Beginner Strength Training – Build Bigger Muscles Fast With The Strength And Size Full Body Workout

I will be real here. The beginner strength training workout is not the only routine I’ve trained with. And, this is not the workout I have started training with. Having said that however, this is the workout I currently do and I would recommend to anybody that is a beginner or intermediate, because it produces the fastest progress thus the fastest results. I will write more about what physical goals you need to surpass in order to advance past intermediate status.

Beginner, Intermediate Or Advanced?

This may shock some people who have been training for many years and have achieved a certain degree of success, but you just don’t get to be advanced only because you started training a certain number of years ago. If you have roughly achieved the strength goals that I will list below, you can consider yourself advanced. If not, you are either a beginner, or an intermediate trainee.

Beginner Strength Training Milestones

You can stay on the Strength and Size Full Body workout until you reach these numbers:

  • Barbell Squat – 15 reps with 200lbs/90kg.
  • One legged calf raise – 15 reps with a 30lbs/14kg dumbbell.
  • Military Press – 10 reps with 120lbs/55 kg or with 60lbs/27kg dumbbells
  • Pull-ups and Chin-ups – 10 reps with 25lbs/12kg
  • Dips (video)- 10 reps with 50lbs/24kg
  • Barbell Biceps Curls – 10 reps with 100lbs/45kg or with 50lbs/22kg dumbbells
  • Barbell Deadlift – 15 reps with 200lbs/90kg

Here is the good part though – if you are a beginner or an intermediate, I have good news for you. Following the Strength and Size Full Body program, you will achieve your goals. And fast!

The Schedule

You will be training 3 days per week – Monday-Wednesday-Friday, Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday, Saturday-Monday-Wednesday (I personally train on these days) – just pick one schedule according to how busy your life is and how tired you are each day. Ideally you should train on days you feel you have the most energy.

Save Additional Stress For Off Days

If you are on the eat stop eat diet, I highly recommend to do it on days you don’t train with weights. You should strive to make each workout as productive as possible in order to progress the fastest. The same goes if you are trying to lose a bit of fat with jumping rope or turbulence training style workouts.

Do these on off days. The Strength and Size program gives fast results but in order to do that it needs all your energy and your full commitment on each workout, each exercise, each set and each repetition.

Beginner Strength Training – Sets and Reps

  • Barbell Squat – 1 set – 8 to 20 reps. When you can do more than 20 reps, add 10-20lbs/5-10kg
  • One legged calf raise – 1 set – 8 to 20 reps. When you can do more than 20 reps, add a 5 10lb/5kg dumbbell. Next, choose the next heavier dumbbell, etc.
  • Military Press – 2 sets of 8-14 reps. When you are able to do 12 reps on the second set, add more weight to the bar (the smallest possible increment) or go for the next heavier dumbbells.
  • Alternate the Military Press with Chin-ups or Pull-ups – again 2 sets, 8-14 reps. When you are able to do 12 reps on the second set, choose a heavier dumbbell to hold between your feet.
  • Dips – 2 sets of 8-14 reps. When you are able to do 12 reps on the second set, add more weight
  • Alternate the dips with Barbell Curls or Dumbbell Curls – 2 sets of 8-14 reps. When you are able to do 12 reps on the second set, add more weight
  • Barbell Deadlift – 1 set 8 to 15 reps – when you can comfortably do 15 reps (each rep starts on the floor as if it was the first one) add more weight.

Note: you must choose a weight that you can do at least 8 reps for all designated sets. In other words, if on the first set you do 9 reps, but on the second – only 7, then the weight has been too big.

Here Is How the Workout Would Look Like

Barbell Squat – 8-20 reps
Calf raise – 8-20 reps
Dumbbell Shoulder Press or Military Press – 8-14 reps
Chin-ups or Pull-ups – 8-14 reps
Dumbbell Shoulder Press or Military Press – 8-12 reps
Chin ups or Pull-ups – 8-12 reps
Dips – 8-14 reps
Barbell Biceps Curls or Alternating Dumbbell Biceps Curls 8-14 reps
Dips – 8-12 reps
Barbell Biceps Curls or Alternating Dumbbell Biceps Curls 8-12 reps
Barbell Deadlift – 8-15 reps

The Fastest Way to Grow Muscle

To get bigger you have to get stronger. The gird or cross-section area of the muscle corresponds to its strength. That fastest way to get stronger is to progress on each workout. So if you train your shoulders for example with shoulder presses and train 3 times per week, this would give better results than if you just trained them (and progressed) once a week.


The ultimate goal here is to reach the strength training milestones as fast as possible. Why waste your time in the gym? Give the program a shot if your strength is below the stats listed here. This is the fastest way for beginners to reach decent strength and size levels.

What’s Next?

So once you roughly reach the strength training milestones in this workout, the question is where to go from there? It is now time to start rotating the rep ranges in your workouts every 4 to 8 weeks. So you will do 3-6 reps for a few weeks, then 7-12 reps for a few weeks, then 13-20 reps and then you will start over with 3-5 reps. In this way you will ahieve bothmuscular sie and muscular density and hardness.

One workout that strategically incorporates different rep ranges in this way is Visual Impact Muscle Building. The cool thing about the workout that is in addition to the variation of rep ranges (for muscular size and for muscular hardness and density), it also has a definition phase built in so that if you want to lose fat while preserving your muscle size for a few months, you can do that too.

225 thoughts on “Beginner Strength Training – Build Bigger Muscles Fast With The Strength And Size Full Body Workout”

  1. Haha, Viking Quest.

    Anyway, this is a cool workout. I like the fact that it isn’t overloaded with sets because of the focus on progressive resistance, mostly. I just recently stumbled upon the concept of incremental increases rather than sudden jumps, and it’s what’s allowed me to man-up and enter the free-weight section of my gym.

    Some large fellow (cut, too) took a jab at me for only have 2.5lbs on each side of my barbell.

    “Well if you’d look a little closer you’d see the marshmallows I’ve got taped on the inside.”

    Good laugh.

    Can’t wait until I can do a chin up, though. Right now I’m just doing static hangs and contracting as hard as I can for at least ten seconds, for three sets. I stop counting after ten, but I try to add sets whenever I can.

  2. Eric,

    I remember when I first started training I too was intimidated by the free weight section of the gym.

    I am preparing a post about getting good at chinups. I used to suck at those back in high school but now I’m good at them. I’ve managed to do 17 pullups and 1 chinup with 42 kg attached to my waist.


  3. Yash,

    these kind of workouts are great for beginners and for anybody who hasn’t (roughly) achieved these numbers in his lifts.


  4. Chuck,

    because you will be alternating between two exercises for the most part, 60-90 seconds are enough.



  5. I am currently 6′ at about 160lbs and have always had a tough time gaining muscle mass, should this be all my workout schedule will include? and should i take any supplements to help with the process.

  6. Brian,

    Yes. Stick to this routine. Gaining muscle mass is a matter of progressive overload (gradually training harder), workout consistency (never missing workouts unless planned) and training intensity (you have to hustle and push hard!).

    As far as supplements go – I’d urge you to save your money for real food (meat, eggs, veggies, fruit, fish, nuts…). But if you insist – the only supplements I’d recommend are 5g creatine monohydrate per day and BCAA’s before your workout. But really – save yourself some money for starters and see how much you WILL grow when following the above 3 principles on a solid workout plan like this one.

    Keep me posted,


  7. Hey Yavor
    love the site really cool.I wan’t to lower my body fat down to 8%.I weigh 168 pounds and my height is 5 foot 10. I do a 30 minute run every day and my daily calorie consumption is between 1800 and 2000 a day.My question is I can’t afford the gym and I live in a small apartment and can’t have a weight bench.I do press ups and pull ups aswell as core exercises every day will this give me that lean look.? And am I on the right track with my cardio and calorie consumption.? Thanks alot and again love the site.


  8. Chris,

    this is a good plan – make sure you use progressive overload on those press-ups (push-ups) and pull-ups – either increase the volume (reps X sets) or the reps.

    Btw – can you afford/store a set of adjustable dumbbells? I am training at home with one such set and get great muscle building workouts (I alternate between building muscle and strength training). If yes let me know – I will share some strategies…



  9. Is that correct, you only do one set of squats? I know it’s performed 3 times a week, but that seems like low volume. I always thought legs were key in gaining over all size as they say legs cause the largest hormone release. Thanks!

  10. Will

    try the program if yo doubt it – it is very demanding as it is. 1 set of high rep squats plus 1 set of high rep deadlifts, plus allt he other exercises – it’s quite a workout!



  11. Burt,

    I’m writing a whole post outlining home dumbbell training (adjustable dumbbells are great value fo your money!)



  12. Working out regularly and hard leaves me in a constant search for low fat sources of quality creatine and vitamin supplements. After having tried numerous powders and stacks, I finally decided to try the Dr Max Powers Anabolic Stack after doing research about the stack and its ingreidents.

    It seems to give me what I was looking for. I take it an hour before workouts and seem to recover much faster with no muscle soreness and more strength and energy the next day. Plus its made me huge. The research I did showed that the creatine included in the Dr Max Powers stack is the most efficient for body building. I recommend it.

  13. iv been training for 3 years already consistently using challenging weights in compound movements, i thought i was about to graduate from beginner level. But with your designated weights, sets and reps, i think, by your standards i’d probably die a beginner, even if i train with maximum efforts for the rest of my life. I am 36 y.o. female, stands 5’1, with 24 inch waistline (that is how petite i am). how will i be able to lift those “beginner” weights?

  14. Blanca

    hey hey, my bad, those were weights for guys πŸ™‚ I don’t think girls need to get the ‘muscular’ look. I believe the slim and tight look of a cheerleader, a a female volleyball player, a dancer, etc is excellent for a woman. And this is easily accomplished (strength-wise) within the first few months – this is my experience with the girls (the committed ones) that i train. We are talking very basic strength here – pushups and one legged squats and after a few months chinups.



    p.s. I think you are doing a great job as it is. On a side note, it is possible even for a petite woman to surpass these weights. But the question arises – why?

  15. I was thinking of starting this workout, only thing is don’t have a squat rack, so I was going to do front squats instead (cleaning the weight to my shoulders). Other than that, it will be exactly as written. I was going to do this twice a week due to time constraints, and take 1 minute rest in between sets. Will this be enough for muscle growth?

  16. Jackson,

    I suggest you eliminate the squat for the time being. Also, increase the number of sets from 2 to 3 so that you still get 6 work sets per week.



  17. Dear Yavor,

    In the workout program below “Here Is How the Workout Would Look Like”, do I have to follow the exercises in this order? And how long should this routine take in minutes? Finally, is it better to lift weight before specific training (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu), after or rather when not training BJJ?

    Again, thanks a lot…and keep it going!

  18. Kei,

    this is just an example. It is possible to rearrange the exercises, if you know what you are doing. The workout takes about an hour.

    It is best to train with weights on off days, so you have more energy (so you build more muscle). If it is not possible on off days, train before BJJ (again so you have more energy). But bare in mind that this workout is very intense and will get you very tired – you may not have enough energy for the BJJ class.

  19. Yavor,

    A couple of questions.
    -What’s the cadence for each lift? something like 2 seconds up, 2 seconds down?
    -I noticed there were not chest presses included. Was this intentional?


  20. jb,

    – this is not very important but make sure to lower under control and lift fast but controlled. If you want seconds – two seconds down and 1 up.
    – this is a beginner program (for fast results for a few months – until you reach weights similar to the ones listed). Because of this the exercises are a limited number. Dips are great and will develop a nice line giving width to the chest. Once you move on to a split routine, you can do flies, presses, etc

  21. Really enjoy your website. Thank you!
    I am aiming to achieve the strength goals which you suggested which include things like 10 dips with 50 pounds, 10 chin ups with 25 pounds etc. I am fairly close to achieving these. Perhaps another month or two will do it. My question is where to after that. Just aim for higher weights? I know you consider those achieving these targets as “strong” – what would you classify as “very strong”?

  22. Adrian,

    honestly man, after this program – you can do whatever you like. It depends on what you want to achieve with your body. Do you want a beach body – then I suggest after this program you focus on your lagging muscles – those may be shoulders or arms or upper pecs, etc. Maybe you want to focus on proportions – keep the body weight low and focus on getting stronger in upper body exercises as well as developing the shoulder ‘caps’.

    If it is fun for you to be strong, you may train for strength… Remember strength is relative – you are strong in what you train for. Really – I can’t come up with a goal for you. You have to do this πŸ™‚ As for very strong – the power lifters are very strong. But also very often too fat. I find it cool to be a normal body weight (for example take your height in centimeters and subtract 100 and you get a rough idea of what a normal body weight in kilograms is), to look normal in clothes but ripped with your shirt off.

    p.s. you cannot be on the beginner program forever – you will notice that the gains slow down and even disappear – this is the time to come up with a new goal.

  23. I’m turning 19 this year. I am a very skinny person. I’m 5’9 and weighs only about 110lb. I dont really have time to go to the gym. I work everyday till late at night.

    P.S: give me example on what i kind of workout i should do.

  24. Wai,

    in order to gain muscle, you need to do some type of resistance training. Normally I would suggest that you do the above workout.

    If you don’t go to the gym, the alternative is to workout at home.

    You could buy a set of dumbbells with adjustable weights. Do 2 sets of 8-12 reps per bopdy part 3 times per week. This way you can train your:

    arms – dumbbell curls
    chest – dumbbell pressses on a bench or on the floor
    shoulders – sitting dumbell presses
    back – dumbbell rows
    legs at home. – dummbell lunges

    Alternatively do pushups 6 days per week. Record in a notebook the number of poushups (total) you do. Make sure each week to do more total number of pushups.

  25. Hello, Yavor. Ran into your site by reading a comment of yours on “Fitness Black Book”. Your site is amazing just like Rusty’s!

    I have a question on this full body workout. When you say alternate sets, we’re supposed to do (example) military press and immediatly after, with no rest, chin-ups, and only then rest?

    I didn’t quite understand this part. I’m definitely gonna try this workout next month. Thanks and keep it up!

  26. Devecque,

    Welcome to the site πŸ™‚ Now on to your question. You rest a little bit after every set. So it is military press, rest, chins, rest, etc. In reality you need some time to catch your breath and prepare yourself for the next set, so you cannot do the sets immediately even if you wanted to. The worout is very demanding and exhausting, but it gives the fastests muscle/strength gains and only takes 45-60 minutes 3 times per week.

    Keep me posted on your progress,


  27. Hm, got it. Thanks for your time, Yavor.

    Another question (sorry, lol): is it ok if I do the workout 4 times a week (mon – tue – thu – fri) and maybe some HIIT on wed. You think I’m gonna overtrain like this? ‘Cause I always feel weak when working out 3x a week. What do you think?

    I’ll let you know about the results! =)

  28. First let me ask you this – did you try the workout? It is very, very exhausting. Every set needs to be done to your limits!

    It is very demanding as it is. Trust me. Also – you can, and NEED to improve on each workout.

    So just try it as it is for a few weeks. If you still think it is too little, and you have tons of energy on off days, AND you improve on each workout, then you can modify it as you like πŸ™‚

    but first test it as it is.

    For the same reason I would advise against HIIT. Instead, reduce your food on non-training days.

  29. Yavor,

    First of all nice website.
    My training days are on (mon, wen, fri)
    curenty doing a full body workout.

    But i want to give your program a shot,
    but where do you fit the 2 following excercises in the workout??

    (1) When do you train your Abs??
    (2) What about your chest?? I used to Bench Press (60kg) 3 sets of 8 reps.


  30. Geoffrey,

    1) abs get a great workout when doing whole body movements (heavy!) such as squats and deadlifts. Just make sure to brace your core and do squats and deads with proper form – check out the articles for this. Also – after the workout you honestly won’t have energy for anything else (abs or whatever) πŸ™‚

    2) dips are actually an awesome way to develop your chest, particularly the lower and outer parts. Your chest will get a really nice shape from weighted dips (as per the workout). Also regarding your bench – you will find that once you achieve the prescribed numbers in the workout, 60kg for 3×8 will feel ridiculously light, I promise!

    Give the program a shot – it is very demanding but produces results. And keep us posted!


  31. Yavor,

    Thanks for the fast reply!
    Monday i will start the program.

    but how do i add weights while dipping??
    i mean i’ll keep my legs crossed…so should i hold a dumbell between my feet ??


    (I’m from The Netherlands btw)

  32. Geoffrey,

    Cross your feet just above the ankles and press them tight against each other. This way you can place a dumbbell there on top of your feet.

    Btw, I’ve got many friends who study in the Netherlands in cities like Groningen and Utrecht. Great to hear that you live there.

    Monday I will try to film at the gym different ways to add weight to pullups and dips.
    p.s. I’m from Bulgaria myself.

  33. Yavor,

    I wil try it out monday and keep u informed!!



    ps: i havent’t any friends in bulgaria πŸ˜› lol

  34. Yavor,

    Hey man, how would you compare this type of program compared to a Total Anabolism (Mark Mcmanus) system for putting on your natural amounut of muscle. I know TA is a pure hypertrophy system but just curious your opinion on the two.

    Say a guy comes to you, has lifting experience but never long term (say consistent lifting for more than 8 months) without stopping for several months. Which program would be best? Thanks

  35. Will,

    this is a beginner’s program – meaning that it allows – and demands – progress on all muscles on every workout. So it gives fast results.

    Mark’s program is solid (I’ve tried it for several months) – however it is for slightly more advanced people who have gone past the beginner stage (and past the weights described above).

    So my recommendation would be as follows

    1. beginner strength training until you reach roughly the above weights
    2. alternate between hypertrophy (8-12 reps) and strength (3-6 reps)for 1-2 month phases.

    Back to your question – I’d check his strength levels and technique – if he is past beginner status, wwe’d start alternating between strength and hypertrophy.

    More strength = more muscle. So it makes sense to use the program that allows you to increase your strength faster (every session) until it stops giving results.


  36. Yavor,
    i just went back from training.

    Seated legpress 20 reps (90 kg)
    Calf raise 20 reps (14 kg)
    Dumbbell Shoulder Press 14 reps (12 kg)
    Chin-ups 14 reps
    Dumbbell Shoulder Press 12 reps (12 kg)
    Pull-ups 12 reps
    Dips 14 reps
    Dumbbell Biceps Curls 14 reps (12 kg)
    Dips 12 reps
    Dumbbell Biceps Curls 12 reps (12 kg)
    Back extention 15 reps (65 kg)

    The reason for the Seated leg press and the Back extention is that the barbells were occupied.

    But i had enough energy to do this program twice and did a extra ab workout.
    Although 2nd time was kind a hard.
    and the chin ups and pull ups. . . wooow feels great πŸ˜€

    Total training time 1 hour and 30 min.


  37. Geoffrey,

    sounds good – you can now add add weight to most of these exercises. Make sure to ad the smallest increment possible.


  38. Yavor,

    Wensday i’ll raise the excersises from 12 to 14 kg.
    But in this workout everything is just one set am i right?? (except the dumbell excersises).
    Ohw and dipping is also realy good but i have to add some weight there. But still can’t put a dumbel on my’s falling off all the time.. πŸ˜› lol

  39. Geoffrey,

    actually only the deadlift, calf raise and the squat are 1 set The other are 2 sets each.

    Regarding the weight on your ankles – I’ve shot pics today at the gym and will write an article how to add weight πŸ™‚


  40. Hahah ThnX!!
    But is is oke to do 4 set? except the squats, lifts and raise ( just do 2 of them) or wil i break down too much muscle??


  41. You will not break down muscle. It just means that the weights were too low for you – that’ why you had energy. Next time – push more iron πŸ™‚

  42. Yavor,

    So i did pushed more iron today.. and added weights(8kg dumbell) to the dips/pulls as you described in the article, that really kills man haha πŸ˜›

    ps: Well writen article btw, cool pics also.


  43. Yavor,
    The workout is giving some results!! πŸ˜€
    Increased the weights to 16kg and te the weighted dips to 10 kg.
    This workout REALY works!!

    Thanks !!

  44. Geoffrey,

    more weight = more muscle no doubt πŸ™‚

    now make sure to milk this workout for as long as it gives results.


  45. Yavor,

    Once you get to the rough numbers, you mention alternating between hypertrophy and strength (rep wise). Do you mean to do the same workout (beginner strength) and just alternate rep range? I’m getting very close to the numbers now, so should I switch programs or do the same but drop reps for more strength for a bit and then switch to hypertrophy reps in a couple months?


  46. Thomas – once you decide that progress is slow, switch to strength.

    I suggest first doing the same workout 3x per week – 3 to 5 sets of 5 reps with 3 exercises (squat or deadlift, dips, bench press or military press as well as chin-ups or pull-ups).

    Then after 6-10 weeks, switch to hypertrophy – alternate 2 workouts (for example a pushing and a pulling workout) for 3-4 sets 8-12 reps per exercise, 3-4 exercises per workout.

  47. Hey,
    I don’t have a powerrack for the squats, so could I do Barbell Hack Squats instead?
    Also, I do not have a pullup bar at home, and I do pullups at a playing park, so I can’t quickly do them in the order you prescribe. How would I have to adapt the order of the workout for my needs?
    And, I’m 15. Should I lower the goals, and should I leave them the same?

  48. Thomas,

    1. leave out the squats for now.
    2. start the workout like this: deadlift (first instead of last), shoulder press, calf raise, shoulder press, dips… and continue as prescribed. After that go do the pullups.
    3. leave the goals. Just start really low on all exercises and very gradually increase. You will get there and even surpass them eventually (you are still growing so you will be gaining lots of muscle in addition to the muscle growth induced by the workout).


  49. Sorry to bother you AGAIN ( πŸ™‚ ).
    I’m not that good at pullups – I can do about 5. I actually have the idea that I’m worse at chinups than pullups +, when I do chinups, the muscle (brachioradialis probably) in my forearms starts to hurt like heck. I don’t have that with pullups. So what do I do? Do I do the amount of pullups that I can do, and then negative pullups?

  50. Thomas, it’s no bother – I started the site to help people whenever I have some free time.

    Regarding pullups – if you have to a lat pull down machine, use it. If not, check out my article on pull-ups.

    You need to get from 5 to 8 reps – the best way is to do lots of sets of 3 reps. For example first workout you do 2 sets of 3. Next workout do the 2 sets of 3 and add another set of 3 right at the end of the workout. jnext workout do the set at the end, rest 2 minutes and do another set… You get the picture – each workout one more set at the end of the workout. Soon sets of 3 will be easy and you will start sets of 4… in time sets of 5, 6, etc. at this point you will be able to do 8 reps per set so you will be able to do the workout as described.

  51. Yavor, multiple questions:
    1. My biceps don’t feel that fatigued after the bicep curls. It’s not like I can keep going forever, I go till I can’t anymore (had 14 reps, 8 1/2 reps today) but my biceps never feel blasted.
    2. Dips feel very weird for my shoulders, and not a good weird. Do you know what I could be doing wrong? Also, should these be chest dips (eg. lean forward) or tricep dips?
    3. Is doing pullups on a rounded bar okay? I have the feeling I do not work my back as hard.

    I probably seem like a noob with all these questions, well, that’s cause I am. :B

  52. 1. Biceps – just make sure you do more next workout.
    2. Dips – try chest dips and make sure your elbows go slightly back and not straight out to the side. If problem persists – switch to bench press (but dips are awesome!)
    3. Don’t understand the question – what do you mean rounded back?

  53. I know I’ve asked something similar before, but any way you can do a post or something about where to go after you reach the above guidelines. I realize it depends on if your going for strength, size, etc. but how about a program for both strength and some size that follows with getting stronger. Not just a hypertrophy program. I feel like strength is important, but like to see the results visually as well for the hard work.


  54. Hey Yavor,
    How much of this workout is adjusting to it? Eg. less sets and such. So how much of the getting stronger is ACTUALLY getting stronger? For example, if you did bench press 90 kg on this workout for 10 reps (instead of dips), you still won’t be able to do that if you’ve had 3 sets of incline bench, and 3 sets of dumbbell flies beforehand (not that many people would do that), as you’re already fatigued. So I guess I am asking: “What makes this workout so good for getting stronger?”

    PS: I continued doing your workout. Took a lighter week last week, as the quality of my workout degraded a bit, and we don’t want that now do we? πŸ˜›

  55. Will,

    the answer is to alternate between strength and hypertrophy every 4-8 weeks. So this means switching between lower and higher reps. This calls for a whole article in itself.


    this is a good question. The most important thing in a workout is NOT the workout itself. It is how hard you train. If you train like a madman and don’t skip workouts, you will progress on a shitty workout.

    THIS workout is good for two reasons:

    1. progress 3x per week
    2. all of the basic movements are trained:
    military press
    calf raises

  56. Thanks man, that makes a lot of sense.
    So so long as you get the basics right (eg. not doing 300 sets of dumbbell curls 5 times a week), are consistent, and workout with intensity, you’re golden?
    Sweet, I think that will help me focus even more.

    Now on to a different question:
    Do you do anything with the strength you have acquired? Eg. Gymnastics, Martial arts, etc. as to make the strength “efficient” instead of just getting stronger.
    I personally do Thaiboxing/Western Boxing/MMA.

  57. Thomas,

    I used to do boxing workouts with a bunch of friends. This summer I got into bar training and am learning different tricks – muscle-ups etc…

  58. I think I’m beginning to understand the workout.
    I’m guessing it’s relatively low number of total sets (26 at most instead of 36 at most) is to keep you from fatiguing?

  59. The workout is very demanding as it is. If you are not tired after 2 sets on most exercises, you are not pushing yourself. So it actually is very fatiguing..

  60. Yeah, I realized that after I sent the message. Sorry, it’s just that this workout is quite different from what I’ve seen before.
    Gonna bust my ass in the gym tomorrow. πŸ˜€

  61. Hi Yavor!
    Now Im more confussed than ever, you know I want to be a Pro MMA fighter one day so i try to lift weights as a “supplement” on my trainning i was trying to design a workout with the principles that Rusty (from black fitness book) encourages on his website, as a fighter withs weights i want to gain the Maximal strenght without gainning excessive muscle mass at the same time gain speed explosivnes & restitance, but i primarly focus on streght at the gym
    If i hve understand everything ok, according to what i have read, the pure strenght worjout is lot of sets no more than 5 reps with extremly perfect form, also 1 or 2 exercises per body part, & try to avoid fatige

    Well my point is, ist 20 reps too much to maintain a perfect dorm with such hi weights?!
    Would you recomend mw follow this program until im able to hit this weights?


    Thanks & greetings! Berner!

  62. Berner, the short answer is yes, I’d recommend this workout. The numbers are really not very big so the workout is designed to give you an initial boos.

    so once you have a basic foundation, you can increase your relative strength for fighting with pure strength training.


  63. Hey Yavor!

    I just found your website a few days ago. I was immediately hooked to this program that you wrote that I started it yesterday. I like the simplicity of it and it fits in very nicely with the goals that I have set for myself.
    I was really looking for a program that incorporates the most important movements, and this has almost all of them!
    I’ll probably make 2 small changes. I’ll be doing front squats instead of back squats, and I’ll be alternating dips with bench press every workout. Reason is, I really need a program that lets me practice my bench often.

    In ~6 weeks I’ll let you know how it is going!

  64. Chris – sounds like a plan. Though if you need a bench press specialization routine this is not it – this program here is designed to get you to intermediate status ASAP.



  65. Nah..I just need to practice my bench press technique more. Problem with strength programs is that the low reps aren’t enough for to really practice and groove the movement. That is why I like the idea of doing 8-14 reps 1-2 times a week with your program πŸ˜€

  66. Berner, most probably not. This is to bring you ASAP your first size/strength gains. So depending on your body (length of bones, etc) you can expect to get to 60-80 kg military press. Then you need to alternate between size and strength training for fastest gains.

    Strength training or size training only will also bring you there, but the mixed approach works better.


  67. Hi again Yavor Ive been loving your site & started doing this routine, im very glad youve been available to respond my comments i got another question for you about the rest periods of this routine how much should i rest from set to set & from excercise to excercise?

    Thanks again Yavor!
    Greetings from Mexcio!

  68. Hey Yavor. First of all, I want to congratulate you on your site. I stumbled into it a couple of days ago and you have some great info here. I especially like your bodyweight articles and the tension exercises.

    My question regarding this program is, have you read anything about form in relation to repetitions? I remember reading in starting strength(great book by the way, highly recommend it along with the starting strength wiki site. Tons of info on lifting in general, besides the program itself) about a study that showed that after five repetitions, form started deteriorating, even if the weight much lighter than your 5 rep maximum.

    Wouldn’t the 3-5 approach(3-5 exercises per workout, for 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps, with 3-5 minutes rest and every time you successfully complete a workout add weight. I’m sure you know about it), be better at teaching exercise technique to beginners? Perfect practice makes perfect, and substandard repetitions, technique wise, would be counterintuitive, no? I couldn’t help but remember the 20 rep squat routine, that is as notorious for its effectiveness as it is for its high injury rate, even though you don’t have people squatting their 10 rep max 20 times. Also, less fatigue from previous exercises. I have to admit that the idea of doing all that stuff and then dealifting for reps, doesn’t sound too appealing, even though it would be great for conditioning.

    That having been said, I’m currently in a foreign country as an exchange student, so I opted out of a gym membership, working with Ross Enamait’s never gymless(another great book from an inspirational coach, especially if you’re into martial arts), so my program is pretty similar to the one you have here. Everything worked in the same workout, three times a week, 1-2 sets, supersetting between exercises, build up the reps and then progressively overload the exercise, just with harder bodyweight variations instead of more weight, drawing from the convict conditioning manual for more ideas for progressions.

    I’m looking forward to giving this workout a try when I return home in January. I was doing a 5×5 program for two months before I left. I might be overly concerned for all I know, I’m a notorious form nazi with my workout partners πŸ™‚ .

    Once again, great site, keep up the good work.

  69. Ilias, first of all welcome to the site. Good to see a fellow neighbor here! I’ve been to Greece a few times and look forward to visiting you guys soon!

    what you said about form is true, but the big picture is important – i.e. progressive overload being more important here.

    3-5 is great, in fact I usde it with my personal trainin clients. The workout here howver is aimed at FASTEST results (lots of work aqnd lots of overload ever workout).

    Re: your question about the 20 reps squats and the DL: at the end – it plain works (comes from Arthur Jones originally) – otherwise I wouldn’t have it here.

    One last note – you are clearly a VERY sharp guy. This is great – you’d make a great coach or analyst. BUt, and there’s a big but here: intensity of training (pushing yourself to the limit) is the most important factor and it doesn’t have anything to do with thinking. It is about guts. This is what will make the difference in your training and results.



  70. Very true, application puts to rest any doubts theory might have left, and many different programs can give you gains, each with its own flaws, but you’ll only get out of them what you put into them.

    I guess it shows that I’m a guy that overthinks stuff. I’m trying to work on my mental strength as well as my physical strength. Do more, think less is a very sound philosophy, especially for people like me.

    Like a lot of people, I’ve gotten my introduction to working out from sites that are too focused on one approach. You start looking for info on how to get bigger arms, but then you stumble on a site that talks about the vanity of bodybuilding, so you start training for strength, but then you see a comment about not being hardcore enough, so you focus on the powerlifts, but then you notice a piece of info about that only being gym strength, so you jump on the functional strength bandwagon, but then you see a friend that has started working out and you’re back to wanting bigger arms. One of the reasons I like this site is because it doesn’t try to force any approach down your throat. There is info on getting stronger, increasing your conditioning, putting on muscle, losing weight and being functional and that also shows in this program. It’s much closer to the physical culture approach in the beginnings of the 20th century and I think it’s a much more balanced approach.

    Anyways, I’m boring you with my musings again. Thanks for the swift reply πŸ˜€

  71. Hello, and thanks for the workout.

    I’ll give it a try soon because even if I’m working out quite often since a certain amount of time I do not pass the numbers above.

    For squat, I don’t have a rack(neither a barbell). Do you think I can feed a backpack with plates and “hugging” the bag ?
    Beside I make Tabata workout for my cardio using bodyweight squat. I don’t think I can do both (strenght squat + tabata)… I’d rather keep the Tabata lightweight squat because it’s my only “cardio” workout. What do you think about that ?

    As I do not have a barbell, I’m thinking replacing Deadlift with Double dumbell suitcase deadlift. Or do you think I should let the dumbell at the front (it seems harder to get a proper form)

    Btw, greetz for the site, cuz most of the articles are interesting

  72. Fred, it’s not the best option but at least you will be working out. So yes – go ahead and do the substitutions. The squat is just one set so I suggest you keep it.


  73. Thanks for you quick reply.

    Ok, perhaps I’ll get a barbell soon…
    but without a rack, won’t back squats be quite risky when I’ll get to the my current limits ?

    If I keep the Barbell squat, do you think I can keep the Tabata bw squats or it will be too much ?
    I like this part of my workout because it makes a good / short cardio workout and also give me endurance in my thighs which I need for sports.

  74. Fred, I meant do the squat as you described. No barbell squats without a rack.

    re: the tabatas – keep them in and see how you respond. If you don’t progress drop em.

    Also – if you are doing the tabatas for fatloss – check your diet and start eating less.


  75. That’s what I was thinking about the rack…
    Without a rack, can I dumbell squat, hug a bag with plates, substitute with pistols ?

    For the Tabata, I mostly doing it for cardio.
    My problem about diet is more to gain weight πŸ™‚
    I’m 1m75 for 68 kgs
    I short breath very fast during sports, and Tabata had been quite efficient for such a short kinda workout.

  76. Ok then, I’ll try with pistols instead of weight squatting without a rack.

    Do I keep the same number of reps (1 set of 8-20) ?
    What is the numbers a good foundation with pistols ? (actually even 1 bodyweight pistol is kinda hard πŸ™‚ imho)

  77. Great.

    Thanks again for all the good advices

    I’ll give the workout a try with pistols instead of barbell squat and dumbell deadlift instead of barbell deadlift.

    I’ll keep you posted if I get fast on the goals mentionned at the beginning of the article πŸ™‚

  78. Hello,

    MAN ! I gave the workout a try today, and it was quite… shocking !!! Made me thought I was trying to run before I was able to walk…

    – I was on a 5×5 workout and was quite proud with my 5×5 dips with 12 kgs… I made 14 + 7 on bodyweight dips in the workout !!!!!
    – Was proud with 5×3 pull ups with 8 kgs… I made 10 + 7 bodyweight pull ups…

    Seems I really lacks endurance / size / stamina…

    Calf raise was a pain in the a**… took me 10 mins to get a spot at home where I can do that, and on each reps I was almost falling

    Even with big loss of time, the whole workout spends 55 min, with good rest between sets

    I think I’m going to adapt… good to get back on the basics
    Besides it’s really short ! and that’s why I need cuz I’m really busy ! Let’s see how it works during a while !

    Thanks again for posting this !

  79. Al, this whole site is dedicated to this. Your question is very genereal so the answer is this (it is also very general but true!)

    1. to lose weight – eat less than you currently eat for a sustained period of time

    2. to gain muscle – train with proper form and over time do more work in the gym – more weight, more reps, more sets, or less time between sets)

  80. Al, don’t understand what you mean. If you are asking if I am WRITING something new – yes I’m writing 2 ebooks and also have many new videos coming.

  81. Yavor
    Al, don’t understand what you mean. If you are asking if I am WRITING something new – yes I’m writing 2 ebooks and also have many new videos coming.

    Can you share what the two ebooks are about and when they are going to be released?

  82. The first one will be a free ebook on getting really good at pull-ups and chin-ups – it will take you literally from 0 to 20+ pullups. Deadline Jan 1, 2011.

    The second one will be a premium course on gaining lean athletic muscle with advanced body weight exercises. Deadline for release Feb 1, 2011.

  83. Hi,
    How do you handle being stuck below 14-12 reps on an exercice ?

    You wrote “once you made 12 reps on the seconds set you can add weight”
    Is 8-12 ok ? or it must be 14-12 ?

    I’m stuck with 12 – 9 bodyweight pull ups
    Should I try an easier variation and add weight when I pass the 14-12 reps ?
    Directly add weight ?
    Stick with this variation until I pass the 14-12 reps ?

  84. Fred – add weight for the first set (12 reps) and for the second set (9) stay on the current weight.

    Eventually the program will stop working – then you need to start switching between low/higher reps.

  85. thks

    As I’m still way below the “requirements”
    it is perhaps a bit soon to go over another workout ?

    that’s why I was more thinking about tuning the current one

  86. Fred, here’s another trick: When you find yourself unable to rpogress from wokrout to workout, hold the same reps for 2 workouts, then go up. After some time, this will stop wokring, so hold for 3 workouts…

    This will allow oyu to milk the workout to the fullest.

  87. Berner, it depends where you start at. There are people that are naturally stronger than these numbers without touching a weight. But more or less 5-7 months (could be way less or way more.

  88. I cant get to do more than like 5 chin ups on the first set and 3 on the second should i just keep doing that? At the end of the set i rise my self again… & stay there as an isometric? Also how am I supposed to do the 1 lleged calf rise? Only with one dumbell?
    Thanx Again

  89. Hi again Yavor. I did lat puldowns.. alot for like 6 months.. & i did carry alot.. but the chinupd are the big deal lol i suck at them should I anyway go back to the lat pull down? im trying really hard i maneged to do 6 today.. & 5 on the second set.

    Thanks like always, you’re excelent.


  90. Berner, here’s the deal

    1. lat pull downs are good to learn the proper form – especially to learn lat activation. But real pullups are the best.

    2. the beginner program is not a chinup specialization so what you are currently doing is right – 2 sets, striving to do more each workout.

    3. an optimal chinup workout would have you train 3-5x per week and doing many sets, each workout doing more sets. With chinups the key is VOLUME (lots of sets*reps).

    Cheers man,


  91. Hey there, Yavor. I have one quick question.

    Coincidentally, the numbers you listed which qualify a person as “advanced” are pretty much double my current lifts (I’m doing 50 lb barbell curls and 60 lbs military press, for example). I realize that everything is dependent upon the unique circumstances of each person, but I value your professional opinion on this: In a ballpark estimate, how many months do you think it would it be before I reach those advanced numbers (i.e. double my lifts)?

  92. Well, if we take the military press as an example: if you progress 1 rep in each workout, that means you can up the weight by 5lbs twice a month. So this means 10lbs gains per month. So roughly 6 months. Hope this helps.


  93. Yavor youre awesome man yo always respond to all my questions thanks

    Well here is another question, what about the diet? A beginner Training program should have a beginner DIET lol, I mean like how many calories should i get.. and protein & all that stuff to get the best out of the program?

    Thanks again man, cheers

  94. Berner,

    this isn’t that important. Muscle growth is stimulated by your effort in the gym. Effort + striving to do more every workout.

    That being said, I have a few suggestions:

    1. Choose natural (as opposed to packaged) foods whenever possible.

    2. Monitor your appearance. Working out is not an excuse for getting fat. If your waist starts increasing, you are eating too much.

    3. As far as protein and calories – eat 3-4 times per day and you should be fine. Really.

    Diet is more important when you try to get lean. Then you need to cut the amount of food somewhat.

    Cheers man,


    p.s. remember – effort is the most important thing for muscle growth.

  95. So, do you do all these excersizes three days a week? And also do you have to do all these moves right in a row. I dont get the alternating stuff.

  96. are you living in RUSSIA ?

    You have created a great site !!!

    I like the emphasis on functional
    fitness and athletic ability

    really great JOB !!!!!!

  97. Yavor,

    I did a similar full body program awhile back (starting strength/stronglifts) and stopped when I got to BW squat and deadlift x 5. I mainly want to increase my pullup and dip numbers, but also put on some size. Do you think this would be the right program to follow? I think my max pullup is only 7-8, and it’s been stuck there for quite awhile. My dip max is about 12-13 on the bars and 5-6 on the rings.

  98. To follow up on my last comment,

    If I decide to do the program on a M-W-F schedule, what would be good days to train sternum pullups/handstand pushups/ sequential muscle ups? Would jump roping and doing situps at the end of a workout affect the next workout? Would light swimming on the weekends be good or bad for recovery?

  99. Jeremy, why did you stop with the program man πŸ™‚

    Anyway, here’s my answer:

    1. If your main goal is to put on size – I’d do this program, and train like a mofo – give it all you got. so weights only 3 times per week and really *push* so that you squeeze all of the benefits from this program. So each workout you will have a new PR either on reps or a new weight.

    So sternum chinups and HSPU’s will not bee a good idea. This workout here is simply too *draining* to add more resistance training on top of it.

    Get off the program only when you stop hitting PR’s on each workout.


    If you only want dips/chinups to increase, I’d suggest alternating between these 2 workouts each month:

    workout 1:
    train 3 times per week and do as many total reps with a 5RM weight on weighted dips and chins, but away from failure. Each workout increase the number of total reps. When you reach 30 total reps per workout, add 3-5 lbs.

    workout 2:
    Very easy one-
    M-W-F max set of pullups
    T-T-S max set of dips
    Strive to make one more rep each time. You can do it!

    Alternate between workout 1 and workout 2 when results stop. You will easily reach 20-30 dips and 15-20 chinups.


  100. That’s fantastic simple advice. Oh, the reason why I stopped the SS program was because I I started doing crossfit routines for about 4 months, but at the same time I think I was over-training. I did improve my cardio and learned to push myself harder, and did set new PRs in my legs, but overall it doesn’t suit my goals and I think need more of a structure in my routines (to improve pullups and dips). I will definitely do one of your suggested routines above, but how should I train legs into the routine? Also, when you say Max Sets, is that basically max sets to failure, like 8-7-5-4-3, or should i do something like 5-5-5-5-5-3 not to failure?

  101. Jeremy, max set means just one set of as many reps as possible. One set is enough. BUT you need to push yourself the next time and do one more rep. Also – those workouts don’t work forever, that’s why I say alternate between the two.

    Legs – depending on what equipment you have – either one legged squats or barbell squats on a low volume program – (2-3 per week, 3-4 sets of 5).

  102. Thank you for the clarification, that’s what I thought once I reread it. I’ll start with workout 1 thank you!

  103. I’m new to this forum and to working out and have been trying different workouts for a couple months(none of which worked for me). Then i came across your workout and it solved every one of my problems. I’m 16 years old, about 6 foot and weigh 145-147 pounds (quite skinny). Just have 2 quick questions. I have heard that size and strength is best achieved at 6-10 reps, so please explain why you chose the rep range you did.

    I have also heard that diet is even more important then workout for size(500 extra calories a day,you know what i’m talking about. So what’s your take on that.
    Love your workout.

  104. Amir, 6-10 or 8-12 reps doesn’t make a big difference. The important thing is to progress in weights over time. Training is more important than nutrition, since real muscle growth happens relatively slowly. So just make sure to eat enough to have strength for your workouts. That’s enough. Please don’t stuff yourself.

  105. i’m finding it hard to stick with going to gym 3 times per week coz of school, brother going to uni and life is just generally busy and incosistant. The days that i can go to gym vary all the time and sometimes can only go 1 per week. So I was thinking of getting a pair of dumbells so i can workout at home conistantly. So if i was going to workout at home with dumbells what program would you recommend for me(goals are still strength and muscle).
    Sorry to bother you with this annoying question but i respect your opinion. Thanks.

  106. Amir, either go with a body weight program like Convict Conditioning or do dumbbell biceps curls, dumbbell shoulder presses, dumbbell rows (these should be done with heavy dumbbells) and dumbbell bench or floor presses (again heavy dumbbells here) with the sets/reps from this program.

    Also do 1 set of planks for abs and 1 set of bodyweight squats, increasing time for planks and reps for squats each workout.

    Again, train 3x per week in the evenings or mornings, whenever you have time and feel stronger. I personally feel stronger in the evening.

  107. Hi again Yvor! Im done with dose numbres.. so Im happy its been a while well i got a Q. How does this program compares to Rip’s Starting Strength? Ive got alot of people saying it is the best beginner program & id like your ppoint of view.
    Thanks man!

  108. Berner,

    starting strength is solid. It is good especially for teaching the lifts. But I just like this one better that’s why I recommend it. Btw. a true beginner makes gains on any program. p.s. Rippetoe book is a great resource for learning the technique of the lifts.


  109. Hi again, i am entering an interschool athletics competition and i was wondering if you could give me some exercises i could include in my workout that would help me in long jump, triple jump and sprinting. Thanks

  110. Amir, you need basic strength training. I’d say: military press, squat and deadlift as a minimum. Train 2-3 times per week and do 3 sets of 5 reps with perfect form. Over time strive to get stronger.

  111. Will this be good:
    db bench press or dips
    squats or pistols
    shoulder press
    rows or power cleans
    stiff leg deadlift or normsl db deadlift
    jump rope on non workout days

    Where i have written (or) could you tell me which i should do and why and should i do 3×5 on all exercises if i want to get bigger AND more athletic. Sorry about these questions I know they’re a pain but conflicting opinions have left me in confusion and i respect your opinion more then anyone else. Thanks.

  112. Amir,

    Dips are better than db press, provided you have access to dips.
    Squats are good if done with barbells. Pistols are better than db squats.
    Pullups – good.
    Shoulder press – good
    Power cleans need to be done with excellent technique so that you move heavy
    Poundage soon enough. By heavy I mean above your boduweight. As for rows, I prefer db rows – too much leg work in the other kind (bb).

    Here’s my favorite kind of db row – I call it GOJU ROW:

    plyometrics – good
    deadlift – unless done with barbells, just skip it.
    Jump rope is fine. To cut body fat however, focus on eating less food (either smaller portions or food lower in calories)

    3×5 is best for squats and DL’s. The idea is to progress in the workout in some way. With heavy poundage 3×5 or 5×5 does the trick. But it is not holy grail. Exercises with small weights, such as curls, are easier to progress with schemes like 8-12 reps.



  113. Amir, I looked at the routine. It is only good for someone who is athletic, coordinated and has access to a coach to teach ihm some of the lifts good morning, bent over row and lateral raise can be useless or dangerous if not done correctly for example).

    That being said, I bet it gives results if done right.

  114. Yavor,

    This full body workout is a favorite, I have used it previously, and now, after 2 years out of the gym am starting on it again to get my initial strength back.

    I have a couple of questions/concerns however:

    * I remember wanting more variety after doing this workout each time in the gym. Are there are any alternate exercises you suggest? I imagine dips can be replaced w/ bench press, squats with barbell lunges, etc

    * Is it really feasible to do this full-body workout on a M-W-F schedule — does that give the muscles enough time to recover and also expect to still set a new PR just 48 hours later?

    In any case, I appreciate this simple, goal-oriented approach to gaining basic strength, very helpful for someone trying to get back in the swing of things with lifting.

    I’m also planning to do Eat Stop Eat on T-Th as well as the jump rope workout T-Th.

    Saturdays I go for long, hilly bike rides and Sunday I may swim or just rest. M-Fri I ride ~15 miles per day to work and back, hopefully with all of this activity will see some results very soon.

    Up until now I’ve just been doing the riding to work M-Fri while eating a lot and it still feels like I’ve “let myself go”.

    We’ll see how it all goes after one month.

    Thank you for all of the information in your blog, it is all very straightforward and easy to adapt.


  115. Sean, the substitutions you list are fine. Though dips are better but still it is fine to substitute. Recovery is possible because there are just 2 sets per muscle group. That’s a weekly volume of just 6 sets so it’s completely fine

    Yes, the workout gets boring. it is also very demanding. But, it is possible to set new PRs for a few weeks or months depending on your level. So we trade fun for hard work that gives results. May I suggest to just rest or go for a walk (an easy and fun 30 min walk) on Sunday. You need time to recover, physically and more importantly mentally. It’s good if you could just relax on Sunday to recharge.

    To speed up weight loss, if that’s the goal, choose less calorie dense foods like veggies and generally try to eat smaller portions and try eating slower.

    Good luck,


  116. Thanks for the quick reply, Yavor

    Agreed about Sunday days off, I was just thinking with the “No Days Off” mentality.

    About the eating, I have only been meat about once every two weeks for almost a year now. It is just that I eat a lot, especially with all the bike riding I do. I do want to lose weight while getting stronger and hopefully the Eat Stop Eat will help.

    I like your comment “we trade fun for hard work that gives results”. That is a pretty good mantra

    If you have time, look at this inspiring video called “How Bad Do You Want It”? It shows a college american football player working out (running, lifting), trying to make it to the pros, set to a soundtrack of a great motivational speech:

    Thanks again

  117. Another question, Yavor – thanks for your response.

    How many minutes (or secs) do you recommend between sets of the full-body workout?

  118. This workout is really tough!

    And the hardest part is mental. You tend to want to focus on the numbers and setting a PR, but if you do that, you might not be giving it your all, only enough to set the PR.

    Instead, each set should be done to failure, go as hard as you can, forget about the numbers, just leave it all out there.


  119. Hi Yavor,

    Just looking ahead a bit to what is next after the beginner strength training workout. You’ve mentioned in the comments on this page a workout that alternates b/w low reps and high reps in order to build the right kind of dense muscle (not just round muscles full of fluid).

    Do you have a page that breaks down this next stage, as you have for the beginner strength workout/goals? That would be great. I’ve checked out the Visual Impact Training page ( and it gives a great overview yet does not describe specific workouts.

    Thanks for any more information — I’m making great strides with the beginner strength program, feeling great after about 2 weeks and making progress.



  120. Sean, yeah the Visual Impact program is great after this. I have the manual and will see if I can make sample workouts for people who want to check it out.

    It’s basically the best of both worlds (strength training with low reps for muscle tone + high volume moderate rep training for more muscle size).

    I began my training with low rep workouts and later found out its best to mix both. Rusty, the author of Visual Impact, was the other way around. He began training with higher reps like a bodybuilder and later discovered low reps that give you hard muscles (residual muscle tone).

  121. Yavor:

    This workout caught my eye; I’ve read the material and the comments but I still have a few questions.

    1) some of these exercises are taxing on the CNS (squat/deadlift/press). what about warm-up sets. are they an option?

    2) I’m not a big fan of bicep curls. Today, I did this workout for the first time, substituting incline bench for the curls. What are some other options that fit in?

    3) there are several pull up bars at my gym. I notice the ones you use in your videos are straight/parallel. I prefer bars that slant out (roughly 60 degrees) for lat activation. Is there a huge difference?

    4) Lastly, how do you feel about swimming. Would it be overkill to do a dozen laps after a workout or off day. Which is better? I am 68 inches tall, weight 150 lbs. On off days, I only eat chicken and non starchy veggies. On workout days, I eat the same before I train, but afterwards, I eat whatever I want (bread, sweet potato chips, cookies,
    dark chocolate, guacamole). I’m not sure I can continue to eat like this if I’m only training 3 hours (not even) a week…

  122. Mike,

    1. do 1-2 warm up sets ofi you like.
    2. I wasn’t a big curl fan either, but curls have their place to work the biceps and forearms. Chins only will emphasize the lats (until you get sper strong; then they work the biceps fine) Incline bench is great, but it messes up the workout. Chest is worked by the dips. Also sets are arranged so antagonist muscles rest when alternating exercises. If you are going to sub, choose a rowing/pulling ,motion. For example dumbbell rows or cable rows.
    3. Not a huge difference. The angled bars are used to work lats only in one plane of motion. Chins with shoulder width grip (or slightly closer/wider) work both lats and arms (and also work in two planes). It’s up to you.
    4. Def no swimming directly after workout. Seriously the workout is draining! You can try – if you have strength…

  123. Yavor:

    That makes sense now (antagonist muscles resting). Thank you for explaining that. I’m still reluctant to do bicep curls. For now, I’ll sub bicep curls for power snatch on monday , renegade rows on wednesday and hammer curls on friday.

    One last question:

    Yesterday was my 1st workout and I struggled to get past 9 reps for each movement (I did 15 squats, but only because they were first).
    For the record, is the mentality for this workout to “train to failure” ?
    Also, what are your thoughts on the rest-pause? Tomorrow is my second workout, and I want to know if resting 15 seconds, then going back into the set (usually to get 2 or 3 extra reps) counts.

  124. Mike, 9 reps is fine. Try to do 10 reps next time. 10 reps will be as hard as 9 reps today. Then go for 11 reps etc etc.

    Yes it is training to failure.

    Failure = unable to do more reps with proper form.

    Rest pause is a great method. But don’t use it here. Just normal sets.

  125. thanks for your help.
    I like the workout. I’m logging everything, update in 3 weeks…

    I love the website. great information.

    keep up the good work.

  126. Hi Yavor

    I have decent mass on my legs compared to chest/shoulders/arms. Can I drop squats alltogether from the program?

  127. just to be clear, deads @ the start and end.
    I just got convict conditioning and read about pistol squats. what do you think about? I don’t want to add any more mass to my legs, just tone at this point… I’m also curious why they are the first movement in the program…… testosterone boost?

    my other question is what’s the difference between this workout and phase 1 of Visual Impact.

    thanks Yavor…..

  128. Steven,

    – yeah 2 deads, start/end.
    -pistols are excellent. Watch your form. Focus on pushing through the heel and sitting back.
    – deads will just add strength to the back of the leg and the lower back. My guess is you might not be very strong there.
    – squats are first not because of a boost, but just because it is a tough set, more difficult than the other exercises.
    – this workout is best for complete novices bvecause you gain strength on the major moves 3x per week. visual Impact phase 1 is strictly mass building. It works best after a workout such as this.

    Basically a newbie would do well to do a full body workout until it stops giving results every single workout. So then you do a split like in visual impact phase 1. Then, after several months you do some lower reps like in phase 2, etc.

  129. do high volume deads make the lower back wider?
    I need to blast my obliques. what do you recommend (besides planks)

    yeah man those pistols look crazy. I want to learn them so that I can do that Russian dance. you know those squat kicks? crazy….

  130. Steven, deads won’t make your lower back wider. They will only make it stronger. For example you will be able to pick up heavy things like a big ass old school TV (not the new slim ones) easier. But to do that you need to learn the proper technique and keep the lower back arched and tight.

    For the obliques, try the renegade rows (they are also part of visual impact). but really, as your whole body gets stronger, you will even out,

    I know the Russian dance. These guys are incredible.

  131. Hey Yavor,

    Thanks again for the workout, have been doing it for about a month now and am still seeing gains every time and enjoying it. The best part is progressing with my dips, now I can almost do them with weights — at the start I couldn’t do 5 without feeling like my chest was going to explode!

    I’ve got another question:

    Everything is going well except for the deadlifts, in fact I’ve started skipping them. Part of the reason i stopped lifting two years ago was a back injury, and right now deadlifts just don’t seem right anymore. I tried straight leg, and even sumo grip but I don’t know the technique well enough or have confidence that I won’t injure my back again. It sucks to have a let down at the end of each workout each time so I just started skipping them. But I used to love deadlifts, this is so disappointing. Is there something else that I can do instead? Perhaps Farmer’s Walks?


  132. Sean, yeah it sucks. I’d say forget about the deadlift for a while. Instead, practice the “arch position” by laying on your stomach and lifting your outstretched legs and arms off the ground. This wil teach you to arch the lower back.

    Also practice “abdominal bracing.” This protects the spine. You do it by inhaling a small amount of air in the stomach and then bracing the stomach like for a punch.

    The proper deadlift technique is to have the lower back in the “arch position” and the stomach braced.

    So instead of deadlift, practice these two techniques at home. Also try renegade rows:”” This will teach you how to brace the abs.

  133. hey Yavor

    Last workout, I progressed! I started/ended with 15 X 155lbs Deadlifts, which is just over my bodyweight. I’m excited about that, but looking at the mirror, I’m noticing that the back of my legs are quite accentuated. In fact, they’re just as, if not, wider than my hips. My upper back is still prominent, but I need to build more muscle in the lats, to complete the V (I’m really skinny) At this point, it’s safe to say that my lower body strength/size greatly exceeds upper.

    My question is, what changes do I need to make to account for this?

    fyi, this is what I did last workout:

    deadlift: see above
    calf raise: 20 X 15lbs
    standing barbell military press: 12 X 80lbs
    chin up: 10 reps bodyweight
    standing barbell military press: 11 X 80lbs
    pull up: 7 reps bodweight
    dips: 9 reps bodyweight
    barbell curl: 8 X 45lbs
    dips: 8 reps bodyweight
    barbell curl: 7 X 45lbs
    deadlift: see above

  134. Steven, continue training. You simply need to get stronger in the upper body. It will happen, just keep pushing and setting new personal records.

  135. going to give this a try in half an hour. Yavor, was wondering, have you ever noticed the difference between a normal barbell and an olympic barbell, I am sure throughout my gym life I have been able to press more on the olympic bar. Im guessing maybe because of the irradiation technique, bit harder to grip the smaller bar

  136. Hello Yavor,

    Am going to dive in to your program however I do not have access to a dipping appartaus. I am guessing I should just subsitute dipping with with Bench presses but thought I would ask if you had any other recommendations.


  137. amazing workout Yavor!!!

    I add 2 times/week your jump rope workout and i do 2 sets mauntain climbers and 2 sets renegate rows witch 2 kg dumbells for my abs.

    But rope jumping decrease my upper chest!!! :-/

  138. Yavor, i have been following this workout to the tee. I have made huge progress. I love your site and read it like its a Bible. Its awesome.

  139. Hi there. I am into fitness also and run a fitness website. The difference is that I teach how to lose weight :D. I was wondering if you could post some bodybuilding meals for a whole day totaling 4000 kcal as I am really struggling with that. Please email it to me also.


  140. Hi Yavor,

    Great site. Really refreshing to see some straight-up, simply presented advice without any ulterior motives to sell me crap ;o) In particular I like your line on supplements and diet – have been working out about a year now and have always been dubious about this need to take on ridiculous amounts of extra calories in order to build muscle; your advice on simply eating well (fresh veg, lean meat, eggs and fish) chimes well with what I’ve experienced so far.
    Anyway, I wanted to ask about what I’m experiencing on this workout. I’ve always been pretty skinny and am not naturally strong, but found I really got some good response from this programme for like 3-4 months. However, I’m still a way off from the target weights you list, and am getting a weird thing with how I’m progressing. I’ll progress one rep per set on most exercises from workout to workout as described, for maybe three or four workouts in a row – but then I go in the gym and for some reason just cannot get to where I was last time and in fact will regress – so I lose two or even three reps. Then the next work out I end up starting again from that point and can only manage one more than last time – although I do then end up getting above the previous pb before I drop back again. So kinda three steps forward, two steps back; although I’m progressing overall it’s really slow – frustrating to say the least!
    This only seems to happen on certain exercises; legs I’m fine, chins are progressing really well – but my biceps, dips, shoulders (in particular) I’m having this issue with. Any ideas what might be causing this? I’m making it to the gym regular, recording everything in detail, eating well etc.
    Overall I’m still making progress so I’m not too bothered but it’s a little annoying and can be real disheartening to have previous progress lost like that! I’d be interested to hear what you think.
    Thanks for the effort you put into the site, it’s a goldmine πŸ™‚

  141. Mike, no workout is perfect unfortunately. You can try this – train for 3 weeks. On the 4th week drop the lifts that are troublesome. Then the following week add them back. Rinse and repeat: 3 weeks full routine, 4th week only the “good lifts.” This should allow you to progress a bit further.

  142. Just a few questions, does this require cardio? I mean for warm ups. And w/o cardio, would this actually work?

    Also, without a bench press work out wouldn’t it risk your chest/tricep gains? Thanks in advance!

  143. Air, cardio is not necessary here. The dips will take care of your chest. Triceps is worked in both dips and shoulder presses.

  144. Yavor, what do you think about moving the squat at the end of the workout. After a 20-rep set of squats I have now energy for other excersize. And in therms of my very bad recovery how about doing the upper body excersize only in one set?

  145. Ok, I understand. One more thing.Can I replace the dips with pushups and how should I progress on them. I think to alternate pushups with rows.I also think to remove the deadlift, because I cannot do it after the squat neither before it. I want to tweak this program for me and give it a try. But it is very demanding (especialy the squats). May be two times per week is smarter.

  146. Alex, you are going to completely screw up the program. No pushups instead of dips and no rows instead of curls…

    The upper body workout is like this:

    chest/triceps = dips
    biceps = curls
    back = chin ups
    shoulders = shoulder presses

  147. Ok, no more tweaks. But I think my shoulder hurts form the dips. Anyway I am going to give it a try.And last thought. I want to put on some muscle. But I have to loose my belly too. Is this program for me? I know everything is up to diet but I want to know what you think about it. I am going to fast 3 times per week. In fact I will fast on the workout days and feast on the rest days.

  148. Yavor, this program does not work for me. The problem is that I have terrible recovery and I am the worst nutrient partitioner you know.I tried it for 10 days and I feel ovetrained. I have to train every day before the big meal at night. That way I will put most of the food into my muscles (I hope) and with lower reps I shouldn’t ovetrain. Do you think I can put on some size and muscles that way? And what excersize should I use? I still cannot find the right workout routine for me.

  149. Alex, do a A-B split with a push and pull day. Rest on Sunday.

    A workout
    Barbell bench press 4 sets of 6
    cable press down 4 sets of 8-12
    alternating seated shoulder dumbbell press (you keep one arm up all the time) 4 sets, 8-12

    B workout
    Lat pull down, shoulder width grip 4 sets of 6
    dumbbell alternating curl 4 sets of 8-12
    seated cable row, 4 sets of 8-12

    Track weekly calories, cut down if the belly doesn’t shrink.

  150. Just a few questions. Can a replace the lat pull down with rings chins or pullups?How long should I use this program? This program is much for sarcoplasmic hypertrophy isn’t it? Well it doesn’t metter, I just want to put on size on my upper body, the strenght is not priority right now. Thanks for the quick response.

  151. Alex, you can use chins. Stay on the program for as long as there is a change in your strength month to month.

  152. Hi Yavor.I just have a few quick questions
    1) On this workout should we train to failure.
    2) I am am very skinny. how should I work out calorie consumption to gain muscle
    3) I can only do 3 dips. Should I just try to work strength up

  153. Izzy,

    1. train to positive failure. This means do as many good clean reps as possible. No ugly reps, forced reps, etc.
    2. muscle is gained from the workout + eating normally. Eat 3-4 times per day a good standard meal (like what your grandmother or mother would prepare for you)…
    3. do bench press instead of dips


  154. what do u think of this workout for a skinny teenager vs yours?
    Im looking to get stronger and bigger for sports.

  155. The Title is Misleading. This isn`t a strength workout. This is a hypertrophy workout. Why is it so important for guys to claim they train for strength rather than just admitting they train to look strong? I will never understand this. The only way to build real strength is to do HEAVY weight lifts. With which you can do no more than 5 reps. And even 5 is considered high.

  156. Hey, Yavor,

    First of all, thanks for the insights you’re sharing on this website. πŸ˜‰

    Before finding this article, I got myself a Visual Impact program and it’s quite different compared to the one you posted here. Now I’ve a question. Should I dive right into Visual Impact program and skip your workout or should I star with the one you suggested? However, the numbers you listed here are quite high and for me it would take incredibly long to achieve them as I’ve kind of skinny physique.

    Any of your input regarding my issue would be greatly appreciated.



  157. Paul, you can jump right into phase 1 of visual impact. Do it for 2-3 months, then either do phase 2, or do this workout. So this workout is similar in effect to phase 2. Hope it makes sense.


  158. Yavor,

    Thank you for quick reply! I got what you mean. πŸ˜‰

    In addition, I’ve another question which may be important for beginners. Do you recommend any warm up before doing actual work out? For example, do 1 set with lighter weights or do running for 5 mins, etc.



  159. Paul, yes you can do a warmup. There are 2 kinds.

    1. a total body warmup that prepares your body for the workout – 5 minutes of a light activity (even walking very fast to the gym works)

    2. specific warmup for the exercise – do 5 reps with light weight, rest a bit, do 5 more reps with a heavier weight… do 2-3 sets until you approach your working weight. This should only take 1-2 minutes.

  160. Took a good amount of time off so to get back into training I’m going to start this program again. I liked it before. I am going to keep it the same for the most part with a few minor tweaks.

    Question though, why is the lower body trained so little compared to the upper body? I remember reading (I think) somewhere why but can’t seem to find it. Just curious? Thanks again Yavor

  161. Will, the reason is that the lower body is much less neurologically efficient. meaning that we have less control of the muscles of the legs so we have much more room for growth there without needing that much volume.

  162. Yes you can do lat pull downs but it’s not the same. They are not as effective. As for deadlift machine – no such thing. Do 2 sets of squats instead.

  163. Hi Yavor,

    Firstly, thank you very much for writing up this program. I’m a novice and I’ve spent quite a while searching for good routines to follow and yours looks promising.

    I’ve also come across an alternative called Starting Strength. A lot of people recommend this however there is a small but significant number of people who complain that SS works the legs too much.. and as a result you end up looking a bit bottom-heavy (“T-Rex mode” as people put it). Do you have any comments about this claim? Despite this, would you still strongly recommend SS?

    Thanks a lot!

  164. I recommend this workout here. SS is good for the first 3-6 months too but from a certain point it doesn’t work the upper body hard enough, unless you get really really strong on bench. If you want upper body, you gotta work it, period.

  165. Hey Yavor, I’ve been following Rusty’s blog for about a year now and have seen you on his Facebook. I just have recently came to your site and found tis post interesting. I have a question for you I am going into the 3rd phase of VIMB and was wondering if this workout would work good for the bonus phase or if I should do the bonus phase first. I have been working out somewhat consistently for the past year and definitely am not at the weights on those lifts. I am 5’4″ and weigh 125 to 130. Wich believe it or not is about 15 to 20 pounds heavier than before I started working out. Anyways just wondering your thoughts on when to incorporate this program and also a weight to aim for at incline bench as I don’t have a dip station at home. I wanted to aim for 200 which would be 1 1/2 my weight assuming I put on a little more weight.

  166. Joe, this program is best as replacement for phase 2, even though it’s higher reps than phase 2. As for the incline bench – 200 is pretty decent weight. Also my suggestion is to focus less on the weight and more on feeling the muscle work. This should happen gradually as you get more experienced.

  167. Thanks for the quick reply. I have one other question for ya…I are these sets taken to failure or do you keep a rep in the tank?

  168. Another question for ya….what’s a weight to aim for on front squats. I prefer front squats because they seem to trigger my abs more than my lower back.

  169. Wow just did this workout for the second time today and its a killer although I think I need to up my rest periods as I finished in under a half our and felt like I was going to pass out. Haha. I also was super setting the ones you say to alternate but as I read thought the comments I see you say to rest wich is what I will do for now on. I question I’m only 5’4″ and wheigh between 125 and 130 lbs, should I still be aiming at achieving these goal weights? I mean I’m up for the challenge but not sure if its as realistic for someone my size. Thanks again for this workout.

  170. One more thing question ( sorry I have so many ) but if chest is one of my lagging parts could I do the chest / bicep before the shoulder / back?

  171. Joe, under half an hour is super quick. When I do this workout it takes me 40-50 minutes.

    As for the goal weights – well your will be slightly lower. The point is to try to do the workout intensely for a few months and see wha t you can squeeze out of it. You will want to improve every workout or every other workout. When that stops working, you can move on.

    As for switching the exercises to focus on chest – it is fine.

  172. Would a beginner benefit more from doing this beginner strength program, and then once you complete it, then transitioning to Visual Impact? I’ve been trying to do visual impact, but just seem to get frustrated in phase 1, because I still feel lost. Also what can I expect this program,as far as how my body will look after?

  173. Also for the Squat and military press, if I was to use the smith machine for them would that be ok, or would I be better off doing them the regular way . I’m honestly concerned that I could hurt myself with the military press, the squat not as concerned.

  174. Hi! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a
    new project in a community in the same niche.

    Your blog provided us beneficial information to work on.
    You have done a outstanding job!

  175. Yavor, I am now 75 kg. at 1.80 height. I can see my abs when I am 70 kg. But than I look like a sick man. Should I first drop to 70 kg and than start this program? Or can I start now, and try something like recomposition?

  176. Alex, start now but try to stay at 75kg. It will be easy to just eat and get to 80-85kg, but it will be mostly fat. So stay at 75 kg and get stronger. As your strength increases you might reach 80-85kg and still be able to see your abs. Gaining 5-10kg of lean muscle, however, means getting quite a bit stronger.

  177. Thanks man, I will try it. But it is a very demanding workout and I will have to eat a lot to be able to do it 3 times a week. Building muscle is rest and eating. Loosing fat is not eating. I have to combine them somehow.

  178. Yavor,

    I’m glad I found your site man, awesome material! Hey, I’ve heard some people say squatting and deadlifting may be the down falls to physique. I know personally after I do heavy squats or deads, I want to heat like a horse. Are there any alternatives to those exercises, or could I just leave them out. I am thinking about training with handstands, hspu, pull ups, dips, l-sits, and maybe sprints for legs?

  179. Yavor, after working out for a period of time, I am to nohere. In my 20 rep squat, I do 18 reps with 75kg at a bodyweight of 75. But the problem is I have to rest at least 6-7 days to become fully recover. This is not problem for the legs, but my upper body size is missing. Do you know any kind of excersize, wich will have a similar effect to my upper body, as 20 rep squat has on my lower body. I have to say, after only 1 month of 20 rep squat, my legs are huge, but my arms and shoulders are still the same.

  180. Dear Yavor,

    I am Adam, from Hungary doing this workout programm, and I got pretty got results and excited every time about going to the gym. (never happened before). My question is how come bench press is not included in your programm? Not that I miss it, it’s just it is usually part of mosts workouts. For me it’s good, because most of the time the bench is occupied anyway. Second thing is that if you can recommend anything instead of doing Barbell Deadlift? Thanks!

  181. Hey Yavor, thanks for your time and effort. How would you go about warming up for this? Warmup before, then smash the workout; or do some warmp sets before each set

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