Training Effectively – The Guide

 The best bodies in the world were built with these basics.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when trying to find ‘the‘ program for you, so as with the diet we’ll keep this simple also.

Big compound movements are the best and fastest way to get strong, fit and change your body. There are very good reasons why top sports team coaches, get both their male (and female) athletes to train almost exclusively with free weights. You should too.

I don’t want you to waste years of your life, as I did, before finding what really works.

I train 3 days a week, for under one hour. Unless you’re an athlete, you do not need to do more lifting than this either.

If you are new to training, you’re in luck. This will be the best training year of your life, and is your opportunity to make the most dramatic changes to your body. You will have ‘beginner bonus gains’ as I like to call them. Do not waste this opportunity, and do not suffer fools that try to steer you off the path toward ineffective routines.

If you have been training a while and haven’t seen the progress you thought you would, a renewed focus on the basics will benefit you greatly also. It’s not too late to start now, but it would be a waste to continue something and expect a different result.

Following a 5/6-day split routine like your favourite bodybuilder you read in a magazine is not optimal for a drug-free individual. Simple training routines focused on barbels do not make for a sexy article in a magazine.

‘Correct Form’ When Training

If you do not use correct form you will not only sacrifice your gains, but set yourself up for injury somewhere in the not-too-distant future. Good form is critically important, I recommend you to:

  1. Read Mark Rippetoe’s ‘Starting Strength - 3rd Edition‘. He’s considered one of the best. It is the best ‘how-to’ guide to performing barbel exercises I have ever read.
  2. Watch his Youtube video lectures.
  3. Invest in a good personal trainer to check your form. (Not always that easy to tell. Here I’ve written more about choosing a good trainer.)

Making a small investment now will pay big dividends in the future.

Suggested Training Programs

This is my no-means a comprehensive list, but these are good. Tried and tested, proven routines. There are many other great routines too, but I’m keeping it simple.

1. ‘The Big 3′ Routine
Whenever anyone mentions ‘The Big 3′ they mean the Squat, Deadlift and Bench-press. Hundreds of thousands have got big, and defined physiques just using these three exercises.

2. ‘Three Day Split Reverse Pyramid Training (RPT)’
For those with training experience. This is recommended by Martin Berkhan of, and builds on the principles and minimalistic style recommended by Stuart McRobert in his highly acclaimed, much recommended book, ‘Beyond Brawn’.

How do I choose the ‘right’ training program for me?

Determining what you’re suited for can be hard. If you’re new to serious barbell strength training or haven’t done it in a while then consider ‘The Big 3′. If not then you may need the full 3 day split or somewhere in between the two. Only YOU can determine that as there are individual differences. I’ve tried to help you decide in the article ‘Progressing from Beginner to Intermediate Training.

Remember: There is nothing macho about choosing an advanced lifting routine if you are not.

You’ll just make slower progress if you do.

Principles | Programs | CardioFAQ

This entry was posted in Training, Training Principles by Andy Morgan. Bookmark the permalink.

About Andy Morgan

I'm an online nutritional coach and trainer. After seeing one too many people get ripped off by supplement and training industry lies I decided to try and do something about it. The site you see here is the result of a lot of Starbucks-fuelled, two-fingered typing. It's had a lot of love poured into it, and I hope you find the guides to the diet and training methods I use on this site useful. When I'm not helping clients you'll likely find me crashing down a mountain on a snowboard, riding a motorbike, or staring at watches I can't afford.

401 thoughts on “Training Effectively – The Guide

  1. Andy, long time no talk my friend. I’ve been training off and on due to schedule restraints and going back to school and what have you. I came across my old training regimen that I received from you and am excited to get back into it. Although I have one question: I like to do my training at night usually (after my feeding window) just because the gym I go to now is so crowded during the day, so I was wondering what your thoughts were on eating during my training window (12-8) but then working out after that, say around 9:30 pm?

  2. Hi Andy

    Another training question. I seem to have a problem with barbell squatting. My knees ache and feel unstable now, and the weight has never really gone up. I had my form checked and my knees were coming forward at the bottom of the descent, so that may be putting strain on them and impeding my progress. For my last workout last week, I did some dumbbell goblet squats as a way of reinforcing good form and giving my knees a little extra recovery while still squatting. I felt it in my quads, and my knees feel much better.
    SO…if I have mobility issues, why shouldn’t I continue to squat in some other, less technically demanding form than barbell squatting? Isn’t the movement, and progressively loading it, more important than the specific barbell modality? Dan John says “Goblet squats are all the squatting most people need”.

    • From your description it seems that you need to need to sit back more into the lift and feel it more in the hamstrings. If that’s tough to do without the feeling of falling over, then it could be that you have the bar in a “high-bar” position yet you have the rest of your body trying the “low-bar” technique. Check the bar position first and try again. Ask the guy helping you to show you the low-bar back squat, if there is a blank expression initially then it means they don’t know, which will be the case for most people. Check out the way that Rippetoe teaches it in Starting Strength.

      Dan Johns words have been isolated and taken out of context. Be very careful of that, you can choose quotes to fit your needs for anything.

  3. Hi Andy, i’m just wondering how much time you dedicate to doing the bar sets – before your weighted sets ? I can spend up to 30 mins total on one big 3 ex. at a time (especially if doing 5×5 before). So curious to know how you clock in only 1.5 hrs/week and could you describe frequency/rest time between all sets ?! Thank you for your time. Alex

  4. Hello Andy,

    I am new to this thing so I would appreciate your help.
    Is it ok to do the same excersices for years without changing to diffeent ones?

    I have been told that after some time you body gets used to them and you hve to change your programme.

    What is your opinion?

  5. Hi Andy, hope is all going well for you, I have one quick queery i’d appreciate your input on.

    I, through years of playing computer games with terrible posture, have developed some shoulder issues on my right side which results in, whenever doing chest pushing movements (dips/bench), my right shoulder overpowers my right pec, resulting in a big left pec, small left shoulder, big right shoulder and small right pec.

    As of recently I switched to more strength orientated routine and have read a lot of great things for military / shoulder press.

    I was wondering, would replacing my bench/dips with shoulder press suffice? Im not fussed about having a huge chest, but would like to maintain the current mass I already have there.

    Do yoiu think shoulder/military press a few times a week would be olkay for this? Until I have sorted out my shoulder imalance issues of course.

    THanks Andy!!

    • Hi Jakeson. Imbalances and posture issues are not my field of expertise. Though you can read some excellent articles about this online, (Eric Cressey’s for example) it’s best you seek advice of a local professional.

      • Absolutely Andy ad I’m currently looking for a physio to help out the imbalance, but my main queery here is would it be suffice to replace bench with Military/shoulder press?

        Would this be enough to maintain my chest mass?

        • Not sure. Would depend on how well trained your chest is at the moment. There is definitely crossover. I wouldn’t worry about what you can’t help anyway. Rehab gets in the way sometimes but it’s necessary.

  6. Andy,

    Thanks for a very comprehensive reply and for clarifying the pharse ‘de-load’ which I now realise I used rather generically.

    I am going to opt for reducing the weight slightly on my squats and aiming for more reps (I have hit 0 on my top set for the last 4 weeks), monitor things and see how I go from there. As I’m pulling 1-2 reps on my deadlifts I’ll leave those alone for the time bieng.

    I’ll keep you posted once I have some results to share from the cut.

  7. Hi Andy,

    I’m still working on the final stages of my cut which is coming along nicely post Christmas. Wondering what your thoughts are on de-loading during a cut?

    I am at the stage where I aim for a max of 162.5kg x 6 on my top set of deadlift but am more often than not hitting 1 rep or less, similar with my squat (110 x 1). This is not due to dud workouts, it has been the case for a few months now. I Train RPT style so i get higher reps on my back-off sets.

    Whilst I am happy with the fact strength is not going to go up until I am at the bulking stage, I wonder if I would be better off looking to get a few more reps with a slightly reduced weight (form is no doubt slightly compromised at 1RM in my view).

    Should I continue on with the same weights and low reps or take off a small amount of weight?

    A little concerned about de-loading on a cut as I’ve seen it advised against on here in other comments (apologies if it has already been covered but I can’t seem to find it anywhere).



    • Tim, thanks for the question.

      I’d consider a deload to be a reduction in overall total training load: volume, intensity or frequency (mainly). A ‘deload’ generally is used during a bulk, before working into another phase of training to push into new boundaries (often meaning heavier weights, or the same weight for more reps).

      I wouldn’t recommend a purposeful ‘deload’ during a cut because as a non-beginner you won’t be making progress with your lifts anyway. If what you mean is to take a small break, say a reduction in any of those three main variables, then I’d combine it with a diet break so you’re roughly eating at maintenance and thus avoid any muscle losses during that time. (I admit this is a cautious approach, as muscle losses when protein intake is high, calorie deficit modest, and break from training relatively short, is not likely to happen to any significant extent.)

      A reduction in total weight and an increase in number of reps done for that weight is a reduction in intensity but an increase in volume. Thus, the net change isn’t necessarily going to be a reduction in training load. So feel free to do that without taking a diet break while doing so.

      Though I know you’re likely aware of this Tim, for others reading I’d like to note that there may be times when you need to reduce the weight. If you have an off day, never force yourself to lift something you can’t do so with good form.
      When getting leaner your top lifts may drop simply due to the mechanical inefficiency of being leaner (think of the bench press and the bar having to travel further).

      Hope that helps.

  8. Hi Andy great site appreciate the info! I have been lifting on and off for years and have been doing a modified split of:

    1.Squats, Benchpress, Bentover Row
    2. Deadlift, Weighted dips, weighted chinups.

    I alternate these workouts 3 days a week for the past 3 months. Doing drop sets of 6 reps, 8 reps, 10 reps. My question is, should I start to add in extra exercises or just change my rep/sets to switch it up? I still get a good workout and my gains are going up but would like to add some more mass. Thanks for any info.

    • Hi Alex. Hope I can help here:
      I still get a good workout and my gains are going up but would like to add some more mass.
      By ‘good workout’ people often refer to the feeling of exhaustion, level you have sweated, or some combination of both. That’s a workout. Training is a planned protocol to bring about a specific change in the body. Thus, a good training session will be one where you completed the plan for that day. – This has nothing to do with the feeling of fatigue.

      “…my gains are going up but would like to add some more mass.”
      By this do you mean your lifts are increasing but you believe you are not adding more muscle mass?
      How are you measuring changes in muscle mass? What tool and time periods? If not, then how do you know you aren’t actually gaining muscle mass? Strength correlates fairly well to muscle mass.

      Furthermore, how is your calorie intake right now? Are you in a deficit? Recomp?
      What level is your training/strength at? Are you currently seeing strength gains as well as fat loss which is hiding muscle gain?
      Are you an intermediate lifter that simply just needs to increase his calories? (i.e. choose clearly between a cut and bulk).

      I’m throwing these questions out there to give you something to think about. No need to answer bud, as that’s well beyond the scope of what I can handle in the comments.
      Hope that helps.

  9. Hi Andy,

    I’d like to start the big 3 or the split routines. I’ve been lifting on and off for years, but lately I’ve started really enjoying cross-fit type endurance work outs. Is there any way to combine the big 3/split workouts with two other weekly workouts more directed towards endurance ?



  10. Hey Andy,

    Because of my work week schedule, I need to do my workouts on Sat, Sun and Wed. Is it ok to workout out two days back to back?

    • Preferable not to in you are doing full body workouts, if you’re advanced enough to need to split your workouts then you can look to work that in.

      • I’m definitely not a beginner, but not sure I would consider myself “advanced” either.

        My 1RM’s are:
        Squat: 380
        Deadlift: 375
        Bench: 250
        Press: 160

        • You’re going to be splitting your workouts then. Consider putting the push day next to the squat or deadlift day.

  11. Hey Andy,

    I know you have said that it is only necessary to work out three days a week, but my schedule is so open i normally do 2 workouts a day M-F. It is sort of a stress reliever to me. Is there any way to do more workouts throughout the week and what would be your suggestions if i did?

    • Working out twice a day is going to cripple your progress in the gym long term. Find another way to relieve stress.

  12. Hi Andy,

    Are you planning on a slow bulking training guide soon? I know your site has cutting as the main focus, but i thought many people will be interested to know too.


  13. I always used to do 3 days a week as it fits in with other activities, but at the moment my time can be quite flexible, so have been working out every other day, averaging at 3.5 days a week of course.

    I don’t notice significant soreness doing 3×5 at my limits.
    Does the double rest day offer any other benefits?


  14. Hi Andy,

    and thanks for the great site!

    Is there a difference how fast you get results on recomp vs slow bulk + cut?

    I am a skinny fat with BF around 17 % and my goal is to be in as good shape as possible for the next summer. I’ve been on recomp for two months now doing SS with RPT style progression but I feel my strength gains are quite slow (I’ve lost 2 cm on my waist and my weight has stayed the same though!).
    My upper body is really skinny and I’d like to gain some muscle fast :) So can I achieve sexiness quicker by switching to slow bulk and cut afterwards vs doing steady recomp? Thanks!

    • Is there a difference how fast you get results on recomp vs slow bulk + cut?
      Beginners will be able to get a recomp effect and should choose so, as that is the faster way. Intermediate trainees will not see significant changes on a recomp, they could be slow or just not happen, and so it’s better for motivation to choose a clear cut or bulk.

        • That will depend on the individual and their experience generally and with those lifts. Basically it comes down to what is going to give them progressive overload and strength increases. In that regard both could work.

  15. Hi Andy!

    Love love LOVING the website. I have learned so much!

    I am just starting my journey and whilst I’m pretty sure I have the diet aspect nailed it’s the training side of things I’m struggling with slightly. I’m finding it pretty tough to find a decent trainer in my area of the UK to help me get set up with weight training – I’m looking into the Big 3 Routine as I am a complete beginner to Barbells… Do you think Crossfit would assist in anyway?
    I’m happy to give it a go myself and have ordered the ‘Starting Strength’ book and watched the vids over and over but nervous about form and pushing myself enough. What are your thoughts?

    Ideally I’d like to get to stage where I’m able to apply for personal consultations with yourself but understand you don’t take on ladies without previous barbell experience… I don’t suppose you would consider it just this once?? ;)

    Hope to hear from you soon!
    Amy x

    • Amy, thanks for the comment (as well as the Facebook like). The keys to getting fit and healthy are doing what you need to do, but no more. Adding in the unnecessary will threaten recovery capacity and growth. If going to a Crossfit gym gets you access to trainers and/or motivates you in a way that you can not get elsewhere to get adept at the main barbell lifts then feel free to do that. As soon as you feel comfortable though consider getting out and focusing on strength alone – you will see good changes as a beginner regardless but there comes a point where more focus is needed. No point taking double the length of time to achieve the same thing.

      Barbell training experience for ladies is a requirement. It’s not a “no”, just “not now”. Reasons on the specific reasons for this are listed here.

      • Hi Andy,

        Thanks for getting back to me so quickly.

        I definitely want to focus on the strength training (and spending as little time as possible in the gym!) I just worry that with no previous experience my form won’t be up to scratch. Currently in the process of trying to find a trainer to assist with the set up etc but not having much luck. Hopefully I will get there!

        Do you think it’s possible to start totally from scratch by myself?

        Thanks again,

  16. Hi Andy,

    I have a quick query regarding squats please.

    I have recently switched over to high bar squats as I was getting some elbow pain with the low position and I didn’t feel safe under the weight.

    Whilst the high bar position now feels great and safe as hoses, I cannot get myself ‘out of the hole’. This has happened for 3-4 weeks now. I am almost getting there but not managing it. This happens on 1st and 2nd set of my RPT, 3rd set I manage about 2 reps which is well down on what I was doing.

    I’m on a cut so a bit worried about de-loading, should I carry on battling away or take off a bit of weight? If so, what sort of percentage would you recommend?

    • You’re going to want to decrease the weight Tim until you can get out of the hole. Try sitting back into it a little more to activate the hamstrings and the stretch reflex. There is no set percentage I can give, you have to practice and listen to your body.

  17. Do you think chin ups only RPT style 4 sets 3 times a week would be enough for back and biceps?? Or should I throw in some rows for good meaure

    • Chin-ups get the same amount of bicep activation as curls.
      Regarding the back, are you deadlifting? If so then you’re good.

  18. Hi Andy not sure if anyone has asked this already but, if you don’t have a squat rack or a spotter to help with your squats, whats best to do? As you can only clean a certain amount up to get into a squat position.

    • No squat rack or spotter? Then you’ll need to find an alternative way to train your legs right? That depends on the equipment available, your current training program and your training experience.

  19. Hi Andy!
    I usually workout at home, 6 days a week, mostly because i love working out. My routines for september look something like this:
    Mon – Upperbody
    Tue – Legs
    Wed – Back/biceps
    Thu – Chest/triceps
    Fri – Legs
    Sat – Upperbody

    I like mixing bodyweight with circuit training. My only extra tool are the bars and one dumbbell. Do you think this is a good way to train under the IF approach?

    Thanks in advance, excellent site!

    • IF can be used with most training styles. There are many training styles that work. The training style I recommend is that of the above.

      • But do you think i could still get results with no gym, bodyweight training, 3-4 days a week? I want to get the best approach with IF under my conditions, you know…

        Thank you very much for your help!

  20. Hi Andy. I have been on LG for some time now, and thought it about time to try out the RPT I have heard so much about. Your site and articles have been tremendously helpful and I am really looking forward to getting started, but I feel have to take the opportunity to ask you a question that I have been pondering some time.

    Almost everywhere you find info on LG, RPT and Intermittent fasting in general you are told to drop the cardio. Pronto. And your article’s are no exception. You seem to bash frequently on running and on cardio in general, and that’s because with a good diet and following these routines you don’t need cardio to look good. My question is only: why do I want to be strong in the big 4 movements and look shredded but not be able to run fast or far? Why isn’t it desirable to be able to lift heavy, look amazing AND be a fast runner and have great perseverance in these communities?

  21. I’m just getting over a chest infection and haven’t been exercising which is killing me, can you suggest anything that I could do as I feel I’m putting weight on and losing any muscle mass I have :-S

    • Hi Nick, sorry to hear this.

      When you got sick it often isn’t wise to run a calorie deficit. Calories help with recovery and furthermore, prevent muscle catabolism. In a short time period without a calorie deficit muscle loss will be minimal, but bear in mind your strength may be down temporarily when starting back at the gym.
      Also, weight gain you are experiencing may well be due to an increase in water weight due to increased carb/salt intake.

      So relax, rest and worry only about getting well again.

      • Thanks Andy and quite possibly I did forget where I posted it ;-) I’m feeling a bit better now so have just done some body weight stuff to ease back in. Can’t wait to get back to the UK to get started on my training proper with you.

  22. Andy,
    I don’t have a question, just wanted to thank you for this tremendous and useful compendium of information on LGs (from both the food AND training sides). What you’ve provided is extremely helpful. I also really appreciate your laid-back, don’t-sweat-the-small-stuff approach–it is way too easy to get all worked up (and stuck on) the insignificant.
    Thanks again.

  23. Hi Andy ! I am 5.9 tall, 165 lbs,132 LBM. Squats and deadlifts 1RM=200lbs, bench press 1RM=145lbs.I believe I still have some linear progress left in me. However,I want to get rid of the fat so that I can start leangains effectively, but a 3 day split is too easy and SS/big 3 is too tough. My recovery abilities arent great. Do you think a 2 day split, push+squat and pull, 3 times/week would be better for me? Or should I just follow the big 3->3 day split progression and dont bother with tiring my mind with all the details of putting together a well thought out programm ?

  24. Pingback: When is Cardio a Valid Tool for Fat Loss with Intermittent Fasting? |

  25. Hello Andy
    Happy to be able to ask a question, this time training related.
    Currently on recomp, doing a lighter version of Stronglifts 5×5,mainly 3×5 (less volume)
    Being on recomp, means I’m on a weekly deficit, albeit small one… And from what I remember, no muscle gain can happen during a deficit… Right?
    I either calculated my tdee wrong or something, but I can’t seem to break my plateaus at all, stalled on the squat, deadlift, bench press… Basically all the big 3 from this program.
    What should I do? Increase the tdee by 5 or 10% and therefore up the macros accordingly or change the training program to RPT?

    Kinda desperate here, as months are piling up and my numbers look similar to those in april / May :(

    Thanks very much

    • Hi Alex.
      And from what I remember, no muscle gain can happen during a deficit… Right?
      Wrong. This is especially true of beginners. However more relevant to you is that you’ve stalled, which likely means you aren’t a beginner any more. Consider changing up your program first, before changing up the energy intake.

  26. Hi Andy,
    I have access to gym only once a week. al other days i have access only to pullup and dip bars. what kind of excersises should I choose for a singe gym workout?

  27. Andy, hows it going? Hope all is well.

    I have re-read the articles on training and have a question regarding the choice between military press and barbell bench..

    You say you need only one or the other and I’m leaning in the direction of military press as my gym is lacking benches. Would doing military press with pushups really be enough to maintain/gain in the chest region?

    Also, I understand some people are gaining strength whilst losing weight. Does this make any difference to the muscles of the body (if gaining strength but not growing). Do they become more dense or is strength simply to do with the CNS?

    Thanks Andy


    • Hi Aaron, all good thanks.
      Doesn’t have to be a choice between the two. You’re approaching this from the wrong direction. Do what you need to gain strength in either of these two exercises, the gains will come.
      “Also, I understand some people are gaining strength whilst losing weight.”
      Yes, beginners can, lucky people can. I’ve covered the scenarios many, many times before, just cant find an appropriate link. Perhaps the, 12 weeks, what can you expect to achieve? one has it in there.

  28. “Do as little as needed, not as much as possible”

    Henk Kraaijenhoff (Dutch Olympic coach)

    Says it all!

  29. Hi Andy, Thanks for all your hard work.

    I’m hoping to get some advice on my IF diet. I’ve been doing it for almost 3 weeks now. After the 1st week I was down a kilo and loving it. From Saturday to today I’ve gained back the kilo I lost plus another .4! I am keeping up the protocols – 8hrs eating 16 fast…but I did have a few drinks on Sunday. I was pretty sure I that i stayed within my calorie requirements but this has gotten me frustrated. Is this a normal day to day occurrence? Or could it be my body is rejecting the fast? thanks for your help

  30. Hi andy, hope you’re well

    My question is, for someone with no access to barbell training / posterior chain exercises, do you think dumbell swings are a necessity? If no, how often and how many sets/reps should one aim for. Thanks!!!

    • Hitting the posterior chain is important. Dumbbell/kettlebell swings are one way to hit part of it, but this is not the only way and should not be the only exercise.

  31. Hey Andy,
    I have an imbalance of strength in my upper body causing my main lifts to be imbalanced as my left side is stronger.
    I want to know what training you would recommend?
    Thanks in advance

  32. Hi Andy,

    Just finished my cut with you, and am now transitioning into a slow-bulk (still currently with you).
    I believe you have a copy of my training program.

    During my cut, I was sticking to really low reps (e.g 4-6 top set of chin-ups). Now that I am slow-bulking, I have changed my top set to 6-8 reps on chinups. If the weight I am using (same from the cut) does not allow me to reach my minimum amount of reps (6), would it be wise to lower the weight and hit the minimum on my top set?

    My fear was of losing muscle if I cycle back intensity for the sake of volume.

    • If you can’t reach your minimum then drop the weight so that you can. Staying at that weight when you can’t actually lift it is only kidding yourself. As for the fear of muscle loss, put more focus on your squat and deadlift numbers, and even then it’s all in context of training program, deficit and experience.

    • Try it and see how much you can get for the target number of reps, with good form. Build up slowly of course testing to see how the weight feels and use lower rep numbers. Really though I can tell from your question you need to do the Starting Strength beginners routine outlined on the big 3 page.

  33. Andy,

    I’ve been doing RPT since I started working with you back in November, and I’ve been thrilled with the results. I’m looking to ad some assistance work in for the shoulders, do you think that this is alright to do with RPT, and if so, what exercises would you recommend?

  34. Hi Andy
    Have you ever had anyone follow IF while training gymnastic specific conditioning plan? If so how did it work? If not how do you think it would work or what’s your thoughts?

    • Yes, the principles remain the same. The application really depends on the situation however. Sorry I can’t possibly cover all possibilities in a comment box. If you have a more specific question then go for it.

  35. Hi Andy,

    do you suggest going 100% out on the max 5RM set on SS or should the max set be something of 90% what you’re able to lift?
    Andy Bolton is f.ex. training much below what he’s capable of and when it comes to championships, he goes for the 100% (or even more ;-))


    • SS is 5 sets of 5 reps, generally so there won’t be any maxes. Just keep reading buddy. And don’t make the mistake of mixing the advice of one coach and another. SS is Rippetoe’s routine. If you have specific questions concerning it then check out his forum or sswiki.

  36. Training RPT to “failure” during a long cut, e.g. +12 weeks. Should one incorporate deloads during said scenario, or not? If yes, how? If no, how to prevent overtraining?

    Personally I train using the 5/3/1 style, both when cutting and when bulking. I usually skip volume work and deload week when cutting, but I am much more conservative with increasing the weights. I feel the sub maximal two first weeks keeps me fresh, but they still are heavy enough to maintain strength/muscle.
    What is your thought on this Andy?

  37. Pingback: Here We Go | NewbGains

  38. Hey Andy, must say it’s hugely helpful and I aswell as others I’m sure are hugely grateful not only for the website, but the time youre taking to answer each one of our questions!

    On the topic of training, I have no access to a gym but train gymnastics sort of training or ‘street workout’ (just basically calisthenics) in my garden as I have a pullup and dip bars.

    What do you think of instead of having a programme just training insticntively, 3x a week not till failure?

      • Thanks! It’s the same as the other workout routine 5×5 principles. Will try to look on my results on 12 weeks after reading your page and following your FB group for a week. Currently been doing it religiously for a week, down to 11 week more. Hoping for a better result.
        Honestly, before on the months of Jan-Feb span I was doing the 16/8 but just hitting my macros and/or the not doing the right carbs cycling method so literally I am not doing it right that’s why I am seeing minimal gains.
        Thanks again!

  39. Hey Andy, got a question (though in the mean time… Yellowknife Canada was RIDICULOUSLY cold. Will have some photos for you the next time we chat!)

    Question is for medium to medium/strenuous hiking trips (4-5 hours roundtrip) as well as longer distance trips (8-12 hours roundtrip), both at a good enough pace that I’d be sweating.

    Would you count cardio macros on those days (average between training and rest day) or just stick to rest day macros? (Would not be doing these hikes on a training day).

  40. Do you have feelings on 5/3/1 and how it relates to IF? I’ve been on RPT for over a year and I’m nearing the end of a cut. I was looking for a bit more volume once I begin a slow-bulk. Or do you recommend continuing with RPT and adding in some extra accessory work?

  41. Pingback: What makes a good diet coach? |

  42. Pingback: The Unsung Value of Strength |

  43. Yo Andy,
    I’m trying to figure out my macros for training and off days. I weigh 188 at 6’2 and my gym said im around 13-15% BF..I came up with training day macros at about 205g for carbs and protein, with fat at about 45g or no more than 50g. Since rest days are higher fat and lower carbs…What should be my intake for both ?

  44. Hello Andy, you did a great work with the site!!!

    I have only one question for you and is about training frequency.
    According to Lyle Mcdonald some very important factors in training for muscle growth are Progressive overload, Training Frequency and Recovery.
    Lyle recommends to train each body part twice or at least every 5 days to increase gene expression and protein synthesis, and ore repetition short of failure for better recovery.

    I know that RPT routine is very good on recovery and progressive overload but what about gene expression and protein synthesis?
    The question is about intermediates and advanced trainers.

    Thanks, Chris

    • Lyle has a bodybuilding style approach, mine follows more closely with the powerlifting principles of Rippetoe and the like. Both clearly work but on balance I prefer the latter which is why I introduce it on this site. Choose one was, stick with it. Mixing and matching is a sure way to run round in circles.

  45. is RPT only suitable for experienced strength lifters?
    I have worked myself silly in Cross-fit, I can push myself very hard, etc. But I am new to pure strength training. in terms of dread for the next session (through muscle fatigue), I can certainly get to that point and continue.

    But as I said, I am new to pure strength training. Perhaps the Big 3 or SS?

    a little unsure.


  46. Hey Andy,

    I went to a chiropractor who evaluated my lower back injury. He said it wasn’t serious and felt my recovery should be relatively quick (1-2 weeks, continuing workouts at lower weight). That’s the good news. However, in the meantime, my lower back still hurts when performing squats and deads. Today was my squat routine and I only felt comfortable performing them at 250×6 vs. my usual 330×6, which is a significant reduction in intensity. Considering I’m on a cut, do I need to change anything in my diet, or otherwise? I know on a cut, less intensity equals muscle loss. I don’t want to lose a lot of strength while I’m healing. I’m hoping by my next squat session, I’ll be within 10-15% less than my best weight, but if not, is there anything I can do to minimize catabolism? Thanks again man!


  47. Hi andy great info on this site been a great help!! When training and doing the IF, whats an easier way to explain macros? And when eating at your certain times could you use just a pure protein shake if say u don’t have the time so you don’t mess up one of ur meals so you have it at the same time everyday? I looked at the big 3 and compound is the best way to build mass and strength, I know you gain good abs from this but what about ur biceps they stil grow too and like ur trapezius and that etc Thanks daniel

    • “When training and doing the IF, whats an easier way to explain macros?”
      Very loosely:
      Training days: eat lots of meat, veg and carbs. Eat past your usual hunger point.
      Rest days: eat lots of meat and veg. Fattier meats are fine. Stay a little big hungry.

    • Can you do 3 x your bodyweight in deadlift?
      Can you do 10 chinups with extra 10% of your bodyweight?
      If no, dont spend your energy and time thinking about biceps growth. When you can do these lifts, your biceps and traps will not lack size, believe me.

        • Hi Andy thanks for the reply, can you eat anything other than vegetables with the lean meat on the rest days? Some people I know use shakes cud that be ok to hav some sufficientness out of it? So i just keep doing warm up sets and go up in percent of my strongest weight and once done that do a rpt of that is that right? Or do u just do 5 sets of each squats, deadlifts, bench press, dips and pull ups every session? Thanks daniel

            • Thanks Andy, so just the 5 exercises everyday in the same session 3 days a week, but just do 5 straight sets say of 8-10 reps on same weight and eventually keep increasing? If I can’t as a pull up bar on the day I train if I train at home instead any other exercise I cud do? Thanks again Daniel

            • Yeah I did miss a few things thanks, so just the chin ups what exercise can I do if I can’t use a pull up bar or pull down machine? Thanks daniel

            • Depends on the context of the program and what you have available. Cause there are many ways to work around that but nothing quite exactly the same as that action. It’s not the end of the world mate, throw on other back work. Or find a nice tree.

            • Thanks again mate, I was thinking rear delts or bent over rows, I trained Tuesday light so wudnt cripple myself lol and I’m gonna train again Friday and then 3 days a week next week if I’m stil telly aching should I train again tomorrow? Thanks Daniel

  48. Hi Andy, love the site. Clearly laid out, concise info, exactly what I need. Would appreciate it if you could answer a few questions, I’ll keep them brief (!!)

    I’m on a cut as per the guidelines on the site
    Mon – Squat/Bench/Chins Weds – Deads/OHP/Row Fri – Squat/Bench/Chins

    1.) Is RPT suited to full body training three times per week? You/Martin Berkhan mention that its best suited to a split training approach, but my lifts/strength aren’t currently high enough to warrant switching to split training (in my opinion, i’m stil a beginner) However, RPT seems to be the most recommended way to effectively train whilst cutting. Confused!!!

    2.) I’ve read that regularly training to failure is bad for your CNS – from what i understand, RPT calls for you to regularly push yourself to this level. Is this optimal?

    3.) Do you recommend my current 5RM as my starting point for RPT? For example, if my squat 5RM is 85kg, do i start with that as my top set and aim to increase reps/weight?

    4.) If i struggle to increase weight due to calorie deficit, is pounding away at 85kg each time i squat the right thing to do? Is it worth increasing the weight if it means i can only do 2 decent reps?

    5.) I know low volume is required for a cut, but how low can this go ? If i can deadlift 150kg once, is that a worthwhile top set?

    Thanks so much in advance Andy. You’ve managed to take the BS out of training and nutrition. I t can be such a headf**k trying to decide what programme to follow etc.

    Cheers mate, Steve

    • Steve, thanks for the comment. Isn’t brief though as you said.
      1. Depends on lifting status. Keep reading the rest of the training articles.
      2. Failure in this instance means when you can’t get another complete rep with good form and you stop at that point. Different to actually failing mid-rep. Anything you find on the net will have another person saying something conflicting. If you stress that you’ll get nowhere in a hurry.
      3. See “1″.
      4. See “1″.
      5. See “1″.
      It can also be a “head**k”* – as you so politely phrase it – to get questions about things which I have taken the time to write about, not hidden away, but in articles that are clearly linked to in BOLD at the end of the article you have just read. *Boggles my mind I mean.

      • Cheers Andy, fair play, on reflection not a brief request. And no impoliteness intended with my use of language, just an expression that perfectly sums up the amount of conflicting info & opinions out there on the net.

        I did spend time reading the articles but obviously missed the info i needed. I will take a closer look. I can imagine its frustrating spending your time writing these articles to then get bombarded my people (like me) with repetitive questions demanding everything on a plate! Didn’t intend to join that group of people, i blame my OCD tendencies.

        Thanks for your time, Steve

  49. By the way, your site is so much easier to read and follow than the other main ‘IF’ sites on the web. This is the site i recommend to people who are new to the whole approach. Cheers, Phil

  50. Hi Andy,

    I need your help again please mate!! I took your advice and had a diet break which left me feeling energised and refreshed (i noticed how much better i slept during this period, kinda odd?). I now want to hit a 8-12 week cut, get lean and then move towards a slow bulk as Summer approaches.

    I’m happy with diet/nutrition, you’ve given me plenty of good advice on that front. But it’s not clear in my mind how to approach training – i want to choose the most effective plan and stick to it without second guessing. I’m happy with exercise selection and understand the need for low volume training whilst on a deficit, but i’m not clear on set/rep structure.

    After several months of RPT, i feel like i need a change. My strength hasn’t grown a huge amount, so my lifts aren’t huge (not expecting big gains on a deficit). I feel until i build more strength, a split routine is pointless. I like minimal training – three total body workouts each week based on compound exercises : one lower body / one push / one pull.
    1.) Do you think a 5×5 rep/set structure is suitable for a cut?
    2.) Is training at your near-maximum (RPT style) too much stress for your system whilst on a deficit?
    3.) How many work sets do you think is optimal whilst cutting?
    4.) Thinking of trying this routine, would this be suited to a cut,or need adapting? (i know it’s listed as a bulk routine but thats more down to nutrition is it not?)

    Really appreciate your time Andy, wanna be hitting you up with some good results photos in 12 weeks time!!

    Cheers mate, Phil

    • You probably aren’t getting anywhere with your lifts because you are cutting Phil. Simple as that. You’re past the beginner stage when simultaneous fat loss and muscle gain is possible, have plateaued and just need to work to maintain your strength through the cut.

  51. Hello Andy,
    Thanks for a great site!!!!

    Having a question which I’m thinking about and thought i might see what your opinions are on the matter :)

    I’ve been following this setup since i found LG with good results.
    A: Deadlift, Weighted chins
    B: Bench, Pushups
    C: Squat, Press

    However, my shoulder-problems made me ditch the press a few weeks ago.
    I am now thinking about my setup and specifically the “C” routine.
    I feel like i want to keep doing something more than only Squats, but not the press.

    What might be suitable there? Any thought?

    Thank you!

    • Dips? I’m guessing it’s the overhead action that’s causing the pain. Really depends on what is causing the shoulder issue. Changing training isn’t really the solution long term, you need to find out what’s wrong from a professional.
      Further, never add something in just cause you feel like it, always do is as part of a strategic decision cause you need to do it as part of the overall plan.

      • Andy,

        How does this workout look? Sufficient or too much volume?

        Workout A
        Deadlift RPT 4-6 x2
        Chins RPT 6-10 x3
        Bb curls 10 x2

        Workout B
        Front Squat 10-15 x3
        RDL- 10-15 x3
        Incline DB press/push-up superset x3 to failure

        Workout C
        Low Back Squat RPT 5-8 x3
        Pull ups- BW to failure x3

        * Each workout done every 3rd day

        The reason for this is I am trying to limit my upper body pressing and overhead work but keeping workouts intense. I have a overworked rotator cuff (superstaciois).

      • Thanks Andy!
        I’m going to dry dips!
        Can i ask as a followup on that, in general would you recommend to do that RPT weighted dips? Or is it to much with 2 days/week of pressing movements with RPT?

        Well, I just wanted to see what your opinions were and if you had some tips for alternative “good”, “none fuckarounditis” options that i could try out. I know you can’t give advice specific to me but just some general sort of opinion.
        Changing training is unfortunately the only solution for me.
        I should’ve explained better. I basically followed an RPT 3d/w i read about on LG with very good results. So my “feeling” is that i would like to keep the same basic setup with 1 more thing after the squat, hence keeping kind of the same strategy. Just wanted to make sure i dont add something retarded to replace the press :P

        My shoulder, yea it’s messed up, i’ve got it checked up multiple times, 2 surgeries, years of rehab, etc. But i worked hard so it’s ok for most parts, except heavy overhead it seems.

        Also thought about this today, in case dips would be not working:
        A: Deads, W chins
        B: Bench, Incline DB Bench
        C: Squat, diamond pushups.

        Switching diamonds to C, adding DB incline to Bench-day instead.
        Or would you say in general that one day of pressing movements is better/sufficient/enough?


  52. Hi Andy, I have successfully found my maintenance macros and am starting a recomp. I have one final question though about my training

    As I hav a bad back, whilst this is being sorted I am unable to squat and dead and I simply preefer weighted dips to bench press Would this routine be good for a recomp:

    Weighted dips 3 sets RPT

    Weighted chins 3 sets RPT

    Leg Press 3 sets RPT

    then maybe some shrugs or upright rows at the end for my traps/shoulders.

    And to do this Monday/Wednesday/Friday?


    • You would probably need more volume and more posterior chain work. However the specifics depend on the nature of the injury and you’ll need to see a specialist sports doc/physio about that and the limitations specifically for your case.

  53. Hi Andy. This is my first visit to your site, which a friend recommended to me. I’m very excited to try this out, as I’m looking into becoming a fitness model :)

    I’m just curious as to how cardio factors into this training regimen – I very much enjoy going for runs (usually 3-4 miles) about once per week. Will this effect the training schedule I should set up for myself? Like, should I set my cardio day to be a specific day (training day or rest day)?

    Thanks for your time, and for putting all of this awesome info together!

  54. Hi Andy. I’ve been following your site for almost a year now, and it’s been going well for me. In fact, it’s been going so well that my mother–having seen the positive changes in my body/strength–has been following the program herself! I have a question for her…

    She can Squat 65lbs and Deadlift 95lbs, so RPT’ing is an option for those, you think? The bench press and/or military/shoulder press have been problems for her since the bar is about all she can do, if even. She’s cutting, so strength gains aren’t really an option.

    You have any suggestions? Thanks so much for your knowledge!

  55. I feel using only squat, deads and bench doesnt balance it out, I mean, you should have atleast 1 rowing exercise, or else you are proned for forward rotated shoulders. Whats your thought Andy?

    • These main three exercises provide enough stimulation to build a big, strong and balanced body for most healthy people. If you already have anteriorly rotated shoulders then that is of course something that needs to be addressed.

      • What is your opinion on the Power Clean on alternate days to Deads? ah la Starting Strength. A good option or is it better to focus your energy just on your Deadlift?

        • It’s an excellent exercise, but technical. It will make you more powerful without necessarily being stronger. More athletic if you like. If you don’t have someone to coach you/check your form and you lack confidence then don’t do it. If a person is cutting and they are new to the exercise then it’s better to wait till the slow bulk. If a person is cutting and they are new to barbells then they need to worry about the big 3 first in my opinion.

  56. Pingback: How to Lose Weight Fast: Just the Facts, Without the Fiction — Weight Loss Ninja

  57. How important is it to train at the same time every training day? Is it all right to switch it up and train in the afternoon rather than morning?

  58. Hey Andy – After 3 years of P90x I switched to a Big 3, then 3 day split workout over the last few months. I love the results. My only problem now is that my rotator cuff/shoulder feels kinda pinched on both sides (a problem I never had on P90x). I got my form checked by a powerlifting coach, and my lifts are going up, but the pain is still looming and I don’t want it to get worse. Do you recommend some light stablilizing isolation exercises (shoulder raises, turnouts, etc) as part of warmup on bench and press days? Thanks in advance for your help.

  59. Hello, following the program (Three day Split RPT) do you not recommend to do incline bench press then? I always get told its the one you should do, over flat if you’re going to pick one.

    I am having issues with my bench press grip width, could you give me some small guideline, i’m around 5’6 and not sure how far my arms should be apart – I have an olympic bar, some people say pinky in the smooth rings of the rough area, others say index etc, any advice?


  60. Pingback: What is the Value of an Online Diet Coach? |

  61. Hi Andy!

    In “Beyond Brawn” there are a lot of praise for “cycling” your training: making, say, each 6 months a cycle during which you have a phase when you “get back” to you max and then push beyond your limits until you stop progressing or reach your targeted strength. Then you take it as a new level and repeat the cycle, and so on).

    What are your thoughts on it? Are you using this “one step back, two steps forward” approach?

        • Andy,
          I’m coming off a 3 day RPT split cut post SS. As I switch into a recomp diet I was thinking about trying a HIT routine such as

          Breathing squats
          Rest 5 min
          2 sets of pull ups to failure with 2 minute rest
          1 set of lunges to failure

          Bench press 6-8
          Superset w/ push-ups to failure
          Rest 2 min
          Bench press 4-6
          Rest 3 min
          Superset with push-ups to failure
          Rest 3 min
          2 sets up BW dips o failure with 2minutes rests

          Deadlifts 20 rep range and gradually add weight a lower reps and weight every week
          Rest 3 min
          BW chins to failure x2 w/ 2 minutes rest

          These workouts are done every 3rd day

          Is this a good or should I just stick to RPT spilt and add some accessories from cut routine?

  62. Hi, I have simpe question, the yoga practice that I do is really tough with a lot of bodyweight excercises. The next day i am sored… can i keep up with this 3 day routine? Can you share your thoughts?

  63. what are your thought on using straps for deadlifts? it would allow for more weight to be lifted, but takes the hands and wrists out of the equation?

    some people say yay, some nay. what do you normally recommend your clients?

  64. hi andy,

    another quick question, which i haven’t been able to find the answer to (though it might be my own e-blindness), but what is your feeling on taking a week off from training? traditionally that has been what was taught, to allow muscles to fully recover. do you hold to that theory? and if so, how does that affect one’s leangains style diet? if you don’t train for a week, do you simply eat rest day meals for a week?

    thanks in advance,

    • Sure that can help people. I’d do that when eating at maintenance, a diet break perhaps. Not in a consistent calorie deficit as you’re just risking muscle loss. Slight deficit is fine.

  65. Pingback: Intermittent Fasting: The Exhaustive, Enormously Comprehensive Ultimate Guide

  66. Pingback: Weight lifting? - Page 2 | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page 2

  67. Hi Andy

    I echo the comments of most people on here. You have a cracking blog with great info and no sales bull. I can’t tell you how much this is worth!

    I’m coming into this from a different angle to most. I’ve been working out for around 20 years. I’ll not bore you with my life story but I somehow fell out of shape in 2011 and then was kind of sucked into the vortex of branded home training workouts. In terms of getting back into shape they worked to be fair. However, we all know they are not optimal and the companies want you to workout 5/6 times per day to ensure you take more of their bundled supplements etc.

    So, coming off the back of this my capacity for training is expansive. I’ve devised the following routine; (all RPT)

    Tues: Deadlift, bent over rows, weighted chins, barbell curls.
    Thurs: Bench press, incline db press, military press, tricep rope pushdown
    Sat: Squat, hamstring curl, standing calf raise, seated calf raise

    I perform each workout in or under an hour and it seems to hit me hard. I’m making some decent progress after a few weeks. Nutrition wise I’m training fasted at 5am with BCAAs and creatine, eating window 12-8pm, cycling calories/ratios as you suggest on training/non training days. I’m throwing in the odd 24 hour fast if I’ve had a weekend of carnage.

    I’m 6.1 ft, 183 lbs with around 170 lbm. I have some Warrior calipers which say I’m around 6% bf but they are generous! I think I’m at around 8-9% bf. I’m thinking of doing a year long slow bulk in 2013.

    How does this look to you? Is there anything you would tailor in there? Any specific tips based on my info would be greatly appreciated.

    Kind Regards

    • Simon, firstly thanks for the compliments.
      What you are asking me is rather vague. The answer is of course, “it depends.” Nothing seems wrong in particular, but if you’ve had a layoff from using the barbells then you’d probably benefit from doing the big three, or at least squatting every day for now, especially as you’re looking to bulk.
      If you’re a true 6% then you know it, cause there is nothing left to grab from anywhere except your perhaps your arse cheeks. Phil is probably the only person on this site that is pictured at 6%. Have a look to compare.

  68. Hi Andy,

    Yesterday I trained the big 3 and after the training my back was very sore. I couldn’t turn in bed because of the muscleache. Could there be a relationship with recoverytime (train on mondays and thursdays the big 3) and the backpain? Cause a few Weeks ago also my shouldermuscles were sore from the benchpress and with sore I mean real pain. I’m afraid this will interfere with my trainingregime because the next training I can not go to the max.

    Ps You’re doing a great job here!

    • Could be several things Styn.
      1. New workout therefore very sore. –> Push through it.
      2. Deficit too low to recover from workouts. –> Eat more.
      3. Advanced individual needing more rest. –> Reduce volume by either having more rest days, less working sets, a re-jig of the exercise split across your week.
      4. Lack of stretching and foam rolling. —> Do it.
      5. Poor form.

      • Hi Andy,

        My gut feeling says I should stick to your points 4 and 5. Is it a problem (in relation to diet results) to decrease weight in order to perfect the form? Should I stretch after every set or after the whole workout?

        • Andy,

          Coming off SS and starting cut. Here’s my program..

          Mon- Deads RPT, Chins RPT
          Wed- Bench RPT, Dips, Calf Raise
          Fri- Squats RPT, Press RPT

          I assume that this should be efficient for a cut and I will add some more accessory work when I go into recomp at end of month. But one question I do have; Is it ok to have my workouts strictly press or pull, or would it be better to combine push/pull within same workout day? Also how can I make my Wednesday workout more functional in terms of full body? All info is greatly appreciated :)


          • Your goal is to maintain your muscle mass while cutting. You can best do that by prioritizing the maintenance of strength. There are any number of routines you can use to do that so don’t kid yourself that there is one perfect one.

  69. Hey Andy!

    Im on a slow bulk doing an A+B split (squats, deads, press, dips and chins) and was wondering if you have noticed a difference in body composition in your clients that have done a bulk with RPT reps vs 3×5??

    • The most important thing is the destination (stronger and bigger) not the road taken to get there (specific rep scheme). Choose what works best for you, there are individual differences.

      • Cool. I might give RPT a go for a couple of months and see if I get better/different results. The workouts certainly feel more intense, but my body doesn’t feel as sore in general. I think that doing RPT will extend the time I can spend squatting 3 times a week.

  70. Hi Andy,

    What is your opinion on the push/pull/legs style of 3 day split?

    I am kind of between a beginner and intermediate at this stage and don’t think I can get away with training the big 3 3x a week.

    Thanks in advance,

  71. Hi Andy,

    You mentioned above that you shouldn’t do Starting Strength on a cut but how about on a recomp? I’ve been lifting for the past 6 months but nothing serious so have decided to go on an IF recomp of +/- 20% for training and non-training days and implement starting strength.

    Thanks in advance!

  72. Pingback: Patience: A Key Tool for Diet Success |

  73. Pingback: Look Like a GODDESS — Intermittent Fasting |

  74. Andy, love the website and am making progress on your “program”. My question is how can I encourage my parents (in their early 70s) to practise strength training? They go to the gym regularly but this consists of mostly brisk walks on the treadmill and maybe some light dumbell curls. As they’re getting on in age I feel it’s even more important for them to preserve/gain muscle. My grandma gets broken bones from falls several times and I don’t want the same fate for my parents as a result of being physically weak. To get them on a regular resistance program could be the best “gift” I can give them.

    I think they’re a bit brainwashed thinking that weight training is “dangerous” for someone their age. But they’re quite spry and look at least 10 years younger than they are. I’m sure you’re confronted with having to overcome psychological barriers all the time dealing with women in Japan (and it’s not always about just supplying the science to them). I feel if I don’t broach the subject appropriately they will dismiss it out of hand. Any advice? (BTW we live in different countries).

  75. Do you know of any modification exercises that I can do instead of the military press or bench press? I have had an injured rotator cuff since I was 10 and it never healed properly and thus I find it very difficult to do these exercises without risking damaging it again. Thanks.

  76. Hey Andy. I kinda need your help in this. I’m starting school pretty soon and looking at the timetable, it’s kinda bad.

    Monday 9am-7pm
    Tuesday 9am-6pm
    Wednesday 9am-5pm
    Thursday 12pm-4pm
    Friday 8am-6pm.

    Do you have any suggestion for the timing to do my exercise?

    Secondly, is it normal for me to keep the weight range with a difference of +/- 5kg? I can only lift in the 20s range and whenever I do that, it felt like I am pushing to my limit just to complete. Should I reduce the weight or increase it?

    I’ve read somewhere that a barbell you purchased off the net could be much more lighter as compared to the one in the gym. Is it true? Because I’m exercising at home as I have a barbell lying around my house.

    • Tirmuzi, that’t not a bad schedule, you need to get things in perspective. Either early morning training or evenings, both are fine.

      Lift as much as you can with good form. Increase weight in increments that your strength adaptations can manage.

      A standard olympic bar and power bar that you will find in most commercial gyms is 20kgs. They are expensive, so there’s lots of lighter, cheap bars on the market for home gym people. If the bar you bought was new and cheap then it’s likely not a standard weight bar.

  77. Hi Andy,
    First i just want to say “Thank you, Thank you, Thank you so much” for such an awesome and simple program. I’ve been following it for about 3 weeks now and its amazing the changes i see in my physique. My belly has reduced and my arms and shoulders are much more defined. Per the macros that you have given me, i have more food that i can possibly eat and that’s the area that i’m still not able to do 100% yet as i get too full but my body is slowly adapting to the change and its getting better every day.

    I really like this program because i feel like i’m learning so much about my body. For instance on Training days when i’m not eating my required carb macros (because i’m stuffed)..then the following days i’m tired and not recovered properly. I was focused on eating my protein macros and thought that its ok if i’m too full to not eat the carbs but now i realize how important the balance of carbs, proteins and fat is.

    Ok so now i have a question….last week i took a really hard fall on my back while indoor bouldering and was out of work all week because i could not even sit for 20 minutes without shooting pain. I went to the gym this weekend and tried to deadlift and again..the shooting pain came back. So i went to the urgent care and got some x-rays taken and was told that my back muscles are really inflamed and the doctor told me “no lifting or rock climbing for 1 week, no bending or twisting the spine”. He said to give it rest so that it can heel. I talked to my training coach and he advised the same. So in this situation (when i’m not training)…should i just eat my “Rest Day” macros until i can return to weight training?

    Thanks so much Andy.


    p.s…did i mention what a relief it is not to count/track calories anymore…now i spend all that extra time looking a videos on correct deadlift form :)

    p.s.s…sorry for the long comment.

    • Hi Anjana, I appreciate your enthusiasm, but please remember what I said about water weight fluctuations with your monthly cycle. Thus, we can only compare data points 4 weeks apart. See the macros main FAQ for your answer that.

  78. Hi Andy,
    Thanks very much for fascinating website, with a great breadth of resource. I’ve been researching IF and I’m dabbling with it. I do find one aspect quite unusual, your advocating [relatively] low levels (quantity) of resistance training. Can you explain the logic behind ‘less is more’?

    Thanks again for great website.


  79. Hi Andy,

    First of all congrats and thank you for your very informative and helpful page. You are suggesting 3 workouts a week pared with lean gains. I´m playing soccer on Wednesdays (2 hour practice) and Sundays (game) and I´m on a 4 day split workout routine and will start with Visual Impact after I dropped to 10% body fat (currently 12%), which would continue to be a 4 day split.

    How would you cycle the calories for cutting and slow bulk (for Visual Impact)? Currently (cutting) I´m on calorie surplus on Monday (workout day), Tuesday (workout), Thursday (workout), Friday (workout) and on a defict on Wednesday (soccer practice), Saturday (off) and Sunday (Game).

    Would you change or keep it this way?

  80. Hi Andy,
    I’m following the workout split we agreed a few months back (3x week, bench, leg press, press, pulldown and KB swings) but I wanted to check your opinion on how to do a couple of different things:
    - I like the idea of sprint work (as Jason Ferruggia advocates them to be used)
    - I’d also like to do some bodyweight exercises, particularly working up to things like handstands, pistol squats, etc.

    My question is how to fit them into the training without messing up what’s working. Should I do them over the weekend when I’m usually resting? Before or after the usual workouts? Should I keep leg work separate than sprints? And finally, if they are done on a separate day, should I use training macros for that day?

    I don’t need to change anything, but I’d like to practice some of these skills and get my stamina up for things like football, so it would be helpful to hear your thoughts on it.

    • When cutting, barebones simple is best. When in a calorie surplus you have many options. If you’re bored feel free to changes things. But choose a program and stick to it.

  81. Andy,

    I have been on a 10 week bulk using a RPT Split. Strength gains have been sufficient except I seem to be making incremental increases in bench, almost close to a plataeu. I will be taking a much needed week off to deload (Since I jumped into current bulk from a 8 week recomp) and plan on going back into a 10-week bulk to gain some more weight since I only put on 3 pounds (mis calculated maintence as it seems it has skyrocketed along with my strength and volume of lifts). Anyway, when I start back up with my bulk should I continue RPT Split or switch it up a bit. I figure switching it up would help be benefit in strength and I was up in the air about either going with a Rippetoe SS program (2 day split- ABA BAB) or a Beyond Brawn workout routine (again ABA BAB). Which one would I benefit more at my training level as well as in terms of bulking using leangains methods. I really want to try SS but am weary because it would be having me squat every workout which seems like a complete contradiction to Beyond Brawn. Which do you recommend? Current workout and stats below:
    Mon- Squat RPT, OH Press RPT, calf work
    Wed- Bench RPT, Dips RPT, OH Extensions
    Fri- Deads RPT, Chins RPT, Bent Over Rows or BB Curls
    Bench- 185X6 Squat- 205X6 Deads 235X6 Chins BW+55X6 Dips- BW+70X6
    Age- 26 BW- 153LBS Height- 5′ 10″ BF 10-11%

      • Thanks Andy,

        Due to being only 155 at 5 10 I think I will jump into a SS program for 3-4 months with a calorie surplus for sure. This way I can get strength and weight up for when I cut/recomp in January, giving me that necessary foundation. Though, I do have one question regarding SS. Would it make all that difference if I swapped out power cleans with Bent over rows? I cant seem to decide which exercise would be better for my goals. I am only training for aesthetic purposes and have no athletic goals in mind. What is your opinion on this subject?

        • Mark answered this himself for you in this article. Given that it’s his system you’re following I’d follow his advice. But I’ll post here anyway:

          “My opinion about barbell rows is as follows: fuck barbell rows. Really. Fuck them. Stop wasting time worrying about barbell rows and get your deadlift up to 500. By then you’ll have your own opinion and you won’t have to worry about mine.”

  82. Hi Andy, Do you recommend doing any extra isolation exercises at all for muscle groups such as lats or triceps? Maybe Ive become too accustomed to include these into my own routine that I am finding it hard to drop them.
    My 3 day split consists of 5-6 exercises per day whilst on the cut diet.
    I would really appreciate your advise on the exercises above.
    Many Thanks

  83. I am participating in a 10 mile obstacle course in September – Tough Mudder. It requires a bit of good cardio health so I’m wondering what you recommend to someone like me? I realize cardio isn’t required to be lean but is it necessary to be able to do cardio? I could dump it after the event if you think I should do it now for the event – but I’m curious what your thoughts are. Gracias.

  84. Andy,

    What do you recommend for a Deadlift substitute as my lower back heals?

    Thanks man! (and sorry again for trying to bendthe rules – I promise I didn’t mean to!)

    • All of the following are “if you can”/ “if your physio says it’s ok”: Weighted chin-ups, Cable Rows, Dumbbell Swings, Bret Contreras Hip Thrusts, Good Mornings.

  85. This is a very helpful article for me, thanks Andy. I’m going to put together a routine based off The Big 3 or the the Split you describe above and start it on my next cycle.

    By the way, this made me laugh… a couple times…

    “But be warned, people have been known to spontaneously start slapping themselves for wasting all those hours they spent on the treadmill”

  86. Hey Andy, one more quick (hopefully last) question!

    I’ve been doing Leangains for a week with the Big 3 workout. My legs have been sore, my triceps have been sore, my abs have been sore, back has been sore, everything has been sore except my biceps!

    I know measuring “soreness” doesn’t determine the quality of the workout but I don’t feel like my biceps are really being worked at all.

    Would adding something like bicep curls be effective? Or should I just keep doing the big 3 until I I feel confident enough to move on to the 3 day split.


  87. Hi Andy,

    What is your thought on explosive training? (ie clapping push up/ high jump etc in a circuit style). For a young man (19) like me, would that be beneficial for strength gain, given that im currently doing Starting Strength and Leangains. I know it may sound silly but many people say 12% for a young, new trainee like me, going for a cut -20/+10 is a waste of potential. I’m not really sure and want to hear your thoughts.

    Thank you.

    • That depends on if you’re a weak 12% or a big strong 12%. For someone that’s 19 I’d guess you’re at the former, which means you’ll benefit from getting bigger. Eat more to build more to look leaner at the same bf%. If you have barbells and are doing Starting Strength then don’t screw with Rip’s program. It works.

  88. Hey Andy,
    I work out about 5-6 times per week–typically I do back/bis, chest/tris, shoulders, and legs. However I really do neglect my legs. Which training program would you recommend since I don’t have much experience with squats and deadlifts. I’m looking to tone up and cut stomach fat. Any advice would be great.

  89. Andy,

    Not sure if this sounds strange, but have any clients when discussing their goals mentioned that they would prefer to get “cut” but not grow in size, i.e. get ripped with as little mass added as possible? If so, how does your macro/training advice differ ?

    • By the time a person is at the point they can seriously consider that they don’t want any more muscle mass the problem takes care of itself naturally. -Advanced lifters do not gain muscle while cutting. What is much more likely is that the person has overestimated how much of their arm size is muscle and how much is fat.
      -Whichever it is I am quick to tell people that apply for a consultation with a prediction of progress.

      The only exception among clients so far is fighters trying to get into a lower weight class for a competitive advantage. -Or a shredded weight-class athlete generally.

  90. Andy,

    I would consider myself a beginner lifter, only because I layed off the weights for two years because of lower back injury. Finally healthy again to incorporate squats and deads into my routine. I was wondering if my workout routine below was sufficient or if I am doing too much. Here are my stats:
    153lbs (160 Goal)*
    10-11%BF (Below 10% Goal)*
    *Goals based on end of year (Dec 2012)

    Squat- 5×195 lbs
    Dead- 5X225lbs
    Bench- 4-5X185lbs
    Press- 5X95lbs
    Dips- 5XBW+80lbs
    Chins- 5X55lbs

    Day A
    Squat 3X5,6,7 RPT
    Press 2-3X5,6,7 RPT
    Calf Work (Skinny calves!!)

    Day B
    Bench 3×5,6,7 RPT
    Dips 2-3X5,6,7 RPT

    Day C
    Deads- 3×5,6,7 RPT
    Chins- 2-3×5,6,7 RPT
    Calf Work (Skinny calves!!)

    ***Should I nix dips and press or continue to incorporate as long as I am making gains? My goal of course is to lean bulk

    Also a few quick questions on diet…

    ***I currently workout fasted 10g BCAA and was wondering if I would benefit more with a fed workout?. Note: I currently limit my days to 2-3 meals a day so I would most likely have only one pre-workout meal.

    ***Would keeping my carbs below 75g on off days prevent me from gaining weight and strength?.

    BTW here are my macros
    WO Day – 3000 Cal 425C/30F/235P
    Rest Day- 1900 Cal 70C/80F/235P

    One last diet question….

    ***My PWO meal is always around 1750Cals with 300g of carbs (80% Glucose), 125 g protein, and minimal fat. Am I over eating or is that sufficient for my size and weight? Also if I switch to a fed workout can I keep that meal the same size?

    ******BTW, thanks for the wonderful advice you have supplied to the LG community. Good Karma is all I got to say!!


    • JK please break long things like this into separate comments on different posts in future if you would like a response. This is very hard to respond to.
      1. It depends on if you’re seeing results.
      2. That will depend on you. Try both fed and fasted.
      3. That would depend entirely on the other macros for the day, which would then in turn need to be considered in context of the training day, which is a complicated way of saying: “It depends on your overall calorie intake vs expenditure for the week +calorie partitioning factor X”
      4. I don’t have time to comment on an individual’s macros. -This is mentioned on the macros post.

  91. Andy, correct me if I’m wrong but I thought I recall reading somewhere on your site that if you are doing any lifts other than the big 3, you should use SS guidelines for reps/sets, as opposed to RPT. If that’s correct, what is your reasoning behind this thinking?

  92. Hi Andy,

    Have you noticed a decrease in flexibility in yourself or your clients as strength increases? Is that something that can happen, or am I imagining it? I ask this because lately I’ve been having problems with squatting. Specifically, taking the normal grip width I am accustomed to AND having the bar in the correct low bar squat position on my back has become quite uncomfortable. I decided it would be wise to stop squatting until I can address this issue, as I wish to avoid causing myself an injury. Do you have any advice or commentary you can offer me? Thank you.

    • Training does not decrease flexibility except in the short-term immediately post-workout. If anything it can enhance it. Google is your friend on this one.

  93. Hi Andy, hope your well. I wanted to get your thoughts on strength plateau’s. For the last few months my strength increase has ground to a halt in reverse pyramid. I am in a LG cut at the moment but have managed 2.5 pounds increase nearly every week and now have stagnated.  I have had carb ups, rested, dropped down weight and done more reps etc etc but still no increase. To date I manage weighted dips with 50kgs, chins with 35 kg, squats 180kgs, deads 205 kg and bench 140 kg. Do you think on LG cut that you reach a point when you do stagnate of am I doing something wrong? Cheers, Orinn

    • On any cut you will reach a point where strength gains stop. Actually it’s more normal to not gain any strength when cutting at your advanced level, so that’s a bloody good result you’ve had so far Orinn.

  94. Hi Andy,
    I have been using your Macro calculations for about a week while training for about 45 minutes 3 times a week. i’ve noticed that by my calculations (I’m doing the cut) I’ll be losing about a pound of fat a week. Is this the basic idea? I’ve also noticed that I’ve added two pounds (from 244 to 246) but lost an inch on my waist. Is this normal or should I be looking to make some adjustments.

    thanks for your inspirational sight.


      • Thanks for the quick response.
        Also, as a guy that works in an office and has to workout around 1730, is eating an half my macros at 1300 and the other half at 2100 going to slow my progress down the road? Should I lessen the amount on my first meal?

        Keep up the good work. I shared your site with all my workmates and we have an office challenge for best transformation going on LOL.

  95. Hi Andy, My name is Scott, and I had the pleasure of stumbling onto your site, via the FAQ site. What a gret free site you have compiled here, Thank you… I have not yet begun any IF as of yet. But plan to in the beginning of June. i have done enough reading a reseach about it, form sites, and sites like yours, to know enough that it works. Without getting into my background for sake of space on this post. My question revolves around RPT training. I was planning to start this before I started IF. Thing is I am running a -25% deficit, daily. I have one from 250lbs to my current 189, since January and from ~30% (probably more) to 23% BF currently. I train 3 times a week, doing a total body workout out (Squat, RDL, Flat Bench, Pend Row, OHP, Chins 2-3 BW and rest (gravity atm) all 3 sets 10 reps, bi curl and tri ext, abs. currently I run 4 times a week, on non workout days. The arms, abs, and some cardio i will be dropping after much reading here!

    My question is, is RPT opitimal while running a constant deficit, non IF style atm.???

    I think i know the answer but looking for some solid direction, i hope you maybe able to shed some light on it.

    There is probably a lot of info i left out, so if I can add more please let me know.

    Again, such a great site! And Thak you!

    • Yes I use RPT while on a deficit as it’s low volume and trains the muscle throughly. That being said, I get beginners to do 3 compound movements maximum in a workout. Then as people advance, less. What you have there is probably too much for a cut. Arguably you’d be better with less even when bulking. Check out “Beyond Brawn” by S. McRobert

      • Hi Andy,

        If you have time, I’ve been wondering… when switching from a cult to a bulk, how would you modify the training? Specifically, would you add any exercises or increase volume? Or just keep the same workout used for a cut (e.g., in my case The Big 3)

        Thank you sir! And well wishes for the new site!

        • When slow-bulking there are a lot of options as your recovery capacity is less limited. Simply add a couple more exercises in if you like your current routine, or change it to something else. But make sure you stick to what you have chosen and focus on getting stronger.

  96. Hi Andy,

    I find chin-ups quite uncomfortable on my forearms due to flexibility problems and prefer to use a parallel grip for pull-ups. Is this an acceptable modification or would it be best to work on flexibility?


  97. Hey andy, great website here, you lay this stuff out really clearly. I did try to follow LG a while back but couldn’t really fathom it properly skipping between all martins posts, you’ve done a fantastic job of making it all coherent. I’ve always carried around 20% bf and am giving this a solid go to get that down to 10% and drop a weight class for my oly lifting. I do think that the whole overtraining thing is very overblown (I train 6 days a week, once or twice a day, hitting 1rm in compound lifts many times), so I will let you know how i get on with a different training style

  98. Hey Andy, I had a difficult knee injury 2 months ago, I cant do squats/deadlifts (couldnt do for like 3-4+ months, had 2 surgeries) and any exercises that involves legs. What training program would you recommend for me? I can do standing exercises like barbell rows, but definetely not like squats or deads.

  99. Hey man,

    I’m in the big 3 and find it difficult to push myself really hard on squats and deadlifts.
    The reason is I’m scared off doing them wrong (even tough I have someone with me to tell me so) or put to heavy weights (and i drop!).
    I mean i feel them exercises but i don’t get the feeling i did really HARD.
    You say if i’m ready to exercise the next day, i didn’t hitted it that hard and that keeps me thinking.
    The bench press on the other hand I’m really familiar with :p My chest is much stronger then my back and I know this isn’t right but i can’t really fixed that because I’m on a caloric deficit so can’t build muscle.
    But I want to cut for the summer and you recommend cutting first so.
    I don’t see any muscle loss, i actually looking more ripped then ever with this program.
    I want to add exercises that i like to do but am not sure if i should do it or stay patient.
    The one thing i have no problem with is NOT doing cardio:P So thanks for that.
    If i can add exercises because I’m new to squats and deadliest can i do it like this:
    -Presses: Bench Presses (barbell, dumbell, incline, flat), Military Presses (standing, seated, barbell, dumb bell), Flys.
    -Pulls: Deadlifts, Pull Ups/Lat Pull Downs, Rows
    -Squats, Lunges, Leg Extensions, Leg Curls.
    I love exercising and did a lot before intermittent fasting and the big 3. So it sucks a bit to go home when i want to exercise more lets say after squatting:p I love the feeling to go tired home and know i really hit it hard and i think its not going to happen with minimum exercise. No offens off course I’m just hoping you get questions like this all the time so I’m not going to look like a dick thats not happy.

    • Erthan you’ve written a lot there but I’m going to address the main point:
      Your goal in the gym is not to murder yourself but to lift more in the big compound lifts than you did the session/week before. -Period.
      If you’re not doing that then don’t start adding other things in just so you feel pain.

  100. hi Andy, i’ve just started starting strength and find that i am still sore on the day scheduled for my next workout. does this mean its too taxing for me and i should do rpt or will my body adjust to cope? i just finished my cut and am transitioning to a slow bulk. thanks

  101. Hey there Andy!

    Great news! Scored my dream job.. Tour guide through outback Australia! Stoked! But the question arises about training..

    Obviously its going to have to be all body weight stuff. So far I have pistol squats, lunges, chins, pull ups (got a pull up bar), dips (got some rings for the bar), push ups, hand stand push ups, back extensions and a couple of other little ones …

    Question is though.. What is the best way to arrange them into a routine? especially with no weight. Was thinking German Volume Training. Have heard mixed reviews/ results and Martin doesn’t like it, but im afraid thats the only thought I have with no weight being around. Either that or just do as many reps of each exercise in each set.

    Would love to hear your thoughts and love you to come to the rescue on this one buddy!

    Thanks in advance and a big thanks for everything so far :)

    • Doesn’t have to be high volume. The key is to increase the difficulty with each movement. Push-ups with foot elevation, explosive jumps over increasingly-angry crocodiles. Dips, chins and a few others with extra weight. Pistols will probably be tough enough to start with. The magic rep number is 12. You don’t really want to go above this and into the 20+ zone as then you’re training more the endurance capacity of your muscles rather than strength. Growth will be limited.

  102. Hi Andy. I started to train for marathon today. How can I combine training in the gym with running?
    I’m on cut, doing the Big 3 Routine and I will be running twice a week now and probably 3 times a week in a month or two. The only thing I know is that I should rather run on rest days.

    What about eating? Should I change anything? Run during the fast?
    Will running stop my strength progress (now and when I’ll start slow bulk)?

    Strength training is my priority of course, but I really want to run a marathon in under 5 hours.

    Szymon ;)

  103. Pingback: Minor Blog Updates |

  104. Hi Andy :)

    Been loving your site for a long time- its brilliant. Its clear, precise and awesomely awesome!!!

    Have been on a 3 month cut and changing to a re-comp soon. (loved it by the way) Was wondering what you think about this RPT A+B routine? (similar to Scotts)

    A: Deads, Press, Chins
    B: Squat, Dips, Pull ups

    Thinking ill stick to the 6-8 rep range then change to 4-6 when I go over to a slow bulk. Or would I be better to go with the way Scott has done it to minimise the volume but keep the intensity??

    Thanks in advance man!

    - Jimmy

    • That entirely depends on you and your recovery capacity Jimmy. I couldn’t do squats two days after deads and to an extent vice versa. If you can recover well enough from it then do it.

  105. Hey there Andy,

    Wasn’t going to ask you this as I see your a busy man at the moment, but it cant hurt to ask :)

    I am on a re-comp at the moment and was wondering if this was too much volume? (Rpt)



    Chest press

    Have been doing similar exercises but have re-arranged them slightly and added the press. Should I take out the Press as im working chest everyday? (I love doing it though- fav exercise).

    Would love your thoughts,

    Cheers :)

  106. Hey Andy,

    This is a great site and tons of information. I am new to I/F and have a couple questions. First, I started working out with beachbodies power90. I started of at 332 and am down to 290. i am still a big guy. I do not have room in my house, so I am wrking out in our storage shed. I am going to start off with the Big 3.

    1.) Do you usually recommend having a spotter? I will be working out alone. I have dumbbells, will that work for the bench or should I stick with barbells.

    2.) How do you determine how much weight to use and are you working out to failure?

    3.) Would rippetoe’s book ‘SS’ be good for showing me how to do the exercises properly?

    If I under stand the Big 3, it is just Squats, Dead’s and Bench. Is there a place to find a beginner cut routine using the Big 3?

    Kind regards,

  107. Hi Andy,

    First of all – nice work on the site.

    I have a training question – I do all my training in the garage, essentially a small place where we store all sorts of crap. It has a bench, a concept 2 rowing machine, two 32.5kg selectable dumbbells and a weights vest that goes up to 30kg.

    Currently I have been warming up on the rower, obviously, followed by two weight training ‘sessions’ or rather ‘circuits’;

    1) squat, followed by bench press, followed by bent over row
    2) squat, followed by shoulder press (I have to do this seated), followed by dips using a couple of garden chairs

    I am normally doing 4 rounds each day at 5am – Monday and Thursday for 1, Tuesday and Friday for 2. I take two scoops BCAA prior and post workout. Sometimes I do intervals of the rower too, but will probably stop doing this from now on as it takes a little away from the weights sessions.

    Getting up at 5am greatly helps with work too, so I doubt I will be giving that up in a hurry and it is becoming second nature during the week.

    Assuming I am using challenging weights and increasing them as the weeks go by, does it _really_ matter that I am not using heavier weights? I am sure I am capable of hitting heavier weights but the gym really is not for me, just convenience wise more than anything. Being able to get out of bed and be in the garage in 2 minutes is great.

    I am not a small guy – 185cm at 90kg with around 18% bf according to my Tanita scales. I work with some maniac triathletes who reckon they are worth the investment, good for tracking if you take readings at consistent times, so I have stuck with them and looking for a weekly average for comparison. It has only been a couple of weeks so early days yet.

    I have seen people do body weight circuit training with good results, so I am pretty confident this is not a terrible setup. But I wonder, do you perhaps have some better ideas?

    Any help would be appreciated,



    • Sorry I thought I replied to this. Anyway the essence of it was, go heavier rather than going for reps. Do weighted dips if possible and the chairs will allow mate.

      • Cheers Andy, what kinda rep ranges do you think I should be aiming for?

        Obviously I can only go a max of 90kg including weights vest for squats and dips, so will need to do higher reps, but what about upper body? 6-8?

  108. Nice article, I really enjoyed it. I have a couple of questions but here is my info: male 22yrs old, 5’10, 140lbs, looking to gain 10lbs but I have a knee injury which prevents me from doing lower body stuff. Been away from the gym for some time now so lifts are pretty low.

    1. Can I do RPT while trying to gain weight and not follow the leangains method of eating? (can’t follow it due to personal reasons, not will power) or is a linear progression plan better?

    2. Since I’m just doing upper body would it be fine to do bench, dips, and DB rows one day and press, chins, and one more exercise the other and just switch between these two workouts? (assuming RPT would be fine for me to do)

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    • 1. Bulk or cut, RPT is good.
      2. Yes. But it’s highly worth seeing if your knees can stand deadlifts, or even racked deadlifts as it’s a great exercise second only to squats.

  109. What are the Advantages to doing the big three over the three day split when on a cut? Obviously when trying to put on muscle you want to train full body three days a week, but is that not counterproductive during a cut? Would it not be better to “save up” the rapid strength gains that come from a Big 3 type scedual for the slow bulk so more rapid muscle gains can be made?

  110. hey, first off i discovered IF and lean gains a few weeks ago now and have been experimenting with some great short term cutting results, your guide to macronutrients is just what i was looking for! thanks for that great free resource.

    One hang up i am having is the training schedule as i do crosse fit with a 3 days on 1 day rest cycle and am reluctant to change this as competing in it has become somewhat of a hobby. I am currently contemplating adding a three day RPT split into my current training either as well as or instead of a crossfit workout on set days but am wary of overtraining. How would you recommend to proceed?

    • You probably don’t want to train more than 3 days a week Simon, certainly not double up. How you decide will be the best way to progress with your cross-fit goal is up to you to decide. I’m not a cross-fit expert.

  111. Hi andy, why do not you post an article on how to squat properly resuming rippetoe lines?I think it is the mostdifficult movement to execute with correctform….and It would be very useful for us expecially non english speaking….like me….
    Thanks a lot!!!!!

  112. Hey Andy,
    I followed you on Fitocracy some time back and I’ve been reading up here occasionally since then. I have to say I’m amazed by the progress you help people achieve and the fountain of knowledge that this website is, so I must give a big thank you for making the world a slightly better place.

    I’ve been weight training for about a year now, doing the compounds regularly and following Starting Strength style routines or similar. Lately I’ve started doing more olympic style lifting (fun) and I can be enjoying a perfectly relaxing rest day and then suddenly have an irresistible urge to lift. My problem is that sometimes I work out 4 or 5 days in a week, doing some form of compound movement on every day.

    I have been following a cut (-35%/+10%) for a week now and my question is how do I adjust the daily calorie/macro targets to deal with a spontaneous training day? I’ve got a few friends following your guide similarly who have the same problem. I have one other question; if I break my fast later (1hour+), or extend my feeding window later than planned, how can I compensate for this to keep the magic of Intermittent Fasting going?

    Thanks again for all your help,

    • Quite simple really, don’t have a spontaneous training day. You wouldn’t eat a spontaneous pizza and expect to have success, so don’t throw confounders into the plan, especially when it’s something that will likely lead to overtraining as you’re cutting.

      For the latter question, if it’s an hour, don’t worry about it. Keep the last meal of the day the same time.

  113. Hello Andy,
    I like your site since it is user-friendly and anyone can do it!

    This is what I am doing at the moment, I am simply maintaining low body-fat and stay fit.

    Deadlift 2 x 4-5
    Pull-up (bodyweight)
    Shoulder Press 2 x 4-5

    Bench Press 2 x 4-5
    Squat 2 x 4-5
    Parallel Dip (bodyweight)

    What do you think?

  114. Hi Andy,
    I just found your site and love it. I’ve been IFing for about 2 months now, and am a former long distance runner and beginner weight trainer. I had full-spinal fusion about 10 yers ago so my doctor said that Deadlifts and Squats are totally OUT of the question for me… but that I need to weight train no matter what.
    Do you have any alternative suggestions for your Big 3, since I am not able to do 2 of them? I can do bench press.. but not squat or deadlift. I really want to gain strength – I am very petite but very determined.
    Thanks so much for all of your awesome information!!! I would love to work with you if you have time.

    • It really depends on what you can do, so bear that in mind when you see the list and check with your physiotherapist. Also, there aren’t any real alternatives, these are all “second best”.
      Kettlebell Swings
      Explosive Box Jumps
      Barbell Rows
      The Press
      (Handstand) Pushups
      See that link the Jason Ferruggia’s site for more.

  115. Hi Andy,

    Two parter here:

    Being an already very thin, can’t-put-on-weight-to-save-my-life type of guy (57 kilo, 176cm) I am curious which route is best? I would like to start with the big three. I already have a decent lean look with some abs showing. I don’t want to “focus” on an area but I can certainly say the most lacking area are my shoulders.

    Second part: While I really dislike boring cardio and avoid it generally, I have a love for lap swimming. Where/how should I fit this into 3 days of the big three? Same days before/after training or different days?

    Kind regards.

    • Not to be rude but you’re lacking everywhere. To concentrate on one body part would be a very bad idea. Your best route is definitely those big 3.

      Avoid cardio unless you love it. If you do love it put it at any time.

      • Not rude at all! I am well aware of my rail-thin problem. It’s a horrifically high metabolism. I have, my whole life, eaten so much more than everyone else that I know. Perhaps it’s healthier food choices (only real, whole foods) but my intake is very, very high.

        Re: the swimming – I just wasn’t sure if there was perhaps a “better” time to do it. Ideally it would be same day/time as the strength training since my gym has a pool so I was curious if before or after was “best” (if there even is a better in this case).

        Thanks for the follow-up!

  116. Hi Andy,

    Following my exams I’ve been studying Stuart McRobert’s brilliant book Beyond Brawn. With regards to Intermittent Fasting I was wondering if you could answer the following question;

    Stuart recommends getting the ‘out of gym’ things spot on – including 5/6 meals a day. This is of course against the IF way and I was wondering what your thoughts were on this?

    Can McRobert’s micro-loading approach be done on IF? Should I simply forget about adding muscle over the next 10 weeks?

    Or, is his approach perfectly possible, and should I set about planning my ‘cycle’ over the next 10 weeks?

    • 1.) You certainly don’t have to eat 5-6 meals a day.

      2.) The micro loading will work well for someone that is not on a cut of totally new to lifting, otherwise, to maximize muscle stimulus in every workout it may be best to use RPT for the cut phase. If a person does decide on the micro-loading approach when a person’t strength stalls when cutting I recommend they more into RPT rep patterning rather than “de-train”.

      • Thanks for the response Andy. I was wondering why you still recommend RPT?

        Stuart says find what’s best for you – I ‘prefer’ medium reps i.e. 8 upwards rather than desperately flagging with a heavy weight and 4 – 6 reps for example. Should I go for higher reps but keep the RPT exercises constant?

        I’ve been weight training properly for about a year now – would this have any influence on your answer?

        • Because you are on a cut. Reasons are written in the articles. Also, what you ‘prefer’ matters little, especially when you’re not advanced enough to have that preference based in firm foundation of what’s best for you.

          A 5 year trainee? Perhaps. Yourself? No.

  117. Hello!
    I have a question about the training. Been reading this through now and I am ready to take this on now to go from 120 Kilograms to something around 75 Kilograms and get a good body. I read that you only recommend weight lifting and not cardio training. Is this just not as effective or is it bad for this diet/training program?

    I love to take Powerwalks with my Bungypumps ( and I would love to if this allowed me to take alot of Powerwalks without destroying it’s effective way of reducing my body fat. I will still keep my gym training, of course, for 3 times a week.

    So what do you say about this?

  118. Hello Andy,

    If you could please assist with me a problem I’ve run into, I’d appreciate it.

    The progress I’ve been making with my bench press has seemingly stalled out. Working with the RPT system, I smoothly progressed to a bench press of 215 lbs for my top set. In that set, I was able to get 4 good reps. This was 3 weeks ago. Since then, I have been completely unable to get more than 4 reps for my top set at that weight. I’m well aware that one won’t always hit a new PR during every workout, and some workouts are simply going to bad. Were this the case here, I’d simply shrug it off and move along. However, all the other movements I’ve been doing have progressed in both weight and reps, so I’m unsure as to why this is happening.

    I feel my form, while imperfect, is good enough to not be an obstacle. I’m hitting all my daily macro targets while remaining with the calorie range for a cut. I stay well hydrated, and I get 8-9 hours of sleep a night. The only cardio I’m doing right now is a 30 minute walk in the morning with my 3 dogs.

    It appears I’m doing everything correctly, but my bench press is going nowhere. Can you think of what the problem might be?

    • You’re on a cut. Strength gains will stop at some point. Those that aren’t new to barbell training are happy to just maintain strength on a cut. Don’t worry about it, plenty of time to get strong when you switch things into a slow-bulk.

  119. Hey Andy, it’s me again. I’m doing the Big 3 routine for almost a month, everything’s going fine. I’m getting stronger after (almost)every training, although I’m on cut.

    Sooner or later I’ll change my routine and I was thinking… I can do max 2 chin ups right now, and since the big 3 isn’t really working bicep, can I add some bicep exercise to The Big 3 routine?

    Or should I just keep doing the routine till I lose more fat, and then I’ll be able to do more chinups as I’ll be lighter?

  120. Hey Andy, i am currently a student and am unsure about when to break the fast. Since i can’t train until 3:30, would it still be okay to train fasted(with amino acids pre workout) and consume my daily macros all after 4 pm?

    • Yes you can do that. You don’t have to make it an 8 hour window if this means sacrificing sleep time. Get your 8 hours. If necessary shorten the window accordingly.

    • Hi Justin, Not sure if you’re still watching this thread, but I’m in a similar situation. I don’t get to the gym until 2pm-ish, and finally get my first meal in around 3:30 or 4pm. I take the 2nd (and final) meal at 8pm – so my feeding window is fairly tight. I don’t eat pre-workout, and thus far my cut has been progressing nicely… better than any cut i’ve done without following the LG approach.

  121. Regarding training for high volume pushups, sit-ups, and running tests (military) while IFing? The more pushups, sit-ups, and run times a military member can do the higher score and points that help with promotions . I have a test coming up soon. Recommendations of anything or anyone in regard to best practices, diet, protocol would be appreciated.

  122. Pingback: Why Training Hard, Rather Than Smart, Will Keep You Fat This New Year. |

  123. Here are 3 questions i need answered:
    1. Is this the starting strength program you recommend? If so, what about adding chins?
    Workout A
    3×5 Squat
    3×5 Bench Press
    1×5 Deadlift

    Workout B
    3×5 Squat
    3×5 Press
    5×3 Power cleans
    alternating between the two?
    2. When is it time to switch from a recomp to a slow bulk and vice versa?
    3. How often is it ok to have cheat days and with your method, do we skip a whole rest days meals or training day?

  124. Hello Andy. It’s Szymon again. I just wanted to tell you that I found a cool gym with rack and the most free weights in my city.
    I’m going to do The Big 3 Routine you recommended for beginners who are on cut.
    Och, and the best thing about that gym is that the trainer used to do powerlifting :)

    I’m planning to send you my success story with photos. If I succeed of course :)

  125. Pingback: Client Stories: Kyoko, Japan |

  126. Pingback: 12 Weeks on Leangains: What You Can Expect to Achieve… |

  127. Hi Andy,

    My folks have been recently working out more ever since they hit their golden years. My dad gave up his gym membership in favor of creating his own home gym, and now he has an elliptical and a pair of 12lb dumbbells sitting in our house. I want to help my folks stay physically fit, especially my dad. Unfortunately, he had sustained a back injury in his 30′s, and because of that he’s hesitant about lifting any kind of weights since surgery has permanently weakened his back. Are there any types of weight lifting exercises that can benefit my dad in his current age and physical condition? I’m a little hesitant about suggesting barbell lifts, but I’d like to hear your opinion on kettlebell lifts.


    • You probably can’t do lifts, however you can be encouraged with the fact that 90% of the game is the ‘cut’ diet…

      You can add some shoulder, arm and chest mass with isolation.

      It is sub-optimal to the big 3, but better than nothing. But if brad pitt can do it, so can you :)

      Getting lean should be your first concern.

  128. Pingback: The truths the fitness industry doesn’t want you to know… |

  129. Pingback: Do you need to sack your trainer? |

  130. Hey Andy! It’s Ben again.
    I just wanted to update you. I’m still gaining the same amount like before, which to me is great. I was wondering though, what are your thoughts on body weight exercises? I started off with that in the very beginning of trying to become stronger, and I do really like it, but I thought weights would speed up my goal for muscle mass. Do you think I can still get big with body weight exercises?
    The exercises on that site would be the exercises I would be using in my routine if I do switch. Also, it sounds kind of stupid to me to say this, but I’m also debating on getting in parkour :P

    • Weights are better for getting stronger, but you can still build good body with bodyweight exercises. That link is very good.

      Parkour also looks like good stuff. Those lads have balls of steel.

  131. Hey!
    I’m really happy that I found this site. I’m following the Leangains diet and training for more than 3 weeks and I didn’t see any weight loss. Thanks to you, now I know that I just ate too much on rest days and got wrong fat and carbs quantity. I changed my diet yesterday and I hope to see first results soon! :)

    I’ve got 2 questions about training.
    Can I do squats and deadlifts using dumbbell instead of barbell? Is there any difference?
    I’m training in my room not in gym (basic barbell routine that i found on, using dumbbell instead of barbell) and all I’ve got is 3 dumbbells and 60kg of weight.
    Second question. I’m beginner (I trained from time to time, but not for long), should I lift really heavy? Or I will benefit more when I lift not so heavy?

    • Hello Szymon. Thanks for the kind comment, glad you have been finding it useful.

      Squats and Deadlifts with a dumbbell are not the same. Not even close. It’s very difficult for me to explain why without rambling on, but please just trust me on that. If you can afford to buy a squat rack and weights for your bar, it’s an investment that will serve you well in life. If your car needed a new engine it’s set you back thousands right? Your body, the vehicle you soul is destined to spend it’s life in is now asking for an upgrade. You going to make it?

      Why is squatting important? Let’s ask Rippetoe.

    • Last thing, if I had a garage, I’d probably go with a set up like this. There’s cheaper out there, but I know I will be using this set-up for probably my entire life. Training with a friend in your garage. = awesome.

      Oh and always lift as heavy as you can with good form.

      • Main problem is that I’m student and I’ll be probably moving from time to time. At the moment I’m sharing room with my friend, so there is no room for rack.
        And as I am student, it’s quite expensive to buy gym membership…
        But I think if I sell my weights and dumbbells I could afford the gym membership for next 3 – 4 months. And then… We will see. I can save some money :)

        Is this good for squats?
        They haven’t got any other squat rack in the gym that is the cheapest…

  132. Hello there, first off I want to say that this is a truly incredible website. I’ve been working out pretty hardcore for around a year, now. While I’ve seen changes in my physique, it’s nothing amazing and I need a change.

    Something about IF + heavy training jumped out at me as soon as I began reading, though.

    I prefer to workout shortly after waking. My routine for the past 12 weeks has been to wake up, have 2 cups of coffee (with ~25g of carbs in the form of liquid sweetener) with my breakfast.

    If I were to begin IF, I would choose for my feeding hours to be noon-8pm or 1-9pm. Would this mean that I would be training (10-11am) at the end of a 16 hour fast, on a desperately empty stomach? Because I hate hate hate doing any form of physical activity on an empty stomach.

    Or would I be waking to enjoy my sugar-coffee with a protein shake/BCAA breakfast, or what? Or should I just learn to work out in the afternoon during my feeding hours. Anything you suggest will work.

    • Though it might seem tough now, once you get into the fasting routine there’s nothing about training fasted. Nothing at all. Really. I just did a workout after 37hours of fasting.

      • Hi Andy,

        Kudos on the site, and thank you so much for all of the great information. Your site has really closed the gap on some questions I had about macros and diet with IF. I’m finally in a position, thanks to you, to begin my first solid bout of IF.

        In the post above, you stated you just worked out after 37 hours of fasting. This begs the question… why were you fasting for 37 hours? Maybe you have the info on the site i haven’t found yet, but isn’t the typical Leangains approach at 16 hours fast, 8 hours eating window?

        Thanks again for all the work you put into the stie!

          • I missed your reply because I didn’t have notifications set.

            Ha ha, wow. I’m shocked you were able to down 3 of them. You marked it as a fail, but I’m impressed! :-D I think I’ll start with 3 slices of cheesecake on my first attempt :)

            I can also vouch for training fasted. I train fully fasted every workout, and I always feel strong, and haven’t gone down in weight yet (on my lifts). Something I notice is the further I am into my fast, the more energy i have.

  133. Hey Andy. Jason here. I wasn’t sure where to post this question but what is the easiest and most accurate way to measure body fat %? I know you advise against measuring body fat because of the inaccuracies but for my own records, I’d like to give it a shot. Any recommendations?

  134. So if I’m just getting back into weights after almost 2 yrs, you’re saying it is okay to do squats, deads, bench press, chins, OHP, and push ups every workout 3x/week?? I don’t need to split squats and deads on different days?

    • Squats, DL and Bench for a beginner yes. The others will be over-kill. In your situation you’ll have to try it and see. If your technique is good enough to cause enough muscle damage & require more recovery then you will need to split them. Beginners don’t have this yet. You might need a few weeks like this until your body ‘remembers’ the actions & gets back into the groove.

  135. Hi Andy. Loving the great guide. I have a couple questions regarding training which I hope you can help me out.

    Since going to the gym is out of the equation for me (at least for a while), is it enough to substitute the training part with certain P90X routines? I’ve tried googling around, but without much luck.

    This is my current schedule that I’ve planned which has a two week cycle: (Using original P90X names)

    1st Week
    Monday – Chest & Back, Ab Ripper X
    Wednesday – Shoulders & Arms, Ab Ripper X
    Friday – Legs & Back, Ab Ripper X

    2nd Week
    Monday – Chest, Shoulders and Triceps, Ab Ripper X
    Wednesday – Back & Biceps, Ab Ripper X
    Friday – Legs & Back, Ab Ripper X

    Note: I use bands for Pull-Ups/Chin-Ups, and I’m currently on a “cut”.

    The cardio portion of the original program has been removed. I realize that you and Martin from LG have been telling people to skip the Ab workout entirely, but since I’m not able to rely on the “Big 3″ for core, I suppose I could leave it in?

    Any help/comments would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Gravien, I completely understand your thinking behind leaving in the Ab Rippex because you are missing the training effect of the squats and deadlifts. However this “abwork” is very one-dimentional. We want to work the trunk as a unit, hence the barbell suggestions. Last week I was watching a lecture from a Doctor that specialized in spinal injury prevention for athletes, and he was almost totally against traditional crunches/situps as ab-work, and this is slowly becoming more and more accepted.

      So what to do? I’d highly suggest you incorporate Kettlebell swings in there to work your posterior chain and also your trunk. The link also has a guide on how to make your own cheaply. Also when you talk about the chin-ups with bands, I presume you mean you are using a chin-up bar? I’d highly recommend installing one in a doorframe if you can.

      I realise that this section is lacking in home-workout advice. Thanks for once again bringing this to my attention. It’s now on the “Articles to write list.” I’ll put you on the list to get mails when the blog gets updated so that you don’t miss it. But don’t expect this for a few weeks though as I have a lot of things to do before. Thanks and good luck.

      • Thanks for the reply! Also thanks to Manifesto from TL for introducing your site to me.

        I’ve actually been doing P90X for 9 months straight, but never really fixed my diet… besides eating more veggies and cutting out sugary foods and fast food. Discovering Intermittent Fasting was pure euphoria.

        To clarify, I use resistance bands with a door anchor and attach it to the top of my bathroom door for my Pull-Ups/Chin-Ups exercise. The scenario is similar to this:
        I agree using a Chin-Up Bar would be best, alas I don’t have this option due to the constraints of my small condo :(

        Another thanks for showing me the Kettlebell Swings. Seems like a very good home alternative for the Deadlift move. Now I’ll have to go and hunt for one. I do have a question here if you don’t mind. The guy in your link mentioned he started with a 53lbs Kettlebell and did 75 reps, 2-3 times a week. I do have a couple 20lbs and 30lbs Dumbbells laying around. Would these suffice even with the not-so-optimal grip? Is it possible to achieve similar results by holding 20lbs Dumbbells on each hand, butt them closely together and perform the exercise?

        • For the chin-ups something like this might work? Or you could try the other one that screws into the doorframe (the video with the girl at the top on the right hand side).
          Those pull-ups with bands are not pull-ups. They are possibly the worst excuse for a pulldown I have ever seen. All the stress is in the top of the action (last part) where you are weaker, and there is no stress at the start of the motion (where you are stronger). If anything, this is backwards. Get a bar, or go to a playground and use one. Try these if you’re struggling for 10: They suffer the same problem of the ‘help’ being (arguably) in the wrong place, but it’s only moderate compared.

          RE: Kettlebell question. No, and to hold both sounds dangerous. You need the pendulum action that the weight at one end can bring. You can make your own

          Hope it helps.

          • So I drove about an hour and hunted a 20kg Kettlebell down the next day. I had hoped to be able to do 75 reps consecutively, but ended up splitting it to 25/20/15/15. This move really pumps your heart beat rate all the way up. Loving it.

            Can you please add me to the email distribution list for updates again? I think I deleted the confirmation email as I thought it was the same email that I had already clicked on when posting; Although I already check the site everyday, and having been referring friends and co-workers to come take a look too.


          • Regarding the Pull-Up Bars, I had considered getting them at first, but the only door frame my condo has is the bathroom, and there is an immediate wall (90° turn) right beside it, making it impossible to mount.

            I started with Ripcords resistance bands. It was pretty rough for me at start, but 2 months later I’ve out grown them. I now use Bodylastic resistance bands, which allows you to freely adjust and use multiple bands at the same time; Arguably one of the best resistance band brands out there.

            Maybe the video I linked before was not the greatest example. I actually do get a lot of tension at the start of the move, as I need to yank the bands back into my starting position, where the bands itself is not at a relaxed state. This video below is a better example of what I’ve been doing, but at least 3 feet further back as the starting position –
            I just started using 2 orange bands, and the tension at my starting position is enough to catapult me forward so I’m actually spending a lot of energy on my legs and abs just to anchor myself in position (I hate that). I use them in my P90X routine, which consists of Widefront Pull-Ups, Reverse Grip Chin-Ups, Close Grip Chin-Ups, etc. for about 100 reps spread in a 45 to 50 minute period.

            I tried doing Chin-Ups at the office yesterday using the kitchen door frame (when no one was watching), and was able to do 15 in one go. I was only able to do 6 in April.

            • You have got stronger, this is great, however a beginner can get stronger on almost any program, this does not mean it is the most effective.

              The best way to grow muscle is to get strong. The best way to get strong is to lift heavy for low rep sets. You can’t get heavy with the bands, you can’t pull more than your body weight with them, or you will fly forward and your head will hit the door. Better to jog down to a park and do some chin-ups on a climbing frame or tree branch.

    • I’m trying to help my brother adapt his at home training from p90x to something more focused on heavy lifting for leangains since he can’t get to a gym. One solution I came upon was sandbag training. It seems like it can be a great way to get squat, deadlift, and row type movements without the need of gym equipment. It also has the added benefits of hitting muscles which aren’t used with barbell exercises due to the unstable nature of the lifts.

      This site might be a good start if you’re interested: This site might be a good start if you’re interested:

      • The barbells hit all of the muscles in the body. There are no extra muscles not hit.

        As for the sandbag training, it certainly looks like it has a lot more benefits than the p90x, which is glorified circuit training, however it has it’s limits, and is still not going to provide the strength gains (and thus muscle mass gains) that squatting heavy or deadlifting heavy with barbells will. If he’s looking to diet, and needs a strength training (glycogen depleting) workout then it may well be sufficient to make leangains work. However if he wants to get strong-strong, then it is not an alternative.

        Thank you for sharing Carter, and please with your brother success from me.

  136. I have 2 questions……1st the leangains program is based on cycling high calorie days and low calorie days……but what if you work out 3 days straight and 4 days off due to schedule….would you do 3 high calorie days and 4 low with maybe one cheat day????

    2. is it possible that you can go too low calorie??? ive been doing around 2000 calories on workout days and 1300 on off days but not seeing the results….any suggestions??

    Owen Chaikin

    • Hi Owen, 3 days straight is less than ideal. For recovery, as well as for the cycling to take effect, I wouldn’t recommend it. To have 4 straight very low carb days will leave you very depleted of glycogen and you’ll probably drag through your first workout.

      Yes, it’s possible you can go too low calorie. If you’re bulking then you won’t see any gains. If you’re cutting you should see fat loss but muscle loss is this is the case also. Suggestion? Have your macros calculated carefully. Try the guide I just wrote:

  137. Pingback: How to Calculate your Leangains Macros |

  138. I’ve seen great progress in getting lean so far but my strength is flatlining it seems since the beginning of the diet.
    Currently doing chest/shoulders, legs, and back/arms days with different light abs/core each day.
    I focus on low reps high weight (max 8 reps for first reps). Zero cardio right now.
    Only have time to do exercise in evenings with either 40/60 or 30/70 breakdown of meals at lunch and then after workouts at 7pm.

    Any tips or should I wait it out?

    • When on a cut (weekly calorie deficit), the goal is to preserve muscle mass foremost while burning off the fat. Any gains in strength should be seen as a nice bonus but not a ‘given’, except for the rank novice, who will make gains due to neuromuscular adaptation when starting the big barbell movements.

      HOWEVER, when on a cut especially, less is more.
      1. Cut out that ab work totally. Squatting will get that all done. Full squats, no smith-machine crap.
      2. Stick to 3 days training a week, and choose one of those two routines as they are more effective than your current split. (Especially while cutting.) The fact that you have written ‘shoulders’ and ‘arms’ in there worries me as they will smashed totally if you are doing those routines.
      3. The more calories you can put in the post-workout window (that means the rest of the day after your workout) the better. Experiment and find a ratio that works for you.

    • No, just increase the weight. It is a common mistake to train to be sore the following day, and can actually stall progress due to hindering recovery.

      So why is muscle soreness (DOMS) not an end goal in itself after working out?

      Remember the ab-belts that sent electronic pulses to your abs to tone you up in the ’90s? People thought that because it make you sore, it built your muscles. This has long ago been debunked.

      You can get rock solid abs from Squatting and Deadlifting due to the isometric contraction to stabilize and take direct pressure off the spine, yet your abs won’t feel sore the next day. Do sit-ups and you’ll get very sore. It’s the eccentric contractions that make you sore.

      I feel the same when I see people screw around with tricep-kickbacks and think they work because their arms hurt the next day (DOMS). If I stabbed them in the leg, they’d expect to have pain when walking downstairs in the morning but they wouldn’t expect bigger muscles right? I promise you now, you’ll never see a guy that made big arms using triceps-kickbacks.

      Excluding the initial period of neuromuscular adaptation, if you progress with your poundages, for the same number of reps, under the same conditions (rest time between sets, etc.), you’re gaining muscle. Period.

      Don’t train for pain for pain’s sake.

  139. The amount of new, decisive, and long overdue information I have gleaned since learning about fasted training and committing to do the program, is truly remarkable. Actually, not all of the good information is technically “new.” Like, I have known for years that the most basic exercises are the compound movements: squat, deadlift, bench, chin-ups. All the same, another part of me came to believe it made sense to engage in a variety of activities that only fostered what Martin Berkhan so aptly calls ‘Fuckarounditis’. Three days in to the program (second workout today) chest, fabulous. I got three good, solid, heavy bench sets, then hit the floor for pushups, and nailed two good sets, excellent form. Came right home and had meal #1 and savored every bite.

  140. I understand that ‘starting strength’ can be very taxing and hard to recover from; but can you explain why this is not optimal while on a cut and rpt is? considering that you dont go until failure on ‘starting strength’ and you do on rpt, i dont see how rpt can be less taxing on the body. thanks for all the great info!

    • From what I understand, Rippetoe’s ‘SS’ calls for progressively increasing in weight each session during a cycle of several months or until gains in strength stop. You start lighter than you can currently lift and the ultimate goal is to finish heavier than you can currently lift.

      He advises eating a calorie excess to recover from workouts and effectively advises to eat your way through the sticking points (when the weight doesn’t increase and progression stops).

      For a trained person on a cut this is not optimal. Not only may they not progress into new poundage territory, in the worst case they will start the cycle lighter than they can currently lift, and lose muscle due to the detraining effect and finish lighter that they can currently lift. Remember, when on a cut we need to remind the body why it needs to keep the muscle, or you will lose it. So training to maximum as RPT calls for, is advisable.

      If you decide to ignore the cycle aspect of the ‘SS’ course however, and just plug away at maximum or near maximum poundages from the start, I can’t think of a reason to hand why this would not work to maintain strength while cutting. If anyone can think of one, please feel to jump in with a reply.

      Thanks for the question. Hope this helps Jon.

      • makes perfect sense… i guess i wasnt really taking in to account the fact that you are supposed to start well below you current 5 rep max’s. if i decide to do it ill just start at, or close to my current, 5 rep max’s and go from there. thanks for the response and all the great info on the site!

      • I can confirm this. I’m doing SS right now, and I was successfully increasing the weights every single workout, but then I stalled out when my calorie intake got too low. My squats actually started getting worse. Once I increased my calories a bunch, then I started back increasing weights every single workout again. So ya, you basically eat your way through a plateau.

        • Andy,

          Loving the site. 18 months of barbell work and leangains using your webpage and I got my DL near close to 315 x 3 reps and my Squat to 275 x 3 reps and I’m staying at a consistent 155lbs. Of course I’m approaching 160 as I complete a nice bulk and looking to transition into an 8 week recomp/cut to get below that 10% mark. Of course I got RPT on my mind but i was curious to see what you thought about a 5/3/1 rep scheme for a cut or would you reccomend that for a bulk cycle?


            • I plan on solidifying strength gains and maybe make some more from bulk with a 4 week recomp and then run a cut for a following four weeks.

            • Andy,

              I’ve had great results over the past year and a half with leangains and focusing on stregth gains through SS and RPT. Coming September I wanted to experiment with a high frequency workout routine compared to the usually high intensity low rep ive been doing. Do you have recommendations of high frequency workout plans?

Leave a Reply