GSLP Strength Bias

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

Bench-225x 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

Accessory Work:

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.

Lower Body:

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

Upper Body:

Lying Triceps Extensions x 8-15 x 3 sets

Chin-Up Ladders

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!



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About thefitcoach

An aspiring physician, I've been involved in the strength and conditioning world for over 5 years now in a professional sense. I started this blog with some like-minded individuals to share our thoughts on training, nutrition, lifestyle, medicine, health, and everything in between.

12 thoughts on “GSLP Strength Bias

  1. Great article! I’ve run TM in the past and it just smoked me, I like the way this program “spreads” out the volume more.

    A few questions:

    1) Where would you work in some rowing intervals for conditioning (intensity day?).
    2) On the bench and press intensity day is it a single set of 4 to 6 reps or a set of 4 followed by a set of 6 (2 heavy sets)?
    3) Is the recommended rest between sets similar to SS, i.e. 5+ minutes as needed to recover?

    Thanks dude!

    • 1) intensity day or the Saturday after it. Just keep it short and sweet.

      2) 1 set only. Closer to a meet or peaking period of time it might be hit a single and then use he 4-6 as a back off set

      3) yes rest as long as necessary

      • Some more questions I have after getting into this routine:

        4) Is the order of the exercises recommended as listed (squat last instead of first like SS)?

        5) For the money maker third set is the 10+ rep goal for press variant and squats only or deadlift also?

        6) Would you recommend the power clean warmup to be lighter weights working up to failure on a heavy single or heavier work sets leading up to the singles?

        7) For the example poundages you listed the volume work looks to be about 90% of the 5RM for the example weights. For me to hit 10+ on the 3rd set I’m more in the 80% of 5RM range….is the volume work weights to be adjusted as necessary to hit the 10+ or should I try to work closer to the 90%.

        Sorry for all the questions Jordan, I really appreciate your help.

        If it helps my current stats are: 35 yrs old, 176lb. 5RM squat 335, power clean 225, bench 230, press 165. Not trying to do any accessory or plug ins at this time for recovery reasons.

      • 4) Yes, as listed. It could be done the other way around too, especially if one were getting close to a meet.
        5) 10+ reps is the goal for the initial starting weight on the core lifts. It will go down as the weight gets more challenging but yes, 5+ is still the original protocol for pulls.
        6) I’d recommend it how I have it there, some heavy-ish work sets then up to a heavy single.
        7) Your initial starting weights will be anywhere between 75-90% of a 5RM, but the third max rep set should be about 10 reps. This is a nice starting point to start the progression from. The 10+ reps will gradually work down to 5’s.

  2. Question regarding the plug in’s/Frequency method: I originally got this program off another site and it called for also doing sub maximal sets of BW pushups and Chin’s but to add 1 push up per day if possible. Well I can do a decent amount of pushups, 60-70 range, so dropped the numbers a bit and currently doing 45 per set. So I did 5 sets of 45 pushups yesterday (a rest day for me) but the problem is today I definitely felt it when pressing and got disappointing numbers. So would you put a cap on the amount of bw pushups as to limit fatigue? Or for someone with my pushup strength maybe mod it and do a more difficult pushup variant but lower the rep range so it doesn’t have a negative carry over affect on my lifting days? Would appreciate your thoughts. Thanks!

    • Depends what your goals are really. You’re probably not getting much out of the pushups right now and so I’d back off on them for awhile if strength on the lifts is your primary goal.

  3. Hi Jordan,

    Thanks for sharing this setup with everyone, it’s really awesome! I do have a question when you get a few minutes.

    For the Deadlift you list it as 5+ but keep the weight the same as the initial 5RM (245 in your example) would it be better to knock 10% off like you do in your Squat and presses and work your way back up so you can get 10+ reps?

    Thanks again some really great information!

  4. Hi Jordan,

    Quick question for you. What’s your opinion on having a deload week? Where intensity is kept up (maybe dropped a little) but volume is dropped about 40-50% (maybe taking out the AMRAP)? Do you think it would be helpful for either hypertrophy or strength gains?


  5. Hello Jordan!
    If you were going to design this to focus on mass how would you go about it? For example would you have the volume day be 3-4X8-10? Or maybe just add in more back-off sets on both days.

    Just looking at the squat only:


    I know this is a pretty big question 🙂

    Another thing I thought was just to rotate the volume of back-off sets and keep the Base workout the same.

    Week1 (1 backoff set) W2 (2) W3 (3) W4 (0 deload) Repeat cycle. So basically the workload would increase weekly.


    • I would not have the volume day be 3-4 sets of 8-10, I would probably just accumulate more volume with 5’s. High reps alone do not cause growth, more volume, more load, more TUT, and more fatigue that can be recovered from is what drives growth in addition to getting stronger, in general. If someone was a bodybuilder, I’d probably change the program to be like 5 sets of 8 reps on Day 1 @ 70-75% with 60-90s rest, then on Day 3 do 3 sets x max reps at 80%. Each week the percentages would go up on Day 3 by 5%, whereas Day 1 would be individually adjusted. There’s obviously a lot of exceptions, tweaks, etc. that could be done, but if it were me I’d just stick to 5×5 with maybe an AMRAP set on Day 1 and then a heavy set of 5 on Day 3 with a back off set.

      If I were periodizing it instead of it being a linear progression, I’d add either back offs, more sets at a heavy weight each week, or additional exercises to increase volume.

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