Tried And True Bodybuilding Program, Progressing Main Lifts?

I’ve been running Clay Hyghts Tried and True template the last 5 weeks and it’s been excellent, I just have a few questions running it going forward and I appreciate all who respond and thank you for taking the time to do so. What kind of progression would you recommend on the main lift of the day like bench and squat, should I always stick to hitting 5x5 or from week to week change it to then maybe 5x3 or 3x3, or 5,4,3,2,1 ramping up weight on each set? Also any other tips or suggestions on running this template? Thanks again guys!

In my opinion, the whole point of the article is that, in the long run, it probably doesn’t matter exactly what set/rep scheme you choose. As long as you’re hitting multiple sets at a heavy weight and progressing over time you’ve done okay.

Just remember that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If you’re seeing progress with straight up 5x5, I’d highly recommend sticking with straight up 5x5.



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Not to undermine the current response; that is more than likely correct. But @The_Mighty_Stu raves about this programme and pretty much anything Clay writes. He might offer some more insight.


Stick with the 5x5. With this type of program, you need to forget the “always add weight” mantra. It’s okay to stick with a weight for a few weeks, and once you can get 5 sets of 5 clean reps with minimal grinding, add a small amount of weight and repeat.



Come to thing of if, I’ve not seen Stu post for a while. Maybe a few months. Which is a shame. Stu is someone that post for free. But could write for T nation.

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3 x 3 and 5/4/3/2/1 are pretty low in total reps, and probably better for Strength than Mass.

4 x 8 or 3 x 10 could probably be better for gaining muscle.

Theoretically, if you were having trouble adding weight to your 5 x 5 rep scheme and your progress was slowing down you could do something like

Week 1: 5 x 5
Week 2 : 3 x 10
Week 3: 4 x 8

Week 4: 5 x 5 with more weight than last time.

This way you would get 3 weeks to " Digest Your Workout" and get stronger before you had to add weight to the bar. You always feel challenged. And you’d get three effective workouts with all the “optimal” bodybuilder weights/reps.


So my thoughts are slightly in apposition to Flats. Not to say he is wrong / I’m right. Just different ways to skin the same cat. For a start I’m all about strength.

And this does depend on the rest of your work out. As laid out in the 11 principals article. Intensity vs volume mainly. But I’d run a 4 week ramping up programme.

5x5 -75%
5x3 -80%
5x2 - 90%
54321 pulling for a heavy single at 95% nice and smooth. Depending on how easy it was I might even do 2 singles.


@carlbm or example on the chest and biceps day after the first exercise which I do flat barbell bench, I do: DB Incline Bench 3x6-10 Cable Fly (High to Low) 4x12-20 EZ Bar curls 4x5-8 DB Hammer Curls 3x8-12 Low Cable Curls 4x10-15

I will run it for a few cycles with the orginal 5/3/1, done that before and works well. And keeps me motivated.

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So (and sorry to be vague) - it depends on the load for each.

If you do 5x5 and the last rep is all you have.
Then you go an do DB bench - 3x10. And set 1 rep 9 is HARD work. Then there is a good chance you doing too much. You can not sustain 100% for than a few sets.
Where are if you are breezing through the whole workout in 20 mins - you are not working hard enough. You should need some rest between your sets. To regather yourself.

I’ve copy and pasted the 11 principles pieces below. Point 11 is the one we are discussing. But read all of it. Even for a guy that trains strength these 11 point are VERY useful. Read this and I’m pretty sure your questions will be answered.

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I’ve always enjoyed progressing on something like:
wk1: 4x6 (75%)
wk2: 5x5 (77.5%)
wk3: 6x4 (80%)
wk4: 4x5 (80%)
wk5: 5x4 (82.5%)
wk6: 6x3 (85%)
wk7: 4x4 (85%)
wk8: 5x3 (87.5%)
wk9: 6x2 (90%)

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What’s the weight % changes on those as that looks quite interesting.

I’ve been doing a really simple progression of

4 x 6

4 x 5 (2.5kg increase)

4 x 4 (another 2.5kg increase)

4 x 6 (at the week 2 weight)

I saw it on here somewhere, can’t comment about it working long term as only ran it through once currently.

I edited with %'s.

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I just amused myself with comparing how load/volume fluctates between your approach and @jskrabac

Your average volume increases almost linearly, and if you are more towards the beginner level that might benefit you more


Over a training cycle of 9 weeks the total volume for @jskrabac would be higher but the training volume tapers down after the first three weeks (accumulation?)

Meanwhile, @rugby_lifting s approach won’t reach as high loads during the same time frame but volume increases more consistently during shorter time frames (again, total tonnage is lower though).

I used a starting weight of 100kg under the assumption that it is possible to do 6 reps and have 1-2, maybe even 3 reps in the tank.


It was amusing to do this as I had this article in the back off my mind

This post has exactly zero judgement on what’d be better. I just crunched some data and figured I’d share rather than sit with it in my own spreadsheet.


I just want to say that I’ve basically been training like this for years and never had a legitimate article or research to prove my beliefs about this until now. this article put those longheld beliefs into words for me - thank you for the share!

There are lots of good articles around on T-nation. The archives go back far.

I’ve been a reader of T-Nation for the better part of 7 years now, i guess I just missed this one. Regardless, thank you

So is that article basically saying,

Do a month of 6-8 reps increasing weight where you can but always staying in the 6-8 rep range, then next block 8-10 etc and so on 10-12 etc

Not questioning, just making sure I read that like I was supposed to.

Or is it just do a month of 6-8 no weight increases, then 8-10 same weight then 10-22 etc

Cheers for helping my slow brain after a long days work.

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