My Strength Training Program

First things first. This isn't an original program or special by any means. It is built on the very well-known and amateur-favorite 5x5 program -- low enough repetitions to allow approximately 80% of your 1RM and enough sets to really make sure you can hit those weights. A few of you have asked, so I'd like to share my current program publicly. I think it's a good chance to see what an average person who have never lifted seriously before (like myself) can achieve in such a short amount of time. But, if you just want the spreadsheet, then you can download it via the button below.

*** I highly recommended tracking your progress. It helps prevent backtracking and keeps you moving forward. ***

As you can see in the Excel spreadsheet, it is separated by days of the week which is also separated by muscle groups. To complete the sheet every week, you'd need to lift for a minimum of four days a week. Preferably, one would lift every weekday because that gives you one extra day to double dip where you're lacking or perform some supportive/accessory lifts to help things out. For example, I dumbbell bench press to help out with chest development and rack-pulls to improve my deadlift lockout on Fridays. As for how I organize the muscle groups, it separates days to isolate primary compound lifts: bench press, squat, deadlift, and overhead press. 

Below is data over approximately 16 months of my working weight for a 5x5. One of the greatest pleasures of being a beginner in weightlifting is the linear progression. For many lifts, you can enjoy the satisfaction of being able to increment 5 pounds a week on most of your primary compound lifts. This might seem like a small amount of weight because it is, but it adds up very quickly over time. 

Bench press development has probably been the biggest struggle for me. While squats and especially deadlifts have come very naturally to me, growing my bench has been frustrating. It was quick to move from sub-plates to 160, but I was literally stagnant there for months. It wasn't until I went on a bulk and doubled up on chest days that I found myself progressing in a linear manner again. 

Bench Press -- Flat, Incline, & Decline

It's funny. I actually didn't start deadlifting until about 6 months into lifting. It wasn't because I believed the stupid talk about them being unsafe or anything. I literally just couldn't get the form down, but once I did, it was straight fucking madness. 

Back -- Dedz, Rows, & Pulls

It's been a long and bumpy ride with squats. I've had to reset multiple times because I wasn't going low enough. For future reference, I'd recommend lifting early on with an experienced lifter to get used to the right depth. Even once I started hitting depth, it wasn't long until I found myself hitting a ceiling. Then, I switched to low-bar and the growth continued. 

Squat -- Back & Front

Strict overhead press has become one of the most painful lifts of my week. I used to perform them seated with dumbbells, but the gains were mediocre. So, I restarted and switched to standing barbell overhead presses. 

Shoulders -- Press & Shrugs

The overarching idea of my program is to build strength -- not muscle mass nor lose weight. Building muscle mass is merely a byproduct of gaining strength and the ability to control my bodyweight is a new tool to support my training.