I am not a physique enhancement specialist. I am more interested in building size and strength without addressing the aesthetics. I want performance to be the end goal. 

To this end, my philosophies are based on past strongmen and bodybuilders. To quote Reg Park or Bill Pearl (I can't remember who said this since both were from the golden era of the power bodybuilder), "If you can shoulder press 300 pounds for reps, you will never need to do a lateral raise in your life."

The program I outline below considers the methods to optimize hormonal manipulation using large compound movements for reps of six or less with longer rest periods (testosterone optimization) and compound movements using higher reps with shorter rest periods (growth hormone optimization).

I favour what I refer to as the Big Four since there are only push- and pull-related movements for both the upper and lower body segmentation. For this program, I will stick to these four movements.

I program a big and a small exercise for each of the movements. The first movement is for strength and size, and the secondary movement is for more size and strength. The primary movements will always be carried out as a straight set, but the secondary movements will be super-setted to optimize the training effect further.

It's simple and basic that follows a standard four-day-a-week training split of upper and lower body. Each session will be about 60–75 minutes maximum, comprising of four exercises. More is less in this program. So, if you feel like doing more, then I would say that you have not emptied the tank on the basic program. If you want a specific core movement, then this could be the fifth movement.

Consider the exercises in the gym you have access to that'll provide the best stimulus. Think heavy and basic. You will not go wrong. Here is a list of my personal favorites:

Lower Body PushLower Body PullUpper Body PushUpper Body PullCore
Squat variationsDeadlift variationsBench PressPendlay Row½ Turkish Get Up
Sprinter’s SquatReverse Hyper®Incline PressSeated RowWindmill
Lunge OptionOlympic MovementMilitary PressYates RowSuitcase Deadlift
Step-Ups OptionGood MorningLandmine PressWeighted ChinsRollout
Prowler® PushHip ThrustJavelin PressShrugsFull Body Twist

Now your list may be somewhat similar or quite different, but you must choose wisely as the ancient crusader knight advises Indiana Jones in the Holy Grail. Your success depends on the degree of muscle mass you can stimulate with each exercise to have a systemic anabolic effect.

Here's how I'd apply the methods to increase size and strength (the first two sessions for the week). Remember, one big and one smaller movement. I recommend selecting different exercises for the second two sessions of the week plan.

Monday – Lower Body Push & Pull

  • Front Squat (Strength Wave)
  • Trap Bar Deadlift (Maximal Strength 1)
  • Reverse Lunge s/s Barbell Hip Thrust (RM Loading)

Tuesday – Upper Body Push & Pull

  • Incline Bench Press (Strength Wave)
  • Pendlay Row (Maximal Strength 1)
  • Javelin Press s/s Weighted Chins (Size Wave)

Here are the details of the selected methods using a more strength-based protocol for the primary movements and a more size-based protocol for the secondary movements. The setup provides time efficiency and increased intensity.

Method/ Weeks1234
Strength Wave2 x (6/5/4) @ (75%/80%/85%)2 x (5/4/3) @ (80%/85%/90%)2 x (4/3/2) @ (85%/90%/ 95%)3 x (3/2/1) @ 90%/95%/97.5%+)
Size Wave2 x (15/12/10)2 x (12/10/8)2 x (10/8/6)2 x (8/6/4)
RM loading50 reps @ 10RM30 reps @ 6RM60 reps @ 12RM40 reps @ 8RM
Maximal Strength (1)6 x 6 @ 75%%6 x 4 @ 85%5 x 5 @ 80%6 x 3 @ 90%

There are many methods to consider to achieve the results you want. The sample above shows you how to organize your training plan to gain size and strength.

Remember to stimulate and not annihilate.

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Ashley Jones has worked in three professional sports across 30 years and four continents. He was awarded the NSCA's Professional Coach of the Year in 2016. Ashley holds his CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) since 1988 and is an honorary lecturer in the School of Therapeutic Sciences, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, SA.