Posted on 28 Jun 2016
4 min read
I don’t know about you but I prefer the simple things in life.
I like my coffee black and, more importantly, my strength programmes to be about as thrilling as an episode of The Antiques Roadshow.
Lately I’ve been devouring the works of Greg Nuckols.
Greg runs a great website called Strengtheory which is packed to the rafters with training gems.
His post on making a novice strength training routine more effective is golden.
These principles really struck home with me.
I’ve stalled many a time over the last 14 years and my usual go-to method for trying to make more gains has never really been that effective.
However, Greg’s plateau-busting advice concerning the manipulation of sets, reps and overall volume was so stunning in its simplicity that I had to put it to use.
It’s also perfect for those long and steady (6-12 months) programmes which I love.
So without further ado, here’s a strength based, three-days-per-week workout programme, inspired by Greg, that will ensure slow and steady strength gains, particularly for beginners.
The three days will be focused around four exercises.
An example programme (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) would go along the lines of:
|Weighted chin ups|
|Seated cable row|
Now that you’ve selected your exercises, apply the following principles.
It is absolutely essential that you get yourself a log book and record every single workout.
NB: recording progress is pivotal not just for this routine, but for all workouts, so make it a habit!
As Henry points out in our 10 Old-School Commandments For Building Muscle, you should be jotting down everything – sets, reps, rest periods, calories, macros – as this will help you assess what is working, what isn’t, and what needs to change.
For all exercises, start off with a light weight which you can easily manage to lift for 3 sets of 10 reps (3 x 10).
Then, every session, add 2.5kg to all lifts.
Once you can’t manage 3 sets of 10 on a lift, bring it down to 3 sets of 8 (3 x 8).
Once you can’t manage 3 sets of 8, bring it down to 5 sets of 5 (3 x 5).
Once you can’t manage 5 sets of 5, bring it down to 5 sets of 3 (5 x 3).
At this point you will more than likely begin to start really struggling.
When that begins to happen, it’s time to decrease the weight and increase the sets and reps.
Consult your log book and look at when you changed from 3 sets of 10 to 3 sets of 8.
Now take 10% off that weight.
For example, if you started struggling at 100 kg (3 x 10) then you will start with 90kg
Now begin with 5 sets of 10 (5 x 10).
Once you can’t manage 5 sets of 10, bring it down to 5 sets of 8 (5 x 8)
Once you can’t manage 5 sets of 8, bring it down to 6 sets of 5 (6 x 5)
Once you can’t manage 6 sets of 5, bring it down to 7 sets of 3 (7 x 3)
Don’t worry about the sets and reps all falling in line with each other.
To quote Greg Nuckols:
You don’t have to switch all your lifts over to the new rep scheme all at once.
If you plateau on your bench or OHP before your squat or deadlift, go ahead to switch the stalled lift to the new rep scheme, and continue as you were with the others.
Stick with the same lifts until you completely stall on them.
Once that happens then change it up
Eat quality wholesome food and aim for 0.8-1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Feel free to take a week off or reduce the weights every 8-12 weeks or so.
Don’t forget to make your way over to Greg Nuckols’ website strengtheory.com for some great training information.
Alternatively, you can check out the strengththeory YouTube channel.
Remember to keep it simple folks – and good luck!
If you have any comments or questions about this routine, I’d love to hear from you, just get in touch below.