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    ITT: A Comprehensive Noob Program Continuum

    Hi all. I wanted to post this as a guide for noobs - I feel like a lot of information out there about gradually tailoring training is not readily understandable. I've spent a lot of time analyzing PPST and reading so much info from various sources and it's made me realize that the way the most widely acknowledged coaches actually progress new lifters is NOT the way that lifters are told to progress on these boards. So here I'm compiling a comprehensive program progression for new lifters that I believe is optimal for lifters training with both strength and aesthetics in mind.

    Originally Posted by Phase One - Greyskull LP
    Bench Press/Overhead Press 2x5,1x5+
    Barbell Rows/Chinups or Pulldowns 3x6-8
    Back Squat 2x5,1x5+

    Bench Press/Overhead Press 2x5,1x5+
    Barbell Rows/Chinups or Pulldowns 3x6-8
    Deadlift 1x5+

    Bench Press/Overhead Press 2x5,1x5+
    Barbell Rows/Chinups or Pulldowns 3x6-8
    Back Squat 2x5,1x5+

    "1x5+" - The last set of the pressing movements and the squat, as well as the deadlift, are AMRAP - As Many Reps As Possible. After completing your first sets as written, complete as many reps as possible with good form in the last set.

    Exercises - The bench press and overhead press alternate each workout, so that one week you will bench twice and overhead press once, and the next week it is the inverse. Do barbell rows on days you bench, and chinups (or lat pulldowns if you can't do chinups) on days that you overhead press.

    Starting weight - Use a weight that you can get at least 8 repetitions on the AMRAP set.

    Progression - If you complete at least five repetitions in every set, add five pounds for the next workout. For the squat, add 10 lbs if you were able to get 8 or more reps on the AMRAP. For the deadlift, add 10 lbs if you were able to get 6 or more reps.

    Stalling - If you cannot complete the minimum repetitions for every set, remove 10% from the bar on the next workout. Focus on setting repetition PRs on the AMRAP sets as you continue progressing the weight back up.

    Cycles - Complete this cycle at least twice for each lift. If you were able to get at least 30 pounds past your previous stalling point on the second time, run it a third time. When you've completed these cycles, move to phase two.

    *A note on squat vs deadlift frequency. Squats are not 3x/week like most novice programs to retain a more appropriate squat/pull ratio. Front squats and an equal proportion of Romanian deadlifts (not SLDL as they would tax CNS recovery too much) could feasibly be added in an autoregulated manner dependent on recovery capacity, but most novice lifters will probably screw this up and drive themselves into the ground if they're making their own decision about it.
    Originally Posted by Phase Two - Advanced Novice Continuum
    At this point you're ready for a slightly less linear approach. You want to keep putting weight on the bar, but cannot do so as rapidly or in as high of doses. Your work capacity will be increased so we also increase deadlift frequency a bit, since it's likely still able to progress a lot at this point.

    Workout A:
    Back Squat 1x5, 2x5
    Bench Press 1x5, 2x5
    Weighted Chinup 5x3-4
    Cable Rows 3x8
    Weighted Decline Situps 3x10-15

    Workout B:
    Deadlift 1x5
    SLDL 3x5 - short rest periods to ensure you're not going too heavy on these, as doing so will burn you out.
    Overhead Press - 1x5, 2x5
    Wide Grip Overhand Pullup 3x8-10 (use weight to stay in this rep range if necessary)
    Barbell or Dumbbell Curl 3x6-12 SUPERSETTED WITH DB Rear Delt Flies or Face Pulls 3x12-15

    "1x5, 2x5" - On these main lifts, your first working set is going to be a PR. Following that PR, you're going to take however much weight off the bar is necessary to complete the remaining two sets with clean form and minimal grind. This will differ for each lift and each person. Some people may have to take 5% off of squats while others with lower work capacity may need to take 15% off. Stay as heavy as you can while completing the sets.

    Starting weight - the last weight you completed every set in phase one is what you will use for your top set on each lift.

    Progression - the focus is to add weight to the top set each workout. Add 5 lbs to squat and deadlift, 2.5 lbs to bench and OHP. Increase the followup sets as able but the priority is the top set.

    Rep progression - When your top set of five reps almost reaches failure, the following workout you will reduce the top set of five to two top sets of three and continue. Make the jump planned, do not switch to 2x3 on the fly because one day you only got 4 reps. When you've ran 2x3 out, reset to a top set of five, starting off with 10 lbs less than your previous best 5 rep set.

    Frequency - Listen to your body. Always take one day between sessions. If your recovery is good enough, you can run a continual on/off/on/off schedule. Take double rest days as necessary. This could fit into a M/W/F schedule, or you can push it more. You can take a double off day in the middle of the week if you feel beaten down.

    Advancing the program - Eventually you'll progress to a steady need for two days of rest between each session in order to make progress. When this happens, add a third backoff set to the main lifts, as this will generally coincide with having a need for more work to spur progress.

    Eventually you will reach a point where 3 backoff sets is not enough to spur progress, or you cannot recover on a 1-on-2-off schedule. It's time to move on to intermediate programming.

    *A note on triceps: Most should find that their triceps progress fine from benching and overhead pressing. If you're not one of those people, you can add tricep pushdowns 3x10-15 or close grip bench press 3x8-10 on B day.

    *A note on rows: cable rows are chosen over barbell rows to avoid overtaxing the lower back, and also to encourage stricter form for greater hypertrophy.

    *A note on bench/overhead backoffs: these lifts often require more stimulation sooner in order to continue progress. If you're not hitting PRs but don't feel exhausted, it's likely you need more stimulus by adding an additional backoff set. By the end of this stage you may be following your PR with a 5x5 if you have a particularly good work capacity. Listen to your body to make sure you're getting enough work to spur progress but not applying too much to recover from.
    Originally Posted by Moving On to Intermediate
    Over the past months of your novice progression you've learned to listen to your own body by autoregulating your backoff sets and weekly schedule dependent on your recovery and work capacity. This has set you up to understand what your body's needs are as you move to intermediate programming. You'll know your body enough to start making your own programming based on your needs, but don't stray far from the basics. Some recommended ideas for programming:

    (1) Continue with the previous program, adding a fourth backoff set and introducing triple rest days. I do not recommend this, however, as at this point you're trying to prolong basic linear progression to an excessive extent. However, it is an option if you really enjoy the training style.

    (2) Progress to the Texas Method if your focus is strength. I recommend this most highly as the previous program has evolved into something very similar to Texas Method when you're at the last stage, and the Texas Method and iterations of it can easily last 6-12 more months.

    (3) Progress to 5/3/1 if your focus is size. I would recommend this as the step following finishing Texas Method for what it can give you, but it is a viable option at any point. It is slower than the Texas Method, but provides a better template for bodybuilding work if size is your focus.

    (4) Progress to an upper/lower split if you want to find a compromise between the two. Johnny Candito's linear program is great, as are four-day versions of the Texas Method.
    This approach gets rid of the endless cycle of resets/stalls I've seen in so many novices by making progression occur along a continuum that the trainee adapts to dependent on his or her recovery abilities and how much work is required for him or her to experience adaptation. Hope this has been informative to y'all and feel free to hit me up with any feedback.
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