Six Week No BS Barbell Training Program for Strength and Size

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The biggest mistake a lifter can make is to ignore the basics and rush straight into advanced training. I see it all the time with people that I consult, and hear about it often at the gym.

If you were to ask any champion, in any sport like football, baseball, basketball, or in the strength sports like powerlifting, weightlifting or strongman, and yes in the sport of bodybuilding as well, they would tell you that brilliance and success is in the basics.
Champions are great at the basics.

Related: 36 Explosive Ways to Build Muscle Mass

Strength Coach Travis Mash says champions are, “Masters of the Mundane.” He should know as a world Champion powerlifter and all around strong dude in both powerlifting and weightlifting himself as well as being a coach to some of the best up and comers in the sport of weightlifting.

What makes a lifter advanced is their ability to perform the basics first and then move towards more advanced training protocols.

Too many times we read what champions in their respective sport are doing and want to follow the same program that they are doing right now. This is a huge mistake that can set a lifter back for months if not years.

Barbell Training

Instead what we need to be asking is, how did they train when they first began in their sport? Often times we are disappointed to find the basics staring back at us as the answer. In the sport of bodybuilding the basics are rooted in simple barbell training.

We all need to get back to basics.

Even advanced lifters could benefit from taking some time to revisit the basics before diving into another more advanced training protocol. There is something freeing about only using a barbell and following a simple workout template instead of the latest program hotness with timed sets, different tempos, half reps and so on.

I’m not say these things don’t work, in fact, they work well and have helped me reach muscle mass goals in the past. However, they haven’t nearly helped as much as sticking to the basics.

So what do we mean when we are talking about basic barbell training? We are talking about the bench press, military press, barbell row, front squat, back squat, walking lunge, Romanian deadlift, barbell curl, and lying triceps extension. If you are feeling extra motivated, you can throw in dips and chins as well.

These are the exercises that build the foundation for a physique of greatness.

Why do the barbell basics work so well? They work because they get you stronger on top of getting you bigger. Most of the exercises you perform with a barbell are compound lifts which means that they involve more than one muscle group.

Compound exercises are a one stop shop to getting you bigger and stronger. What you will notice when you become stronger at these basic lifts is that the weights that you use during dumbbell and cable work will go up too and using more weight for more reps on any exercise is the secret to gaining muscle.

That last part is important. More weight for more reps equals more muscle. Period.

The following program is a simple six week training program that only requires a barbell, a power rack and dip bars. There are no dumbbells, no cables, no bands, no chains, and no machines.

Take six weeks off from all the other contraptions in the gym and put everything you have into the barbell and reap the benefits of increased strength and mass as you move back into your normal training routine.

Bench Press

6 Week Workout Plan for Size and Strength

Week 1 Schedule

  • Monday – Shoulders + Arms + Abs
  • Tuesday – Legs + Abs
  • Wednesday – Chest + Back + Abs
  • Thursday – Off
  • Friday – Shoulder + Arms + Abs
  • Saturday – Legs + Abs
  • Sunday – Chest + Back + Abs

Week 2 Schedule

  • Monday – Off
  • Tuesday – Shoulders + Arms + Abs
  • Wednesday – Legs + Abs
  • Thursday – Chest + Back + Abs
  • Friday – Off
  • Saturday – Shoulder + Arms + Abs
  • Sunday – Legs + Abs

Week 3 Schedule

  • Monday – Chest + Back + Abs
  • Tuesday – Off
  • Wednesday – Shoulders + Arms + Abs
  • Thursday – Legs + Abs
  • Friday – Chest + Back + Abs
  • Saturday – Off
  • Sunday – Shoulder + Arms + Abs

Week 4 Schedule

  • Monday – Legs + Abs
  • Tuesday – Chest + Back + Abs
  • Wednesday – Off
  • Thursday – Shoulders + Arms + Abs
  • Friday – Legs + Abs
  • Saturday – Chest + Back + Abs
  • Sunday – Off

Sumo DeadliftWeek 5 Schedule

  • Monday – Shoulders + Arms + Abs
  • Tuesday – Legs + Abs
  • Wednesday – Chest + Back + Abs
  • Thursday – Off
  • Friday – Shoulders + Arms + Abs
  • Saturday – Legs + Abs
  • Sunday – Chest + Back + Abs

Week 6 Schedule

  • Monday – Off
  • Tuesday – Shoulders + Arms + Abs
  • Wednesday – Legs + Abs
  • Thursday – Chest + Back + Abs
  • Friday – Off
  • Saturday – Shoulders + Arms +Abs
  • Sunday – Legs + Abs
Shoulders + Arms + Abs
6 Week Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
1a) Military Press  5  5
b) Barbell Shrug  5  5
2a) Barbell Curl  3  8
b) Close Grip Bench  3  8
3) Plank  3  Max Time
Legs + Abs
6 Week Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
1) Front Squat  3  10
2) Romanian Deadlift  3  10
3) Walking or Reverse Lunge  4  8
4) Ab Wheel or Barbell Rollout  2  5
Chest + Back + Abs
6 Week Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
1a) Bench Press*  5  5
b) Chin up  5  5
2a) Dips  3  8
b) Barbell Row  3  8
3) Hanging Leg/Knee Raise  2  5

*Choose any angle (incline, flat, or decline).

6 Week Workout Plan Specifics

This program is simple and is meant to get you stronger in the basic lifts while providing sufficient volume to put on some mass. Make sure that you rest enough in between your sets on leg day and supersets on upperbody days (up to 5 minutes after a set or superset). When you maximize your rest periods you will be able to lift heavier weights throughout your sets of each exercise.

When selecting an initial weight, choose a weight you think you can finish all sets with. If you complete the workout with a given weight increase your poundage next time and use that weight until you can complete all sets again.

For example, if you are doing 3 sets of 8 on close grip bench press with 135 and you hit 8 reps on all of your sets, and you were able to do say 10 on your final set, next workout throw 155 on the bar. Maximize each set and if you don’t hit 8 reps on all of your sets keep at that weight until you do (it may take a couple of more workouts). This means that it’s important for you to log your workouts so that you can track your progress.

This program is set up on a three day on one day off schedule so that you are able to train each body part more frequently than once a week. If you cannot follow the schedule, fit the workouts into your schedule with the same order and keep rotating through them.

Remember the goal behind getting back to basics is to focus on getting stronger at these fundamental lifts. This is a simple program but simple is not the same as easy. If this program is easy or too difficult you are not using the appropriate load.

Program Summary

No matter who you are you need a solid foundation in the basics. Too many times we rush past the fundamentals and the elegance of simple training in search of the newest hotness in training programs.

You will never go wrong with the barbell fundamental movements performed correctly with the correct volume and load. Take some time to become great at the basics. You will not regret it.

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Name: Luke Atchley

Bio: I have made it my life’s mission to get strong and to make others around me stronger. There are no secrets to strength, no pills, no short cuts, no easy way out. The path to strength is simple, not complicated as others out there would have you believe.I am here to make the path known, to make you strong, but just because the path is simple does not mean that it will be easy. The truly strong are strong of mind, body, character, and spirit. I call these the Virtues of Strength.