A Novice Hypertrophy Program

1325011474_2456-e1338499207767I’ve been getting a fair amount of questions about programs for a novices that will put some weight on them. First thing first, you need to eat. I talk about this in nearly everyone of my blog posts lately, but that can’t be understated.

If you are eating the same food day in and day out then get on  a new program, not much will change. You are placing a stressor on your body when you go into the gym. In order for it to adapt metabolically, you will need to fuel your body to put on muscle. This means whatever you are eating now, isn’t enough.

Use a calorie tracker. Google calorie tracker and you’ll have numerous choices. It doesn’t matter which one you choose as long as it can track your calories. You will need to start tracking, at least for the first few months, until you develop a routine.

Let’s get into training. When you are new, putting on muscle is incredibly easy. However, with no direction it can get pretty confusing. Here is something nice and simple that a novice trainer can do for their first month of training. This will be a 3 day program.


The Program

Day 1
Romanian Deadlift
A1. Split Squats
A2. Curl (I know you want to do these, so pick one kind and hammer at it)

Day 2
A1. Bench Press
A2. Chin-up (Or assisted chin-up/band assisted chin-up)
B1. Low Incline Dumbbell Press
B2. Barbell Row

Day 3
A1. Military Press
A2. Dumbbell Row
Front Squats **

The letters followed by numbers denote paired sets. For instance on day 3, you start with doing just deadlifts. Do only deadlifts until you finished all sets. Then you will move on to military press, rest for 60 seconds, then do dumbbell row. Then rest up and do this exercise pair again.

**Perform 3 sets of 6, but shouldn’t be close to failure.  You should have 2 reps in the tank for each set.

Reps and Sets

The four main exercise of pretty much any of my programs are squats (high-bar or low-bar), deadlifts (sumo or conventional), bench press, and military press.  You will notice all four of these are in the program.  For these four exercises, I want you to do 4 sets of 6 reps.  I want you to ramp up on each set to a heavy set of 6.

Let’s go over ramping.

Example: Deadlift: 135×6, 165×6, 195×6, 225×6.

I chose 30lb increments as an arbitrary number.  It doesn’t have to be that much.  It might be 10lb increments or whatever.  You will experiment and figure it out.  Just make sure that your third set isn’t going to fatigue the hell out of your for your fourth set.  For your fourth set, you can also go for AMRAP (as many reps as possible).  So maybe you do 225×8 instead of 6.  If you are feeling good on your ramp up sets, then you might consider this a possibility.

For every other exercise  do 3 sets of 10-15.  This will make it so you are getting a good amount of reps in with a decent load.  This will improve your ability to perform the lift correctly as well as give you the desired training effect of hypertrophy (muscle growth).  You can use the ramping strategy I talked about above, or use straight sets.

Straight sets example: Barbell Rows.  135×15,13,10.  Obviously you are just using the same amount of weight for all three sets.  Since I have a rep range, you may find you are freshest on the first set, then as fatigue sets in you will no longer be able to keep up at a high level.  That’s why in the example the reps decrease.  If you are having a shitty day, you can just choose a weight that you know you will be able to get three sets of the same reps for.  So it would look like 135×10,10,10.

Simple right?

Rest Periods

I’ve never been a stickler for rest periods.  They matter far less than you think.  For the main exercises, take as much as you need.  As you are new, you won’t need too long.  So let’s say 120 seconds max, between sets.

For the paired sets, you can use 60-90 seconds between sets.  It depends on your conditioning.  If you are better conditioned, use the lower number.  If you’re not very conditioned, use the upper number.


Other Shit

  • Try and keep 48 hours between all sessions.
  • Eat more food than you are eating right now.
  • Try and increase the weight each week.  You will probably be able to do this for the first few months.
  • Take your training seriously and get shit done.
  • Get sleep.
  • Eat more food than you are eating right now.
  • Be consistent.  3x/week isn’t asking too much.  You should be able to do this easily in under an hour.

Try that for a month and gain some muscle.




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