Ideas - Basic lifting routines

Note: This is not for preparation for any particular event, or even any sport. I'm posting this as a supplement to the general "how do I lose fat and gain muscle" sorts of questions, which are multiple. I just suggested dropping too much isolation work on another thread, so wanted some examples out there of what sorts of things I mean.

Also, this stuff is not original.... I have to credit Lyle McDonald with these suggestions (I haven't been in touch with him in nearly 10 years, but he was my "first guru", and knows his stuff).


Most Basic: two times per week, full body

Day 1:
squat, SLDL, a compound push (bench, military, push press, parallel bar dips) , a compound pull (bent row, chins, cable row...); tinkering

day 2
deadlift, leg curl, a different compound push, a different compound pull, tinkering

Reps vary from 2-3X6-8 to 2-3 sets of 5 on everything (not including warmups). Then move to 2 sets of 3 and one burnout set of 8 for a better mix of strength and size.

This is plenty to get big and strong.

Less basic -- if you want to add a third day. Options:

Option 1: 3 full body workouts. This is a Bill Starr type approach. You can go heavy/light/medium if you want, probably recover better.

Option 1-variant: 3 full body workouts. Make Mon/Fri heavier, make Wed a tinkering workout and a little bit lighter. Try sets of 5 or 6-8 on Mon/Fri and sets of 10-12 on Wednesday. Do the heavy compounds on Mon/Fri and stuff like front squat or leg press, shoulder press, and arms on Wed.

Option 2: basic upper/lower split. Just alternate (depending on your workout days):
Tues: upper

Thurs: lower

Sat: upper

Tues: lower

Thurs: upper

Sat: lower

This is working everything every 5th day, or three times per 2 weeks.

If you want to be in the gym more than 3x a week:

A four day basic routine becomes:
Mon/Thu: lower body + abs

Tue/Fri: upper body


Mon/Thu: legs+back

Tue/Fri: Pushing

You can do the same workout both times, or make each one different -- so for example: Monday a squat emphasis, Thursday a deadlift emphasis. Emphasize flat bench and row on Tuesday, incline bench and chin/pulldown on Friday.

I'm guessing "tinkering" = ab, calf, neck, & grip stuff?

BTW, I still have your old basic article and still pass it on to people at times.

Dev -- yeah, generally abs/neck/calves; maybe a particular isolation exercise if I'm particularly concerned (about say, how lame my triceps are);

But also more than that... for me: things I'm trying to learn, so can't do heavy (if I'm messing with some Oly-derived lift I can't do right, or doing a bent press or something I'm not yet good at -- weight room technique work).

Hey Ali,

I keep missing you on the phone.

Break in Routine.

DAY 1. Monday

Squat 2 x 15

Lunge 2x 15

One arm DB Row With Elbow out 2 x 15

Push-up 2 x 15

Swiss Ball Crunch 2 x 20

DAY 2. Thursday

Deadlift (your choice) 2 x 15

Step up 2 x 15

Standing Shoulder Press 2 x 15

Close Grip Pull-down or Chin-up 2 x 15

Hip curl (reverse crunch movement) 2 x 20

60 seconds rest between sets.

Simple as can be.


Also...go to Dan Johns home page for endless great ideas about training, eating etc.

Good stuff Taku!

Yesterday's call -- well... I didn't even notice I got it till hours later; but I also won't always pick up my cell at work.... I have some advice to ask of you (for someone else), so want to talk to you for that reason as well. Maybe Sat.... or Fri. after work

Hey Ali,

sounds good. Give me a ring, any time.


Awesome stuff


top. for reference.

I have had great results again and again using the Heavy - Light - Medium approach. It never fails to pruduce excellent strength gains in those I use it on.

I used this approach with a group of short-track Speed Skaters several years ago and all of them increased there strength by 40-60% in just 4-5 weeks. This was on a basic, full-body routine done only twice a week.


I always seem to go back to the basic Athletic Weight Training by J.V. Askem.

I've used the power lifting oriented version and now I'm using a modified version of the oly lifting program right now.

Only thing is my power cleans suck right now so I'm dropping them and the power snatches and going to clean grip pulls one day and snatch grip pulls.

"I have had great results again and again using the Heavy - Light - Medium approach."

What does this approach entail and how do you schedule it to a 2X a week program?

Hi Taku,

could you tell more about the specific routine you used with the skaters? Or any tips for alpine skiing strength training?


Great advice, thanks!