Intermediate Bodybuilding Program

Free4.40 (45 reviews)
Five-day a week program based on the principles from the Muscle and Strength Pyramid: Training
Program Description

The Intermediate Bodybuilding Program is a five-day a week program based on the principles from the Muscle and Strength Pyramid: Training book by Dr. Eric Helms, Andy Morgan, and Andrea Valdez.

We highly recommend reading the book to learn science-based training and nutrition knowledge.

Weekly schedule

  • Day 1 - Lower Body

  • Day 2 - Upper Body

  • Day 3 - Lower Body

  • Day 4 - Push

  • Day 5 - Pull

General guidelines

Warm up before you train so that your core temperature is raised.

Rest for ~2-4 minutes for the main exercises; ~90-120 seconds for others.

There is an optional deload week every fourth week. Follow the deload checklist to determine whether to deload.

% of 1RM and RPE intensity

Ratings of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is based on reps you can do before failure. RPE 10 is max effort, meaining you can't do another rep before failure. RPE 9 is you can do 1 more rep before failure. RPE 8 is you can do 2 more reps, etc.

Percentage of 1 Rep Max % is to help guide your loading in this program to estimate an RPE 8 for your first set. Use the same weight for your subsequent sets.

Wave Loading Progression (Compound Exercises)

Use 'wave loading' model for compound exercises in the target rep ranges of 3-5, 4-6, 6-8, and 8-12 reps.

Start with a weight where you can complete the target sets at the top end of the rep range, without needing a spot and rarely hitting failure on the last set.

For each successive week, increase the load by 5 lb (2.5 kg) and reduce the number of reps for each set by one. For rep ranges in 8-12, reduce reps by 2.

Deload every fourth week if necessary by reducing sets by 1/3 and using the lowest weight and reps used over the previous 3 weeks.

Example - 3 sets of 3-5 reps:

  • Week 1: 180 lbs, reps 5,5,5

  • Week 2: 185 lbs, reps 4,4,4

  • Week 3: 190 lbs, reps 3,3,3

  • Week 4: 180 lbs, reps 3,3 (deload)

  • Week 5: 185 lbs, reps 5,5,5

  • Week 6: 190 lbs, reps 4,4,4

  • Week 7: 195 lbs, reps 3,3,3

  • Week 8: 190 lbs, reps 3,3 (deload)

Example - 3 sets of 6-8 reps:

  • Week 1: 110 lbs, reps 8,8,8

  • Week 2: 115 lbs, reps 7,7,7

  • Week 3: 120 lbs, reps 6,6,6

  • Week 4: 110 lbs, reps 6,6 (deload)

  • Week 5: 115 lbs, reps 8,8,8

  • etc.

Example - 3 sets of 8-12 reps:

  • Week 1: 50 lbs, reps 12,12,12

  • Week 2: 55 lbs, reps 10,10,10

  • Week 3: 60 lbs, reps 8,8,8

  • Week 4: 50 lbs, reps 8,8 (deload)

  • Week 5: 55 lbs, reps 12,12,12

  • etc.

Double Progression (Isolation Movements)

Use 'double progression' model for your isolation exercises in the target 12-15 rep ranges.

Start with a load where you feel you can get pretty close to 15 reps for 3 sets (but not quite).

Then add reps each week, trying to get to the goal of 3×15. Take as many sessions as you need to achieve this.

Once you can do the top end of the rep range for all sets, increase weight and restart at the lower rep range,

Example - 3 sets of 12-15 reps:

  • Week 1: 40 lbs, reps 14,13,12

  • Week 2: 40 lbs, reps 14,14,12

  • Week 3: 40 lbs, reps 14,14,13

  • Week 4: 40 lbs, reps 12,12 (deload)

  • Week 5: 40 lbs, reps 15,15,14

  • Week 6: 40 lbs, reps 15,15,15

  • Week 7: 45 lbs, reps 13,12,12

  • Week 8: 45 lbs, reps 12,12 (deload)

Program Overview
Coach
Level
Equipment
Time Per Workout
Days Per Week
Program Length
Intermediate
Full Gym
60 minutes
5 days
12 weeks
What People Are Saying
Preston Man, 23
3 weeks complete
No modifications
3 days ago
Connor H. Man, 19
1 week complete
1 year of prior experience
As expected strength gains
As expected muscle gains
Marginal modifications
No lateral delts? I added on push day.
3 days ago
Mason D. Man, 22
2 weeks complete
2 years of prior experience
More than expected strength gains
More than expected muscle gains
None modifications
5 days ago
Pi10t
3 weeks complete
No modifications
5 days ago
Denis R. Man
3 weeks complete
No modifications
6 days ago
Marco Z.
3 weeks complete
No modifications
6 days ago
Shady A.
0 weeks complete
No modifications
6 days ago
Rob W. Man, 21
2 weeks complete
Less than expected strength gains
Less than expected muscle gains
Marginal modifications
6 days ago
David H. Man, 45
10 weeks complete
20 years of prior experience
As expected strength gains
As expected muscle gains
Marginal modifications
Added cardio and abdominal workouts. This program helped diversify my routine, added better lower body focus, and actually assisted me in moving past a shoulder injury from repetitive strain.
7 days ago
Jonathan M. Man, 31
3 weeks complete
1 year of prior experience
More than expected strength gains
As expected muscle gains
Marginal modifications
7 days ago
Mesocycle 1
Mon
RPE 8 = use a weight where you can only do 2 more reps before failing. Use the same weight for other sets. Rest ~2-4 min for main exercises; ~120 secs for others.
1. Squat (Barbell)
~82.5% 1RM
Alternative Exercise 1: Front Squat (Barbell)
Alternative Exercise 2: Safety Bar Squat
SetsTargetIntensity
1
5 reps
8 RPE
2
5 reps
-
3
5 reps
-
4
5 reps
-
2. Deadlift (Barbell)
~82.5% 1RM
Alternative Exercise 1: Trap Bar Deadlift
Alternative Exercise 2: Romanian Deadlift (Barbell)
Alternative Exercise 3: Good Morning
SetsTargetIntensity
1
5 reps
8 RPE
2
5 reps
-
3
5 reps
-
4
5 reps
-
3. Bulgarian Split Squat (Dumbbell)
Single Leg Variant
Alternative Exercise 1: Lunge (Barbell)
Alternative Exercise 2: Split Squat (Barbell)
SetsTargetIntensity
1
8 reps
8 RPE
2
8 reps
-
3
8 reps
-
4. Leg Curl
SetsTargetIntensity
1
8 reps
8 RPE
2
8 reps
-
3
8 reps
-
5. Standing Calf Raise
Alternative Exercise 1: Seated Calf Raise
SetsTargetIntensity
1
8 reps
8 RPE
2
8 reps
-
3
8 reps
-
4
8 reps
-
5
8 reps
-
Tue
RPE 8 = use a weight where you can only do 2 more reps before failing. Use the same weight for other sets. Rest ~2-4 min for main exercises; ~120 secs for others.
1. Bench Press (Barbell)
~82.5% 1RM
Alternative Exercise 1: Bench Press (Dumbbell)
Alternative Exercise 2: Incline Bench Press (Barbell)
SetsTargetIntensity
1
5 reps
8 RPE
2
5 reps
-
3
5 reps
-
4
5 reps
-
2. Barbell Row
Horizontal Pull
Alternative Exercise 1: Dumbbell Row
Alternative Exercise 2: Seated Row (Cable)
SetsTargetIntensity
1
6 reps
8 RPE
2
6 reps
-
3
6 reps
-
4
6 reps
-
3. Overhead Press (Barbell)
~77.5% 1RM
Alternative Exercise 1: Standing Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)
SetsTargetIntensity
1
7 reps
8 RPE
2
7 reps
-
3
7 reps
-
4. Chin-Up (Weighted)
Vertical Pull. Use bands if too hard. Add weight if too easy.
Alternative Exercise 1: Pull-Up (Weighted)
Alternative Exercise 2: Lat Pulldown
SetsTargetIntensity
1
8 reps
8 RPE
2
8 reps
-
3
8 reps
-
5. Tricep Pushdown (Cable)
SetsTargetIntensity
1
12 reps
8 RPE
2
12 reps
-
3
12 reps
-
6. Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)
SetsTargetIntensity
1
12 reps
8 RPE
2
12 reps
-
3
12 reps
-
Thu
RPE 8 = use a weight where you can only do 2 more reps before failing. Use the same weight for other sets. Rest ~2-4 min for main exercises; ~120 secs for others.
1. Hip Thrust (Barbell)
Hip Hinge Variant
Alternative Exercise 1: Glute Bridge (Barbell)
Alternative Exercise 2: Pull Through (Cable)
SetsTargetIntensity
1
8 reps
8 RPE
2
8 reps
-
3
8 reps
-
2. Leg Press
Leg Press Variant
Alternative Exercise 1: Hack Squat
SetsTargetIntensity
1
8 reps
8 RPE
2
8 reps
-
3
8 reps
-
3. Leg Extension
SetsTargetIntensity
1
12 reps
8 RPE
2
12 reps
-
3
12 reps
-
4. Leg Curl
SetsTargetIntensity
1
12 reps
8 RPE
2
12 reps
-
3
12 reps
-
5. Seated Calf Raise
Follow Double Progression model. See program description.
SetsTargetIntensity
1
12 - 15 reps
8 RPE
2
12 - 15 reps
-
3
12 - 15 reps
-
4
12 - 15 reps
-
5
12 - 15 reps
-
Fri
RPE 8 = use a weight where you can only do 2 more reps before failing. Use the same weight for other sets. Rest ~2-4 min for main exercises; ~120 secs for others.
1. Overhead Press (Barbell)
Vertical Push
Alternative Exercise 1: Standing Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)
Alternative Exercise 2: Landmine Press
SetsTargetIntensity
1
8 reps
8 RPE
2
8 reps
-
3
8 reps
-
2. Bench Press (Dumbbell)
Horizontal Push
Alternative Exercise 1: Bench Press (Barbell)
SetsTargetIntensity
1
8 reps
8 RPE
2
8 reps
-
3
8 reps
-
3. Dip (Weighted)
SetsTargetIntensity
1
12 reps
8 RPE
2
12 reps
-
3
12 reps
-
4. Chest Fly
Follow Double Progression model. See program description.
SetsTargetIntensity
1
12 - 15 reps
8 RPE
2
12 - 15 reps
-
3
12 - 15 reps
-
Sat
RPE 8 = use a weight where you can only do 2 more reps before failing. Use the same weight for other sets. Rest ~2-4 min for main exercises; ~120 secs for others.
1. Seated Row
Horizontal Pull
Alternative Exercise 1: Barbell Row
SetsTargetIntensity
1
8 reps
8 RPE
2
8 reps
-
3
8 reps
-
2. Lat Pulldown
Vertical Pull
Alternative Exercise 1: Pull-Up (Weighted)
SetsTargetIntensity
1
8 reps
8 RPE
2
8 reps
-
3
8 reps
-
3. Back Extension (Weighted)
SetsTargetIntensity
1
12 reps
8 RPE
2
12 reps
-
3
12 reps
-
4. Face Pull
Follow Double Progression model. See program description.
SetsTargetIntensity
1
12 - 15 reps
8 RPE
2
12 - 15 reps
-