Greg Nuckols’s Beginner Program is a strength training routine for new weightlifters.

Unlike typical beginner routines, Greg’s program incorporates progression schemes usually seen in more advanced plans. Despite this, it remains straightforward and effective, helping you consistently gain strength from month to month.

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about Greg Nuckols’s program for beginners, including the workouts, schedule, exercises, rest times, progression scheme, and more.

What Is Greg Nuckols’s Beginner Program?

Greg Nuckols’s Beginner Program is a strength training routine created by decorated powerlifter, author, researcher, and coach Greg Nuckols.

Nuckols has deservedly made a name for himself as “the thinking man’s lifter” because he takes complicated training programs used by high-level athletes, pulls out the essential principles, and turns them into practical training routines for the rest of us.

His Beginner Program is part of the “Greg Nuckols 28 Free Programs” bundle available at Greg’s website, Stronger By Science.

Greg Nuckols 28 Programs Bundle

The 28 program bundle is a free, downloadable collection of training programs designed to improve your squat, bench press, and deadlift performance.

The bundle caters to various experience levels (from beginners to advanced weightlifters) and offers program variations depending on how often you want to train. Each program is also geared toward progression, ensuring you continue to gain strength over time.

You can learn more about Greg Nuckols’s 28 Program bundle at Stronger By Science.

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A Complete Guide to the Greg Nuckols Beginner Program

Here’s everything you need to know to get started with the Greg Nuckols Beginner Program.

Workout Routine

The Beginner Program includes three workouts per week. You squat and bench press in each workout, but only deadlift in Workout #1.

Here’s the full routine:

Greg Nuckols Beginner Program

Schedule

You train three days per week on the Beginner Program. How you schedule these workouts is flexible, though you must leave at least one day to recover between workouts. 

Given this stipulation, most people default to the following schedule:

Week 1: 

  • Monday: Workout #1
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Workout #2
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Workout #3
  • Saturday: Rest 
  • Sunday: Rest

Exercises

Greg Nuckols’s Beginner Program involves just three exercises: the squat, bench press, and deadlift.

You can also do isolation exercises to train the smaller muscle groups that don’t get adequate stimulus from the compound exercises above. For example, you could add a few sets of biceps curls, triceps pushdowns, side lateral raises, or leg curls each week.

Just don’t overdo it. 

If you find your muscles are still sore when it’s time for your next workout, remove some of these “accessory” exercises.

Rest 

Rest as long as it takes to feel ready to give your all in your next set. A good rule of thumb is 3-to-5 minutes between compound exercises and 2-to-3 minutes between accessory exercises.

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Progression

Squat and bench press progression works slightly differently than deadlift progression. 

For the squat and bench press, you use your performance from your “AMAP” sets to adjust your training weights for the next cycle of the program. AMAP stands for “as many as possible” because, in these sets, you should aim to do as many reps as you can without compromising form. 

Here’s how it works:

  • For AMAP sets with 70% of your training max: 
    • Use the same weight next week if you do 8 reps or fewer.
    • Increase the weight by 5 pounds if you do 9-to-10 reps.
    • Increase the weight by 10 pounds if you do 11-to-12 reps.
    • Increase the weight by 15 pounds if you do 12 or more reps.
  • For AMAP sets with 75% of your training max:
    • Use the same weight next week if you do 6 reps or fewer.
    • Increase the weight by 5 pounds if you do 7-to-8 reps.
    • Increase the weight by 10 pounds if you do 9-to-10 reps.
    • Increase the weight by 15 pounds if you do 11 or more reps.
  • For AMAP sets with 80% of your training max:
    • Use the same weight next week if you do 4 reps or fewer.
    • Increase the weight by 5 pounds if you do 5-to-6 reps.
    • Increase the weight by 10 pounds if you do 7-to-8 reps.
    • Increase the weight by 15 pounds if you do 9 or more reps.

For the deadlift, progressing is simpler. 

For your first set of deadlifts in each workout, aim to hit the given rep target while using enough weight that you finish the set with only 1-to-2 reps left in the tank.

Then, using the same weight, complete the following three sets. The rep target is lower for these “back-off” sets, but you should have accumulated enough fatigue from your first set that you also end them 1-to-2 reps shy of failure. 

At the end of every 4-week cycle, increase the weight by 5-to-10 pounds depending on how the previous cycle felt—if it was too easy, add 10 pounds; if it was challenging, add 5 pounds.