While this article is about training as an intermediate lifter, I am going to start off by talking about novice lifters and what it means to be a novice.
Because most people have a misunderstanding of what classifies an individual as a novice, intermediate, or advanced lifter.
You see, people wrongly assume that your classification as a lifter is determined by how many years you’ve spent lifting weights, when in fact, this isn’t the case at all.
Rather than using time as an indicator of how advanced a lifter is, you should first determine if they have successfully completed a novice linear progression training program.
What Is A Novice Linear Progression Training Program?
A correctly designed novice linear progression training program focuses solely on compound barbell exercises and uses a full body training approach.
As a novice lifter, the goal of each workout is to lift more weight, which means that you’ll be adding 5 to 10 pounds to each exercise every time you train.
Your ability to add weight to each exercise every workout is made possible by the fact that you’re new to training. As an untrained individual, you’ll most likely be extremely weak, but fear not, for this means that you’ll be able to make novice muscle gains for a good long while before your lifts start to stall out.
Below is an example of a perfectly designed novice training program.
Monday – Workout A
Wednesday – Workout B
Squat – 3×5
Friday – Workout A
Squat – 3×5
Bench Press – 3×5
Barbell Row – 3×5
Continue alternating workouts A and B and add weight to the barbell (5 pounds) every workout for every exercise. If you are completely new to weight lifting, I recommend starting with an empty barbell.
Becoming An Intermediate Lifter
Once you’ve been on a novice linear progression training program for a while (usually between 2-6 months) the weight that you’re lifting will have greatly increased which will cause your progress to stall.
When this happens, it will be time for you to switch up your training program and use an approach that allows for more rest and recovery.
Instead of using a full body training approach that forces you to lift more weight every workout, you’ll be utilizing a 4-day split routine that has lighter training days mixed in with heavier days.
Intermediate Four Day Split Routine
Below I have illustrated a 4-day split routine that can be followed by any intermediate lifter with great success.
Bench Press 3×5 – Heavy Day
Barbell Row 3×5 – Heavy Day
Overhead Press – Light Day – 75% Of Heavy Day Weight
Squat 3×5 – Heavy Day
Deadlift 1×5 – Heavy Day
Overhead Press – 3×5 Heavy Day
Barbell Row – 3×5 – Light day – Use 75% Of Heavy Day Weight
Bench Press – 3×5 – Light day – Use 75% Of Heavy Day Weight
Squat – 3×5 – Light Day – 75% Of Heavy Day Weight
Deadlift – 3×5 – Light Day – Use 75% Of Heavy Day Weight
* Heavy day – Use a weight for each working set that allows you to complete 5-7 reps with good form.
* Only increase the weight on the barbell when you have mastered your heavy day weight for a given exercise. Your form should be good and you shouldn’t be reaching failure on your last rep.
Following the above program will allow you to keep the progress coming although it will come slowly. Be prepared to be patient and DON’T GIVE UP!
Different Levels Of Intermediate Lifting
As you continue lifting, you’ll become stronger and stronger until you reach a point where your progress comes so slow that it’s almost nonexistent.
When this happens, you’ll be considered an advanced intermediate lifter, which means that you should be able to hit the following numbers –
Squat – 1.5 – 2 times your bodyweight
Bench – 1 – 1.5 times your bodyweight
Deadlift – 2 – 2.5 times your bodyweight
Overhead Press – .75 – 1 times your bodyweight
Barbell Row – 1- 1.5 times your bodyweight
Once this happens, you’ll have to change up your training program once again to a more advanced system that uses different percentages of your one rep max each week you train.
If that is something that interests you, I highly recommend checking out Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program here.
Listen To Your Body
No matter how advanced you get, you must always pay attention to how you feel from day to day.
Doing so will keep you motivated and injury free which will speed up your progress and keep you in great shape.
I don’t care what type of program you’re on. IF YOU NEED AN EXTRA REST DAY, TAKE IT!
Progress isn’t made when you’re in the gym. It is made outside of the gym when you are sleeping and eating.
Stay strong and train smart!
From The Man Himself,