Anyone can use this Basic Strength Program to get started building strength and muscle mass. This program is based on the latest research on resistance training for strength and hypertrophy.
It is designed for use during the first 3-6 months of training for people who either have no experience with strength training at all, or who are unfamiliar with brief, high intensity training.
After the first 3-6 months of training, you will make better progress with a customized program that tailors exercise selection and training volume and frequency to your unique muscle fiber type distribution and recovery ability.
To start implementing all of the exercises I recommend in the Gaining Strength program you will need the following equipment:
This is the Simple Basic Strength Program I recommend for beginners:
You do this no more than twice weekly with 72-96 hours between. For example, Monday and Thursday or Friday; or Tuesday and Friday or Saturday.
Before each strength training session, do 20-30 minutes of aerobic training, such as brisk walking or running. Also, do 20-30 minutes of high intensity aerobic training on a third day, 48 hours after and before any other strength training session. Do mobility and flexibility training on days following strength training sessions and after your third weekly aerobic training session. For example:
Monday: Aerobic and strength training
Tuesday: Mobility and flexibility training
Wednesday: High intensity aerobic training (e.g. intervals)
Thursday: Mobility and flexibility training
Friday: Aerobic and strength training
Saturday: Mobility and flexibility training
Sunday: Off, or mobility and flexibility with recreational activity (walking, hiking, etc.)
Multiple studies have shown that adding direct exercises for biceps and triceps to any routine that includes a multi-joint vertical pull – i.e. chin up or pulldown – and a multi-joint pressing motion (dips, chest press, shoulder press) on average produces no greater strength or size of arm muscles.
However, if you really feel the need to add direct arm work, I suggest adding a set of bicep curls to the end of routine A, and a set of tricep extensions to the end of routine B.
Here is the general warm up I recommend:
When using proper exercise execution with submaximal loads permitting at least 6 repetitions, the specific warm up is built into the work set during the first one-third to one-half of the set when you move a bit more slowly than is actually possible at that point, as described in earlier. Moreover, research has shown that on average specific warm ups have practically no benefit when you are training with submaximal loads allowing 6-20 repetitions.
Nevertheless, if after a general warm up you still do not feel mentally and physically prepared for your first work set, include a specific warm up for the first exercise as follows:
After performing the first work set you should be quite warm and probably will have no need to perform further warm ups for that session.
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. While doing this simplified program you want to learn how to train to concentric muscular failure. Training to muscular failure reduces your time investment. For example, one study found no significant difference in strength gains between a training time of 7 minutes consisting of several sets to failure per exercise and 25 minutes of sets not to failure, so by training to failure or performing as many reps as possible you can reduce your training time by approximately 70% [study].
This simple strength training program includes all the best exercises for each major muscle group and is all you need to get started.
After the first 3-6 months of training, once you have learned how to train hard with a single set per exercise, you will make better progress with a customized program that tailors training volume and frequency to your unique muscle fiber type distribution and recovery ability.
If you want to get the most you can from high intensity strength training consider my online coaching program. Learn more about the program here.
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