The Get Strong! Program

Anyone can use the Get Strong! Program to build strength and muscle mass, but it is designed especially for hardgainers and athletes who are over the age of 40 years.

This program is based on the latest research on resistance training for strength and hypertrophy.  

Equipment required

To start implementing all of the exercises I recommend in the Get Strong! program you will need the following equipment:

  1. A power rack with safety pins and a chin up bar.
  2. A 300-400 pound barbell set for squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, and possibly bench presses, or an X3 bar.  
  3. Parallel dipping bars or a bench for bench pressing or Serious Steel 42” loop elastic bands to add or subtract load to/from push ups.
  4. A Brute Belt or other quality chin up/dip/hip squat belt, which will allow you use resistance bands or plates to add resistance to chin ups, pull ups and dips (if you do dips instead of bench press).
  5. A set of fractional barbell plates weighing 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and 1 pound each is useful for microloading progression with barbell and dumbbell exercises, chin ups and dips.
  6. Optional, a set of gymnastic rings or a suspension trainer.
  7. Optional, a set of Serious Steel resistance bands to either provide assistance or add variable resistance to push ups.
  8. A notebook in which you will record details about each training session.  I use essay books. 

The Get Strong! Training Program

The Get Strong! Program consists of 4 different training days, as follows:

Day 1 

Pause front squat – 1 x 10-15

Pause full high bar back squat  – 1 x 15-20

Back extension – 1 x 10

1-leg rise on toes (with dumbbell or bands) – 1 x 15

Day 2

Fulcrum 90º pull ups  – 1 x 8

Standing overhead press – 1 x 8

Regular chin ups  – 1 x 8

Dips (or floor push ups) – 1 x 8

Neck extension – 1 x 12

Day 4

Pause front squat – 1 x 10-15

Pause full high bar back squat – 1 x 15-20

Leg curl (bands, bodyweight or suspension trainer) – 1 x 10

1-leg rise on toes (with dumbbell or bands) – 1 x 15

Day 5

Fulcrum 90º pull ups  – 1 x 8

Standing overhead press – 1 x 8

Regular chin ups – 1 x 8

Ring push ups  (or floor push ups) – 1 x 8

Neck flexion – 1 x 12

The Get Strong! Schedule

Start with a two days on, one day off, two days on, two days off program.

Typically it will look like this:

Monday: Day 1

Tuesday: Day 2

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Day 3

Friday: Day 4

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Rest

You could also do this program every other day, for example:

Monday: Day 1

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: Day 2

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Day 3

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Day 4

Monday: Rest

Every major muscle is trained with 2 sets twice weekly for a total of 4 weekly sets.  Research suggests this may be the optimal volume and frequency for both strength and muscle mass.


Warm ups

Warm ups for squats are done as follows:

Warm up #1:  ~50% of first set load x goal repetitions

Warm up #2 (optional): ~75% of first set load x 1/2 of goal repetitions

Effort level: AMRAP

Do as many reps as possible up to the goal number of repetitions on each set.  You stop when you know that you will not be able to  complete the next repetition in good form. 

For example, for back squats the repetition goal is 20.  The load for the first set should be such that at least 15 reps are possible with good form.  When you reach 20 repetitions on that set, you add a small amount of weight to the bar.

Progressive Resistance

To get strong you must use progressive resistance.  I recommend progressing the resistance using fractional plates.  Small increases in load are much easier to adapt to and sustainable for long training cycles. 

The table to the left lists the progression increments that I recommend.  Keep in mind that if you add 2 pounds to your squat every week for a year you will add in total 100 pounds to your squat.  

If you train with the right level of intensity and get plenty of good food and rest, you will likely be able to add load to each exercise once weekly.

Stick with it and grow!

Yes, this is all you need.  This program includes all the best exercises for each major muscle group.  All you need to do is get as strong as you can in performance of each of the exercises.  

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