Build total body strength with this 5-day strength-building program! You’re going to train five days a week and should be in and out of the gym in less than an hour.
Workout Summary
  • Main Goal
    Increase Strength
  • Workout Type
    Split
  • Training Level
    Beginner
  • Program Duration8 weeks
  • Days Per Week
    5
  • Time Per Workout60 minutes
  • Equipment Required
    Barbell, Cables, Dumbbells, Machines
  • Target Gender Male & Female
  • Recommended Supps
  • Workout PDF Download Workout

Workout Description

This eight-week program is designed to help you get stronger throughout the entire body. Yes, the big three power lifts are involved, but this isn’t necessarily a powerlifting program. The goal will be to lift more weight with all the major body parts. 

You’re going to train five days a week, but none of these workouts will be that long. You should be in and out of the gym or weight room in less than an hour. We’re going to keep this to barbells and dumbbells as much as possible, but you can also expect some machine work. If you don’t have cables or machines, do the best you can with what you do have.

Recommended: Need help building muscle? Take our Free Muscle Building Course

FAQ’s Before We Start

Who are these workouts for?

Beginners and intermediate lifters that are prioritizing strength will see the best results from a program like this. Advanced lifters and competitive powerlifters may not see as much improvement, but they can certainly use this as a way to break the monotony of a previous program they were on.

Will this help me build muscle or lose fat?

You might notice some body composition changes if you’re following a nutrition plan that supports those goals. When it comes to fat loss, your cardio commitment will also play a role in that. To be clear, that is not the purpose of this program. This is designed and focused on strength.

Can I substitute exercises?

You can’t substitute the first lift of each workout. That is how you’re going to gauge the progress you make. If you can’t do them, then this is also not the program for you. As for the other exercises, if you need to swap something out because of the lack of equipment, just make sure you use something that works the same muscle. Our Exercise Database section has a lot of awesome choices to consider.

These workouts are short. Can I combine them or cut rest time to make it quicker or fit my schedule?

If you feel you can cut sometime between sets, then that would be ok. I do not recommend combining workouts so you have fewer days to train. These are meant for you to get in, train hard, and get out. Each muscle group also has ample time to work and recover. 

There aren’t enough exercises to target a specific muscle. Can I add those in?

If developing specific muscles are your focus, then you should also consider another program. Training for strength is different than training for hypertrophy. You’re using the weights and exercises for a different purpose. I do not recommend adding movements except if you want to add your own ab training into the program.

Strong man in the gym doing heavy barbell deadlifts

Max Out on These Lifts

Before you start the training, you will need to know where you’re starting at. So, you should max out on the following lifts over the course of a week.

  • Squat
  • Bench Press
  • Deadlift
  • Standing Barbell Press
  • Bent-Over Barbell Row

Max out on one lift each day. Don’t combine max-out days because the max on the second lift may be compromised. I suggest doing three to five warm-up sets followed by three singles to come up with your number. The final weight you succeed with is your max.

Recommended: The Best 15-Minute Warm-Ups

An example of maxing out for a squat may look like this:

  • 95 pounds x 5 reps
  • 135 pounds x 5 reps
  • 185 pounds x 3 reps
  • 205 pounds x 3 reps
  • 225 pounds x 1 rep
  • 245 pounds x 1 rep
  • 255 pounds x 1 rep

The weights listed are only examples. The weight you use could be lighter or heavier. Find those numbers and log them because you’ll need them.

Muscular man wearing a stringer tank doing lat pulldowns in the gym.

The Workouts

The goal is to train five days in a row with two days off. If you need to take a day off in between because of your school or work schedule, that is ok. Just make sure you take two complete days off from weight training a week. Light to moderate cardio is ok, but you shouldn’t push it.

The lifts you max out on are the opening lifts of each workout. Once you warm up, you will perform five working sets with the same weight. The weight you use will be a percentage of your max. That percentage will change each week. The chart below will show you what weights to use each week. This applies to all five opening lifts – squat, bench press, deadlift, standing barbell press, and bent-over barbell row. Rest for three minutes between each set of the opening lifts and two minutes between all other sets.

Week Sets/Reps Percentages
Week 1 Max Out Week (test your baseline)
Week 2 5 sets of 4 with 80% of your max
Week 3 5 sets of 3 with 85% of your max
Week 4 5 sets of 2 with 90% of your max
Week 5 4 sets of 4 with 80% of your max
Week 6 4 sets of 3 with 85% of your max
Week 7 4 sets of 2 with 90% of your max
Week 8 Max Out Week (retest)

On the eighth week, you’ll test out all five lifts again as you did in the first week. You should notice an improvement in all of them, but the amount of improvement will vary from person to person. You may also see more improvement in one lift than another.

Below are the workouts you will follow for the next seven weeks after your first max-out week. 

Monday - Squat

Exercise Sets Reps
Squat See Chart See Chart
Front Squat 3 5
Bulgarian Split Squat 3 8
Leg Extension 3 8

Tuesday - Bench Press

Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press See Chart See Chart
Incline Bench Press 3 5
Dumbbell Fly 3 8
Tricep Dips 3 8

Wednesday - Deadlift

Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlift See Chart See Chart
Good Mornings 3 5
Lying Leg Curl 3 8
Walking Lunge 3 8

Thursday - Standing Barbell Press

Exercise Sets Reps
Standing Barbell Press See Chart See Chart
Front Raise 3 5
Seated Lateral Raise 3 8
Rope Tricep Extension 3 8

Friday - Bent-Over Barbell Row

Exercise Sets Reps
Bent-Over Barbell Row See Chart See Chart
Pull Up or Lat Pull Down 3 5
Rear Lateral Raise 3 8
Incline Dumbbell Curl 3 8

Nutrition

Some of you reading this may be wanting to lose weight, but restricting calories too much could hurt your strength cause. If you want a general guideline to follow, I would suggest sticking to these macro goals every day.

  • Protein - .75 -1 gram per pound of bodyweight
  • Fats - .5 grams per pound of bodyweight
  • Carbs – 1 gram per pound of bodyweight
  • Water – 1 gallon per day

You can break that up over 5-6 meals so they are smaller, or in three meals if that suits you best.

Strong male athlete foam rolling in the gym.

Recovery

Any and all forms of recovery could help you maximize your potential. Massages, foam rolling, stretching, and percussive gun treatments would all serve you well. The most important one of all is sleep. If you’re not sleeping enough, you aren’t going to see the best results.

What to Do After This Program

After you max out again on the eighth week, you can either give it a second run or move on to another program based on your new goals. That is up to you. If you take this for the full run, we would love to see how you do. Share your results in our comments section so we can encourage each other.

74 Comments
Abhinav
Posted on: Wed, 02/21/2024 - 21:39

In Walking lunge, there given 8 reps. Should I be doing 8 reps for each leg or 4 reps on each leg?

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 02/24/2024 - 07:43

That would be 8 for each leg. Unless it says otherwise, all programs on M&S will be for each leg or arm in exercises like that.

Lewi
Posted on: Thu, 02/01/2024 - 06:47

Looks great! Should the additional exercises also be done on the max out week? Or should only the max out exercises be done that week?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 02/05/2024 - 17:29

Only max out week, Lewi. I really want you to recover after the max out exercises. Thanks for reading M&S! Let me know how you do if you take this one on.

Lewi
Posted on: Wed, 01/31/2024 - 07:26

I've plateaued on hypertrophy so I'm going to try start this next week. Looks like it's working for a lot of people.
On week 1 "Max out week (test your baseline)", should we also do the additional exercises like in the following weeks, or only do the max out exercises?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 01/31/2024 - 11:48

Hello, Lewi. The original intent is to only max out and be done, but if you're feeling very good at the moment, then you could so some lighter work in addition. Just don't push it too hard. Save that for the following weeks.

Thanks for reading M&S!

Lewi
Posted on: Fri, 02/02/2024 - 06:47

Thanks Roger.
I just did the max out for squats by itself and it was taxing enough. Maybe more so because it's my first time ever training in this rep range. Will follow the program as intended. Looking forward to the following weeks!

Daniel Firey
Posted on: Mon, 01/29/2024 - 15:32

Howdy! I just got done with the first week. Do you have any advice on what the weights should be for the workouts after the opening lifts?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 01/31/2024 - 11:44

What's good, Daniel? The goal should be to feel challenged without having to sacrifice form. If you use the same weight for all three sets, go with the weight that will help you feel pushed by the end of the last set. If you decide to go from light to heavy, make sure that final weight will push you to the limit. There are no percentages here because everyone's strength on the movements will be different.

Brodie Cornelison
Posted on: Sun, 01/28/2024 - 17:19

Wow this program is a killer!!! My bench went from 215 to 245 squat went from 475 to 500 and deadlift went from 335 to 345 this is the best program I’ve found yet!

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 01/28/2024 - 21:17

Wow! Very impressive numbers, Brodie! I'm honored that you chose my program. Thanks for sharing your results and for reading M&S!

Tony Tone
Posted on: Thu, 01/25/2024 - 02:26

Absolutely satisfied with this strength training program! I combine it with bodybuilding and diligently tracking my progress has resulted in incredible gains. It's become my go-to program, delivering impressive results. Highly recommend trying this – it's a game changer for anyone serious about their fitness journey!

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 01/25/2024 - 06:31

Many thanks for this, Tony. I appreciate you reading M&S, and I'm so happy you saw positive results. Keep killing it!

Mil
Posted on: Wed, 01/17/2024 - 14:01

Hi Roger,

Started with this workout plan after not working out for 11 years since senior year highschool football. I followed it for 10 weeks and have seen amazing results. I went from being skinny fat to have a solid foundation of muscle and saw an increase in all 5 major workouts. You really made coming back to the grind as simple as possible and I really appreciate that. I have moved on to the 8 week hyper-trophy workout and based off of this program, I am expecting results. Hope all is well brother.

Best,

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 01/25/2024 - 06:33

Hi Mil, I'm honored that my work played a small part in your return to working out, and I'm so appreciative of you reading M&S. Please keep me posted on your results with the Hypertrophy workout as well. All the best! - Roger

kellie
Posted on: Sat, 01/13/2024 - 10:26

I'm confused. This was the link to the full 8-week workout from the "3-day-dumbbell-only-workout-for-women" but this is 5 days per week instead of 3. Is there an 8-week full body program that's only 3 days per week?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 01/15/2024 - 18:47

This one is three days a week for 8 weeks, Kellie. Is this the one you need?

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/3-day-full-body-dumbbell-workout

Renato
Posted on: Thu, 12/21/2023 - 05:57

Hi! I have been lifting about 3 years now. I did this program and got insane improvements in most of the exercises. I am now looking for a new program to focus again on strength. What do you think I could do?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 12/27/2023 - 20:34

Here you go, Renato. Glad you got those results. Thanks for reading M&S!

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-choose-your-next-train...

Murat
Posted on: Wed, 12/20/2023 - 18:42

Very good program. I injured my sciatic nerve during Bulgarian Split squat and while it's not a problem while doing most exercises (including regular squats and deadlift), barbell row could be a problem. Is there a like for like alternative to barbell row which I can use for a week or so until my sciatica heals?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 12/27/2023 - 20:33

Dumbbell row on a bench or a machine row. If either of those bother you as well, go to a doctor and find out what you can do.

Derek
Posted on: Mon, 12/11/2023 - 19:39

Should you progressive overload the accersory excercies over the weeks or stay with the same weight?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 12/27/2023 - 20:32

I suggest overloading, but you can do either.

Samnang
Posted on: Mon, 11/27/2023 - 00:29

Excuse me, I have a question. I noticed that, in week2 and week5 the program use the same rep with the same weight but week5 use only 4 set. Isn't it make us lift easier in week 5 than week 2? I meant the same weight, the same reps but little set? week3 to week 6 and week4 to week7 follow the same pattern. Hope to get Enlighted for you, thank you.

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 11/29/2023 - 20:39

You are cycling the weights and reps. By the time you get to week 5, the weight should be easier than week 2. If it is, then you know you're on the right track. You are also ramping up over the last few weeks so you're fully prepared for the last max out week. Again, you should be feeling stronger with these weights by this point, which will increase your confidence going into that last max out.

Kiel Hamlet
Posted on: Tue, 11/21/2023 - 16:36

Should I be doing more reps than noted if I can on the primary lifts?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 11/29/2023 - 20:36

Once you can do more than two reps over the recommended range, go up in weight. The goal is to get stronger, so don't be afraid to add more weight when needed.

Lezley
Posted on: Mon, 11/06/2023 - 17:27

This programme works.

David
Posted on: Sun, 11/05/2023 - 21:57

Just finished my first 8 week cycle. I made gains in all of the major lifts. I think I’ll run it again. Do I need a break or can I go right into it next week? Thanks for sharing this straightforward and super efficient plan!

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 11/16/2023 - 21:06

If you didn't take a week off, then I suggest going light for one week before picking it up again, but after that feel free to run it one more time if you want, David. Thanks for the feedback and reading M&S!

G
Posted on: Fri, 11/03/2023 - 18:31

Thanks for this!!
1. how long to rest between sets?
2. Because of knee replacements I cant so leg extensions. Any substitute?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 11/15/2023 - 18:53

90 seconds rest between sets.

Any quad focused exercise you can do would work.

Chronic
Posted on: Sun, 10/22/2023 - 22:10

I followed this program for 8 weeks. Observed satisfying results for squats and bench press PRs. I didn't get expected results for deadlift, shoulder press and bent-over rows but that may just be my own shortcoming. Nonetheless, there was a difference in before and after implementing the program.

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 10/23/2023 - 20:58

Thank you for sharing the results, and I wish you'd reached the desired results for the others. Did you see any improvement at all on the DL, SP, and BOR?

Luis
Posted on: Fri, 10/13/2023 - 09:43

I started this 1 week ago and it feels great, but I would like to add abs exercises, I was thinkin Winsor Pilates 8 Minute Abs, or something that help me to mark my belly, so far is big (I am doing Keto with Intermittent fasting) but I really want to start doing something with my abs.
Any advice??? Thank you!

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 10/18/2023 - 11:51

Hey Luis. Your choices there are solid, and I would have no issue with either. Matter of fact, you can alternate between the two and do each once a week. Hope this helps, and good luck on the program!

Mohammed
Posted on: Thu, 10/05/2023 - 07:11

Hi cap, i just wanted to thank you for your program and it really good one and does make difference in strength and even body, i was wondering if you have another program that fit after this one? That have really focus almost all of body..

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 10/18/2023 - 11:50

Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for reading M&S. Here is a list of many of our workouts that you can choose from based on your goals now.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-choose-your-next-train...

Scott
Posted on: Mon, 09/25/2023 - 13:21

I cannot do standing military presses due to the height of the ceilings in my home gym. I usually resort to seated mil presses using an adjustable bench at 90 deg. I tried doing this non supported but a low back injury makes it excruciating. Any tips to help me maximize my lift? Thanks.

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 09/25/2023 - 20:04

I have low ceilings too, Scott, and the low back injury isn't worth risking more damage to. Go with seated on the bench. Hope this helps, and let me know how it goes for you.

Andre
Posted on: Fri, 09/22/2023 - 03:52

This is a fantastic workout plan. It is great for beginners, however that is assuming that they understand how to correctly perform these moves. If you are a true beginner, save this and study each of the mobes in detail. This is to avoid injury and maximize efficiency.

For someone like me getting back into the gym, this is perfect

Ephraim raof
Posted on: Mon, 09/18/2023 - 15:56

Coach after i do the pr×80% i try it and i cant complete the set and feeling off and i feel like am losing strength not gaining it why does that happen and what should i do
Thanks and sorry for my bad English

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 09/25/2023 - 20:03

If you can't do the 80%, back down to what you can do and focus on doing the best you can with that. Are you recovering properly, getting good sleep, and getting enough protein? Could be a number of factors. How many reps are you getting with the 80%?

Jud
Posted on: Fri, 09/15/2023 - 08:57

I failed to do the second week for one body part? Should I repeat that week for all of the body parts or just that body part? Doing the second option will have me finishing a part like chest before the others.

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 09/25/2023 - 20:01

Just repeat that bodypart when you can, and you will be fine.

J
Posted on: Thu, 08/31/2023 - 23:52

I'm trying to find a routine I can get into but my trouble is I got some pretty messed up knees from the military. What would you recommend I do as a substitute for squats or other knee intensive workouts?

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 09/12/2023 - 11:07

Hi, J. I don't know the extent of the injuries you suffered, which makes it hard to choose the best exercises for you. I suggest talking to a doctor about your specific knee issues and finding the best alternatives that way. We have an extensive Exercises section that you can show your physician so you can find the best substitutions.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises

Carlos
Posted on: Thu, 08/24/2023 - 18:01

Could a gym beginner use this programme? I have a skinny fat physique I’m 5’11 and weigh 160lbs with 16% body fat. I’m new to the gym (I haven’t trained since I was 19 I’m now 29) and would like to build my strength but ultimately I’d also like to gain more muscle and decrease my body fat. Would this be a good programme to start with?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 08/24/2023 - 21:53

This would be a great one for you, Carlos. Run it and let us know how it goes!

Frank
Posted on: Wed, 08/09/2023 - 15:52

I was wondering if my current workout routine is right for building muscle. Monday: chest and Triceps, 3 exercises each 3 sets 8-10 reps at 80%. Tuesday: rest. Wednesday: Biceps and Back, 3 exercises each 3 sets 8/10 reps at 80% Thursday: rest Friday: Chest and tries , Sat: rest , Sunday: Biceps and back. Continue work outs every other day, every other rest day is lower body / legs. Please let me know if I need to change anything any advice would be appreciated.