963 Workout System For Muscle Size And Strength

The 963 training system is an upper/lower workout split that helps you to build both size and strength by cycling main lifts between 3 different levels of weight intensity.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Split
Beginner
12 weeks
4
45-60 minutes
Barbell, Bodyweight, Dumbbells, Machines
Male & Female

Workout Description

This is a base building training system for lifters chasing the most amount of muscle size and strength as possible. It can be used for late beginners and intermediate trainees.

The point of the program is simple: to get every muscle group in the body as inhumanly strong as possible using more frequent sessions and a quality amount of reps. This will trigger quality hypertrophy (muscle building) and allow you to work on exercise form.

You will be training 4 days per week, using an upper lower split. Here is a sample schedule:

  • Monday - Squat focus day
  • Tuesday - Bench focus day
  • Thursday - Deadlift focus day
  • Friday - Overhead Press focus day

You may also use this program 3 days per week if needed. Just continue to cycle the 963 days accordingly. Here is a sample 3 day per week schedule:

  • Monday - Squat focus day
  • Wednesday - Bench focus day
  • Friday - Deadlift focus day
  • Monday - Overhead Press focus day
  • Wednesday - Squat focus day
  • Friday - bench focus day

Etc.

One Arm Dumbbell Rows

963 Workout Notes

A note about deloading, or rest weeks

I do not believe in frequent deloading for beginning to intermediate lifters who are feeling great, on a roll and have no minor injuries that require healing. Listen to your body and take a light week/deload week when you need to. I recommend deloading once every 8-12 weeks depending on your life, work schedule, etc.

If you start to feel beat up, or have a nagging minor injury, more frequent deloading may be in order.

The 3 week cycle

The 963 program revolves around the 4 major lifts:

  • Bench Press
  • Squat
  • Overhead Press
  • Deadlift

You will cycle intensity over a 3 week period, starting with lighter weight and more reps and moving on to lower reps and heavier weight. The 3 week cycle is as follows:

  • Week 1 - Light Week. This is your "9" week. You will perform 3 total sets using the same weight. Set one you will attempt to hit 9 total reps, set two you will attempt to hit 10 total reps and set three 11 total reps. (9-10-11 reps) If you are able to complete these 3 sets, add 5 pounds to your next light week for this exercise.
  • Week 2 - Moderate Week. This is your "6" week. You will perform 3 total sets using the same weight. Set one you will attempt to hit 6 total reps, set two you will attempt to hit 7 total reps and set three 8 total reps. (6-7-8 reps) If you are able to complete these 3 sets, add 5 pounds to your next moderate week for this exercise.
  • Week 3 - Heavy Week. This is your "3" week. You will perform 3 total sets using the same weight. Set one you will attempt to hit 3 total reps, set two you will attempt to hit 4 total reps and set three 5 total reps. (3-4-5 reps) If you are able to complete these 3 sets, add 5 pounds to your next moderate week for this exercise.

The top end total amount of rep you perform each week will move from 30 to 21 to 12 as the weight increases. Don't sweat if you are unable to hit your rep goal for each set. This is not an issue. Your main focus should be on improving each week and making progress. So if on your "9 day" you only hit 9 reps for your last 2 sets, simply try to mprove the following week.

Starting out - what weight to use

If you do not know your current one rep max for each lift don't worry. You can use this bench press calculator to guestimate approximate one rep max for each lift.

Once you have guestimated your one rep max, calculate your starting weight for each week as follows:

  • Week 1 - Light Week. Take your max and multiply it by 70%. (Max x 70%)
  • Week 2 - Moderate Week. Take your max and multiply it by 77.5%. (Max x 77.5%)
  • Week 3- Heavy Week. Take your max and multiply it by 85%. (Max x 85%)

Always round the numbers down to the nearest 5 pounds.

963 Basic Template

This is a basic and effective 4 day upper/lower split template. Feel free to change the assistance work if you find an equivalent exercise more to your liking.

For the assistance work, add weight when you can.

Lower Body Workout #1
Squat Focus
Exercise Sets Reps
Squat 3 963 Sets
Leg Press 3-5 20
Romanian Deadlift 3-4 6-8
Seated Calf Raises 3-4 10-20
Ab Wheel Roll Out 3-4 10-15
Upper Body Workout #1
Bench Press Focus
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 3 963 Sets
Barbell Rows 3-5 5-12
Seated Arnold Press 3-5 8-15
Skullcrushers 3-5 8-12
Dumbbell Curls 3-5 8-12
Lower Body Workout #2
Deadlift Press Focus
Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlift 3 963 Sets
Power Shrugs 3 5-8
Front Squat 3 6-10
Leg Curls 4-5 10-15
Planks 3-4 60 seconds
Upper Body Workout #2
Overhead Press Focus
Exercise Sets Reps
Overhead Press 3 963 Sets
Pull Ups or Rack Chins 3-5 10
Dumbbell Bench Press 4-5 10
Cable Tricep Extensions 3-5 10-12
Barbell Curl or Pinwheel Curl 3-5 8-12

41 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Thu, 11/09/2017 - 06:39
aniello

I wanted to know which recovery times apply between the sets, in the three weeks, as each week lower the reps and increase the loads?

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Posted Fri, 10/10/2014 - 09:31
Greg

This is great workout, And the result are immediate. Especially have the 3rd week

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Posted Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:13
joe

Steve,

the leg press is 3-5 sets, 20 reps each set, correct?

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Posted Wed, 03/12/2014 - 20:15
Tim

Do I need any warm ups on any of these sets?

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Posted Tue, 03/11/2014 - 11:10
James

Hey Steve, I have a 5x175 Bench, 5x235 Squat, 5x265 Deadlift and 5x120 OHP. Do you think this program can increase my lifts? Is there any kind of total that I should make my goal with this program?

Thanks for your time!

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Posted Wed, 03/05/2014 - 18:59
jake

Im just starting out and wanted to know on wieght percentages is that for all the exercises?

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Posted Mon, 03/03/2014 - 12:15
Chad

How long is it recommended to rest between each set? I saw this question already posted but couldn't find a response.

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Posted Mon, 02/10/2014 - 17:35
Aaron

Hi Steve this program looks really interesting and I would like to try it out however the only problem is I work out of quite a small gym and the smallest increments I can increase weight by is 5kgs/11lbs and I am worried I may not be able to have consistent progress as the increments are over double what you recommend increasing them by. Do you think I should give it a shot anyway or maybe you have a different program I should go for? Keep up the good work Brother :)

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Posted Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:25
deva

Hi Steve ,

I have modified slightly according to my convenience ,will this be a good workout

monday

bench press
barbell row
seated arnold press/lateral raise (super set)
Lat pull down
Dips/cable extension(super set)
Preacher curls

tuesday

Squat
Lunges
leg curl
leg lift
calves

sat

Overhead press
incline dumbell press
one arm dumbbell row
Barbell curl or alternate dumbell curl
close grip

Sun

Deadlifts
Lunges/leg lift (super set)
Leg curl/calves (super set)
Shrugs
Abs

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Posted Wed, 01/22/2014 - 12:15
Ray

I wish there was a button to put it in a print friendly format

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Posted Thu, 01/23/2014 - 15:12
Brad

Drag your mouse over the text you wish to print, highlighting it. Copy it, open Word, paste, print and you are done.

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Posted Sun, 01/26/2014 - 16:27
ray

i know that trick. but i was on my phone. so i have to get on my computer to print it out

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Posted Sat, 02/08/2014 - 15:13
Javi

One thing that I prefer to do is take a photo with my phone :)

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Posted Thu, 01/09/2014 - 21:26
James Dwyer

how long are rest periods between sets ... and can you add one more back exercise

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Posted Sat, 01/04/2014 - 23:53
Abraham

Hi steve. Is there going to be an advanced to intermediate upper lower split? Thanks

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Posted Tue, 01/07/2014 - 20:34
Reid

Brandon Cambells PHUL

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Posted Sat, 12/28/2013 - 15:11
Edwardo

I'm confused. In the introduction, you say we'll be performing 3 sets total, then further down when you in the templates, you tell us 3-4 sets or 4-5 sets, etc. Which is it?

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Posted Mon, 12/23/2013 - 22:14
One

can i do upper first then lower?

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Posted Sun, 12/15/2013 - 22:22
Kyle B

What rep and set ranges should we aim for with the assistance work? Whatever we feel comfortable with that day?

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Posted Fri, 12/13/2013 - 12:41
Mario E. Pla

The first Exercise on each day, Is it 9 - 6 -3 reps or is it 9 - 10 - 11 reps??? Which rep style do you want us to follow on your this workout???????????

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Posted Wed, 12/11/2013 - 04:45
Robert Ryley

Hi when doing the 963 workout do you still keep to the same reps and set on the other exercises even in light and moderate week many thanks

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Posted Tue, 12/10/2013 - 15:00
Carson

Steve,

Great workout. Is it ever advisable to cycle the assistance work? If so, should it correspond with the compound lifts? (light week with light week, etc)

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Posted Mon, 12/09/2013 - 15:45
Paul Johnson

Hi Steve.....I`d asked you before about using (Serious mass 12lbs) at age of 16 but you did not reply, i hope you answer my question any harmful effects now or later? and if so can i use it with this workout system?

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Posted Mon, 12/09/2013 - 04:07
Marcus

Looks solid, a higher reps 5/3/1 basically.
Only concern I got is, on upper days u have a horiz and vertic push but the pull moves is splited on the days. Ofc u get some back action on lower body days but, Is there some reason for only one plane pull movment?

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Posted Sun, 12/08/2013 - 21:27
David

This is a good system to balance top and bottom and combine strength, i use it to get and keep up my fine tuning if i need to or want to change my training to something out from what i normally train in, i usually train with a commando system, where by i go heavy 3 sets 8-4 reps upper body and the same lower body also stretch before during and after sets including after each set 2min max rest. Also make sure you load up with food and sips of water before and during gym training its vital for your body to cope, as the same for a engine it has oil and and petrol to drive and water to stop it over heating.

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Posted Sun, 12/08/2013 - 17:46
numero uno

GOING TO GAIN SOME MUSCLES.

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Posted Sun, 12/08/2013 - 12:05
Phatan

This seems good. I will try this after i am done with my current fullbody 3 day program. As this is advance beginner program.

Steven's picture
Posted Sun, 12/08/2013 - 14:34
Steven

Good luck. Let me know what you think.

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Posted Wed, 12/11/2013 - 04:43
Robert Ryley

Hi when u do 963 on the main groups do u stil do the same reps and sets on the other exercises even on the light and moderate week many thanks

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Posted Sun, 12/08/2013 - 10:24
jugg

How long are you supposed to be on this program?

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Posted Sun, 12/08/2013 - 12:03
Neil

As long as you keep making progress maybe 12-24months or more.

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Posted Sun, 12/08/2013 - 10:05
Adam

Was this inspired by Wendler's 5/3/1? This looks good too.

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Posted Sun, 12/08/2013 - 09:51
John Roberts

I would like to try this, but I only have three days I can get to the gym. I am confused on what workouts I would do each day, would I do an upper and lower each day? If not, it does not seem like a lot of work.

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Posted Sun, 12/08/2013 - 12:15
Steven

There is a 3 day variation listed above.

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Posted Sun, 12/08/2013 - 09:47
Chris

Is the 963 a countdown? Set 1 = 9 Set 2= 6 and set 3 = 3?

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Posted Sun, 12/08/2013 - 12:01
Neil

Read the program it's perfectly clear

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Posted Sun, 12/08/2013 - 17:41
Chris

Found it, thank you!

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Posted Sun, 12/08/2013 - 09:03
Reid

I cant count that high......lol

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Posted Sun, 12/08/2013 - 10:11
Ralph

It's not literally count 963. Read above

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Posted Sun, 12/08/2013 - 20:24
Reid

Haha didn't it read thanks

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Posted Sun, 12/08/2013 - 12:01
Neil

Read the program it's perfectly clear