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Strength/Size Program Idea

In a recent Dan John article, the idea that you don’t necessarily get strong in the deadlift by deadlifting, but by practicing other lifts that translate to deadlift strength like squatting and chins. This idea kind of changed the way I thought about balance and where to place the most importance in my training. This kind of goes back to you can’t do everything at once.

I did a ton of research on Mark Rippetoe and the importance of adding weight to the bar. I also learned a lot about technique. I did the same with Jim Wendler, and learned the importance of training with balance, and as athletically as possible.

What I love about the Dan John approach is it’s no bullshit. I tend to overthink and debate things over and over, and with his programs it’s no thinking, no talking. It’s just lift the weights, and good things will happen.

Learning the philosophies of these coaches and understanding how their programs worked (because I program hopped them), I have an idea for a solid Strength/Size program.

Day 1- Heavy Squatting emphasis
Agile 8
KB swings x15
Box Jumps x10

Squats 5x10+
Chins x25
DB Clean & Press x10x5x10
Suitcase Carry, half bodyweight 100 yards, switch hands and return

Day 2- Press emphasis/ Heavy set(s) of deadlifts
Agile 8
KB Goblet Squat x15
Broad Jumps x10

Deadlift x10 (2x5, 3x3, 5-3-2, 5x2)
Press 50 reps
Batwings x15
Farmer’s walk, bodyweight 100 yards and return

Day 3- High-rep Squatting, extra chins & CP’s
Agile 8
KB swings x15
Box Jumps x10

Squats 50 reps
Chins x25
DB Clean & Press 5x5
Suitcase Carry, half bodyweight 100 yards, switch hands and return

On day 1, sets to 10 ramping up to a top heavy set of Squats is the importance. I want each new heavy squat day to come out with a new PR. I will start with 175-185 being the top heavy set and go from there. The 25 chins can be completed however I can get them in, I’ll probably just superset them between the Squat sets. The DB Clean & Press is a pull prep/press press for Day 2 where I deadlift and OHP. I was thinking 25 reps there. Dan John has convinced me that picking up heavy weight and carrying it is important so look at me.

On day 2, the rule of 10 is applied to deadlifts. I don’t need to deadlift as much as I squat and probably would be better off getting better at chins. I’m thinking I might want to make this a 4 week template that can be repeated, which would have me go 2x5, 5-3-2, 3x3 and then 5x2 weeks 1-4. This is also my main pressing day, 50 reps is the total. I want to break PR’s each week here, I’m not yet sure what kind of rep scheme I should go with here. Sets of 5’s? 10-5-10-5-10-5-10? The Batwings, being the best kind of row I know is still the smallest part of this program, but a total of 15 reps should get the job done, 3x5 with holds in the squeeze position.

On day 3, I’m both physically and mentally challenging myself with high-rep squats. The goal here is to get to a BW squat x20 if not more in a couple weeks. Everything else repeats itself, but instead of a 10-5-10 rep scheme with the CP’s, I go with 5x5 with a longer recovery period following.

Any suggestions for the rep schemes on Squats, Press and Clean & Presses would be appreciated. Is 5x5 just the best way to go about 25 reps? How should I get my 50 reps of Squats and Presses? Any ideas of how to progress this program week-to-week is also something I’m thinking about and would like some input.


holy shit. Could you not just do 5/3/1?

edit: jesus, I just checked your post history. Imagine how productive the last few months would have been if you’d just done the original 5/3/1 with the Boring But Big template, and followed it exactly without questions or modifications…


I agree with Yogi on that one

Imo you gotta ask yourself,do you want to get strong and big or invent the latest sickest program and t nation begging you for articles

If it the first one,just do something that has worked for 100s of lifters like 531,westside ect

If the second one,good luck and remember to mention me on your speech (Sorry if I sound too much of an asshole here.I just couldn’t resist being sarcastic)

Rather than try to blend 3 coaches programs into one, why not run one coach’s program for 6 months, then the other for 6 months and then the other? The programs clearly work as is, whereas your Frankenstein approach has no precedent.

How am I combining? There’s no add 5/10 lbs every day, or %'s with + sets. It’s definitely Dan John-based, it’s more where should my time be spent, how much/how often and balancing it all…

I figured the most important thing for me to be doing is squatting. I have a heavy day and a high rep day. Chins and Pressing are probably the next most important. So I get 50 chins in a week, however I can get them, have a heavy Press day with my low volume Deadlift day and get clean and presses in on the other days as a pull-push prep of sorts. I carry heavy weight every day.

This is what lead me to believe you were combining principles.

Any reason you dont want to just run one of Dan’s programs straight up? I hear Mass Made Simple is the bee’s pajamas.

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there’s not really any point in anybody giving you any advice regarding routines as in the couple of months since you joined this site you’ve started well into the double figures of threads asking about a new routine you want to try. In every thread you start you get good advice which you then ignore and come back a few days later asking about something else.

Just pick a program. Any program at all. It can be one of the dozens on this site, or it can be one you put together yourself. Just pick a program and do it for a few MONTHS and then reevaluate.

You won’t do this, though. You’ll be back soon with another thread, another routine.


lol @ “bee’s pajamas” haha

Exactly, just how often is the op going to accept failure and put the blame on the program?

The program, unless total dog poo, is secondary to the application and effort. Until you get that down, you will always be vulnerable to the next charismatic guy or girl with the next big program coming along and derailing your effort.

Make the program work for you OP. That’s a skill that will put you ahead of the game.


Biff from “Back to the Future” is my idol.

But I am just blown away at newbs that ask Jim Wendler personally for advice and then ignore it. I think back to when elitefts was young and you would submit a question to the Q&A and wait around for a week or 2 and HOPE someone would answer it and that was it. And then, before that, if you wanted to know how to lift, you had to train with the big guy at your gym and pick his brain. Now, folks have access to a 1,000lb squatter and they decide he probably doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

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If you need two separate workouts for 50 chins you’re not Even close to the point where you should mix and match programs.

My biggest failure was hopping/mixing/analyzing for my 2 first lifting years. Then I anchored myself to the 5/3/1 method and the programs/principles within it I’ve made much better progress. The reason for this is that I can now concentrate much more to the actual work instead of programming.

Another great thing about the 5/3/1 for programming freaks is that Jim lays out hundreds of different options and gives direct advice how to balance and periodize them. This how he saves “thinkers” from themselves.

No. You learned nothing. Otherwise you would never have started this thread. You would also be much bigger and stronger than you are now. This is like displaying your ability to quote shit from multiple textbooks but failing the exam.

Somewhere out there right now, some kid who has no fucking idea who any of the writers mentioned above are, training 6 days a week without a program, using form the internet considers “shitty”, not doing any mobility or activation or whatever work, eating whatever crap is available to him IS MAKING MORE PROGRESS THAN YOU.

Years later, when all you fellows who are overanalysing and parroting stuff about the most optimal program, reps, sets, training style etc realise you’re still beginners or at least still look like one, you will end up going to this kid for advice in the gym. Or you will probably say he’s on roids or blame genetics and continue parroting shit on the internet to other beginners who do not know any better.

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I find it hard to see the mental path you took from “lift weights and good things happen” and “simple, no bullshit” to the rest of the post. If you want a simple, no bullshit routine, try Dan Johns one lift a day program. Turn up, spend 30-45mins on a big compound exercise, go home and eat. That’s simple, no bullshit training.

it must be hard for noobs though. Like, they have access to SO MUCH information and don’t have the experience yet to sift through the crap. That’s why they say things like natural lifters and steroid users need to train differently; strength programs don’t build mass; bodybuilders aren’t strong; size and strength are mutually exclusive and all the other shite that has the experienced lifters face-palming.

But it’s just downright rude to ask a man like Jim Wendler to take time out of his day to give you advice and then not take it. Back when I was first starting out I’d have jizzed in my pants if someone like Waterbury had answered one of my questions directly! No way I’d have ignored the advice. I’d probably have tattooed his face onto my face.


Jim Wendler is as good of a coach, that I know. And I have ran his templates before, and loved it. I’m coming back from a wrist injury and even with 5/3/1, I began thinking too much for whatever reason. I have learned balance from his templates and from talking to him on this forum, so just blasting me that I’m the person that is ignoring his advice is inaccurate.

I actually have made progress, and ran 5/3/1 earlier this year… But, you just love calling me out so go ahead. I’m really only asking if my idea of a program is balanced.

So I’ll take it whatever program I make up will be good because apparently I’m doing nothing.

Any reason in particular you responded to this post but not this one?

I don’t understand why you don’t want to run Dan’s program.

If your concern is that you are thinking too much, instead of trying to make a new program, just follow someone else’s to the letter with zero changes. No thinking required at all.

I derive no pleasure from calling anyone out. And I did not type out a lengthy post for no reason.

You love it, and that’s fine I posted on this forum so whatever response I get, I asked for it. I wasn’t really asking what my problem is, more of what you thought of this idea of a program was.