Wednesday, August 15, 2012

More on beginner programming and combining programming methods

The lifer series will continue next week.  I've been too busy with work, training, and getting ready for my Ohio trip to really sit down and concentrate on those types of articles.  However I meant to address this particular question this week/next week anyway, so let's do it.

Paul, I (and perhaps others) am curious as to what sort of programming you have laid out for a beginner. What I mean is, I have SLL and you outline your beginner program for a fresh out the womb beginner but don't really go much further than the first 6-8 week period, and then a Phase Two routine but don't go into much detail on that. You mentioned in your rotational split post that this is similar to your daughter's current split. I'm curious what your programming changes to as someone becomes less and less of a beginner and how progress is tracked and planned (if at all). 


Ok to start, you don't have to run the beginner template in SLL for only 6-8 weeks. You could run that thing for a very long time. There's honestly no REAL such thing as a beginner routine, per say. Just that the finer points of the program are in place for specific reasons. I named those reasons in SLL.

This summer Hannah spent her workouts doing the following most of the time.

Squats (light and heavy sessions)

Deadlifts (usually moderate, with some heavy block pulls in there every other week or so)

Chins (every workout)

Bench Press, Floor Press, Db Bench Press, Overhead Press (usually she'd do 2 of those 4 in a week)

However now that she's getting ready for a meet in November, we really broken down her training into a more structured platform.

Day 1 -

Squats (heavy) 5,4,3,2,1,1,1 1x4-5 heavy

Ab Wheel - 5 sets of 8-10

This day has usually looked like 65x5, 75x4, 85x3, 95x2, 105x1, 115x1, 115/120x1, 95x5

Day 2 -

Squats (light) - this is usually 4-5 sets of 65x5 - in between sets of squats, she does db bench press for sets of 10 with the 20's.

Floor Press (heavy) - 5,4,3,2,1,1,1 - in between sets of floor press she does chins

Dips - AMAPx1

Chins - AMAPx1

Her floor press is usually something like barx5, 65x4, 70x3, 75x2, 85/90x1 all fast and solid with a pause

Day 3 -

Deadlifts - warm up, then usually 8-12 singles with between 135 and 175

Incline Press on machine - 5-6 sets of 8

Cable Rows - 5 sets of 20

On deads, we work on technique a lot, and pulling with a lot of bar speed. In between singles I have her walk over to the machine incline press and knock out a set of 8. Once she gets in a groove, and 135 starts moving super fast, I will go to 155 and we will do more singles or some doubles. Once that looks faster, we will go to 175 for a single or two, then usually a back off set of 155x3.

A lot of her "programming" is very static in this way. Because she's not benching 225 and pulling 315 there can't be a lot of big weight jumps, so we work in small ones. For the dead I try not to have her grind out too many sets or singles that are slow. Even with a 14 year old girl, if she has a day where we do that, her squat tanks for 3-4 days until the low back recovers. So we focus on speed and technique.

I do have her grind out whatever she can get on the floor press or bench, chins, dips, incline, etc. We also have some days where I throw in set of Poundstone curls and we see what she can get with the 35 pound bar (usually 70 reps or so).

So if we wanted to outline a similar looking routine for someone who could program in with both the strong-15 and big-15 programs, this is how I would do that, with this particular program..........

Day 1 -

Squats (heavy) - strong 15 w/o the pause squats

Ab Wheel - 5 sets of 8-10

Day 2 -

Squats - do the pause squats from the strong-15 that were not done on day 1

Bench Press - strong-15 with back offs

Dips - AMAPx1

Chins - AMAPx1

Day 3 -

Deadlifts - strong-15 including back offs

Incline Press on machine - big-15 programming here

Cable Rows - 4-5x8-12

This is just one example of how you could program using the strong and big-15 templates into 1 training phase. I'm going to be writing more about that down the line.

I am off to Ohio tomorrow so don't expect any/many blog updates until I return. I should have some good stories to return with, as I will be spending time with a lot of bat shit crazy people.

Wish me luck.


  1. paul can you tell us in your opinion what lifting stats epecially per bw do you consider begginer intermediate and advanced. even for other lifts if you must like dips , chins etc?

    1. To me it's more about understanding the movements rather than weight on the bar. Lots of guys can move X amount of weight, but have shit technique and no idea of what is supposed to be going on.

      Beginner -> Intermediate = After the initial big jumps in strength and a basic understanding of how the big movements are supposed to be performed

      Intermediate -> Advanced = Closer to strength ceiling potential and has a great understanding of how the movements are supposed to be performed.

  2. Paul,

    Thanks for getting my question answered on the (awesome) podcast, last night. I appreciate it.

    Good article as well. I'm probably going to include a bunch of back work in my training cycles for the foreseeable future, because, why not?

    Good luck on your trip!

  3. For someone that has a goal to be strong and in shape. I see you like to devotes a few months working on one trait while maintaining the other and build on each other like that. Would you think it would work to work on both traits at the same time but not pushing hard on either. Like just adding more over a long period of as the body adapts.

    1. I think the issue there is, because you're never going to push the envelope in one area, you're probably never going to maximize anything.

      For example, the guy that spends the winter eating a shit ton of food and training heavy puts on a lot of mass. He then diets down and gets into shape for summer. He's going to have more mass, if all done properly, than the guy that spends the winter tying to serve 2 masters.

  4. Excellent novice programs: Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength and Glenn Pendlay's 5x5 (yes, pendlay wrote a program for novices in strength training - it is out there).

    Novices = people who require a short stimulus to get stronger. So milk the program for a very, very long time.