GSLP Strength Bias
By Jordan Feigenbaum MS, CSCS, HFS, USAW Club Coach
Greyskull Linear Progression (GSLP) by Johnny Pain is a great novice to intermediate program. It is geared somewhere between a pure strength and pure hypertrophy program as it involves both higher rep sets and isolation movements, as will as including heavy sets across of the big exercises. You can purchase his e-book on the technique off his website. What I’ve done here is modified it for a strength bias, that is for someone who aims to get much stronger and gain muscle, but with an emphasis on strength. Here is how it goes:
The setup for this program is very similar to setting up the Texas Method and original GSLP. We’ll base all your working sets based on your previous 5RM’s and go from there. This is a 3-day per week setup where you train on non-consecutive days. It also follows linear progression in that weight is added to the bar in a weekly fashion, thus it is an intermediate program. It can also be adapted to an advanced athlete, as I’ll cover in the modifications section. Based on the following 5RM’s:
Squat-205 x 5
Deadlift-245 x 5
Press- 115 x 5
Day 1- Volume Day for Pressing variant and Squats
A) Press-5-5-5+ @105lbs
B) Bench Press-5-5-5+ @ Day 2’s weight + 2.5lbs-5lbs
A) Body weight Chins x max reps x 3 sets
B) Curls x 12-15 x 2 sets
C) Squats x 5-5-5+ @ 185lbs
*5+ means go for maximum reps. Week 1’s 3rd set of 5 should be somewhere north of 10 reps, choose the weight appropriately.
**Alternate A/B based on week. On a “A” week the lifter will press on Days 1 and 3, while they will bench press on Day 2. On a “B” week the lifter will bench press on Days 1 and 3, while pressing on day 2. The same alternating schedule of curls and weighted chins/body weight chins holds true here.
Day 2- Volume Day for 2nd Pressing Variant and Deadlifts
A) Bench Press x 5-5-5+ @205lbs
B) Press-5-5-5+ @ Day 3 from week 1’s weight + 2.5-5lbs
C) Power Clean (as warm up for deadlift) x 3 x 3, x 2 x 1, x 1 until a miss
D) Deadlift x 5+ @ 245
Day 3-Intensity Day for Press Variant and Squat Variant
A) Press x 4-6 @ 120lbs, 12-15 @95lbs
B) Bench Press -4-6 @ 235lbs, 12-15 @ 185lbs
A) Weighted Chins x 6-8 reps x 2 sets
B) Curls x 12-15 x 2 sets
C) Squats x 4-6 @ 205, x 12-20 @ 170lbs
Pick two non-overlapping (i.e. one upper and one lower body) accessory exercises MAX on each training day. These are to be done after the main work has been done and the lifter should keep in mind that there is training to be done in 48 hours, so these shouldn’t wreck the lifter.
Good Mornings x 6-8 x 3 sets
Paused Good Mornings x 5 x 2 sets
RDL’s x 8-15 x 3 sets
SLDL x 5-15 x 1 set
Deficit pulls x 5-15 x 1 set
Power Shrugs x 5-15 x 2 sets
GHR/GHD Situps x 10-20 x 3 sets
Lying Triceps Extensions x 8-15 x 3 sets
Dips (bodyweight) x 12-15 x 3 sets
Dips (weighted) x 6-8 x 2 sets
JM Press x 5-10 x 2-3 sets
V-Grip Pull Down x 12-15 x 2-3 sets
Plug-ins can be done daily with the caveat that there is one day of complete rest per week, usually on Sunday. These methods are used to increase muscular size, strength, and capacity while exposing the lifter to increased volume of very submaximal movements over the course of weeks, months, and years. Take for instance the venerable push-up. While the push-up is a great movement to build the chest and pressing strength or capacity, it requires obscene amounts of volume to be effective for anyone who can actually knock out 40+ legit push-ups. So what we’ll do is multiple submaximal sets spread throughout the day of say 15 reps x 4 sets for a total of 60 pushups per day. This gives us 240 pushups a week (one day of rest, remember?) and 960 pushups a month. Do you think this will increase or decrease your capacity to push against something? Do you also think this might help develop the musculature of the chest, shoulders, and triceps? The same holds true when pairing the submaximal (not to failure) sets of pushups with multiple sets of chin-ups to failure or chin-ladders on a daily basis.
Here are some good ideas to “plug-in”:
Frequency method Push-ups (must be accompanied by FM chins)
Frequency method Chin-ups
Frequency method band pull-aparts
Frequency method triceps extensions
Neck Work with neck harness
Don’t try and do all of these at once. I find that most get good mileage out of doing the push-ups and chin-ups at SUB MAXIMAL sets, that is, there is never a failed rep. If you don’t have access to a chinning bar during the day just do chin ladders at the end of each workout to accompany the pushups.
The most important aspect of any program is progression. Add weight weekly to the lifts, 2-5lbs on upper body and 5-10lbs on lower body, and if you only get the requisite reps (5-5-5) on volume day, or on intensity day (4 and 12) keep the weight the same for the next week/session until you crush the rep range into submission.
Odds are this program can be run a long time. Stalling will either occur from too aggressive of weight increases too frequently or from a lack of recovery due to incorporating too many other things, given that form is correct.
As the lifter progresses, a DE setup can be employed on the squat and pressing volume days. The squats will use 10 sets of 2 on a minute clock (getting under the bar at the 30s mark) with 50-60% of the lifters raw 1RM. This percentage is an estimate and the reps must be explosive. On bench and press the reps will be 8 sets of 3 on a minute clock with the same loading protocol. Keep Wednesday’s volume the same for upper body as using straight weight will still be useful, especially the money-maker 3rd set. Speed pulls can be subbed in for traditional deadlifts as well when deadlifts creep up towards the mid 400’s and above. At that point pulling 1-3 heavy singles that are progressed weekly after Friday’s squat workout will be useful.
About 4-6 weeks out from the meet switch the setup for 2x a week bench pressing with Wednesday being the press day, Also, switch the intensity day to paused singles (1-1-1-1-1) for bench press and five singles for squats before the back-off sets.
If/when failure occurs you are at a crossroads. You can switch the movement for a closely related one that you believe carries over (i.e. bench press subbed out for incline bench or press switched for seated press or dumbbell press) or switch the rep range (5-5-5+ to 3-3-3-3-3+). I find that taking a 3-4 week break on the movements is useful to get things moving again on the main lifts. Here are some useful substitutions:
Stalled Lift>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Subbed Lift
Bench Press Incline Bench Press
Press Standing DB Press
Deadlift Deficit/Snatch Grip Deadlift
Back Squat Box Squat/ Front Squat
Power Clean Hang Clean/ Power Snatch
Weighted Chin Ups Weighted Pull Ups
Overall, this program should get you figuring out what works for you as far as progression, volume, intensity, and frequency goes when planning your workouts. If you have any questions post them to the comments!