Stand Strength Novice Powerbuilding Program

Most novice programs suffer from a variety of issues that doom most novice lifters to horrible habits and ideas when it comes to lifting and training. The idea that "all things work for novices" or the argument that "all a novice needs are the squat, bench, and deadlift" are just as horrible as thinking that the ideas and workout programs you find in Personal Training books are valid.

The novice lifter is more than just a novice powerlifter. While the training for any natural lifter should be comprised of heavy compound exercises that get heavier over time, most novice programs either use too little or too much exercise variety and also fail to give a novice a way forward beyond the first program they decide to use.

The novice should train in a way that builds multiple capacities that facilitates and potentiates further progress. They should use a variety of exercises, and if they have the goal of building muscle, they also need to isolate. Seeing too many programs make the same mistake, I created this program to change the trajectory of any one who decides to pick up a barbell to get bigger and stronger.


The Program

Training Schedule

The program starts as a 3 day split; however, there are 4 training days:

  1. Strength (STR) Lower
  2. STR Upper
  3. Size (SZ) Lower
  4. SZ Upper

As you advance and your recoverability improves, you will complete all 4 training days in a single week.

3 Day Version

This is to be done Mon/Wed/Fri or Tues/Thurs/Sat (adjust if necessary but try to rest in between days if possible). You will alternate between weeks.

  1. STR Lower - STR Upper - SZ Lower
  2. STR Upper - STR Lower - SZ Upper

During weeks that feature 2 lower body days, I HIGHLY recommend the use of upper body finishers to help build work capacity and also because I, like many of you, want to make sure my upper body grows.

4 Day Version

Once you progress to training 4 days per week, there are two options for you to use; however, it is not necessary to alternate between them. I recommend training Mon/Tues/Thurs/Fri OR Mon/Wed/Fri/Sat.

Choose the option that best suits your ability to be consistent and work hard:

  1. STR Lower - STR Upper - SZ Lower - SZ Upper
  2. STR Lower - SZ Upper - SZ Lower - STR Upper

You can invert the order of upper-lower days if you would like.

Strength Lower

 Exercise Sets x Reps Notes/Progressions
Deadlift 1-3 x 5

Week 1: 1x5RM, stop before you hit technical failure. 

Week 2: 2x2-5, only progress to "week 3" when you can complete 2 x 5 with week 1 weights

Week 3: 3x2-5, once you hit 3x5 with week 1 weight, go back to week 1 and try to hit another 5RM

Choose 1:

  • Pause Squat
  • Goblet Squat
  • Leg Press + Calf Extension on Leg Press
  • 3 x 4-8
  • 3 x 6-10
  • 3 x 8-12

Exercise selection should be dependent on your level of fitness and fatigue. If you are too tired or your low back is too sore after deadlifts to squat, do goblet squats or leg presses.

Pull Up or Chin Up + Hanging Leg Raise


If you are unable to perform bodyweight pullups/chinups, use bands, assistance, or a regression (e.g. inverted rows)


Strength Upper

 Exercise Sets x Reps Notes/Progression
Flat BB Bench Press + Chin Ups 3 x 6-8

Week 1: 3x6

Week 2: 3x7

Week 3: 3x8

Superset is Optional, perform separately or not at all

Row Variation + Parallel Bar Dips or Push Ups

3 x 8-12


Add load when you can complete 3 x 12 with good form
DB OHP + Lat. Pulldown 2 x 8-12 Perform a warm up set to decide what weight you use
Lateral Raises + Triceps Extension 2 x 12-20 Go to failure

Size Lower

 Exercise Sets x Reps Notes/Progression
BB Back Squat 3 x 6-10 Take each set shy of failure, adding load only when you can accomplish 3x10 with good form
BB or DB RDL + Shrugs 3 x 8-12

Choose 1 Superset:

  1. Back Extension + Planks
  2. Leg Press + Calves
  3. Chin Ups + Leg Raises
  4. DB Lunges or Split Squat + DB Calf Raise

Match by #

  1. 2x10 + 60s
  2. 2x8-15
  3. 2xAMRAP
  4. 2x8-12
Your choice will depend on personal preference and the muscle you desire to train the most.
Upright Row + Hammer Curl or Reverse Curl 2 x 8-12

Size Upper

 Exercise Sets x Reps Notes/Progression
Chin Ups + BB OHP


x 6-10

Add load when 3 x 10 can be performed

Superset optional, but chin ups must be performed

Regressions and assistance is allowed

DB Row + Bench Press Variation 3 x 8-12 If using a barbell bench variation (e.g. close-grip, wide-grip, or incline), use weight less than or equal to 80% of the strength upper weight
Inverted Row + Push Ups 2 x AMRAP
Bicep + Tricep + Delts Giant Set 2 x 8-15


Upper Body Finishers on Lower Body Weeks

I highly recommend to run this program starting with the 3 day version because mastering consistency is better than having optimal training practices. However, on weeks that feature 2 lower body days, I advise you to perform an upper body finisher at the end of one or both sessions.

The PT Pyramid

This program was created by Former US Navy SEAL, Stew Smith and then modified for the purposes of this program.

Set a timer for 5-10 minutes, complete as many rounds as possible in that time.

1 Pull Up , 2 Push Ups, 3 Sit Ups; 2 Pull Ups, 4 Push Ups, 6 Sit Ups....10 Pull Ups, 20 Push Ups, 30 Sit Ups

Rest as needed

Odd Minute-Even Minute

Set a timer for 10 minutes

During odd minutes perform as many reps of a pulling exercise as possible (i.e. inverted rows, pull ups/chin ups, DB, Cable, or Machine Rows)

During even minutes perform as many push ups as possible

Rest as needed