Wild 20 Powerbuilding Workout: Get Crazy, Get Big & Strong

M&S Writers
Written By: M&S Writers
July 23rd, 2014
Updated: June 13th, 2020
491.8K Reads
Wild 20 Powerbuilding Workout: Get Crazy, Get Big & Strong
Bust out of your training rut and blast through muscle and strength building plateaus using a unique combination of 5, 10 and 20 rep sets. This program delivers results.
Workout Summary
  • Main Goal
    Build Muscle
  • Workout Type
  • Training Level
  • Program Duration20 weeks
  • Days Per Week
  • Time Per Workout45-60 minutes
  • Equipment Required
    Barbell, Cables, Dumbbells, Machines
  • Target Gender Male & Female
  • Recommended Supps
  • Workout PDF Download Workout

Workout Description

Earlier this year I designed a bench press program called the 2 Plate Special. It was created to help the myriad of lifters stuck around a 180-240 bench press max bust through plateaus and make progress. While I knew this training protocol would help, I didn't expect it to catch on like wildfire.

The feedback for this program has been nothing short of amazing. High volume rep work seems to be the spark that many trainees needed to re-ignite progress. Along with the testimonials I've received touting this program's effectiveness, I am also getting the following type of questions:

Can I use this program for lifts like squats, deadlifts, overhead presses and rows?

The answer is, of course, yes.

The following workout is just that; a complete program based around my 20-rep training protocol. I call this training system a powerbuilding workout because it will not only help you bust through strength plateaus, but it will also help you to pack on muscle mass in the process.

I recommend running this program for a minimum of 4-6 months. If you are able to commit for a full year, I am confident you will reap a bounty of benefits. Regardless of how long you run the program, please let me know how it goes. I'd love to hear your story and learn about your strength and muscle building progress.

Understand that this program is not really anything I would run while trying to lose fat. Consider Wild 20 to be a bulking program. Keep your calories at 300 to 500 above maintenance levels, and your protein intake no less than 200 grams per day.

Seated Arnold Press

I recommend running this program for a minimum of 4-6 months. If you are able to commit for a full year, I am confident you will reap a bounty of benefits.

"2 Plate Special" - Wild 20 Overview

You will perform a total of 7 sets using the same weight for the following major compound movements:

  • Bench Press
  • Squats
  • Overhead Press
  • Deadlifts or Barbell Rows (pick one, not both)

Here is how you will perform the 7 sets:

  • Set 1 - Weight x 5 reps
  • Set 2 - Weight x 5 reps
  • Set 3 - Weight x 5 reps
  • Set 4 - Weight x 10 reps
  • Set 5 - Weight x 10 reps
  • Set 6 - Weight x 10 reps
  • Set 7 - Weight x max reps, goal 20+ reps

Set 7 is your money set. If you are able to reach 20 or more reps for this set, add 5 pounds to the lift the next time you perform it. If you are unable to reach your 20 rep goal, continue to use the same weight and aim for progression the following week.

You will find that once you are able to reach 20 reps on your money set, progress and weight additions will start to occur quite frequently. It is not uncommon to add 5 pounds to a lift every 2-4 weeks. Over the course of 6 months this could potentially add 30 to 50 pounds to your bench press, squat or deadlift.

So to recap, your Wild 20 sets will:

  • Use the same weight for each set.
  • Feature an all-out max rep 7th set.

For your Wild 20 sets I suggest using the following start weights if your bench press max is under 240, your squat max is under 350, your deadlift max is under 400, your barbell row max is under 225 and your military press is under 150.

  • Bench Press - 135 pounds
  • Squats - 185 pounds
  • Deadlifts - 185 pounds
  • Barbell Rows - 135 pounds
  • Military Press - 95 pounds

Sample training schedule

Here is a sample training split. It can be adjusted to best fit your weekly schedule.

  • Day 1 - Chest & Triceps
  • Day 2 - Back & Biceps
  • Day 3 - Off
  • Day 4 - Shoulders & Traps
  • Day 5 - Quads, Hamstrings & Calves
  • Day 6 - Off
  • Day 7 - Off
Day 1
Chest & Triceps
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 7 Wild 20
Dumbbell Incline Bench Press 3 8-12
Machine Chest Press 3 8-12
Pec Dec or Cable Crossovers 3 10-15
Lying Tricep Extensions 3-4 8-12
Rope Cable Tricep Extensions 3-4 10-15
Day 2
Back & Biceps
Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Rows or Deadlifts 7 Wild 20
Pull Ups or Inverted Rows 3 AMAP
Machine Rows 3 8-12
T-Bar or Seated Cable Rows 3 8-12
Dumbbell Curls 3-4 8-12
Rope Cable Curls 3-4 10-15
Day 4
Shoulders & Traps
Exercise Sets Reps
Military Press 7 Wild 20
Seated Arnold Press 3 8-12
Side Lateral Raise 3 10-15
Bent Over Reverse Flyes 3 10-15
Power Shrugs 3-4 8-12
Machine Shrugs 3-4 8-12
Day 5
Quads, Hamstrings & Calves
Exercise Sets Reps
Squats 7 Wild 20
Hack Squats 3 8-12
Leg Extensions 3 10-15
Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift 3 8-12
Leg Curls 3 10-15
Seated Calf Raise 3-4 10-15

Note: Ab work can be inserted on any of the training days as needed.

Robert Mwiya
Posted on: Sun, 09/10/2023 - 00:22

Can you run this program with a recomp/ Maintenance deit with high calories?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 09/25/2023 - 20:15

I don't see why not, Robert. If you do so, let us know how it went. Thanks for reading M&S!

Posted on: Tue, 06/21/2022 - 20:39

Awesome program and harder than you think. My only issue is with the wild 20 deadlifts. Go heavier with the deadlifts and do 1, 1, 1, 3, 3, 3 and 6. Same concept, but heavy. I think the wild 20 is awesome for the other main lifts, just not deadlifts. I hope someone will read this and try it out. Heavy deadlifts took me to next level in size and strength.

Jeffrey Burton
Posted on: Wed, 04/21/2021 - 17:37

Do you know of any good diet/eating regiments for this workout.diet is the one thing I've always had trouble with ..seeing as I work third shift. thanks

Lalo Lal
Posted on: Sun, 01/17/2021 - 23:01

If ur using a really light weight on everything and then you try to get 20 reps last set, werent the first 6 sets all just warmups?

Posted on: Wed, 11/04/2020 - 11:30

When do you increase the weight? I'm used to programs that have a defined structure on weight increase. Do I just increase it when I feel like I'm ready to increase? LOL. I know it sounds obvious, but I'm new to feeling my way through a program. I come from years of 531, and other programs where it's all set. Thank you

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 11/05/2020 - 10:15

Hey Jerry - yes, you'll increase weight when you feel necessary

Posted on: Wed, 11/20/2019 - 20:58

so...shal we do all reprs (7) at same weight?

Posted on: Mon, 09/02/2019 - 09:47

So my bench at 1 rep is is 365 so for the wild 20 for the bench I would do 185 for all 7 sets?

Posted on: Mon, 05/20/2019 - 14:18

Explain please! Using the same weight 7th set? And 5 reps, and 10 reps, and 20 reps - one weight??

Ahmad Asif
Posted on: Fri, 11/02/2018 - 18:08

This program is awesomely hardcore. The leg days especially are gruelling. But i love it. Getting stronger every week too.

Posted on: Sun, 06/03/2018 - 14:05

If my left scapula is discolated and cannot do OHP's, is there any other exercise that I can replace it with?

David Brown II
Posted on: Tue, 03/27/2018 - 05:48

If our max is about 270 for bench where should we start?

Angel Arvelo jr
Posted on: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 08:55

Hi I did your 2 plate special and my bench press went from 240 to 295 for 2 reps love it and I also but some size on too can't wait to start this program on Monday

Posted on: Thu, 10/26/2017 - 21:07

How long should rest be

Posted on: Sun, 01/29/2017 - 15:01

Why do you suggest the row or deadlift?

Posted on: Sun, 12/25/2016 - 09:45

Hey. Is there any way to use this program for work each muscles twice a week?

Posted on: Sat, 11/12/2016 - 18:34

How much time is recommended for the rest time on the program wild20

Posted on: Fri, 08/19/2016 - 08:43

Hey Steve, Im late to the game, but I am starting this program Monday. I can't wait to see results with this trying to get 400 on the bench and 500 on the squat. I am already 300+lbs

Posted on: Sat, 08/29/2015 - 17:42

Can I replace the Wild 20 sets with GVT sets of 10 x 10? (Same weight for all 10 sets and sometimes I add rest pause to hit 10 reps every set.)


Mason V.
Posted on: Mon, 04/30/2018 - 08:36

If you change the program then you're not doing the program. Jesus christ use your head 0_O

Posted on: Tue, 08/25/2015 - 15:59

Great workout, I'm doing it now seeing good results and strength.

Posted on: Wed, 08/05/2015 - 12:11

Do you feel it would make a difference in using barbell compared to dumbbell on any of the wild20 exercises?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 08/06/2015 - 09:49

It's going to be tough to replicate the overload achieved with a barbell in squats and deadlifts with a dumbbell equivalent.

Posted on: Tue, 07/21/2015 - 15:25

Wat kinda rest between sets?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 07/22/2015 - 09:27

For the initial 7 sets I would go for something along the lines of 1-2 minutes. For the accessory work, you can likely stick with roughly 60 seconds and be fine.

If you don't want to watch the clock and you're pretty keyed into your body then just lift when you're ready.

Posted on: Fri, 06/19/2015 - 22:01

I started this program four weeks ago and so far so good. Been improving every week in terms of reps on every exercise. In about a month and a half though I'll be taking a week vacation with no access to a gym. Do you suggest just putting the program on hold for a week? Do you think there will be any negative effects of skipping a week then starting back up?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 06/22/2015 - 10:01

Don't sweat it at all. For all of my athletes I recommend that they take 2-4 weeks completely off throughout the course of the year. I've already taken 2 off this year and I always come back stronger within 10-14 days from the time off.

Posted on: Thu, 05/14/2015 - 05:43

like the look of the program but not sure what weights to start at, currently my max bench is 308lbs, squat is 396lbs, deadlift is 440lbs and military press is 176lbs. i have never tried maxing out on barbell rows. Thanks in advance for any advice

Posted on: Sun, 04/26/2015 - 11:47

How long would you recommend doing the Wild 20 for, before doing a 'deload' period? If you were to put a percentage for each of the lifts, based off of your 1RM, what would you use? Great program!

Posted on: Mon, 04/06/2015 - 20:39

Im just wondering as to why you don't recommend doing both rows and dead lifts?

Posted on: Fri, 12/11/2015 - 22:57

Lol if you can do 65 reps of deadlift, and 65 reps of rows back to back... hats off to you

Posted on: Thu, 04/02/2015 - 08:36

hi steve would it be possible to end the workout with the wild 20 instead of starting off with it?

Posted on: Fri, 03/27/2015 - 11:44

I really like this program, but I see you do not recommend it for losing weight/fat loss. What type of program would you recommend in this similar vein. I have been looking at the Full body giant set with Density programs.

Danny Smith
Posted on: Mon, 03/16/2015 - 22:35

Just finished the deadlift day. This was a very humbling, painful experience. Steve you are Satan I'm pretty convinced jk. I'm definitely not gonna be able to walk for a couple days. 185 never felt so scary

Posted on: Sun, 03/08/2015 - 12:57

This might be a dumb question but do you recomend like on day one,chest and triceps exercises, doing the bench press wild 20 and also all of the other 5 exercises listed in one session?

Posted on: Mon, 02/16/2015 - 16:37

Could I alternate between back squat and front squat every other week?

Posted on: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 15:37

If you stay with this routine....how long would it take to start seeing results and can you add food to eat/stay away from?

Posted on: Tue, 01/13/2015 - 18:44

Hey Steven!

Great workout. I have been doing it for a while and then I hurt my elbow at work. So, pretty much anything that involves using my arms is out of the question. I started doing legs twice a week instead as I can't do anything else. Have been making great progress that way for the past month. 5lbs added Monday and Friday. Do you think I should change up my routine and maybe do wild 20 squats one day and a little different work out on Fridays?

Let me know your thoughts!
Thank you,

Posted on: Mon, 01/12/2015 - 14:06

If I've reached muscle failure during my last set of 10 before the wild 20, do you suggest I go down in weight, or keep the same weight the following week?

Posted on: Mon, 01/05/2015 - 21:25

This routine was originally created by and credited to Steve Shaw. I see he is no longer in your list of authors. Why is he stil not credited as the creator?

eddie deamicis
Posted on: Mon, 01/05/2015 - 16:31

hi steve this program looks great and can't wait to get started on it can i structure this so i do chest on monday back on tuesday shoulders on wednesday legs on thursday doing wild 20 on these days then arms on friday doing double down i work long hours and i'm limited to the time i have in the gym thanks in advance for your input

Posted on: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 11:26

For anyone who doubts this program - I ran this for 6 or 7 weeks and maxed on bench somewhere in the middle. I hadn't maxed on bench in years and equalled my PR easily. I then switched to a pyramid style program (10,8,6,4,2 increasing weight each set). After another 6 weeks or so I maxed again and struggled with 20lbs less than my previous max. Going back to this program now.

Posted on: Mon, 12/08/2014 - 22:56

I've been doing this program for about 6 months now and I have to say it's the most difficult workout program I have ever done since I started lifting when I was 17. I've gotten so much stronger following this program. Definitely recommend it to anyone trying to get stronger.

Posted on: Mon, 12/01/2014 - 22:02

What if you bench 405 and row 225 then what wight should I do

luis fernandez
Posted on: Sat, 11/29/2014 - 23:24

Two weeks in so far i love the workout. I can allready see a diffrence. For my squats i had to lower my starting weight to 135 ... Is thay cool? And yes i know its sad... Also can i add cardio to the end of every workout?

Posted on: Thu, 11/27/2014 - 23:26

Can I substitute leg press for squats

Posted on: Sun, 11/16/2014 - 11:10

2 quick questions, should the rest between all sets other than the wild 20 sets be between 2 and 5 minutes to allow Creatine levels to build back up? After using the wild 20 set for bench press, would the bench press calculator be an accurate indicator of my nor rep max or would it be a little lower because of all of the previous sets?

Great workout, thanks for posting it. For any skeptics reading this, it has worked for me so I'd recommend giving it a shot.

Posted on: Thu, 11/13/2014 - 14:27

By far, the best workout on this site for me so far. Very challenging and I'm making fantastic muscle endurance and strength gains in last 2 months.
Steve, some parts of the program are still very challenging for me (legs) while others are getting easier (chest). Can you recommend some techniques to add to up the intensity even more?

Posted on: Thu, 11/06/2014 - 17:51

Sry - I think that I was too critical. Everybody likes different exercises and styles.

This workout was too similar to D4D which I do for 5 weeks then I change up for 2 weeks.
I will plug this in with some changes for the 2 weeks - my criticism came from it being too close to the workout I already do - D4D. No Mad lol - I am a Nomad biker btw.