Last Update  On March 9, 2012
The Rookie Strength Routine

/Powerbuidling routine for strength and size/

by Vladi & Rusi
The Rookie Strength Routine

/Simple power-building routine/

Goals Of The Rookie Strength Routine - Build muscle and increase strength;

Note: The main goal of this routine is not fat loss. There might some fat loss during the program but if you have a lot of pounds to lose I recommend that you follow fat loss orientated regimen.

Training Days Per Week -3 (three)

The routine can be used by beginners and more advanced athletes.

Day 1: Lower Body Day

Olympic Squats - 10x3 (10 sets of 3 reps);

Note: The main exercise for the lower-body will be the Olympic or high bar back squat. The reason for choosing this exercise over the low-bar squat is the fact that there is much less shoulder/elbow strain and the exercise develops the quadriceps to a much higher degree than a low-bar squat. Since the goal of the Rookie Strength Routine is to build muscle proportionally the classic Olympic squats suits us better.

The squat should be done deep - below parallel. Most people will be able to go to “just below parallel” and this depth is perfect. If you can go ATG and keep a tight lower and upper back (no rounding) do it. In other words - squat as deep as you can with good form.

Rest Between Sets - 1-5 mins;

Note: In order for the program to build muscle you should have small rests between the sets. At the same time heavy weights cannot be lifted if you rest 30 seconds between sets. So start with 1 minute and increase the rest between sets as the weight gets heavier. Don't go over 5 minutes because sessions will take hours and most likely your form will suffer during the lat sets because the focus won't be there.

Day 2- Rest;

Day 3 - Upper Body/Push/Pull Day

Exercise 1

Paused Incline Bench Press/Flat Bench Press - 10 x 3 (10sets of 3 reps);
Rest between sets - 1-3 mins (upper body work requires less rest between sets)

The main pushing upper body exercise of the Rookie Strength Routine is the incline/flat barbell bench press. Use low incline - 10-30 degrees in order to hit the chest harder. If you use an incline that's 45 degrees or more the front deltoid will do most of the work and less muscle mass will be stimulated.

Caution: ALWAYS use a spotter for this exercise in order to prevent injuries. Never train to failure and never attempt a rep when you know you will fail. Rookiejournal.com is not responsible for injuries occurred during any of the exercises.

FAQ: Can I substitute the incline bench press for a flat bench press?

Yes, you can do that especially if you plan to powerlift but if your goal is simply to develop a nice square looking chest the low-incline is hard to beat.

FAQ: What do you mean by paused bench press?

You pause for a second at the bottom of each bench press rep like powerlifters do at competitions. You will lift less weight but this way is much easier on the shoulders and harder on the chest. Just pause and stay tight. No bouncing.

Exercises 2:

Gymnastic rings pull-ups - 8-25 quality reps;

The gymnastic ring pull-ups are the only pull-up variation where you can perform pull-up and chin-up at the same time all while saving your joints. The rings are very elbow/wrist/shoulder friendly compared to the straight bar.

For this exercise you can follow any rep scheme you want but make sure that you get 8-25 reps done with perfect form.

Example: You can do only two pull-ups. Do 8 sets of 1 reps with 1-3 mins rest in between and call it a day. If you can do 8 pull-ups do 8 sets of 3 reps. If you can do 15 pull-ups in a row perform 8 sets of 3 reps with added weight...etc. Just make sure you get 8-25 quality reps and go home.

FAQ: Can I use straight bar for my pull-ups? - Yes, but in the long run there is nothing better than gymnastic rings. Make your own for 10 bucks. You will never regret it.

Day 4 Rest;

Day 5 Fullbody & Assistance work

Barbell Deadlift - 8 sets of 3 reps;

Rest Between Sets - 1-5 mins;

Overhead Press or Face Pulls - 3 sets of 8-15 reps

Rest Between sets - 1-2 mins

The main exercise of  Day 3 is the deadlift. The overhead press/face pulls are assistance exercises that are supposed to strengthen the external rotators of the shoulder in order to prevent muscle imbalances and shoulder injuries.

Day 6 -Rest/Stretching/Mobility Work;
Day 7- Rest;


To summarize:

Day 1: Squat 10x3;
Day 2: Rest;
Day 3: Bench Press 10x3; Pull-ups - 8-25 reps;
Day 4: Rest;
Day 5: Deadlift 8x3; Overhead Press or Face Pulls - 3x8-15 reps
Day 6: Rest/Stretching/Mobility work - optional;
Day 7: Rest;

Progression on the program;

Start with a weight you can do for 8-10 comfortable good form reps. Do 10x3 with the same weight. Next week add 10lbs / 5 kg to the squat/deadlift and 5 lbs /2.5kg to the bench . After a while the weight will get heavy. You will need more rest between sets. That's when you are supposed to cut the 10x3 squats to 8x3. You will be able to progress for a few more workouts. That's when it's time to deload. I recommend that you use 10-12 week cycles (cycles can be 8 weeks or even 14 week and 10-12 is the happy medium)

Note: If you are squatting under 135 lbs / 62.5kg and you are positive that your form is good you can add 10 lbs to the squat for the first cycle.

Example of squat cycle :
Starting weight - 95lbs - the athlete is a beginner and can do 10 easy, good form reps with the weight;

Week 1:  95 lbs x 10 x 3 (10 sets of 3 reps);
Week 2: 105 lbs x 10 x 3;
Week 3: 115 lbs x 10 x 3;
Week 4: 125 lbs x 10 x 3;
Week 5: 135 lbs x 10 x 3;
Week 6: 145 lbs x 10 x 3
Week 7: 155 lbs x 10 x 3;
Week 8: 165 lbs x 10 x 3;
Week 9: 175 lbs x 10 x 3 - it gets hard -> switch to 8x3
Week 10: 180 lbs x 8 x 3;
Week 11: 190 lbs x 8 x 3;
Week 12: 200 lbs x 8 x 3:

End of cycle. Rest a few days and start a new cycle. The general rule of thumb would be to add 10lbs to your starting weight and start a new cycle. However if you are squatting 95 lbs or less it makes no sense to start your cycle with 105 lbs. Start with 120-135 lbs and build up again.

Note: Since the weight is still quite light you may will still be able to do 10lbs weekly jumps.


Week 1: 135 lbs x 10 x 3
Week 2: 145 lbs x 10 x 3;
Week 3: 155 lbs x 10 x 3;
Week 4: 165 lbs x 10 x 3;
Week 5: 175 lbs x 10 x 3;
Week 6: 185 lbs x 10 x 3
Week 7: 195 lbs x 10 x 3;- it gets hard ->switch to 5 lbs weekly jumps;
Week 8: 200 lbs x 10 x 3; - your old PR
Week 9: 205 lbs x 10 x 3
Week 10: 215 lbs x 8 x 3;
Week 11: 220 lbs x 8 x 3;
Week 12: 225 lbs x 8 x 3:

End of cycle. Start a new one with  145.

Week 1:  145 lbs x 10 x 3
Week 2: 155 lbs x 10 x 3;
Week 3: 165 lbs x 10 x 3;
Week 4: 175 lbs x 10 x 3;
Week 5: 185 lbs x 10 x 3;
Week 6: 195 lbs x 10 x 3
Week 7: 205 lbs x 10 x 3;- it gets hard switch to 5 lbs weekly jumps;
Week 8: 210 lbs x 10 x 3;
Week 9: 215 lbs x 10 x 3
Week 10: 220 lbs x 8 x 3;
Week 11: 225 lbs x 8 x 3;
Week 12: 230 lbs x 8 x 3:

End of cycle. Start a new one with  155 and build up.

Note: Those cycles are just an example and should not be followed super strictly even if you do start with a 95 lbs squat. Just use them as guidelines.

Note: If you are more advanced and you squat close to 1.5 BW stick to 5 lbs / 2.5 kg jumps.

Example: Starting weight 300 lbs /140kg

Week 1: 300 lbs x 10 x 3
Week 2: 305lbs x 10 x 3;
Week 3: 310 lbs x 10 x 3;
Week 4: 315 lbs x 10 x 3;
Week 5: 320 lbs x 10 x 3;
Week 6: 325 lbs x 10 x 3
Week 7: 330 lbs x 10 x 3;
Week 8: 335 lbs x 8x 3; - gets tough > go to 8 x 3
Week 9: 340 lbs x 8 x 3
Week 10: 345 lbs x 7 x 3; - it gets super hard, you take too much rest between sets and you are constantly sore - time to start another cycle with 310 lbs.


Note: The deadlift should progress the same way as the squat although due to the nature of the lift you will be able to keep adding 10lbs / 5kg for a longer period of time.

Never add 10lbs / 5kg to the bench press. Always use smaller plates in order to avoid early stall.

Progression on assistance exercises:

For progression on assistance exercises use the repetition method. Let's say that you can do overhead presses with 100lbs for 8 reps. Try to add 1-2 reps every time you do the exercise and once you can do 15 reps add more weight so that the reps drop back to 8. Repeat. There is no much need to cycle the assistance exercises. Do it if you have
to.

If you have any questions make sure you read the FAQ.

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