In our post, “A few considerations for your strength program,” we briefly covered general strength programs. In that writing, we noted

  • General lifting
  • Focuses on basic strength development
  • Borrows from other strength methods
  • Ideal for the person who does no prefer traditional lifting programs
  • Often a good fit for the average person looking for general fitness improvements

The general strength program is simplistic in design, including minimal exercises and days of training. Such programs can take on many forms, which may mean including a variety of exercises, wide variation in the number of training days, and variance in other aspects such as volume.

Included below are two programs we use/have used for general strength development. Each only shows four weeks but were part of bigger 12-week program. Both have real-world experience, meaning we used them for our clients.

The first program is a barbell heavy program. Squatting, deadlifting, and pressing occur multiple times per week, though variation in volume and exercises vary from day o day. For general strength, the specific exercise could be switched out for any other version. For example, instead of the bench press, it could be an overhead press, incline press, etc.

The second program utilizes more variation, though strength work only occurs two days per week (note: this was part of a bigger fitness program that provided additional workout days). This program is less barbell heavy and utilizes movements such as the kettlebell swing and dumbbell deadlift among others. It also incorporates some general fitness work to provide an idea of how general strength work may fit into a general fitness program.

Each program has a place in training and would be applied based on the goals, preferences, and abilities of the trainee.You can use these layouts as-is today or use them as a general guide for your workouts. You can see the content for the first 3-4 weeks for each program below. To download an excel sheet of each program, click here.
General strength program

Week 1 – Day 1

Barbell back squat 6 sets x 6 reps

Barbell deadlift 6 sets x 6 reps

Barbell bench press 6 sets x 6 reps

Week 1 – Day 2

Barbell front squat 5 sets x 10 10 10 10 max

Rack pull deadlift 5 sets x 10 10 10 10 max

Barbell incline bench press 5 sets x 10 10 10 10 max

Week 1 – Day 3

Any squat 4 sets x 15-25 reps

Any deadlift 4 sets x 15-25 reps

Any press 4 sets x 15-25 reps

Week 2 – Day 1

Barbell back squat 6 sets x 4 reps

Barbell deadlift 6 sets x 4 reps

Barbell bench press 6 sets x 4 reps

Week 2 – Day 2

Barbell front squat 5 sets x 12 12 12 12 max

Rack pull deadlift 5 sets x 12 12 12 12 max

Barbell incline bench press 5 sets x 12 12 12 12 max

Week 2 – Day 3

Any squat 4 sets x 15-25 reps

Any deadlift 4 sets x 15-25 reps

Any press 4 sets x 15-25 reps

Week 3 – Day 1

Barbell back squat 6 sets x 2 reps

Barbell deadlift 6 sets x 2 reps

Barbell bench press 6 sets x 2 reps

Week 3 – Day 2

Barbell front squat 5 sets x 15 15 15 15 max

Rack pull deadlift 5 sets x 15 15 15 15 max

Barbell incline bench press 5 sets x 15 15 15 15 max

Week 3 – Day 3

Any squat 4 sets x 15-25 reps

Any deadlift 4 sets x 15-25 reps

Any press 4 sets x 15-25 reps

General fitness program

Week 1 – Day 1

Barbell front squat 6 sets x 3 reps

Barbell sumo deadlift 6 sets x 3 reps

Barbell shoulder press 6 sets x 3 reps

Optional

Battle rope/side step alternate exercises each minute, 10 mins x 1/1

Week 1 – Day 2

Kettlebell swing 3 sets x 21 reps

Front raise ss 3 sets x 7 reps

Lateral raise ss 3 sets x 7reps

Bent lateral raise 3 sets x 7reps

Optional

Step-up/ side step alternate exercises each minute, 10 mins x 1/1

Week 1 – Day 3

Cardio walk/jog/run for 20-40 minutes

Week 2 – Day 1

DB front squat 6 sets x 3 reps

DB deadlift 6 sets x 3 reps

DB shoulder press 6 sets x 3 reps

Optional

Battle rope/step up alternate exercises each minute, 10 mins x 1/1

Week 2 – Day 2

Overhead lunge 3 sets x 4 reps per side

KB high pull 3 sets x 8 reps

Single leg deadlift 3 sets x 4 reps per side

Optional

Step-up/ side step alternate exercises each minute, 10 mins x 1/1

Week 2 – Day 3

Cardio walk/jog/run for 20-40 minutes

Week 3 – Day 1

Goblet squat 6 sets x 3 reps

Sumo KB deadlift 6 sets x 3 reps

Unilateral KB shoulder press 6 sets x 3 reps

Optional

Air squat/battle rope alternate exercises each minute, 10 mins x 1/1

Week 3 – Day 2

High knee 3 sets x 10 reps per side

Plank 3 sets x 10-120 seconds hold

Turkish get up 3 sets x 5 reps per side

Optional

Medicine ball clean/step-up alternate exercises each minute, 10 mins x 1/1

Week 3 – Day 3

Cardio walk/jog/run for 20-40 minutes

Week 4 – Day 1

Thruster 6 sets x 3 reps

KB swing 6 sets x 3 reps

DB push press 6 sets x 3 reps

Optional

Step up/side step alternate exercises each minute, 10 mins x 1/1

Week 4 – Day 2

Front raise ss 3 sets x 12 reps

Stationary lunge 3 sets x 6 reps per side

High knee 3 sets x 6 reps per side

Optional

Battle rope/ side step alternate exercises each minute, 10 mins x 1/1

Week 4 – Day 3

Cardio walk/jog/run for 20-40 minutes

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Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, Utah State University, and the ISSA College of Exercise Science. Nathan has 20 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.