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What Is The Best Strength Program?


as i said in my introductory post, i'm a martial artist that's looking to get stronger. i don't care about how much i weigh or how i will look. i'm interested in functional strength.

i've been "lifting heavy" with a program that i pulled out of my own ass after reading this forum and articles on this website for a few months. it looks like this:

workout A
back squat 3x5 @ 5RM adding 10lbs every session
bench press 3x5 @ 5rm adding 5lbs
deadlift 3x5 @ 5RM adding 10
Pull-ups 3xFail @ bodyweight
Dips 3xFail @ bodyweight

Workout B
Front Squat @ 5RM adding 10
Press @ 5Rm adding 5
Power-Clean @ 5rm adding 10
Pull-ups 3xFail
Dips 3xFail

alternate workouts A and B on M.W.F (look familiar?)

i started this program almost exactly a month ago. i'm currently repping:
back squat @ 205
bench @ 140
Deadlift @ 225 (i've really plateau-ed here for about a week. it's because i suck)
front squat @ 175
press @ 110
Power Clean @ 125
i usually get around 15 pull-ups and 30 dips each workout.

i've been eating a lot. i haven't been keeping track of how much i've been eating, but i have gone from 163 pounds to 176 in a month. all of my rep weights have been going up consistently (except for my deadlift). and, no, my form is not great on all of my lifts; i'm still learning, brah.

so, that's what i've been doing.

what i need (read: want) is for ya'll to point out my stupidity and tell me how another way is the best! should i keep doing this? should i start pushing my car up and down ice covered streets all day? should i concentrate solely on creating bulging biceps and visibly ripply serratus muscles? should i build and then push a "Wheel of Pain" for years like Conan? should i just fuck off and die?

advise me!


Idk man, I keep getting stronger, but I don't follow a 'program,' less think more do.

Cycle rep ranges, keep trying to push more weight, allow enough time for recovery.


you have plateued on your deadlift because you work up to a a 5rm squat and dead in the same workout you silly, that is a dumb program for you imo.
what days do you train martial arts - as in proper training sessions. as they are the priority, you will need to fit weight training around that.
also do a google search for RossTraining - relevant to your interests


+1 for Ross Enamait. I have Never Gymless and it is an ass-kicker.


I bet this isn't entirely true, or at least, it's not quite what you meant. You may not have a certain physique or bodyweight goal in mind, but would you mind gaining 10-15 pounds of muscle and bodyfat if it meant increased performance?

That's fine, and legit in your current situation. But as a heads up, around here, that phrase is like walking into an old school dojo and saying "I'm interested in kicking ass on the streets." Not always well-received.

13 pounds in a single month is big progress. Are you sure most of that was muscle?

Asking for "the best strength program" is like asking for "the best food." There's really no single answer.

I'd say swap to a better-designed program for now. It hasn't been terrible, but like caveman said, your deadlift is stalled because you're overtrained on it. There's a reason Rippetoe only suggests one working set of it. And you're going to failure in a high rep range on the bodyweight exercises, which isn't really beneficial for much at all.

Enamait knows his stuff, absolutely. But have you looked in the Combat forum here (especially the "'How to Train' Questions" sticky at the top)? A lot of guys seem to like Wendler's 5/3/1 plan or DeFranco's Westside for Skinny Bastards template.

All things considered, this would not be the worst idea in the world.


I will build one of these some day.


i intended this thread to be at least a bit silly. i was hoping for more enthusiastic responses in the vein of, "jim wendler listens to dopesmoker while he makes fun of people doing shitty power-cleans, therefore; 5/3/1 is clearly superior to all other programs."

i really did think i was clear enough in my description of my vague goals... i guess i shouldn't have used such loaded terms. strong in my mind = strongman/powerlifter type strength. i train martial arts every day. i am not an MMA guy... i practice wing chun, t'ai chi and some general chi gong. all in all, my MA practice is very soft. i'm looking for a compliment to it that is hard (like weightlifting).

and no, probably not all of the weight i gained was muscle. does that matter? my weight fluctuates like crazy anyhow. i'd say you could add plus or minus 4 pounds to either side of my starting/finishing weights. so, minimally, i've just gained about 5 pounds. or did i gain 21?! omg!!

this still seems like the best suggestion so far...


so the martial arts thing is more of an interest/hobby and you havnt invested time and money into attending classes and building a skill base under experienced supervision?

just pick something like 5/3/1, 5x5, WS4SB etc and go all out. the bruce lee impression could be used as part of your mobility/warm up drill and conditioning


-pick a program. Work the shit out of it. Post results in 6 months.


hey, now. i didn't say all that... i've been training martial arts for eleven years. and, yes, i have paid cash money for some primo supervision.

so, alls i'm saying is... talk to ya'll in six months

ps. i want to go on record and say that a moderator changed the title of my post. probably because they don't care for troll-type new-jacks dicking around on their website, bothering all the beef. thanks for sticking me with the wheel of pain, guys.


If you gained 10 pounds of fat and 3 pounds of muscle in one month, what kind of track do you think that puts you on for the long-term? It's always something to keep an eye on, even if your physique isn't a primary goal.

Yes, fat gain matters. If your strength is improving but you're gaining bodyfat and minimal muscle, your nutrition is screwed up in some way. Correcting that would only improve your performance in the gym and in your arts.

For the record, your original title is still visible in the URL. "Alright TNation sell me on the best strength program" isn't exactly troll-ish, but it isn't exactly easy to take seriously, either.


I see your point, by what you're looking for.

Your exercise selection is good, but your programming for it is going to get you all screwed up. There's too much volume on the big lifts, you're headed for overtraining and reduced gains.

Pick one of the proven methods - 5/3/1 or WS4SB, for example - and rock it. They work, if you give them time. Personally, I've used 5/3/1 and made some excellent progress, IMO it's great for building a broad foundation of strength that you can branch out from down the road.

And do the wheel.




whoa, i forgot about his thread...

well, i suck is about what i can say about the last year of my training. it took me a couple weeks to realize that most of my lifts i posted back then don't count because of my shit form (specifically my squats). so those are all out the window. i almost never try for 1rms, but my current bests are

squat: 225 3x5
dead: 275x2
bench: 185x1

i've been a total idiot about my programming too. i switched to 5/3/1 soon after my original post on this thread and was working it really well, but then life caught up to me in may. i was graduating and staying up really late writing papers, eating like shit and i got really sick. i was out of the gym for a month. when i started back up, i went back to starting strength (why? i cannot remember...). i worked that pretty well for a while and then, as i have tended to do, sort of drifted out of the habit and somehow missed another month of lifting just because i was partying and working a lot. AND THEN... i was all, "i'll make my own program and it's going to be awesome!" because i'm such a genius and those other programs "didn't work". i maintain that the program i made is awesome, but only if i was taking steroids and eating like a champion (which i do not do). so, the friday workout of said program called for a 20 rep squat set which i completed (with 155lbs if you're wondering) but not without getting the worst headache of my life (it lasted a week) and severely straining part of my neck musculature. it was terrible and dumb.

anyway, that brings us to now. i weigh 180 pounds (i only lost about 4lbs during my neck injury layoff) with a little bit of gut, but not too much. i feel strong and am working 5/3/1 again. some of the lessons that i learned from last year are:

  1. starting over a bunch of times is not going to get you anywhere. consistency really is key.
  2. staying up late is stupid.
  3. do cardio
  4. i'm still a beginner and i need to keep my opinions out of my training

thanks for all of the advice and hopefully i'll be able to post something more positive next year...


good stuff - you'll get there eventually. i remember once realising my squat for was horrible and having to knock off near 100lbs before working back up


Sucks to hear about how your year turned out, but if these four lessons really sunk in, then you should get pretty well back on track.

5/3/1, and Wendler's general training philosophy, might be just what you need to stick with.

'Ya know, you're allowed to post training questions more than once a year. :wink:

If something comes up along the way, toss a question onto the forum.


He's basically doing starting strength. IMO, he should just stick with it for a little while before jumping ship into another program, if only to start the good habit of giving a program long enough to really do its work.



Kidding (sort of).

It's the one you'll actually do. Everything works until it doesn't particularly for us newbs...


lol. i standing overhead press more than you squat.

but i imagine i don't have 'functional strength' AMIRITE?!

lol good thing i don't do anything MA/fighting related