Top 3 Strength Routines for Beginners

Steve Reeves Military Press“What routine is the best?”

“What routine will build muscle?”

“What routine will build strength?”

I get these questions all the time. Firstly, there’s no such thing as “the best routine”. For beginners, the best routine is the one you stick to for long enough to get results. Secondly, everyone is different. Working as personal trainer, I see this all the time. People find crappy programs on the internet and follow them blindly in hope of results. And most of the time they fail miserably. All because generic programs don’t work. They don’t take into account your biomechanics, your conditions, your performance capacity etc. The only program that will work for you is personalized one, tailored to your current goals and circumstances. So programs available on the internet should be considered as templates rather than actual training programs. So today I’d like to share with you my current top 3 strength routines for beginners.

Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength

Original version:

Workout A

1) Barbell Squat 3 x 5

2) Barbell Bench Press 3 x 5

3) Barbell Deadlift 1 x 5

Workout B

1) Barbell Squat 3 x 5

2) Barbell Military Press 3 x 5

3) Barbell Power Clean 5 x 3

Workouts A and B should be alternated on a 3-times-per-week basis. For example, Monday – workout A, Wednesday – workout B, Friday – workout A, Monday – workout B etc.

Rough Strength version:

Workout A

1) Sandbag Zercher Squat 3 x 5

2) Weighted Push-Ups 3 x 5

3) Kettlebell Double Swings 3 x 5

Workout B

1) Sandbag Bear Hug Squat 3 x 5

2) Handstand Push-Ups 3 x 5

3) Sandbag Shouldering 5 x 3

Same rules as above.

My comments:

Starting Strength routine have proven its usefulness with lots of trainees. It helped many people that were just step away from quitting. In my experience, this might be the most effective template for beginners. It worked like a clock for me and my clients. Its beauty in its simplicity and minimalism. There’s nothing unnecessary. That’s why it works. The only downside is that power clean is quite technically demanding. However, you can change it to weighted chin-ups if you like.

Iron Addict’s SPBR

Original version:

Monday
Squat or box squat 2-3 x 5
Glute/Ham Raises or pullthroughs 3 x 10
Bent Row or Chest Supported row 4 x 6
Barbell or Dumbbell Curl 3 x 8
Calf Raises 3 x 15

Wednesday
Bench Press or low board press 3 x 5, or 3 x 3
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 4 x 8
Military or Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3 x 8
Skull Crushers 3 x 10
Ab work 3 x 10

Friday
Deadlift or rack deadlift 2-3 x 5
Leg press 2 x 10
Chin or lat pull-down 4 x 6
Barbell or Dumbbell Curl 3 x 8
Calf Raises 3 x 15

Monday
Incline bench press or Incline Dumbbell Press 3 x 5, or 3 x 3
Dumbbell Bench Press 4 x 8
Military or Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3 x 8
Tricep pushdowns 3 x 10
Ab work 3 x 10

Wednesday

Repeat

Rough Strength version:

Monday
Sandbag Zercher Squat 2-3 x 5
Glute/Ham Raises 3 x 10
Kettlebell Double Bent Row 4 x 6
One-Arm Towel Curl 3 x 8
Calf Raises 3 x 15

Wednesday
Sandbag Floor Press 3 x 5, or 3 x 3
Incline Kettlebell Bench Press 4 x 8
One-Arm Kettlebell Military Press 3 x 8
Sandbag Skull Crushers 3 x 10
Ab work 3 x 10

Friday
Kettlebell One-Arm Snatch 2-3 x 5
Kettlebell Double Front Squat 2 x 10
Chin-Ups 4 x 6
Sandbag Curl 3 x 8
Calf Raises 3 x 15

Monday
Handstand Push-Ups 3 x 5, or 3 x 3
Kettlebell Floor Press 4 x 8
Sandbag Shoulder Press 3 x 8
Incline Tiger Bend Push-Ups 3 x 10
Ab work 3 x 10

Wednesday

Repeat

My comments:

This routine is awesome. It gives you enough variety and options, while having a solid base. It combines strength work and volume – best of the two worlds. Most of the trainees should progress very well on it. You can find here my another variation of this routine (combined with Convict Conditioning). The only downside of the routine is that it stops working someday (but it could be more than 6 months of steady progress).

Pavel Tsatsouline’s Power to the People

Original version:

1) Barbell Side Press 2 x 5

2) Barbell Deadlift 2 x 5

Monday through Friday – workout days. Weekend – rest. First set is approximately 5 rep maximum. Second set is 90% of the first one. Plain and simple.

Rough Strength version:

1) Kettlebell Side Press 2 x 5

2) Sandbag Zercher Squat 2 x 5

Same as above.

My comments:

Well, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll build a lot of muscle using this routine, but you’ll gain a lot of strength (that’s all that matters, right?). Simple, hard to screw up, but definitely not easy. The only downside is that your workouts will take probably less than 30 minutes and you won’t be able to make an excuse that you have no time.

Closing Thoughts

There you have it. These are my top 3 routines for building strength for beginners. Don’t be afraid of “beginner” status. In any case, if you can’t do double bodyweight deadlift for reps, then you definitely can benefit from these routines. And if you can, you should test these routines for variety. As always thanks for reading. Comments are mandatory. As well as sharing with your friends.

Play rough!

Alex

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8 thoughts on “Top 3 Strength Routines for Beginners

  1. Pingback: 5 x 5 Strength Training Template: How to Do It Right

    1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

      Goh,

      You can do something like this:

      Day 1:
      A) Pistols – 3 x 5
      B) One-Arm Push-Ups – 3 x 5
      C) Muscle-Ups – 3 x 5

      Day 2:
      A) Pistols – 3 x 5
      B) Handstand Push-Ups – 3 x 5
      C) Pull-Ups – 3 x 5

      Scale the intensity according to your current capabilities, and progress to harder/weighted exercises with time.

      I think that this article will be useful for you.

      - Alex

      Reply

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