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

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 09/07/2012 - 13:45
Steven

This will work well with a properly structured eating plan.

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Posted Mon, 08/20/2012 - 23:05
Ryan

Steve, I'm considering working this in as a 4-6 week phase of a periodization cycle. 8 weeks hypertrophy, 4-6 weeks strength, 2 weeks light work. IS this a good fit for that short period of time?

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 09/07/2012 - 13:43
Steven

I don't recommend your approach. Strength and hypertrophy training are no different for beginner to early intermediate lifters.

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Posted Fri, 09/07/2012 - 20:21
Ryan

Okay. How do you define an early intermediate lifter? Is it weight dependent or form/technique dependent?

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 10/03/2012 - 14:54
Steven

Someone who has developed some strength and has a decent, working grasp of form, but who still has a lot of progress yet to make.

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Posted Fri, 08/17/2012 - 17:29
Ali ibrahim

Hey steve,
 im about 135-142 ibs 5'7 my bmi is about 21 i am not skinny but people seem to think i am, I'm a beginner when it comes to lifting weights  trying to lose my fat while putting on muscle.. I want my abs to show because there covered, basiclly i want to be toned and ripped for speed and strength i dont want to be big and bulky neither do i want to gain more weight, i am currenty in mma and jiu jitsu.. I train monday, tuesday, thursday and saturday when i can but it is very rare because i work on weekends and saturdays training starts at 1pm anyways mon to thurs is brazilian jiu jitsu from 6-7 and mma from 7-8 and you burn so much cardio doing that and my cardio is pretty good considering that im a runner, its a hobbie of mine.. I would love to add more strength and muscle because im lackin the strength and i was wondering should i do this on my off days like ex workout wed,fri,sun or is there a better program you would consider for me to go along with my training?
Thank you :) 

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 09/07/2012 - 13:42
Steven

This program is a great choice. Work hard and get strong. It will serve you well.

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Posted Mon, 08/13/2012 - 15:21
Robert

Steve

Love the look of this program, however i have a question, in regards of starting it.
I want to know where i start from.
For the straight squats its says •Set 1 – 60% of last set x 5 reps, as this is the basis of the rest of the straights squats, & then the ramped squats, what should the 60% be worked out from?
Cheers

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

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Posted Tue, 08/07/2012 - 16:04
BRAD

Hey im going to use this program to get back into working out. Im just a little confused on the 60%, 80% ect. of last set for the lifts and what that really means.

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Posted Tue, 08/07/2012 - 11:41
Mohamed Sanad

shall i carry heavier wights on Wednesday as it contains less sets than the other 2 days ? or i stick to the weight that i use on the other 2 days in the same week ? shall i go up from Monday to Wednesday in wights then down back on Friday ?

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Posted Wed, 08/01/2012 - 22:43
Andrew

I would like to do your titanic tricep building workout with this one, how should i combine the 2?

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Posted Tue, 07/31/2012 - 11:22
darryn noble

how much rest between sets? 2 mins?

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Posted Mon, 07/30/2012 - 01:51
Trevor

Hey Steve,
I haven't worked out since about freshmen year. I am 17 about to go into my senior year in late August. I want to start working out again before I hit weight training in school. What would be the best thing for me to do at the moment? Would it be best for me to actually hit the gym and do a workout plan after work for the weeks to come until school comes up or just do my workout at home? I just want to do something so when I head in I can be at my full potential. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

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Posted Sun, 07/15/2012 - 16:57
julian

what are the resting periods between reps and sets for this workout? and what kind of warm up should i do before i start each workout?

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Posted Thu, 07/12/2012 - 19:07
Scott

Steve,

I have trouble doing more than 1-2 pull up's. Is there anything I can replace that exercise with to build up strength to be able to do numerous pullups?

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Posted Sun, 07/08/2012 - 13:45
Josh

Steve, I have been lifting weights for about 6 months now but without a consistent program and am wanting to start one. I thought this one would be good for general strength. I am not looking to get huge, I am 20 years old, 5"10 145lbs, I am only wanting to add about 10 pounds or so of muscle. The only problem with this program is that i am currently training for a half marathon and this program has alot of leg work. I am afraid that the squatting twice a week and deadlifts in between will be too much with all the running. Could you reccomend me a good program to add general strength that isn't quite as intense on the legs? maybe just one day of legs. Thanks!

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Posted Tue, 06/19/2012 - 16:22
John

I have been working out off/on for the last year and half and made some strength gains but have not gone up in size. I'm sure this has to do with my poor diet. I'm 5'8 160lbs 26yrs old. Some of the programs I've done are P90x and online routines like scooby workout shop with poor results. I will start a bulk in a few weeks. Am I still considered a newbie and will I see newbie gains once my diet is in check and following this routine? Do you think this beginner's routine is suited for me even though I have been working out for the last year and half? My primary goal is to add muscle, thanks for your help.

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 06/21/2012 - 13:54
Steven

Many people get stronger, but not nearly strong enough. Get your diet in check and set the goal to bring your bench up to 300, squat to 400 and deadlift to 500. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the progress you make.

Do I think this suited for you? yes. If you're not experienced making muscle gains then you're still considered a beginner.

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Posted Wed, 07/18/2012 - 17:49
eric

I'm 6 ft and 243 pounds. Would this be good for a big dude? I see most people posting here are much smaller. I'm also too fat to get even pullup done. What would you suggest instead of pullups? There is this weight assisted pullup/dip machine i noticed in the gym but have never used.

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Posted Sun, 06/17/2012 - 00:56
David

I have lifted on and off for 10 years or so. I would like to do this workout. One question. What if I do straight sets in all the workouts. Pick a weight if I get all 5 reps for 5 sets add weight the next week.

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 06/21/2012 - 13:49
Steven

I don't recommend that. Focus on progression using the program. It works. There is no need to change things or add volume.

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Posted Tue, 06/05/2012 - 00:08
Zach

Hi Steve,

The workout seems great and I've actually just started and completed my first day. I was talking to a friend about it and he was confused as to why I was doing full body workouts as opposed to doing upper/lower body days. Why do you prefer a full body workout? Sorry if I'm asking an ignorant question; I'm not too experienced with exercise science and what not.

Thank you!

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 06/08/2012 - 14:35
Steven

Both are good choices. There is no need to over-complicate things though. Your buddy is mistaking the split and approach as being more important than progression of weight. 4 day per week training allows for more lifts, which simply isn't need for you right now. Get strong on the basics.

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Posted Mon, 05/28/2012 - 18:51
Ricardo

Hi Steve,

Can i do the Dumbbell Bench Press instead of normal Bench Press and get the same results? Since i workout alone i found the first one more safe.

Thanks!

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 06/01/2012 - 09:46
Steven

If you have no other option, then use dumbbells. Just make sure you have enough weight so you can keep progressing.

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Posted Sun, 05/27/2012 - 11:27
Jesse

-Steve
I'm not really sure how to go about doing bench presses/ military lifts in this workout.
Is it..
Monday-Bench (Straight)
Wednesday- Military lift
Friday-Bench (Ramped)
and then the next week...
Monday- Military lift (Straight)
Wednesday- Bench
Friday- Military lift (Ramped)
And do you continue to cycle between these two like this or do I have this all wrong?
Thanks.

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 06/01/2012 - 09:45
Steven

Monday-Bench (Straight)
Wednesday- Military lift(Straight)
Friday-Bench (Ramped)

Monday- Military lift (Ramped)
Wednesday- Bench (Straight)
Friday- Military lift (traight)

...like this ^

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Posted Sat, 05/26/2012 - 18:31
sean G

hi steve, i skimmed through your workout very impressive ive been creating my worouts for a few years now. i also read through most of the comments so i know this question is non related to your workout but here goes, i have great deffinition all overbut not mass or size that i want and i was wondering if it could be that i dont rest very long it feels weird to just sit there for a min or two after sets so i alternate sets in with a different body part for example ill do one set of dumbell curls then imediatly do a set of tricep extensions then a set of sit ups without resting between any of them more than 10 seconds. so now you know how i do it 1) if i do sit there longer will i gain more mass becaise i can lift more weight or 2) do you think it might be something else?

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 06/01/2012 - 09:41
Steven

Lack of size is usually tied into 2 things:

1) Not eating properly.
2) Not progressing, or improving your strength.

Focus on these 2 things and you'll build size.

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Posted Wed, 05/23/2012 - 06:39
justin

Hi Steve

what rest time would you suggest between sets?

cheers

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 05/23/2012 - 09:40
Steven

Usually at least 2 minutes between taxing sets. Rest up to 5 minutes between taxing sets if you need to.

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Posted Sun, 05/20/2012 - 15:39
Peter

Do you need to have some mucles mass or be bigger before you give strenght training a shot?

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 05/23/2012 - 09:39
Steven

No, not at all.

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Posted Sat, 05/19/2012 - 17:34
matan

hey steve, thanks for answering to my questions.
I can do deadlifts and barbells rows so thats ok, the only problem is the squat, dont have place to do a free squat, what can i do instead of it?
And so I did not understand the RAMPED SETS how to do them, you may prepare kind of Excel file as of the Bill Starr's 5x5 helps to know how much to lift weights between sets in all exercises, i think its will help to a lot of people who want to use ur workout.

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 05/23/2012 - 09:38
Steven

If you can't free squat your best choices are front squats (clean the weight into position), goblet squats or overhead dumbbell squats. I do recommend purchases squat stands.

Ramped sets are explained in the workout description. You basically just build up in weight, and on your 5th set work with 5 pounds more than you used on Monday's last set.

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Posted Sat, 05/19/2012 - 09:51
Pat

Hey, steve. im 17 and weigh about 200 lbs, but i have about 25% body fat. im looking to get that down to about 15% by the end of August, but id like to add strength as well. ive been lifting regularly for about a month and a half now, so what routine would help me reach my goal most effectively? thanks

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 05/23/2012 - 09:34
Steven

Fat loss will come down to nutrition and calorie intake. This article can help in that regard:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/your-go-to-guide-for-cutting-...

As far as lifting and building strength, this workout is a great choice.

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Posted Fri, 05/18/2012 - 16:31
Phil

My lifts are:

215x1 bench
120x5 press
215x8 SLDL
135x5 Squat

Just started doing squats. Should I do this program? If I should could I replace deadlifts with SLDL?

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 05/23/2012 - 09:32
Steven

Sure, your lifts look very good. This program would be a good choice for you. I don't recommend using the SLDL instead of deadlifts though, in the context of this program.

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Posted Thu, 05/17/2012 - 21:13
Nikolaus

Hi Steve, I tried the 3 Day Workout For Beginners (https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/3day-beginners-workout.html) for about 6 months and feel it is time for something new. Would this workout be a good option at this point? Also, is there any reason why I shouldn't switch the weighted sit ups for other ab exercises on, say, two of the three days?

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 05/23/2012 - 09:31
Steven

Yes this would be a good choice. As far as weighted situps, you can use any abs exercise of choice.

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Posted Thu, 05/17/2012 - 08:07
Suhib

Hi.. i'm new to body building and my weight is 53 kg !! i've been working on body building since 1 week , before 5 years i played for 1 year and all the exercises are familiar , shall i take serious mass ( optimum ) after the training or i've to postpone the nutrition later on ?

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 05/23/2012 - 09:29
Steven

You can take Serious Mass after lifting. You also need to make sure you setup a proper eating plan. This article can help:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-create-a-bodybuilding-...

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Posted Tue, 05/15/2012 - 14:49
Ben.S

HI,
I am 14 and weigh about 50 kg. I am very skinny and very weak. I have always been keen to do something about it. I have stared at my local gym and go on a monday and wednesday. I do everything there, so weights and cardio, but have got no real structure to the amount of reps/sets/time etc. I was wondering if you could help me how to put on weight and to get stronger?

Thanks, Ben 14

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 05/23/2012 - 09:27
Steven

Hi Ben,

For workout structure I would recommend starting with something like this so you can take some time and learn about some of the most effective exercises:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/8-week-novice-quick-start-wor...

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Posted Tue, 05/15/2012 - 04:20
cole

hi, steve

i just started this routine and i like it. i have noticed muscle and power pretty quick. i was just courious about some other stuff to do during this routine. this routine seems rather short, which is not a big deal, i was just wondering if you suggest anything else along with the regular stuff.

Steven's picture
Posted Sat, 05/19/2012 - 10:19
Steven

No, I don't suggest adding anything to this routine. Focus on progressing in weight and eating correctly.

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Posted Sun, 05/13/2012 - 16:46
Pete

After how long should we expect to see results?

Steven's picture
Posted Sat, 05/19/2012 - 10:18
Steven

Depends on what your expectations are. This program will help you build quite a bit of strength over the course of 6 months to a year. If eating right, you should also see some very good gains in muscle size during the first 6 months. It won't give you 17 inch arms in 6 months - no program will - but if you work it as listed you will make very good progress.

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Posted Sat, 05/12/2012 - 14:54
matan

Thanks for the fast answer steve, and i dont think they ban deadlifts but i dont have alot of space to do it in the gym, its like 50/50 chance they will let me to do it, what do u think will be good instead this? and instead squat i cant do free squat just in smith machine cuz there is no stand of free squat.

I am really want to start ur amazing program, thanks for posting this for all :)