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If looking like The Hulk, Wolverine, or Batman is your primary goal, then a training program with a bodybuilding focus is what you need.

If you have been struggling to grow, this program may help by giving some balance to your routine. Don’t make the mistake of training your chest, arms, and abs each day, neglecting the majority of the musculature in your body. To have a thick chest, you need to have a well developed back. To have big legs, you need to train your hamstrings. To have shredded abs, you need to have enough muscle mass to make getting lean worth it.

In this article, I introduce the sample Novice Bodybuilding Program from our book, though with abbreviated instructions so as not to overwhelm. I’ll show you how to choose exercises and adjust things for the areas where you are more advanced.

My advice is to resist the urge to skip straight to the Intermediate Bodybuilding Program just because you have been training for a while. Read through to consider whether this is more appropriate first. The less training experience you have, the faster gains you will make. You don’t need nearly as much work to make gains when you are a novice so enjoy this while it lasts.

Lastly, despite the name, this training program isn’t for those who are new to lifting (or new lifting properly). Rank beginners will probably find their time best spent learning the big compound lifts first, which is the purpose of this Big 3 Routine. When you’re competent with the bench press, squat and deadlift, come back to this.


The Novice Bodybuilding Sample Program Overview

The Novice Bodybuilding Program, unlike the Novice Powerlifting Program, is a four-day program. It has more exercises to ensure all muscle groups are adequately trained and has a higher total volume.

We have two ‘strength’ days and two ‘volume’ days. Strength development complements the accumulation of training volume and aids hypertrophy (muscle growth) by allowing heavier loads to be used over time.

Because skill development is not as important to a bodybuilder as it is to a powerlifter, and because greater volumes are performed on each day, a lower/upper split is used to balance out fatigue and recovery across the week.

Exercise preferences, limitations, and equipment availability differs from person to person. I’ve written more details on how to choose below.

Spread your workouts out across the week and try to have no more than two sessions back to back. This is better for recovery. Examples: Train-train-rest-train-train-rest-rest, or, Train-train-rest-train-rest-train-rest.

Have a look at the program below and then I’ll explain the meaning of the ‘%1RM’ and ‘1st Set RPE’ notation and how to use it.

The Novice Bodybuilding Sample Program

Day 1 – Lower Body (Strength)
ExerciseSets x Reps%1RM1st Set RPE
Squat Variant

variations»Barbell Back Squats (either low or high bar position), Front Squats, or Safety-bar Barbell Squatsclose

3 x 582.5%NA
Deadlift Variant

variations»Conventional Deadlift, Sumo Deadlift, Romanian Deadlift, Good Morningsclose

3 x 582.5%NA
Single Leg Variant

variations»Bulgarian Split Squats, Lunges, or Single-leg Squats with a Kettlebell or Dumbbell (also known as Pistol Squats)close

3 x 8NA8
Standing Calf Raises

variations»Smith machine, Leg Pressclose

4 x 8NA8
Day 2 – Upper Body (Strength)
ExerciseSets x Reps%1RM1st Set RPE
Horizontal Push

variations»Bench Press, Dumbbell Pressclose

3 x 582.5%NA
Horizontal Pull

variations»Seated Cable Rows, Dumbbell Rows, Seal Rows, Machine Rows, TRX Rowsclose

3 x 5NA8
Vertical Push

variations»Overhead Barbell Press or Dumbbell Press (standing or seated), Landmine Pressclose

2 x 872.5%NA
Vertical Pull

variations»Chin-ups or Pull-ups (Use bands to assist you if too hard to reach the required number of reps, add weight if they are too easy), Lat-pull Downclose

2 x 8NA8
Flys

variations»Cable or Dumbbellclose

2 x 15NA8
Day 3 – Lower Body (Volume)
ExerciseSets x Reps%1RM1st Set RPE
Hip Hinge Variant

variations»Barbell Hip Thrusts, Barbell Glute Bridges, Cable Pull Throughsclose

3 x 8NA8
Leg Press Variant

variations»Seated Leg Press, 45° Leg Press, Hack Squatclose

3 x 8NA8
Leg Extension3 x 12NA8
Leg Curl3 x 12NA8
Seated Calf Raise4 x 15NA8
Day 4 – Upper Body (Volume)
ExerciseSets x Reps%1RM1st Set RPE
Horizontal Push3 x 1067.5%NA
Horizontal Pull3 x 10NA8
Incline Push

variations»Can be dumbbell, barbell, or machineclose

2 x 12NA8
Vertical Pull2 x 12NA8
Triceps Isolation

variations»Cable, machine or free weightclose

2 x 12NA8
Biceps Isolation

variations»Cable, machine or dumbbellclose

2 x 12NA8

*NA = not applicable for that exercise.

Rest Periods

Rest for ~2-3 minutes for the main exercises. (Enough so that you’re recovered and ready to go again.) You’ll need just 60–90 seconds for the smaller isolation exercises like the bicep curls.

Modifications

If you have considerably more experience with the one lift than the others, you might consider adding an additional set to that exercise from the start. So, let’s say you’re fairly new to the squat and deadlift for example, but have a lot of experience bench pressing, (pretty much describes every dude on the planet when they start lifting seriously) perhaps start with four bench press sets for your horizontal push exercises instead of three.

Savvy readers may notice that this program has changed a little since the program in the first edition of the book. This is because newer meta-analyses have been released about training volume, and there were instances where we decided to reduce it as the first edition programs had volume that was too high based on current evidence. More on this in the first training FAQ item, here.

For convenience, I made this to save to your phone:

Follow me on Instagram for more useful graphics like this.


How To Choose Exercises

Choose an exercise option that you can perform confidently with good form, pain-free, with a full range of motion. My bigger guide to exercise selection is here, but below are the crib notes relevant to this program.

Squat Variants

This could be a high-bar, low-bar, front, or safety-bar barbell squats.

Select the variant that is pain-free, a low injury risk, one that you enjoy, that you are confident that you can master, and that suits your biomechanics. For example, if you find that you are very bent over when you perform a low-bar squat to full depth, you may wish to choose one of the other variations that allow for a more upright body position to ensure more even lower-body development.

If an injury prevents you from performing a barbell based squat of any type, a leg press variant can be used in the place of a squat variant.

Hip Hinge Variants

Hip hinge variants include movements such as a barbell hip thrusts or glute bridges. Cable or machine hinges can also be used.

Single-Leg Squat Variants

Bulgarian split squats, lunges, or single-leg squats with a kettlebell or dumbbell on the floor or off a plyo-box (also known as pistol squats). These are primarily in place to ensure equal development across legs, and to ensure adequate coordination and even contribution of force when performing bipedal exercises such as squats or leg press to reduce the risk of injury. You can select a machine based movement such as a single leg leg-press, but this will only help you ensure equal force production between legs, and not necessarily coordination and balance. Thus, the injury prevention effect will be reduced.

Deadlift Variants

Conventional, sumo, or Romanian deadlifts, or good mornings. If you select a sumo stance deadlift, do not perform it ultra-wide if you only compete in bodybuilding, rather use a stance just slightly wider than your hand position. This can be a great position for a bodybuilder to perform a deadlift as it allows a straighter back, more upright torso, thereby reducing injury risk, while also mimicking the biomechanics of a conventional deadlift. The advantage of selecting a Romanian deadlift or a good morning is that the eccentric will be automatically controlled, however, these movements take more kinesthetic awareness and time to master and perform properly with heavy loads.

Vertical & Horizontal Pulls

For the horizontal row, choose an exercise that doesn’t fatigue your lower back. I would advise a cable, single arm dumbbell, chest supported dumbbell, seal/bench, or machine row.

For vertical pulls feel free to select what you would like, however, if you do choose to do chin ups or pull ups, make sure you can perform them with the right range of motion for the required number of reps. If not, try band-assisted pull ups until you are strong enough. Then add weight when you need.

Vertical & Horizontal Pushes

For horizontal pressing, you can use the bench press, a decline, or incline press. Just don’t use a very severe angle in either direction. For vertical pressing, feel free to do either standing or seated presses. Barbells or dumbbells can be used.

Isolation Exercises

Bicep curls, triceps extensions, leg extensions, leg curls and other single joint movements should be performed with a full range of motion and in a safe manner that is pain-free. Whether you use free weights, machines, cables or some other variation you would like to employ is entirely your choice, just ensure that you are able to perform it pain-free and with a full range of motion.

Flys can be performed with cables or dumbbells or machines and can be performed at incline or decline angles if preferred.

Standing calf raises don’t necessarily need to be standing, they just need to be straight legged (for example a calf raise on a leg press).

Shrugs and direct abdominal work are not included for reasons covered here.


How to Progress with the Novice Bodybuilding Program

Choosing an Initial Weight to Lift With

The %1RM notation stands for percentage of 1-rep maximum. It is a guideline for how much you should load the bar the first time you start the program (only) and we will use this with our main compound barbell competition lifts.

So, where you see Squat 3*5 (82.5%), this means you should put 82.5% of the weight of your maximum single-rep squat on the bar, and then perform 3 sets of 5 reps.

So, let’s say that your current 1RM in the squat is 200 lbs (~90 kg). You’ll load the bar so that the total weight is 82.5% of that, 165 lb (~75 kg) and then perform 3 sets of 5. This might feel relatively easy, but resist the temptation to do more. Some people can get substantially more than 8 reps at this percentage, but our goal is to be submaximal as you’ll be making linear increases in load every time you repeat this session. Subsequent sets you will more than likely find to be a harder than the first due to cumulative fatigue. If you don’t know your 1RM you can use this calculator I created for our book readers which will show you how to calculate your 1RM.

If you don’t have a lot of experience with the lift, you are new to it, or you are coming back after time off, just warm up adding weight to the point where you can comfortably squat 3 sets of 8. Then for each successive session add a little weight each time while maintaining good form.

The 1st Set RPE notation is there to tell us the intensity of effort with which we should lift. It is a guideline for how much you should load the bar every time you train.

‘RPE’ stands for Rate of Perceived Exertion based on Reps in Reserve. It is a means of managing fatigue which can help recovery and growth, telling you how many reps, ideally, you will stay short of failure.

While you will aim to add load each session, on a scale of 1–10, a 7 means to stop the set when you could perform 3 more reps, an 8 means to stop when you have 2 more reps in reserve.

You’ll notice the RPE values for the novice programs are always “1st set RPE 8”. Meaning, you should be able to do all the prescribed sets for the day by sticking with your initial set’s load if it matched up correctly with the target RPE (close to an 8 RPE). If you “miss reps” on subsequent sets at the same load as the RPE climbs past 10, you either started too heavy, didn’t rest long enough, or perhaps made a technical fault; all of which are learning experiences for your next session.

RPE NumberMeaning
10Could not do more reps or load without form failure
9.5Could not do more reps, could do slightly more load
9Could do 1 more rep
8.5Could definitely do 1 more reps, chance at 2
8Could do 2 more reps
7.5Could definitely do 2 more reps, chance at 3
7Could do 3 more reps
5-6Could do 4-6 more reps
1-4Very light to light effort

Progression Rules

Add a little weight to each exercise every session whenever you are able to do so. I have given detailed examples in the linear progression section here. Do this for as long as you can and then move on to the intermediate progression rules. Do this independently for each exercise.

Note that if you choose to perform the same exercise on the strength and volume days (the bench press on both, for example), the load on the bar will be different. This is because the number of reps performed on each day is different. (You can bench more for 5 reps than you can for 10 reps, right?) So progress each day independently.

Though you will get stronger over time, your strength will fluctuate from session to session. This can happen if you didn’t sleep well, you are stressed, your diet wasn’t on point, you had 10 pints the night before, or it could just be some cumulative fatigue build up. So, keep in mind that you will be stronger on some days than others.

  1. Do not get frustrated with yourself and add weight to the bar when you shouldn’t.
  2. Don’t be afraid to lift a little less if you need to.
  3. Always lift with good form so that you stay safe.
  4. Do not go to form failure so that you don’t get injured.

An Important Concluding Note

This is just one example of many programs that will work for a novice bodybuilder. Individuality is key to long-term success, and just like it’s not a good idea to use someone else’s diet regardless of whether your maintenance calorie intake or initial body-fat percentage is similar to theirs or not, it’s also not a good idea to jump into a program regardless of how the volume, intensity, or frequency of the program compares to what you are currently adapted to.

The Muscle and Strength Pyramid: Training v2.0

If you have found this helpful, you might be pleased to know it is just a small section taken from my Muscle and Strength Training Pyramid book, written with my co-authors Eric Helms and Andrea Valdez. The second edition, along with the Nutrition companion book, was released this January 3rd, 2019.

Join 16,000+ other readers, get your copies here.

Thank you for reading. Questions welcomed in the comments.

– Andy, Eric, and Andrea


Novice Bodybuilding Program FAQ

Can I add (exercises/sets) to the program?

If you have good reason to believe (past lifting data, for example) that doing so will benefit you, you can add anything you wish. The key is that you recover sufficiently and progress better than you otherwise would.

It can be a mistake to add more training volume than necessary too early in a training career. So, if you don’t have this data, I’d leave things as they are at this novice stage and see how you go first.

Do as much as you need to progress, not as much as possible. More detailed thoughts on this at the end of the intermediate program article below.

Progress has stalled, what should I do?

Assuming that you’re following the progression rules diligently, meaning that you’re also keeping to the first set RPEs to manage fatigue, then your answer lies somewhere in the following three articles:

  1. How to Break Training Plateaus
  2. How to Address Weak Points in Your Lifts
  3. What is Realistic Progress When Cutting?

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Comments

Please keep questions on topic, write clearly, concisely, and don't post diet calculations.

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Jake
Jake

Thank you so much for this content. I hit a wall with training, after trying this program I realized I was doing too much. I just have one question, Is there a reason the Lower body comes first? Thank you!

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

No, perfectly fine to flip it.

fernando
fernando

Hello Andy,

I was wondering 3 things:

1- How I should warm up before the workout and/or in between muscle groups. Stretch, cardio, light sets?
2-How should I cool down after workout. Stretch, cardio?
3- Can I do cardio on days off or is that going to be counter productive.

Thank you very much in advance!
Fernando

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Fernando, thank you for the questions.

1. Do some light cardio until you break a sweat. Personally, I do 6.5 km/h on a 7-degree inclined treadmill and this takes me ~5 minutes in summer and ~8 minutes in winter. The increase in body temperature will help with blood flow, flexibility, and injury risk.

2. Stretch any tight areas, as necessary to gain a full range of motion. Dynamic, rather than static stretching, is preferable. You may find that you can skip this and performing a few warm-up sets will stretch you sufficiently.

3. Perform as many warm-up sets as is needed so that you’re ready for your main sets but not fatigued in a way that detracts from them. This will typically be 2-4 warm-up sets for the squat, bench, deadlift, and similarly complex compound exercises.

Once a muscle group is warm (already trained that day), typically just the one warm-up set is sufficient, and this will help build the mind-muscle connection. So for example, if you’ve already squatted and your next exercise is the leg press, one warm-up set is likely perfectly sufficient.

For a more detailed explanation, see this article: How to Warm Up for Strength Training.

—–

2. As for a cool down, I don’t believe it’s necessary.
3. See my article on cardio: How Much Cardio Should You Do When Cutting?. If you’re not cutting, you’ll see another on cardio in the nutrition menu.

fernando
fernando

Thank you very much Andy! Very helpful!

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Most welcome.

F.Q
F.Q

Hello Andy, I am a female who used to be training 6 days a week and do cardio on empty stomach everyday and eat a calculated diet and I also competed once. Suddenly life made me stop all this and be a couch potato 🙂 . I don’t know where to start from now? Diet plan is done, but worried about exercising; I have the skills and workouts are ingraind to bones, but i lost my fitness and everything in life makes me so tired and even lifting simple stuff makes me feel weak. Which category of trainee am I now? and what about cardio? do it or not? i am 95 kgs now, was 60 on stage. so you can imagine how badly my situation is 🙂

I stopped working out almost a year now. I have an office job but I have time for working out at morning like 2 hours and also have time at noon for 2 hours as well. help please Andy!

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Fatima, thanks for the question. It’s common and I think what I say here may put you at ease.

1. Lost muscle can be regained more quickly than new muscle. So, that’s good news.

2. When we have a period off lifting, it’s not uncommon for strength to drop significantly and this can be a little shocking when returning to the gym. Fortunately, the loss in strength is not indicative of an equivalent loss in muscle mass. So, if you can only squat half you used to, it doesn’t mean you’ve lose 50% of your gains. Give yourself a few weeks and your strength will rocket back up. From that point, it’ll come back in line with any muscle re-gain.

3. Cardiovascular and respiratory gains are the quickest to lose, but the quickest to re-gain. I believe this is because CV&R adaptations are more chemical than structural. So, even better news in this regard.

So, what you should do? Work your way in slowly. Start as a novice, lift within your abilities, and ramp up the loading as your ability increases. Everything on the site applies exactly the same. (Including my thoughts on the appropriateness of cardio.) You’re like a novice now but with loads of latent potential so you’ll progress a lot more quickly.

Hope that helps!

Arnau
Arnau

Hi Andy. I realised that i was doing too much volume and want to start this program which has less volume. I work out at home (I have a rack, barbell, dumbells and EZ bar) so I realized that on day 3 I can not do Leg press variant, Leg extensions and Leg curls.
Shold I do instead regular Squat 3×8, Deadlifts 3×12 and Lunges 3×12? Or what is your recommendation otherwise.

On the other hand, I am cutting using a diet from your nutrition, do you think I could apply linear progression anyway? Or should I try something more progressive such intermediate progression?

Thanks.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Arnau, thanks for the question.

More squats, reverse lunges (or Bulgarian Split squats), and RDLs. These aren’t the only options. This may be useful: A Guide to Exercise Selection When You Don’t Have Access to a Coach.

Miguel
Miguel

Hi Andy,
Does the program lack volume specifically for mid delts? Does the Vertical Push address that sufficiently or is there a need for another isolation movement (i.e. side raises)?

Thanks in advance!

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Miguel, thanks for the question.

No, covered sufficiently. This is a common question though, I guess due to an overabundance of Youtube videos and articles talking about it. We made an article addressing this concern specifically here: How Important Are Lateral Raises for Building Big Shoulders?.

Miguel
Miguel

Appreciated this, Andy. Thanks again.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Most welcome, Miguel.

andrew
andrew

I have a question regarding rest periods. You’ve stated 2-3 mins. For the set of 5 I take 3 min rest and was thinking of taking only 2 min fort the sets of 10. But would it be right or wrong to take rests of 3mins as well even for the sets of 10?

Thanks

Andrew
Andrew

On Day 4 – Upper Body (Volume) I notice there is no vertical push. You have incline push instead. Can I switch that out for a shoulder press?

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Yes, absolutely.

I deleted the other two comments you posted — they broke the brevity rule. But the question you asked about rest periods is covered in the article.

I can’t offer to critique a full training program which you typed out. However, I can teach you how to make one: A 6-Step Guide to Building Training Programs

Ali
Ali

Do you think that no exercise rotation is needed for this programme or biggners in general?

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Ali, thank you for the question.

Learning how to perform the exercises properly needs to be your priority.

You want to ingrain the movements such that your body will naturally move in certain ways without you actively thinking about it. By learning the exercises first, instead of picking up some random weight and exercises haphazardly, you will develop your ability to keep proper lifting form under heavy load, and this will enable you to train safely and more effectively.

When you haven’t learned how to perform the exercises, your ability to reproduce the same movement is limited. This means that when lifting heavy loads, you will more likely place stress in the wrong places, and not only will you miss out on the training effects that you are after, you will also risk injury.

If you take up many different exercises right from the start, you will have many different movements to ingrain. This will often slow down the learning process of each exercise. Resist the temptation to do everything. Limit the number of exercises you start with. Focus on learning the correct form.

Now, the focus is on learning how to perform the exercises that are important for you to progress as a trainee, not the actual number of exercises per se. Motor learning is complex. There may be scope for adding exercise variations to facilitate the learning process but deciding what additional exercises will help you learn better, often requires the experience of a coach, hence the recommendation to limit the number of exercises chosen to start when you need to make the decisions yourself.

More on this topic in my article on exercise selection.

cameron
cameron

hi andy

is it possible to set this program up with out having the strength days and have the program based on pure hypertrophy or do u think the strength days are beneficial. if so why do you believe this. also can you perform the muscle groups back to back eg barbell rows then lat pulldown or do you believe it is better to perform them in the current order they are now thanks

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Cameron, thank you for the question.

1. I take your first question to mean: Can I just train in the higher rep ranges and get greater hypertrophy, right?

Well, the research suggests that some volume either side of what is typically called the “hypertrophy rep range” will lead to greater gains.

More specifically, we recommend ⅔–¾ of volume in the 6–12 rep range, with the remaining volume in the 1–6 and 12–20 rep range at a 5–10 RPE. So, this is a routine optimized for hypertrophy.

2. That would be fine also.

Akhil
Akhil

HiAndy

Do natural bodybuilders respond best to powerbuilding aka heavy days and pump days .Is that the reason why you made a program like this which focuses on strength and hypertrophy for natural bodybuilders?

I’m a natural lifter and I’m currently 3months in stronglifts 5×5 after finishing it i was planning to focus on bodybuilding and I happened to find your novice bodybuilding program and I love it .

My question is should I wait till I finish stronglifts5x5(which may take more than 6 months) or should i jump to your novice bodybuilding program when I complete 6 months in stronglifts5x5.( I read a lot that 6 month of barbell training is enough for a building a base for bodybuilding)

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Akhil, thanks for the questions.

1. It’s just one way of arranging the weekly volume, you could mix the rep ranges. This guide may interest you: A 6-Step Guide to Building Training Programs.

2. I don’t recommend anyone change a program they are on when it’s working well.

Akhil
Akhil

Ok I will stick to it until I stall out

Thanks

Will
Will

If I’ve spent 2 years lifting while in a deficit, the last year of which I’ve focused on heavy barbell training with more volume than this, should I cut back and try this program or start with the intermediate progression? I’ve been dealing with some overuse injuries (probably from too much volume, as I’ve had my form checked with a trainer I think is reliable) and have been thinking of cutting some volume. Thoughts on cutting back to novice program and seeing if I continue to progress? I’ve been stuck at around 190 on the bench, 225 on squats, and 265 on deadlifts for a while.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Will,

Training volume is a key driver of progress and over the course of a lifting career, it will need to go up over time. However, many people start off with more volume than necessary, and I’m of the opinion that cutting back to see if they can progress with a lower volume first, is a good idea for time-efficiency reasons and overuse injury prevention.

If you’ve built up to your current level of training volume gradually, every time you’ve reached a training plateau bumping it, and training is going well, then my answer would be to match your training volume when changing programs (or staying in that ballpark).

However, as your training has led to overuse injuries, you’ve answered your own question. You need to cut back for a while. The goal from here isn’t to progress, it’s to facilitate recovery as fast as possible. Consider coming to maintenance calorie intake so that this isn’t hampered by any nutritional deficiency and give your body time to recover.

Perhaps not what you want to hear given your level of commitment over the last two years, but what you need to do to progress toward the future.

cameron
cameron

is it ok to drop the chest flys and do more sets for chest presses as i train at home and only have a power rack and a barbell and currenty dont have any dumbbells

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Sure.

Steve
Steve

Is it okay to do this program Mon-Tues-Wed-Thurs or should there be a rest day between workouts 2 and 3 in the program?

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Ideally you’ll have a rest day.

Jiman Mircea
Jiman Mircea

The 1st Set RPE notation It is a guideline for how much you should load the bar the first time you start the program (only) ? or is there to tell us the intensity of effort with which we should lift every single workout ?

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Every workout.

Jiman Mircea
Jiman Mircea

So, every workout after I increase the weight, I need to stop at RPE 8 on first set ? Thank you very much Andy 🙂

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Yes. Most welcome!

John
John

How does that relate to progression? They don’t seem to cover that in the books anywhere. If you need to lower the weight to less than what you have scheduled to do (with your 10-5 pound increase) because the RPE is too high have you failed that progression then? And you need to keep the scheduled load again for the next week? Sorry if this indeed laid out somewhere but I couldn’t find it for the life of me.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi John, thanks for the question.

While we have the guideline, “incrementally increase the loads used each week by X” for novice progression, this is idealistic and our body doesn’t adapt on a perfect schedule like this.

Biology is messy. So, not being able to increase one week to the next is perfectly normal at times. Just lift what you can, rest well, try again the next session.

In the section on RPE and also the fitness-fatigue model, you might recall that we explained that strength will fluctuate with training and life stresses. RPE is there to help match us match the loads we choose with our ability/preparedness to lift on each day.

George
George

Hi Andy, quick question for you regarding counting volume for body parts. I’ve read the updated Pyramid over and over yet can’t quite get volume count. For example, in the book it says to count volume on a one to one basis for all muscles involved. So do we count an RDL as 1 set for hamstrings and 1 set for glutes? 10 sets for pressing/pulling movements = 10 sets for tri’s/delts/bi’s? You also mention however not to get all volume for secondary movers from other movements. Therefore adding saying 2 sets of direct arm work would place us right in the 10-12 set per week recommendations? Sorry if this is a simple question I just want to make sure. Cheers!

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi George! You’ll see we’ve answered this on the book’s support page. I can’t remember specifically which of the comments but you’ll find it if you search.

Keeb
Keeb

Hey Andy,
I got stuck in this workout routine and was making little gains. So I increased Day 2 volume now 4 sets of bench and 3 sets of vert push. I think increased one or two sets in my heavy leg days also and i think im starting to see platues break and move up

My question is when should I just stop adding sets and move on to a intermediate program?

Keeb
Keeb

My stats are 175/4 bench, 215/4 squat, 225/5, deadlifts (i can do these numbers for 3 sets in a regular workout manner)

These sound too low to be intermediate. what could be my problem?

(I usually hear ppl switch to a intermediate prgm with 315 squat, 405 deadlift and 225 bench)

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

(Your strength is irrelevant to the question of whether you’re a novice or intermediate lifter. Reason here.)

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Keeb, thanks for the question.

The difference between the novice and intermediate lifting sample programs is basically just more volume (via sets and exercise variety). So, while people reading see two distinct programs, I see a continuum.

Now, could you switch to the intermediate training sample program? If the volume there is similar to the volume you are now using and progressing from, yes. However, you could also just keep iterating on this novice sample program, because then it’s an intermediate program.

This guide to training plateaus may be helpful.

Joseph
Joseph

What is the recommended timing you would recommend to do this 4 day programme for before trying out other programmes

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Instead of looking for a new program, I’d suggest you learn how to tweak it to keep yourself progressing. See my answer to Ero.

Erik Johansson
Erik Johansson

Hi man!

Can I move the Horizontal Pulls to the lower body days with the vertical pulls remaining on the upper days?

I have noticed many powerlifting programs doing this. My own train of thought is that this gives my lower back some additional recovery.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

You can, but I think the balance will likely be better as is.

Emile
Emile

Hey Andy,
I have two questions:
1. Can I do antagonist supersets? I am used to training like that.
2. Is there a limit of sets I can add? Seems low volume for me.

Many thanks, your work is amazing.
Emile

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Emile, thank you for your patience over the weekend.

1. Yes.
2. The limit is what you can recover and grow from. But what you should do isn’t necessary the limit of what you can, it’s by what is required to progress. More on this in the last FAQ item.

Emile
Emile

Thank you very much !

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Most welcome.

Andy
Andy

Hey Andy, thank you for the free training program. I apologize if the question has been answered already but I scrolled through the comments and couldn’t find something similar.

Some people say that leg extensions are bad for the knees. What do you think about this? Your program includes leg extensions in one of the days. Thank you.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Well, I disagree. A lot of the research uses leg extensions. If they were injurious, you can bet that wouldn’t be the case.

Now, if someone has an existing issue or they can’t adjust the machine to fit them, that’s a different matter. But that applies to everything.

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