a high level overview perspective)

Btw, neurotypes are nothing new. Philosophers from ancient Greece to East Asia used the natural elements to explain psychological archetypes.

Again, nothing is new to those who are familiar with the core principles.

In this thread:

Poster: Paul what should I do?

Paul: do this

Poster: yeah but I think I should do this…

You are dangerously close to being an askhole my man. It seems like you just wanted Paul to tell you what you were doing was the perfect plan instead of actually taking his advice.


Could anyone please post the study/article here again? I think I am blind but I can’t find it.
Thank you

This is a great answer.
Thanks alot for the immense details, it really got me thinking.
I really want to be consistent, I know it is the best for me.
But I really get bored and unmotivated when I know I have to perform 4 sets of 8 of bench or squats.
When I did the Bigger Leaner Stronger program, it is simply doing 3-4 sets of 3-5 reps and when you get to 5, up the weight and continue with 3. I got really unmotivated after a month of doing this.
I Know it makes it complicated, but I am really trying to simplify after reading all this.
I just did built for battle and I really enjoyed the circuit layout of it.

I’m wondering if it is possible to do a 10/8/6/15-20 rep scheme in a circuit?
That way keeping it higher reps, pretty simple, different that straight sets, stimulating for me and am still able to advance in weights.

You are completely right, I tend to over think. I just want to be clear, I am not trying to be rude or anything by not accepting his suggestions. I completely respect Paul as a super intelligent coach and I am simply trying to better understand the approach.

1 Like

I know the feeling. Take it to heart and save yourself a severe case of paralysis by analysis.

I wouldn’t change the rep schemes. It will be too brutal an counterproductive done as a circuit, unless you were to use really puny weights just to finish the circuit.

See what you’re doing when asking if you can change something? You’re already questioning the creator’s/author’s thought process. It will become a bad habit to look for ways to “improve” a program.

There’s a difference between customizing a program and butchering it.

Here’s a suggestion. Look up “Busy Man Conjugate Training” by Thibaudeau.

It will be a great choice for you:

  • Upper/Lower split
  • Lower reps on main lift (Would bump up the rep range to 5-7. Grinding out a 2-3RM is not for you, yet.)
  • A template instead of a fixed program
  • Assistance exercises done as a circuit
  • You pick the exercises yourself

Take a look at it. Execute. Eat. Evaluate.

Buy into it. Know that it works.

1 Like

So I checked the real driver of muscle growth workout and for the 12-15 rep range week, the workout takes only 20 minutes and for the 4-6 rep range it takes 40 minutes.
This seems pretty short?

I checked the conjugate training, seems interesting. Il try to come up with something from that.
Just asking for feedback.
With the 10/8/6/15-20, I was thinking like built for battle circuits?

Bench 10, 1 minute rest
Squat 10, 1 minute rest
Cable row 10, 1 minute rest
Deadlift 10, 1 minute rest
Overhead 10, 1 minute rest
Up weights on all
Bench 8, 1 minute rest
Squat 8, 1 minute rest