General Beginner Program “ABC” – 3x Per Week

After some thought, I decided I wanted to put out a second option for beginner programming. Some people like the alternating nature of “ABA” programming, and some people like the consistent nature of “ABC” programming. So, let’s hop in.

A Day

Squat – 5×5
Bench – 3×5
Bent Rows 5×5
Tricep Extensions 3×8-12

B Day

Bench – 5×3
Deadlift – 3×3
Chin Ups – 3×6
Upright Rows – 3×8-12

C Day

Bench – 5×5
Squat – 5×3
Chin Ups – 3×6
Tricep Extensions 3×8-12

Starting Weights

For the most part, it really doesn’t matter. Don’t start heavy. You will progress extremely fast at first, so whether you start at 135lbs on the squat or just a 95lbs bar will not make much of a difference down the road. If you’re an absolutely new beginner, start light. Pretty much any physical activity will prompt positive changes in your body anyways. If you’re athletic, feel free to start around 135lbs. If you’re somewhere in between, 95lbs will probably be an alright starting point. The goal isn’t to be sore, the goal is to improve. You don’t get better by getting sore, you get better by getting better. Anyone can get sore by doing 100 bodyweight squats, but the guy squatting 315lbs for a 5×5 will likely be stronger and look better.

If you already know your 1RM, start at 70% and work up from there.


Squat: Every A Day increase the weight by 10lbs.
Deadlift: Every B Day increase the weight by 10lbs.
Bench Press: Every C Day increase the weight by 5lbs.
Chin Ups: Every B Day AFTER you are able to do 3×6 @ bodyweight, start adding 5lbs.
Bent Rows: Match your Bench Press.
Upright Rows: Starting from 8 Reps, work up to being able to do 3 sets of 12 reps. Once you hit 3×12, increase the weight by 5-10lbs and repeat the cycle.
Tricep Extensions: Follow the same protocol as Upright Rows.

After you’ve run the program for 8 weeks, reduce the weight on your compound lifts by 2 weeks worth of weight, e.g. -20lbs on Squat and Deadlift, and -10lbs on Bench and Bent Rows. You will still have a net +60lbs on Squat and Deadlift and +30lbs on Bench and Bent Rows. This will allow your body much needed rest and set you up to keep progressing into the future. Additionally, follow this protocol if you fail to complete your sets and reps for any given lift. E.g. if you fail you Squat, reduce your Squat weight by 20lbs, not any other weight.

Additional Notes

The reason the rep schemes change from day to day is two-fold: eventually it’s going to help with fatigue management. As a beginner, this likely won’t be a problem. But once you’re going for 16-24 weeks, a bit of management will likely serve you well. The other reason is that form is paramount in lifting. You do the same weight on your 5×3’s that you use on your 5×5’s. That means these sets will be significantly easier, but the point is to nail down form exactly. The more consistently you use solid form, the less the chances are of you getting hurt. As a beginner, and likely even as an intermediate, 5×3 will also supply enough volume towards the end of the week to prompt adaptations that are already being primed by your 5×5 work earlier in the week. Assuming the weights are challenging, they will provide enough stimulus to grow for quite a while.

Once again, if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or reach me @kvidt on Instagram, or over at the RDK Lifting Facebook page!

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