Strength And Bulk Beginner Workout - Linear Progression

A beginner workout based around linear progression for someone with a good grasp of exercise form. Stop wasting time in the gym and get results.

Workout Summary

Increase Strength
Full Body
Beginner
3
Barbell, Bodyweight, Dumbbells
Male

Workout Description

This is a beginner workout perfect for someone who feels they have a good grasp of squat and deadlift form. By following the progression (addition of weight) guidelines detailed below, you will rapidly add bench press, squat and deadlift strength while building muscle. This workout is a great choice for someone who is tired of wasting time in the gym and wants results.

You may add in one exercise of your choice per training day, above and beyond what is listed. This lift can be anything you prefer, from barbell curls to calf raises.

Once you have run this workout to the point where it is hard to add weight on most of the lifts, it may be time to move on to an intermediate workout. Spend some time familiarizing yourself with proper exercise form for the big compound lifts before attempting this program.

Workout Schedule

  • Monday - Workout
  • Wednesday - Workout
  • Friday - Workout
Monday
Full Body
Exercise Sets Reps
Squat (Straight Sets) 5 5
Bench Press or Military Press (Alternate) 5 5
Barbell Row (5x5) or Dumbbell Row (3x6-10) 5 5
Weighted Sit Ups or Side Bends (Alternate) 3 10-25
Exercise of your choice    

Barbell row reps are a 5x5, dumbbell row reps are 3 sets x 6-10 reps.

Wednesday
Full Body
Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlift 3 5
Bench Press or Military Press (Alternate) 5 5
Pull Ups 3 Max
Weighted Sit Ups or Side Bends (Alternate) 3 10-25
Exercise of your choice    
Friday
Full Body
Exercise Sets Reps
Squat (Ramped Sets) 5 5
Bench Press or Military Press (Alternate) 5 5
Barbell Row (5x5) or Dumbbell Row (3x6-10) 5 5
Weighted Sit Ups or Side Bends (Alternate) 3 10-25
Exercise of your choice    

Notes: As mentioned, there is room in this program to add one exercise per day if you so desire. Just use common sense. The following 2 lifts are worthy of consideration:

Squats - 5x5 - Straight Sets

  • Set 1 – 60% of last set x 5 reps
  • Set 2 – 80% of last set x 5 reps
  • Sets 3-5 - 100% of last set x 5 reps

Squats – 5×5 – Ramped (Example)

  • Set 1 – Monday’s 100% set -115 pounds
  • Set 2 – Monday’s 100% set -85 pounds
  • Set 3 – Monday’s 100% set -55 pounds
  • Set 4 – Monday’s 100% set -25 pounds
  • Set 5 – Monday’s 100% set + 5 pounds

This is merely an example, and uses 30 pound intervals. If your squat max is under 200 pounds, it may be best to use 15-20 pound intervals. If your squat max is between 200-300 pounds, 20-25 pound intervals will be a better choice. Take a week and test out intervals to see what feels best for you.

Comparing straight sets to ramped sets, if Monday is:

  • 165 x 5
  • 220 x 5
  • 275 x 5
  • 275 x 5
  • 275 x 5

Friday would be:

  • 165 x 5
  • 195 x 5
  • 225 x 5
  • 255 x 5
  • 280 x 5

Deadlifts

  • Set 1 – 60% of last set x 5 reps
  • Set 2 – 80% of last set x 5 reps
  • Set 3 – 100% of last set x 5 reps

Each week add 5 pounds.

Bench Press and Overhead Press

Use the same approach as squats, alternating between the straight 5×5 workouts and 5×5 ramped workouts. It might be harder to add weight each week on these lifts. If you can’t hit 5 reps for your 5×5 ramped set, next week drop the weight by 10 pounds and start to work back up adding 5 pounds each week.

Rows

Add weight when you can. Early and often.

Notes

This system is designed to help beginners add muscle and strength, and it works. Do not try to tweak or change things. Trust the program. It is designed to add weight as fast as possible to the big lifts and get you to the point where you start having a hard time adding weight each week. When you start to reach the point where adding weight each week is difficult, you may need to either microload, or begin to periodize (cycle weight). This may require using a more advanced approach.

When you can’t complete the required reps on a given day, back off the weight on bench or overhead press by 10-15 pounds, or squats and deadlifts by 20-30 pounds and start working back up week by week.

You might want to start all lifts at 80% of your current 5 rep max and build up from there. This can be a challenging to use when starting full throttle with 100% of your 5 rep max.

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268 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Fri, 09/28/2012 - 11:16
Robert
Hey been doing this for 4 weeks now and I'm pretty happy with it. All my 1 rep max have gone up about 30 lbs and I feel stronger. Problem is I'm also gaining body fat. I'm not a body builder or a powerlifter; I'm a fireman and I need to be strong but not huge, be it fat or muscle. Should I stick with this or move on to something that offers a bit more cardio and requires less food ?
Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 10/03/2012 - 15:00
Steven
Ho Robert, This workout doesn't add bodyfat, only a bad diet can do that. I recommend monitoring your food intake for a week and seeing if there are any areas where you can cut back.
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Posted Tue, 10/02/2012 - 11:13
Ali
Steve, I'm 5'6 / 121.25 lbs , I have some belly fat , what should I do to quickly get rid of it ?
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Posted Wed, 10/03/2012 - 13:57
Joe
Steve- trying to figure out if this is a good program to get back in shape and in the Gym. Worked out very regularly for about a year (never really did deadlift or squat), but have been on a 4 month hiatus. Wondering if I should try this plan or your "8 Week Novice Quick Start Workout Plan" to restart this fall. Thoughts?
Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 10/03/2012 - 15:07
Steven
I would start with the Novice plan just to get in the flow, then move over to this workout.
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Posted Wed, 10/03/2012 - 15:59
dp
Is there anything more i can do with this workout? im looking to gain as much size as possible
Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 10/17/2012 - 14:42
Steven
Progress and keep at it for 2 years. Results come from time, progression and consistency.
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Posted Mon, 10/08/2012 - 20:47
JAG
Hello Steve, This looks like an excellent workout for a beginner. However, I'm not sure if it will meet my goals, so here it goes. Bio: I'm an 8-5 desk job guy, 40 age, medium frame, 185 lbs, 5',9", pant size 34, but measured with tape 38", can jog 2 miles easy. I have done exercise on and off but very few weights. Overall good health. Goal: Drop 4" off the waist. Build muscle mass. Get strong. I'm sure this program is excellent for building muscle mass, but would it help me drop 4" off the waistline (4 belt holes)? Thank you.
Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 10/17/2012 - 14:43
Steven
Weight loss is primarily about diet.
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Posted Tue, 10/09/2012 - 11:37
Neil
Hello, I have got in the habit of going to the gym Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday & Sunday, but without a plan as my previous gym had only limited facilities. I also do a fair amount of cardio on most days. Would this plan be suitable for use on alternative gym days combined with general stretches and machine use in the gym visits on the off days?
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Posted Sun, 10/14/2012 - 21:34
Ethan
Hello Steve, I was wondering about this workout. im 5'8 and 220 lbs, normally weighing at 180. I worked out here and there so im not new to this but i was wondering why there arent any other muscle groups being hit, such as biceps/triceps and the like? i realize you work them out during some of these workout but why not focus on them too?
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Posted Wed, 10/17/2012 - 09:29
Bret
Steve, I'm trying this as a new workout. I was deployed for 6 months and while i was deployed i started lifting using a program that was isolating 1 muscle group a day by the end of that deployment i gained 15 pounds. Is this workout going to give me bigger gains in strength and muscle building or should i be looking at different workouts.
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Posted Wed, 10/17/2012 - 09:35
Derek
Can somebody tell me if I need to eat a body builder diet when I doing this training or do I not need to eat that much?
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Posted Wed, 10/17/2012 - 19:09
marcelo
how to define loads? I am 5'5" 170lbs 43years old.
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Posted Thu, 10/18/2012 - 00:03
Ted
Hi Steve, I've been workin out for a couple months only hitting each muscle once a week and seeing minimal results. I increased strength but I'm kinda skinny-fat so it's hard to see muscle size increasing. My number one goal is SIZE SIZE SIZE. Is this workout right for me? I'm not looking to get ripped , but i want a hard muscular physique. Right now my skinny upper body and arms and collar bones make me look so bad because my lower tummy is so dominant. will this routine add some mass to my frame? im currently 5'9 142.2lbs 14.6% bf. thank you
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Posted Fri, 10/19/2012 - 09:30
Neilb
Steve what times should I be leaving between reps and then excercises for this workout?
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Posted Wed, 10/31/2012 - 07:07
Cam
Is it possible to try to maintain a bit of weight with this workout while building strength? also where can I study good form, I want to lift more, and be stronger on the mat (I'm a wrestler)
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Posted Thu, 11/01/2012 - 21:59
Abbren
How long should I wait between each set? 60 seconds?
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Posted Tue, 11/13/2012 - 03:52
Nijil
Hi Steve, I have been working on and off for over a year and while I have seen some gains on my arms and shoulders I haven't seen significant gains at all around my chest or other areas. I have recently started to do a clean bulk and I am currently at 16% body fat, 5'9 & 171lbs. At this stage can I use this routine to build strength and muscle even though I have tried a 4 day split before? ie would going back to basics and working my way up again help me as long as my diet is in check? Please advise and my thank you in advance.
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Posted Tue, 11/13/2012 - 10:35
jay
How should i go about adding weight to each exercise?
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Posted Sun, 11/25/2012 - 00:48
Ati
Hi Steve, Can I substitue Pull ups with some other exercise?
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Posted Sun, 11/25/2012 - 13:44
Adam
Steve, I've been doing this routine for just over a week and i love it. But i was thinking, as i would really like to build my chest muscles up do you think i could change two of my sit-up exercises a week to two press-up exercises? So, say press-ups on a monday and friday instead of sit-ups? And sit-ups on a wednesday? As i would rather have bigger chest muscles than stomach. What are your thoughts. Cheers.
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Posted Mon, 11/26/2012 - 08:32
Muhammad Ali
Which whey protein would you suggest for muscle growth
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Posted Wed, 11/28/2012 - 23:40
Ken
Hi Steve, I've never really worked out before in my life besides Rock climbing 3 times a week, while this helps with back muscles I'm still really lanky (but am starting to gain minor fat on the gut). Im 22 am 6'2 and weigh 170 lbs and I want to get bigger, stronger and gain some weight, the typical. Would this be a good plan to start with or look at something else? Thanks for the help!
Joey's picture
Posted Thu, 12/06/2012 - 12:37
Joey
<p>This would be a great place to start. Focus on progressing with your weights and make sure you&#39;re eating enough.&nbsp;</p>
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Posted Thu, 11/29/2012 - 01:09
DJ
Steve, can you explain Set 1 – 60% of last set x 5 reps, Set 2 – 80% of last set x 5 reps, Sets 3-5 - 100% of last set x 5 reps in detail for me. Is 605% of last set my 1RM or something different. Being that I'm new to this routine I don't have a last set to base my 60%, 80%, and 100% weight off of. Thanks D
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Posted Mon, 12/03/2012 - 20:53
Josh
I was just wondering on bench and shoulder press, do u mean alt. the same day, or bench on Monday, shoulder on Wednesday? If on the same day, how does that work?
Joey's picture
Posted Thu, 12/06/2012 - 12:42
Joey
<p>Don&#39;t perform them on the same day. Weekly, they should look like the following: A/B/A B/A/B</p>
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Posted Tue, 12/04/2012 - 22:03
Peter
Hey Steve quick question for you: do you have a similar routine (in terms of effect) but one that doesnt require barbells? Ive done a routine like this one before and loved it. Squats deadlifts and OHP are my favourite exercises, however the "gym" that i go to now doesnt have any barbells. My equipment is limited to dumbells, pull up bar with various grips and my own Olympic rings for dips,etc. What kind of routine would you suggest i do if i eant to continue building my strength and muscle? I realize it won't be as effective as a routine like the one posted here but I have to make due with what I have. Thanks!
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Posted Thu, 12/06/2012 - 12:26
simon
With the barbell rows does 5x5 mean two warm up sets and three straight sets? Also,you say to drop weight when u cant finish the ramped sets of an exercise,but what if u can do the ramped but not finish the next straight sets for a particular exercise? Should i still drop weight or just continue with doing straight sets the next time as well,trying to complete all the required reps? Thanks.
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Posted Tue, 12/11/2012 - 13:03
Josh
Okay, third week into this workout and I'm addicted! That five pound goal at the end of the week is realistic yet still hard to achieve. My question is...... I have been doing behind neck military press, im at 185 and its starting to look bleek for future gains. I will switch to reg. military press, but thought I would try and strengthing my weakness . ( Bad shoulders from football and rugby tackles, like to slip on me all the time). Will doing my bent over dumbbell rows still help strengthing the back of my shoulders? Shoulders have not slipped for years, but this heavy lifting behind the neck is definitely testing them, so injury is obviously not worth strength, but doesn't mean I can't progressively build them up through other training methods right? Any advice is very much appreciated, thanks for the greatly put together workout!
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Posted Wed, 12/12/2012 - 00:17
Jim
Hi, For ROW. Is it I need to lift the same weight for all 5 sets? Or I need to add weight
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Posted Mon, 12/17/2012 - 18:13
Neomarc
Hi there. I'm new to this gym thing. I don't really know what to do when I go there. I just want to maintain my weight but gain muscle. I'm 23, 5'10 around 165 lbs. Please help me choose a routine. Thanks in advance!
mnsjason's picture
Posted Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:39
mnsjason
I'd be happy to help you find a routine, but I just wanted to clarify on what your goals are. If you're looking to add muscle mass, then your weight will increase. Typically, a beginner who isn't looking to shed some excess weight will go through a "bulking" phase. During this phase, you'll be lifting heavy and eating a LOT of calories. The fact is, in order to add muscle mass, you need to consume more calories than you burn. This can be accompanied by an increase in fat (though not necessarily in body fat percentage), which can be minimized with a clean diet. After "bulking," a "cutting" routine/diet is adopted to shed the fat while retaining the muscle gains you made during your "bulk." Let me know what you're looking for exactly, and I can point you in the right direction.
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Posted Thu, 01/10/2013 - 22:36
Neomarc
thanks for the detailed response. i want to add muscle mass but not that much tho. i want to try what you just explained to me. bulking first then cutting. thanks so much!
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Posted Thu, 01/10/2013 - 22:37
Neomarc
thanks for the detailed response. i want to add muscle mass but not that much tho. i want to try what you just explained to me. bulking first then cutting. thanks so much!
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Posted Thu, 01/10/2013 - 22:37
Neomarc
thanks for the detailed response. i want to add muscle mass but not that much tho. i want to try what you just explained to me. bulking first then cutting. thanks so much!
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Posted Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:53
Ben
I started weights training several years ago but have never been very consistent with it. I've been trying to get serious in the last few months but I've decided for the new year I'm going to reset myself with a pre-designed program (rather than one I've cobbled together). My goal is increased strength; I don't care about size except that which comes with strength. I like the look of this program. I noticed it (along with many other strength programs on the site) doesn't include any dedicate arm or lower leg exercises. Is it necessary to do these when training for strength, or is that more for bodybuilders? I've always included arms and calves in my routines, but I'd been glad to skip them if it means focusing on more important things. Furthermore, how long should I continue this program, before changing to a new one? As I've said, I'm reasonably experienced and would like to move onto an intermediate workout, particularly this one: http://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/steves-density-and-strength-4-day-split.html?page=1. But I don't think I reach its minimum recommendations (800-pound bench press, deadlift, squat combined). Is there something I could do after this routine to help me on my way to that one? Thanks to anyone who can assist here.
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Posted Fri, 12/28/2012 - 22:54
Luke
Thanks for putting your time and effort into making this routine. I'm 16 and I've been going to the gym for some time now but sometimes it feels like I'm over doing it too much as I don't have a consistent routine. As I'm also in a sprinting team I do a lot of cardio stuff aswell but my main goal is to dramatically improve my 100m (11.53) and 200m (23.28) times. Would this new routine with added plyos plus the training I'm already doing improve my times greatly? feedback would be appreciated alot, thanks:)
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Posted Sat, 12/29/2012 - 15:59
Aubrey Conradie
Steve, I have just begun using your workout and am a little confused about the alternation of the bench press and military press. Will one always do bench press on the first day or does the alternation process carry on without regard to the end of the week. I would also like to enquire as to how the straight/ramped alternation must be handled with regards to previously mentioned exercises. I am very much enjoying your program and eagerly await your response.
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Posted Thu, 01/10/2013 - 01:03
Adam
I am 35 year old male I weight 265 and I stand at 6ft. With a big stomach. I am new to working out. I see you say fat lost is mostly about diet. I really am looking to flatten my stomach is this a good workout what I should do?
Joey's picture
Posted Thu, 01/10/2013 - 16:29
Joey
This would be a great workout, and yes - losing the fat will be dependent on your diet. Here is a helpful fat-loss guide: http://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/fat-loss
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Posted Mon, 01/14/2013 - 17:02
Carlos Lugo
I've been doing this for about two weeks and feel like I am not doing enough reps. Should I increase the reps to 10 or just stick to 5 since its a program?
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Posted Tue, 01/15/2013 - 21:38
Steve1
Hi Steve, I am currently weighing in at 275, and i would like to get down to about 200-225... i haven't really lifted in about a year and a half, and I am wondering if this would be a good start point?
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Posted Tue, 01/22/2013 - 21:02
Matt
Can I do Behind Neck Lat Pull Down exercise instead of pull ups?
mnsjason's picture
Posted Thu, 01/24/2013 - 19:50
mnsjason
Lat Pull-down will suffice if you need to build to pull ups.
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Posted Sat, 01/26/2013 - 12:39
Sam
Hi, Steve. In my gym, I only have a Smith Machine, dumbbells, and lots of machines. What is an alternative exercise for deadlift? Or should I do deadlift with the smith machine?
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Posted Mon, 01/28/2013 - 17:38
Neomarc
Hi again. I still didn't get a response to my previous post. I really need your help. Thanks so much!
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Posted Sun, 02/03/2013 - 15:26
Joe
Hi, im not sure with amount of weight I should start out with can anyone help?
Joey's picture
Posted Thu, 02/07/2013 - 12:09
Joey
When you can complete the all the recommended reps for any given exercises, it would time to up the weight. You'll want to start a with a weight where you might struggle to complete the last few reps (with good form).

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