Strength Training – How to Get Stronger

Strength Training – How to Get Stronger

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benefits of strength training

Note: If you want a step-by-step proven workout plan for getting stronger and packing on slabs of muscle, I highly recommend checking out this article today.

 

What you’ll find on this page…

  • Part 1: What will strength training do for you?
  • Part 2:  What is strength training?
  • Part 3: Beginner strength training workouts

Part 1 – What will strength training do for you?

Strength training is one of the best ways to… build muscle, lose fat and build insane strength.  Strength training is the primary form of weight training for athletes, especially those in sports like football, wrestling, track, gymnastics and power lifting (any physical sport really…).

Unlike most bodybuilding routines that you’ll find in fitness magazines, strength training is actually very useful for improving physical performance in sports.  Getting stronger is one of the best ways to improve your performance in nearly every sport.

If you’re a guy, strength training will help you…

  • Get bigger, more defined muscles
  • See significant gains in strength (improves athletic performance)
  • Boost your metabolism and help you burn fat
  • Produce more testosterone in your body

If you’re a woman, strength training will help you…

  • Get a tight, toned fitness look through your arms, thighs, butt and stomach
  • Make you stronger, and give you more energy
  • Stay lean ( You will NOT, I repeat NOT get big and bulky)

Part 2 – What is Strength Training?

Strength training is about working your body’s large muscle groups in natural movements (squats, deadlifts, bench press etc..) that result not only in an improved physique, but also a noticeable increase of strength and improved athletic ability.

Many weightlifting programs are designed specifically to make your body look better while neglecting the function behind the form.  While it is better than sitting on the couch, you aren’t getting the full benefits of your workout.  The majority of these programs use exercises that are utterly useless outside of the gym (wrist curls, calf raises etc.) and do not translate into athletics or real world activities.

Most guys who workout with traditional magazine workouts (high rep, lower weight) will see some results and start to feel good about themselves.   They look better in the mirror, and think damn!…this is finally working!  Then one day their neighbor’s car gets stuck in the snow, and they have to help her push it out… Or they need to hoist that overloaded box into the crawl space of their attic. When people finally realize their bloated three sets of ten reps muscles are utterly useless. They’re confused. They go to the gym six days per week. They follow everything they’ve read online and in the magazines, but despite their muscular appearance, they’re still functionally weak.

Now what? Reality has kicked in… and the reality is they have a little form with no function.   They have big muscles with no purpose behind them…

If this sounds like you, no need to panic.  It’s a good that you realize there’s a problem and that you need to change your strength training workouts.  Here’s what we’re going to do to fix your workouts…

  • Simplify
  • Increase the weight, decrease the reps
  • Rest
  • Test your progress

Simplify

  • To build strength we aren’t going to go through the entire encyclopedia of exercises. We’re going to stick with five basic movements: squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, shoulder presses and bench presses. That’s it. And dare I say that if these five lifts were the only lifts that you ever did, you would be just fine. Probably better than fine. It’s almost always better to keep things simple. Just remember that simple does not necessarily mean easy.

Increase and Decrease

  • To build strength, do two things: increase the weight of your lifts and decrease the repetitions. Do not do any more than five reps per set. In most cases, three repetitions will be ideal ( 3 reps for 5 sets is a good starter). Heavy sets of one rep on occasion are a good thing as well. If you’re using a load that you can lift more than five times in one set, you are not using enough weight to build strength. Put some damned plates on the bar, grit your teeth, and lift! Again, simple does not mean easy.

Rest

  • You should wait at least two minutes between sets when strength training. Waiting as much as five minutes between sets when doing heavy singles is not a bad thing. I typically rest 2-4 minutes between sets when strength training.  Also, you may need to increase your rest periods as the workout progresses, and fatigue creeps in. You may rest two minutes between your first and second set and four minutes between your fifth and sixth set. Use a stop watch and log your rest periods as meticulously as you log your weights, sets, and reps.

Test

  • Find your one-rep max for each of the five listed exercises. And then test your max every four to 8 weeks thereafter (I find six-week intervals to be ideal). You won’t know if you’re getting stronger unless you establish your max periodically. These “tests” let you know if your training is effective or if you need to make adjustments.

Lift a weight that requires all of your focus and determination at that moment. Keep your technique clean, be safe, lift with a spotter and also lift as heavy as possible within these parameters. Keep it simple. And when strength training, simple should not mean easy.

 

A photo posted by terryasher (@terryasher) on

Part 3 – Strength Training Workouts

Just because this is a novice workout, doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.  If you’ve never seen results, or you’ve never done real strength training before, this is the perfect place to start.  If you hate working out, this is a great place to start too because once you start to see real results, you’ll be hooked!



If you don’t care about getting stronger and only want to lose fat as fast as possible, you should check out our piece on how to lose fat.how to lose fat.

Ok for the novice workout, we are going to focus on the 5 main exercises.

These exercises will help you build the most amount of strength in the shortest time possible, because all of these movements are compound exercises that target the largest muscle groups.

Novice strength training workout

3 day workout (M-W-F) or (T-Th-Sa)

If you have never performed Squats, Deadlifts, Shoulder Presses, Pull ups or the Bench Press, I recommend you start this beginner workout program to learn the proper form (good form is crucial).  Working with just the barbell before you add weight is the best way to learn the proper technique.

———————————————————————–

Week 1 workout

Day 1 (Monday)

  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes by either jumping rope, doing jumping jacks,  using a rower machine or riding a stationary bike
  • Squats – 2 warmup sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added).  5 sets of 5 reps ( Find a weight that makes five reps difficult)
  • Shoulder Press –  2 warmup sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added).  5 sets of 5 reps (Find a weight that makes 5 reps difficult)

Notes: Rest 2 minute between each set

Day 2 (Wednesday)

  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes by either jumping rope, using a rower machine or riding a stationary bike.
  • Deadlift – 2 warmup sets of 5 reps (barbell with some weight added).  5 sets of 5 reps ( Use a weight that’s difficult to do 5 sets)
  • Chin ups/pull ups – Do 5 sets of 5 reps.  If you can’t do a chin up, check out the bottom of the chinup page for advice on assisted chinups.  If you can do more than 5 chinups, add weight to your chinups so that you can only do 5.  We have a lot of info on adding weight at the bottom of the page here…

Note: Rest 2 minutes between each set

Day 3 (Friday)

  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes by either jumping rope, using a rower machine or riding a stationary bike
  • Squats – 2 warmup sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added)- 5 sets of 5 reps ( Find a weight that makes five reps difficult)
  • Bench Press – 2 warmup sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added)- 5 sets of 5 reps ( Find a weight that makes five reps difficult)

Note: Rest 2 minutes between each set

That’s your workout for the first week.  For week 2, we’re going to be doing the same exercises, except we’ll be performing the Day 2 workout twice, and the Day 1 workout once.

—————————————————————————

Week 2 workout

Day 1 (Monday)

  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes by either jumping rope, using a rower machine or riding a stationary bike.
  • Deadlift – 2 warmup sets of 5 reps (barbell with some weight added).  5 sets of 5 reps ( Use a weight that’s difficult to do 5 sets)
  • Shoulder Press –  2 warmup sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added).  5 sets of 5 reps (Find a weight that makes 5 reps difficult)

Note: Rest 2 minutes between each set

Day 2 (Wednesday)

  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes by either jumping rope, using a rower machine or riding a stationary bike
  • Squats – 2 warmup sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added)- 5 sets of 5 reps ( Find a weight that makes five reps difficult)
  • Chin ups/pull ups – Do 5 sets of 5 reps.  If you can’t do a chin up, check out the bottom of the chinup page for advice on assisted chinups.  If you can do more than 5 chinups, add weight to your chinups so that you can only do 5.  We have a lot of info on adding weight at the bottom of the page here…

Note: Rest 2 minutes between each set

Day 3 (Friday)

  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes by either jumping rope, doing jumping jacks,  using a rower machine or riding a stationary bike
  • Deadlift – 2 warmup sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added)
  • Bench Press – 2 warmup sets of 5 reps (1 with just the barbell, 1 with some weight added)- 5 sets of 5 reps ( Find a weight that makes five reps difficult)

Notes: Rest 2 minute between each set

Repeat the week 1 and week 2 workouts for at least 12 weeks.

Get stronger

Conclusion

It’s cool being buff don’t get me wrong, but what good are you if you can’t function? Well, with the above exercises and compound movements you will be on your way to being buffer, strong and more powerful than ever before.

-Terry Asher

87 COMMENTS

  1. Im on this program now about two weeks and i must say I’m already seeing better results than i would with my usual weights workout. I’ve really been pushing the load I lift rather than just settling for something comfortable and I think I’m going to stick with this for at least a few more months before I change anything. One thing I’ve done differently is switch chin ups for bent over rows because as much as I’d love to hoist myself over the bar, i don’t have access to an assisted machine and I’m way to heavy to manage it myself at the moment (250+) but I would like to eventually

  2. Just started this workout this week, decided I’d blog as I did it (you know, just to be different) thanks for putting in so much information and making free weights less scary.

  3. I’m a 50 year old Police Chief who is 5′ 9″ and weighs 190 lbs. I have a home gym consisting of free weights with a squat rack and cable attachment for lats. I train for muscle size but also strenth is important in the reason it could save my life in a hand to hand battle. I see one program here for strenth and one for muscle size. I need one for both. Also I have bad shoulders from a motorcycle wreck in my youth. So no pull ups.

  4. @larry: Let’s start with the bad shoulders. . . obviously you have to temper what ever advice I give (or any other fitness professional) with your doctors orders and your own personal knowledge of how your body works. Now that the former lawyer in me is satisfied, on with the show!

    I’ve had experience with clients where they were limited on one plane of motion due to shoulder injury, but were fine on other planes. For example, a pull up works the vertical plane from top to bottom (overhead), a bent over row or body row works the horizontal plane, and a high pull works the vertical plane from bottom to top (from arms extended below the waist to the chin). If you cannot do the pull up, experiment with other exercises that pull on different planes and see how you feel. As a side note, you mention you have a cable for lat pull downs. If you can do lat pull downs, it is highly likely that you can do pull ups – you just might have to take it slow and work up to it.

    As for strength, size, or both, my gut reaction is to tell you to go straight for the strength. At your height and weight, you’re already a pretty big guy. However, if you’re stuck on wanting to shoot for both you can try a method of training I’ve been experimenting with myself with good results:

    Do one strength movement for five sets in the 1 – 5 rep range. Follow this by a superset of two exercises in the 8-12 rep range for 3 – 5 sets. Training done for the day.

    As an example, your first training day might look like this:

    Deadlifts: 5 sets of 3 reps with lots of rest in between. Then hang high pulls supersetted with push presses, working in the mid rep range (8 – 12) for 4 sets with 1 minute rest between sets.

    If you’re looking for even more in depth planning for your specific situation, email me directly at [email protected].

  5. Hey vic is it ok to do your strength training program in conjunction with speed training?.. i planned my workouts like this: mon,wed,fri weights in the morning with light jogging and drills in the afternoon …tue,thu speed training(sprinting). am i pushing it too much? i’m training for my semipro football season

  6. @Luis: That sounds like a solid training split you have there. As long as your nutrition is on point, I don’t think you’re pushing it too much. In fact, I’d say you’re pushing it just right.

  7. Hey man, this is a revelation to me. Thank you! Thing is though I can only make it to the gym on a Wed and a Fri so how would I condense the workouts to achieve best results? Also, on a Mon I’m committed to my brother-in-law’s boxing training. Will this cardio hinder my strength/muscle gain noticeably? Thanks!

  8. @Banjomin: Just rotate the three days of training between your Wednesday / Friday availability and you should be good. Track your results and adjust as needed. Will the boxing hinder your strength/muscle gain noticeably? Maybe. But then again, maybe not. Too many unknown factors for me to make an accurate prediction such as your diet, current fitness level, and genetic predispositions. As I’ve already mentioned, track your results. Keeping detailed notes on your training is the best way to tell if what you are doing is working. If you’re not seeing the results you want, perhaps diet is the issue. Or perhaps it is the extra boxing workout. There is no way to tell for sure absent personal experimentation and tracking of results.

  9. What about streching after the training, I have always heard you should do it to prevent shorting of the muscles and thus loss of movement, is that required or can I skip it?

  10. Hey I am a student in HS. I weigh about 145 and am 5’9. I just started taking a weights class because a) i wanna get stronger and b) i do baseball, basketball, and football. I have already noticed great results but will i eventually begin to actually look bigger using the Strength training workout or should i be doing other lifts also for muscle toning and definition?

  11. New to your website, it’s very instructive. Looking forward to trying this routine out!

    You speak the truth Vic! Good quality stuff!

  12. Hey I am a student in HS. I weigh about 145 and am 5′9. I just started taking a weights class because a) i wanna get stronger and b) i do baseball, basketball, and football. I have already noticed great results but will i eventually begin to actually look bigger using the Strength training workout or should i be doing other lifts also for muscle toning and definition?

    • @ KMead: At your age and weight, I’d recommend sticking with the Strength Training workout for a while. Yes, you should start to look bigger as well as (and more importantly in my opinion) get stronger. Be sure to combine your training with a solid nutrition plan, which at your age and weight means to eat like it’s your friggin’ job! Good luck and train hard!

  13. Hi Vic,

    I want to thank you for your motivating website, I like your style talking about reality here and not some commercial blahblah…

    I am already preparing the real workouts in beginners mode and exercise good form.

    Just turned 50 and stopped smoking a few months back, now I need to catch up with the past and get in shape feeling 35 again instead of 80 years old… :-(

    I do not need to have that bodybuilder’s tweaked body, I only want to become stronger while waking up that body and get fit. Your site seems the perfect place to start… 😉

    Work to be done!

    Bert

    • @BertD: Big congrats for stopping the cigarettes! If you can kick that habit, you definitely have the discipline to reach your fitness goals. Good luck on getting fit and strong!

  14. Hello Vic,

    we have talked back and forth before by email. I am currently enrolled in your monster method circuit training classes tues and thursday and wish to integrate as many work outs as possible in addition to this.

    You recommended strength training in addition to the classes, but my question is this:

    if i am going to your intense circuit training classes tues and thurs. . what time of the week would it acceptable to incorperate strength training into my routine? I am about to invest in some olympic barbell and potentaly a 45, 53 pound kettle bell (i already have a 35). . but would like to know when to use em!

    I thought this topic deserve to be discussed publicaly here on your blog,

    Thanks man!

    Alexander
    Wellness director
    Clintonville Community Market

    WCRS – 98.3 & 102.1 FM
    Producer and Host: “Herban Herbalist” 3:30pm every tuesday.

  15. Alexander, many thanks for posting your question!

    You should be fine doing the strength training on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The intense circuits should not interfere with your strength sessions, but a few things to think about. . .

    First, trust and listen to your body. If the body says it needs some rest, then take the time off. It’s not an excuse to wuss out. Be honest with yourself and if you need the rest take it. Second, track your training in a workout log or journal. That is the only way to know for sure if the circuits on Tuesdays and Thursdays are detracting from your strength work. Even just one day of strength work (say, Saturday) would be better than not doing anything. If you are only getting plates and barbells with no rack, start with the deadlift for sure. You will get plenty of strength gains from that movement alone!

    Thanks again and I’ll see you in the Monster Room!

  16. well-written, precise & precious articles – thanks a lot Vic for your great work/website.

    -saran (your follower)

  17. I just finished the 12 week strength training course and I wanted to share the results with everyone, because I was amazed with the results I have seen.
    I’ll list each exercise in the program along with the weight I started with, and the weight I ended with.

    Deadlift:
    Started: 115 5X5
    Ended: 300 5X5

    Squat:
    Started: 115 5X5
    Ended: 345 5X5

    Pullups:
    Started: Assisted at 50% bodyweight 5X5
    Ended: Bodyweight (About to start adding weight) 5X5

    Bench Press:
    Started: 95 5X5
    Ended: 155 5X5

    Shoulder Press
    Started: 60 5X5
    Ended: 115 5X5

    I had never lifted weights before and was blown away that even a couch potato like myself could have results like this. Thanks a lot Vic!

  18. Thanks a lot, Vic.

    I am doing exercise from a couple of years but not many results . After following your instructions, I am feeling motivated.

    Great instructions with clarity. I just finished 4 week beginner workout and in the second week of Strength Training.

    I am having some issues with Shoulder Press. I can’t life more than 20lbs (standing). Any ideas to improve shoulder press?

    Again, great website for beginner workout

    • To improve the shoulder press, do the shoulder press. Seriously, don’t worry about only lifting 20 lbs. Strive for one more rep each session and eventually you will gain the strength. You can do it!

  19. Vic,

    First of all, this is an awesome website. I’ve been going to they gym now for a few weeks and on and off for years. This seems like a real no-nonsense approach and I’ll be starting it soon.

    One thing I am able to do already is ride a bicycle for an extended period of time. I do this every morning in the park for nine miles or so. Because of this, carbs are pretty much prerequisite. Because I do this everyday, will maintaining my current carbohydrate level be okay (I eat cereal or oatmeal with breakfast, sometimes whole grain bread or a whole wheat wrap with lunch, and a plain potato/sweet potato with dinner)?

    Also, I’ve been looking at other websites that talk about workouts involving sandbags, stones, sledgehammers and other “found objects”. Do you recommend these?

    • The only time I’d recommend the carbohydrate rich foods you mentioned is for either weight gaining or for frequent extended cardio sessions. And by extended, I mean a lot more than 9 miles on a bicycle. You may want to reduce your intake of those foods for a few weeks as a “test” just to see how you feel. You can always go back to them if it doesn’t work for you.

      As far as “found object” training, I love that shit! I use sledgehammers, sandbags, and slosh pipes in my own training all of the time. It’s not only effective, it’s fun!

  20. Vic- love your site. It’s changed the way I go about my workouts and really boosted my motivation.

    My goals are to gain some muscle mass but mostly strength as well as lose some excess fat. How could i combine both the weight loss and strength training to achieve both of these goals at the same time?

    I would love to see a long term workout plan to both stay strong and maintain a healthy weight after I acheive my goals.

    Thanks again for the great site.

    • If you follow a strength training exercise program, and clean up your diet (vegetables, fruit, and lean meats) you should lose some weight as well as get stronger. Good luck!

  21. Hi Vik,

    Thanks for sharing such great workout on this webpage.

    I am in week 5 of the strength training and enjoying it.

    I have done deadlift (120 lbs) a day before yesterday and start having lower back pain the next day – not after doing the exercise(only when I am sitting).

    Should I relax for a couple of days and then start agian or wait for the back pain to get fixed ( are there any stretching exercises I can introduce for my back)?

    Please advise

    • If your pain is along your spine or your pelvis, then stop doing the exercise until you can get a coach to check your technique in person. If you pain is in the muscles of the lower back and is just “muscle soreness”, you can resume the deadlift at your next scheduled deadlift session.

      Be careful. There are a small percentage of people who should not deadlift due to pre-existing injury or being predisposed to lower back injury. I’m not saying you’re one of them, I’m saying to be careful in case you are.

  22. hey vic
    thanks a ton for these new articles.as you advised i cut down on carbs (my post in other article) and now 4 of my abs are visible again (without doing any crunches or situp) thanks a lot.
    as you said i’ve started maintaining a diary to record progress , here are some of my data.
    after 3 months on mgs workout

    for 5 reps:

    squats (before)=65 kgs
    (after) =105 kgs

    deadlifts (before) = 80 kgs
    (after) = 135 kgs

    bench (before) = 40 kgs
    (after) = 60 kgs

    Weighted pushup = 20 kgs

    pullup (before) = 8
    (after) = 3

    mil press (before) = 30 kgs
    (after) = 50 kgs

    i dont understand but with my increase in weight to 80 kg from 64 kgs my pullup has come down and is not improving.help!!
    also do you spot any strenght imbalances.and since i ve refrained from running to gain i now want to start it.should i start taking carbs again.and can i try to do 5k jogs in 20 mins again training every alternate day.

    • My guess for your drop in pull up reps when every other exercise went up is one of two things: 1. because your bodyweight went up, you are now pulling more weight, so your reps went down. Or 2., you cleaned up your technique and the resulting increase in range of motion reduced the reps you can do. It’s hard for me to pin it down exactly without training you personally.

      If running is your thing, go for it. If you are going to be running predominantly 5K or less, I try to keep the carbs low still. At least the carbs from grains and dairy. Eat all of the damned vegetables you like! Keep up the good work of tracking your workouts and if you see your 5K times drop or you notice your overall energy levels sapped, then you might try adding some more carbs – but add them a little at a time.

      But let’s not forget the big congrats on your progress! Great work; keep us posted on your progress.

  23. Hey man this is a great write up you have going on. My buddy and I have been following the strength training program now m-w-f for a little over a month now. I have noticed an amazing gain in strength just over this period of time. Could you recommend any advice for a new routine to follow? Wondering as to muscle memory and curious when is appropriate to switch it up.

    • If you are still seeing progress, no need to switch it up. Once you plateau there are plenty of ways to switch it up. Whether that means changing exercises, reps, sets, rest periods, weight used, etc. But as long as you are seeing results, stay the course.

  24. Vic,

    I see you really like the Primal side of training…check out the Pendulum Equipment…Unreal priamal look!

    • I have no clue how you could call a piece of equipment that says “patent pending” on it’s spec sheet “primal”.

      Do not recommend, even subtly, your company’s equipment on my site again.

  25. thanks vic
    i’ve noticed that in your strenght programs you dont include deads and squats in the same workout.now i’ve been following mgs and in it after every 9 days or so we have squats and deads together.but i see that everyone says that since both exercises are taxing on cns especially if its heavy you put a lot of stress on your lower back.so what do you say?
    is it safe for the lower back to do heavy squats and deads on the same day after every 9 days or should i refrain from it and split squats and deads to separate lower body workouts?
    and sincerely thanks again for all your help so far!

  26. oy. . finally got me a barbell! no rack yet tho. . oh well. . ill come up with something.

    Hey dude you should throw up another great thread like this but more along the lines of STRENGTH 102.

    LOL loving this site, it has been tremendously beneficial!

    • Thanks, Alexander! A strength 102 article is a great idea. And plenty to do without a rack: powercleans, deadlifts, push press will get you far. Also light front squats, high pulls, and thrusters (front squat to push press) do not need a rack. Train hard!

  27. “That’s your workout for the first week. For week 2, we’re going to be doing the same exercises, except we’ll be performing the Day 2 workout twice, and the Day 1 workout once.”

    Can you please clarify this for me please!!! Thanks

  28. Vic, thanks for this, this is the site that really had me see that new angle i needed in order to seriously kick myself in the balls and get this shit going.

    I’ve started my third week now and gained about 7 lbs, surprised to already see big results from squats and lunges (tighter pants, or bigger thighs :P)

    Just today i surprised myself, accidently didn’t factor in the weight of the barbell, and squatted what i thought was 50 lbs, but in fact was 80 lbs! where i started out with 20

    So excuse the profanity but it’s needed for emphasis, Fuck yeah!

    • Great work, Sid! And no worries on the profanity. We try not to curse like soldiers (having been one myself), but the four letter word for emphasis is fine by me.

  29. Vic, nice advice which I have taken over and wielded for my own purpose of getting a bit bigger and a whole lot fitter. Using the five compound exercises you showed with 2 sets of 12 reps and 15 minutes cardio three times a week has given me a great balance of strength, tone and fitness. The results in two months have been amazing. And not only am I fitter, stronger and winning more regularly at games but the added physical presence has added to my general confidence – especially at work. And there’s more! My girlfriend loves to see my body and it has given her the impetus to try to get a bit fitter too. Winning all around! Cheers Vic

  30. If I were to supplement this with…say running, push ups, and crunches, would that do more or just hurt me? I’m going into the Marines and I need to be good at what they expect of me, so are the 2 mutually exclusive or what?

    • You definitely want to train with the movements that will be used during your training as a Marine. So run, do push ups, and pull ups for sure. You can do those movements and still hit the big lifts for strength – especially the squat and the deadlift. Thank you for your service!

  31. Hi Vic-I’ve been back to a regular training regimen for a year now, and I’ve definitely hit a plateau, maybe even LOST strength in some areas :( Probably overtraining. 5 days out of 7 in the gym, often 2+ hr. sessions…I’m gonna switch it up and try your 5×5 Strength Training Workout, but notice there are no abdominal, bi/tricep, traps or calve exercises. Are these ALL superfluous? Even abs? And how many 12 week training cycles would you recommend repeating before a longer rest cycle?

    • You should get all of the “ab” training you need with the heavy deadlifts and squats and overhead pressing. This is not a bodybuilding program, so you will not find any direct arm exercises or calf exercises. Consider the concept of training movements instead of body parts and give it a shot for a few months and see what you think. Good luck.

  32. Hey Vic, I am 6’0, 150 lbs and trying to gain weight. My buddy and I work out in his garage and we have a barbell, bench, and dumbbells. We squat every week but it’s pretty scary cause we don’t have a squat rack.

    If we don’t do squats, can we substitute lunges or any other exercise for similar results in this workout?

    • Although I believe the back squat is essential (barring any medical restrictions), especially during your early years of training other movements can work. Consider front squats (you will be limited by the amount of weight you can clean if you don’t have a rack, but it is safer than trying to get the bar on your back), and lunges and split squats are also great exercises. Good luck.

  33. hi Vic,

    Is there a suitable compound exercise I can substitute the deadlift for as I have a bad lower back, and had a twinge when trying the deadlift…

    thanks

    • It’s tough to replace the deadlift. Consider doing a month or so with light weight if you are brand new to the movement and making sure your technique is honed in. If your technique is good and you still feel back pain, heavy kettlebell swings and glute-ham raises will also work the posterior chain – but will also involve the lower back. Proceed with caution. Train hard but train safely.

  34. I am 17 and have been lifting weights recreationaly for three years (1 or 2 times a week) with marginal results and over the last 5 months i have been taking my workouts more seriously.

    I workout 3 to 4 times a week depending on scheduel. I do a day 1, day 2, day 3 kinda deal doing chest + shoulders day 1, bicep + tricep day 2, and legs + back day 3.

    I am 6’1 158lbs I have been doing 6 sets of 6 reps(similar in reps/sets as your 5×5 plan) and have been putting on weight for sure(I started the year at 135lbs but i have grown 2 inches), but i am barely seeing and actual strength increase. I started this year curling 20’s and i have moved up to 25’s soon to be 30’s. for 5 months that is a very very small increase in weight. I watch my diet and shoot for 3000 to 4000 calories, and I am taking way protien supplements.

    What am I doing wrong? :( plz give help me out

    • Are you doing big compound lifts like I have in this workout?

      You need to be squatting, deadlifting, shoulder pressing and doing all of the other big lifts.

      Worrying about your curl strength should be the last thing on your mind. I would start on this plan above, and track your calories each day for a week or so. At your height and weight you’re gonna need at least 3500 calories to get stronger. Most likely more towards 4000.

      Follow this plan, add weight every session to the bar, and you’ll see a major strength increase each month.

  35. Hi there,

    I’m 23, 6’3″ and 170 lbs. I’m interested in strength training using only bodyweight exercises. For 4 of your 5 main exercises listed (squat, bench press, shoulder press, and pullups), I have found equivalent exercises that allow me to do the same movements without weights (pistols, pushups, handstand presses, and pullups, respectively). I also play pickup basketball several times a week and ride my bike everywhere I go, and I mix up my routine with a variety of other exercises as well: box jumps, knee jumps, dips, different pushup/pullup variations, etc.

    My problem is I have no substitute for the deadlift. I’ve read about the importance of activating the posterior chain, and I’d like to make sure that’s not missing from my workouts. Does bike riding a lot up hills have me covered? Do intense basketball games (usually 3 on 3, sometimes full court)? Is there some other exercise I should be doing?

    Thanks very much,

    Peter

  36. I’ve just started your routine. Is there any problem in doing all five exercises (5/5reps) every day? If not why? What if I’m not sore the next day? Thanks

    • If you are working at maximum effort you should not have enough energy to complete 5×5 of all five exercises. If you have that much gas left, you need to put some more weight on the bar.

      Your body will need time to recover from the intense workouts, so daily training for this program is not recommended.

      Lack of soreness does not necessarily indicate an inferior workout. In fact with strength training, I find that I am usually NOT sore the next day. Let your training journal show if you are getting stronger and not the amount of post workout soreness you experience.

      Thanks!

  37. I start this program today and I am excited about the results that I am going to see. I have been lifting for a minute but I am ready to take it to another level. Thanks for the great tips!

  38. Hey vic great website! I’m a high school athlete that has been lifting now for probably 5 years or more. This workout is better than our program that our coach puts us on. I was just wondering if this program helps with explosiveness and quickness also in the long hall? My guess would be yes since you said it helps become a better athlete but i had to ask. I also like your diet portion of the website, I’m a wrestler and can appreciate how well that was put together and especially the part that says, “and late at night when you feel hungry, think of how bad you want to be shreaded” or something like that. That statement has a lot of truth to it. Again great website thanks! Levi

    • Thanks Levi. Laying a foundation of strength will be beneficial to all athletic attributes. That being said, this program is not specifically designed to develop explosiveness and quickness. Your best bet there is with plyometric work (jumping, throwing, slamming, etc.). Plyo work can be taxing on the body, so be sure to get the advice of a good coach or trainer. Good luck!

  39. Hey Vic! Just wanted to share my progress that i have earned after 3 months. I would like to note a few things I changed for personal reasons. 1)I did 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps , 2)I did no squats or deadlifts (Felt dangerous for my lower back so I decided to wait until i get a personal trainer), 3) I did not deload in between sessions. Despite all of this I am now doing it anyway and am recently changing to the full program. Which I feel is going to bring even better results. Now the results:
    I am 18 5’9

    WEIGHT:
    started: 140
    ended: 163

    Bench Press 1RM:
    started: 125
    ended: 165

    Military Press 1RM:
    started: 80-85
    ended: 105-110

    Pull Ups:
    started: 5
    ended: 7

    Thanks!

  40. This site has started me down the path to madness in the best possible way! I appreciate your no-bullshit-no-pie-in-the-sky approach and J. Ferruggia’s program is worth SO much more than he’s charging!

    I’ve only been training for 5 weeks and I’m SO much stronger than when I started. It makes me giggle to think that I’ve only just begun!

  41. hi vic this is the amazing site i have finished my 8 weeks of strength gain program i have noticed a amazing improve in my strength,but i have doubt now, what to do after 12 week plan, should i continue the same thing or is there something else.please help me….once again this is awesome site that i have ever seen.

  42. This workout is great! So simple but so effective! I cant believe how quick I got results..Now I have to go buy larger shirts!

  43. Hi Vic. Should I adjust the weight in between sets so that that last rep is really tough? or am I to use the same weight for all five sets?

  44. Hi Vic I started this program 6 weeks ago, my body is starting to look defined and I have put on 3 kilos. I can’t thank you enough!

  45. i am a 15 year old male with a height of 5’4. i weigh 126 pounds and im currently 7 pounds above my desired weight. i have a big belly and a pretty bad metabolsm.i started to jog for an hour daily in order to get a better body shape but my stomach keeps getting bigger. i play basketball for the schools team and am wondering if this will help my belly fat turn to abs, and increase my speed. thanks.

  46. Hi Vic,
    Just about to start the program but I’m overweight. Will this help me to turn fat to muscle? Also I have an old lower back injury and am slightly worried it may flare up again when I start. Any advice?
    Cheers,
    Shane

  47. Hi Vic. I’ve recently started gyming, I’m 23, I’m about 6ft 1in, I weigh about 90kgs but I look fairly slim, in other words, I’m heavier than my appearance, I was very active while still at school, playing a lot of contact sports as well as cricket and athletics. I got very out of shape since and now I’ve decided to get buff. I’ve been going well for about 2months now and I have seen a few small changes. What worries me is that I’ve gotten a lot weaker than I expected in my upper body so I’ve been pushing pretty hard at the gym. That means I’m trying to go AT LEAST 4 times a week. I do do a little power training in between normal sets and reps, my endurance seems quite good, I mean, I can go at it pretty damn hard and when I leave the gym I always feel like I should have stayed a little longer. I’m worried that if I try your method, I’ll feel like that everyday… The workouts just seem to be over too quickly… Any advice? And is it a problem if I do strength training more than 3 times a week?

    Thanks!

    Michael (South Africa)

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