This is a base building training system for lifters chasing the most amount of muscle size and strength as possible. It can be used for late beginners and intermediate trainees.
The point of the program is simple: to get every muscle group in the body as inhumanly strong as possible using more frequent sessions and a quality amount of reps. This will trigger quality hypertrophy (muscle building) and allow you to work on exercise form.
You will be training 4 days per week, using an upper lower split. Here is a sample schedule:
- Monday - Squat focus day
- Tuesday - Bench focus day
- Thursday - Deadlift focus day
- Friday - Overhead Press focus day
You may also use this program 3 days per week if needed. Just continue to cycle the 963 days accordingly. Here is a sample 3 day per week schedule:
- Monday - Squat focus day
- Wednesday - Bench focus day
- Friday - Deadlift focus day
- Monday - Overhead Press focus day
- Wednesday - Squat focus day
- Friday - bench focus day
963 Workout Notes
A note about deloading, or rest weeks
I do not believe in frequent deloading for beginning to intermediate lifters who are feeling great, on a roll and have no minor injuries that require healing. Listen to your body and take a light week/deload week when you need to. I recommend deloading once every 8-12 weeks depending on your life, work schedule, etc.
If you start to feel beat up, or have a nagging minor injury, more frequent deloading may be in order.
The 3 week cycle
The 963 program revolves around the 4 major lifts:
- Bench Press
- Overhead Press
You will cycle intensity over a 3 week period, starting with lighter weight and more reps and moving on to lower reps and heavier weight. The 3 week cycle is as follows:
- Week 1 - Light Week. This is your "9" week. You will perform 3 total sets using the same weight. Set one you will attempt to hit 9 total reps, set two you will attempt to hit 10 total reps and set three 11 total reps. (9-10-11 reps) If you are able to complete these 3 sets, add 5 pounds to your next light week for this exercise.
- Week 2 - Moderate Week. This is your "6" week. You will perform 3 total sets using the same weight. Set one you will attempt to hit 6 total reps, set two you will attempt to hit 7 total reps and set three 8 total reps. (6-7-8 reps) If you are able to complete these 3 sets, add 5 pounds to your next moderate week for this exercise.
- Week 3 - Heavy Week. This is your "3" week. You will perform 3 total sets using the same weight. Set one you will attempt to hit 3 total reps, set two you will attempt to hit 4 total reps and set three 5 total reps. (3-4-5 reps) If you are able to complete these 3 sets, add 5 pounds to your next moderate week for this exercise.
The top end total amount of rep you perform each week will move from 30 to 21 to 12 as the weight increases. Don't sweat if you are unable to hit your rep goal for each set. This is not an issue. Your main focus should be on improving each week and making progress. So if on your "9 day" you only hit 9 reps for your last 2 sets, simply try to mprove the following week.
Starting out - what weight to use
If you do not know your current one rep max for each lift don't worry. You can use this bench press calculator to guestimate approximate one rep max for each lift.
Once you have guestimated your one rep max, calculate your starting weight for each week as follows:
- Week 1 - Light Week. Take your max and multiply it by 70%. (Max x 70%)
- Week 2 - Moderate Week. Take your max and multiply it by 77.5%. (Max x 77.5%)
- Week 3- Heavy Week. Take your max and multiply it by 85%. (Max x 85%)
Always round the numbers down to the nearest 5 pounds.
963 Basic Template
This is a basic and effective 4 day upper/lower split template. Feel free to change the assistance work if you find an equivalent exercise more to your liking.
For the assistance work, add weight when you can.
|Lower Body Workout #1|
|Stiff Leg Deadlift||3-4||6-8|
|Seated Calf Raises||3-4||10-20|
|Ab Wheel or Barbell Roll Out||3-4||10-15|
|Upper Body Workout #1|
|Bench Press Focus|
|Bench Press||3||963 Sets|
|Seated Arnold Press||3-5||8-15|
|Lower Body Workout #2|
|Deadlift Press Focus|
|Upper Body Workout #2|
|Overhead Press Focus|
|Overhead Press||3||963 Sets|
|Pull Ups or Inverted Row||3-5||10|
|Dumbbell Bench Press||4-5||10|
|Cable Tricep Extensions||3-5||10-12|
|Barbell Curl or Pinwheel Curl||3-5||8-12|