These classic strength programs deliver results time after time

With all the fitness gimmicks we encounter every day, this article is a godsend. It features back-to-the-basics advice and a thorough discussion of proven weight lifting methods.

This means you can cut through all the noise in the fitness industry and find your results faster.

With these four classic programs for increasing your strength and improving your fitness level, everyone is sure to find the program that works for their skill level and goals.


Take a minute to read the article and find out your best method:

Some things never change, and when it comes to training, we’re grateful for that fact. New systems come and go constantly, with one self-styled guru after another screaming at you on TV that his latest system is way better than the last one he tried to sell you. Yet while we’re constantly in search of new and better ways to gain muscle and strength, there are some systems that need no rewriting—templates that have proven time and again to produce results. Four in particular have never fallen out of style, despite being far older than most of you reading this. they are: the conjugate system, linear periodization, undulating periodization, and 5×5.


The Conjugate System

Developed by Soviet sports scientists in the 1960s, the conjugate system seeks to develop multiple strength qualities simultaneously. The most famous example of it Stateside is the Westside Barbell template, a method of powerlifting pioneered by legendary competitor and coach Louie Simmons. This kind of conjugate training is broken into four lifting sessions per week: two upper-body days (bench press–focused) and two lower-body days (focused on the squat and deadlift). The upper and lower days are further split into max-effort and dynamic sessions. Max effort means working up to a one- to three-rep max, while dynamic means moving submaximal loads as fast as possible, often with bands and chains (accommodating resistance). Accessory lifts address weaknesses. For example, bodybuilding rep ranges should be used for a guy lacking size.
This system doesn’t just produce big lifts, but big muscles, too. “To me, bodybuilders are really missing the boat on accommodating resistance,” Meadows says. “It’s a great way to build size, not just strength. You get maximum contractile tension. That’s a huge stimulus.”

Linear Periodization

One of the easiest training systems to understand, linear periodization’s greatest asset is its simplicity. You train four to five weeks for hypertrophy (increases in muscle size), then four to five weeks for strength, and then four for maximum strength just before peaking, where you’ll shoot for new 1RMs on all your lifts. In each phase, the weight gets progressively heavier while the volume decreases (reps go from 10–15 down to 1). In theory, you can set newmaxes at the end of the cycle. This system was famously used by Ed Coan, one of the greatest powerlifters of all time, and strongman legend Bill Kazmaier (shown above). But if these giants were competing today, would they use the same program? In the eyes of many experts, including Meadows and Smith, linear periodization’s inflexible structure is a big strike against it. “Because you’re starting with a hypertrophy phase, that makes it a real no-no for beginners,” Meadows says. “You have to build a base of strength before you start adding size.”


The 5X5 Method

The 5X5 Method is the oldest one on this list, and it goes way back in the annals of bodybuilding. It’s the same system Reg Park used throughout most of his career, and it’s what Arnold Schwarzenegger used as an up-and-comer, laying the foundation for what would become the world’s most famous physique. It’s dead simple, and even easier to follow than linear periodization.
Beginners, or guys stuck in a rut with no set program at all, should absolutely hit up 5×5. It will allow you to lift heavier than three sets of 10, and you’ll be surprised what a difference the extra weight on the bar can do for your physique.
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