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General Strength Program for Those with Minimal Time - Caleb Cole @coachcalebcole

Posted by David HENSLER on

General Strength Program for Those with Minimal Time” – Caleb Cole @coachcalebcole


Focus: Squat, Bench, & Deadlift


Duration: 16 weeks


Days/week: 3-4

  • The optional 4th day of the week should take less time than the previous 3 workouts. 

Description: A generalized strength program for people who are short on time. Ideal for students, busy professionals, busy parents, etc. The program works well for individuals who have access to minimal equipment - the program could be completed with a barbell alone. Each day places a large emphasis on the main movement, and follows the main movement with a complementary assistance exercise. Warmups are basically Wenning Warmups, and are intended to prefatigue - this keeps the main lifts a little lighter (at first) and allows for more volume in place of light accessory movements. Superset or turn the warm-ups into giant sets. The secondary movement serves as a cool-down.


Time Breakdown:

Warm-up: 10 minutes

Main movement: 20 minutes

Secondary movement: 10 minutes


Necessary Equipment:

  • A barbell.
  • Dumbbells are ideal for warmups.

Side Notes:

  • You need to ramp up the weights within the recommended percentages during doubles and singles. Percentages are based on your 1 Rep Max. If you feel good, you can hit an extra set or two at the top end of the ramp up, but don’t get greedy.
  • Treat the secondary movements like the main movements - ramp them up and progressively overload them. When you hit the top-end rep ranges, add a little weight and drop the reps back down for the next workout.
  • The percentages are low at the beginning on purpose.
  • Deload the main movements every 4th week. Maintain the secondary movements. 
  • During the last month, the secondary movements are removed so that more time can be devoted to the main lifts.
  • I listed example warm-ups and descriptions for the first week. The program is simple, so not much changes over time except the loads and volumes.
  • I list my sets first, so “3-4x8-12” means “3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps.”






Week 1


Day 1 - Pull

Warm-up: (2-3 rounds, 15-25 reps per movement)

  • Glute activation. I like to use a Hip Circle, but you can do things like lying hip thrusts as well.
  • Some kind of hip movement. I like to do kettlebell swings, but LIGHT RDL’s work well too.
  • Quad movement like lunges, goblet squats, split squats, etc. 

Deadlifts (4x6 @ 60-70%)

Squats (3-4x8-12)

  • Different variation than your regular squat. For example - box squats, wider or more narrow, pause squats, etc. Use this to address a weakness in your squat.

Day 2 - Push

Warm-up: (2-3 rounds, 15-25 reps per movement)

  • 1 triceps movement
  • 1 back movement
  • 1 rear delt movement

Bench (4x6 @ 60-70%)

Close Grip Bench (3-4x6-8)

  • Closer than your regular grip. Don’t hurt your wrists.

Day 3 - Legs

Warm-up

  • Glute activation
  • A different hip movement than Day 1.
  • A different quad movement than Day 1.

Squats (4x6 @ 60-70%)

  • Your regular positioning.

RDLs (3-4x8-12)

  • If you like, you can use a wider grip and keep the shoulders back for some extra trap work.

Day 4 (Optional, Upper Accessory)

Warm-up (Different movements than Day 2. 2-3 rounds, 15-25 reps per movement)

  • 1 triceps movement
  • 1 back movement
  • 1 rear delt movement

Row Variation (4-6x8-12)

  • A variation that you didn’t do during a warmup.
  • If you can do pull-ups, do pull-ups.

Incline Press (4-6x8-12)

  • You can use dumbbells or a barbell.


Week 2


Day 1 - Pull

Warm-up

Deadlifts (6x4 @70-80%)

Squats (3-4x8-12)


Day 2 - Push

Warm-up

Bench (6x4 @ 70-80%)

Close Grip Bench (3-4x6-8)


Day 3 - Legs

Warm-up

Squats (6x4 @ 70-80%)

RDLs (3-4x8-12)


Day 4 (Optional, Upper Accessory)

Warm-up

Row Variation (4-6x8-12)

Incline Press (4-6x8-12)





Week 3


Day 1 - Pull

Warm-up

Deadlifts (10x2 @ 80-90%)

Squats (3-4x8-12)


Day 2 - Push

Warm-up

Bench (10x2 @ 80-90%)

Close Grip Bench (3-4x6-8)


Day 3 - Legs

Warm-up

Squats (10x2 @ 80-90%)

RDLs (3-4x8-12)


Day 4 (Optional, Upper Accessory)

Warm-up

Row Variation (4-6x8-12)

Incline Press (4-6x8-12)



Week 4


Day 1 - Pull

Warm-up

Deadlifts (5x5 @ 50-60%)


Day 2 - Push

Warm-up

Bench (5x5 @ 50-60%)

Close Grip Bench (3-4x6-8)


Day 3 - Legs

Warm-up

Squats (5x5 @ 50-60%)

RDLs (3-4x8-12)


Day 4 (Optional, Upper Accessory)

Warm-up

Row Variation (4-6x8-12)

Incline Press (4-6x8-12)





Week 5


Day 1 - Pull

Warm-up

Deadlifts (4x6 @ 65-70%)

Squats (3-4x8-12)


Day 2 - Push

Warm-up

Bench (4x6 @ 65-70%)

Close Grip Bench (3-4x6-8)


Day 3 - Legs

Warm-up

Squats (4x6 @ 65-70%)

RDLs (3-4x8-12)


Day 4 (Optional, Upper Accessory)

Warm-up

Row Variation (4-6x8-12)

Incline Press (4-6x8-12)




Week 6


Day 1 - Pull

Warm-up

Deadlifts (6x4 @75-80%)

Squats (3-4x8-12)


Day 2 - Push

Warm-up

Bench (6x4 @ 75-80%)

Close Grip Bench (3-4x6-8)


Day 3 - Legs

Warm-up

Squats (6x4 @ 75-80%)

RDLs (3-4x8-12)


Day 4 (Optional, Upper Accessory)

Warm-up

Row Variation (4-6x8-12)

Incline Press (4-6x8-12)






Week 7


Day 1 - Pull

Warm-up

Deadlifts (10x2 @ 85-90%)

Squats (3-4x8-12)


Day 2 - Push

Warm-up

Bench (10x2 @ 85-90%)

Close Grip Bench (3-4x6-8)


Day 3 - Legs

Warm-up

Squats (10x2 @ 85-90%)

RDLs (3-4x8-12)


Day 4 (Optional, Upper Accessory)

Warm-up

Row Variation (4-6x8-12)

Incline Press (4-6x8-12)


Week 8


Day 1 - Pull

Warm-up

Deadlifts (5x5 @ 55-65%)

Squats (3-4x8-12)


Day 2 - Push

Warm-up

Bench (5x5 @ 55-65%)

Close Grip Bench (3-4x6-8)


Day 3 - Legs

Warm-up

Squats (5x5 @ 55-65%)

RDLs (3-4x8-12)


Day 4 (Optional, Upper Accessory)

Warm-up

Row Variation (4-6x8-12)

Incline Press (4-6x8-12)






Week 9


Day 1 - Pull

Warm-up

Deadlifts (4x5 @ 70-80%)

Squats (3-4x8-12)


Day 2 - Push

Warm-up

Bench (4x5 @ 70-80%)

Close Grip Bench (3-4x6-8)


Day 3 - Legs

Warm-up

Squats (4x5 @ 70-80%)

RDLs (3-4x8-12)


Day 4 (Optional, Upper Accessory)

Warm-up

Row Variation (4-6x8-12)

Incline Press (4-6x8-12)


Week 10


Day 1 - Pull

Warm-up

Deadlifts (6x3 @75-85%)

Squats (3-4x8-12)


Day 2 - Push

Warm-up

Bench (6x3 @ 75-85%)

Close Grip Bench (3-4x6-8)


Day 3 - Legs

Warm-up

Squats (6x3 @ 75-85%)

RDLs (3-4x8-12)


Day 4 (Optional, Upper Accessory)

Warm-up

Row Variation (4-6x8-12)

Incline Press (4-6x8-12)






Week 11


Day 1 - Pull

Warm-up

Deadlifts (10x1 @ 85-95%)

Squats (3-4x8-12)


Day 2 - Push

Warm-up

Bench (10x1 @ 85-95%)

Close Grip Bench (3-4x6-8)


Day 3 - Legs

Warm-up

Squats (10x1 @ 85-95%)

RDLs (3-4x8-12)


Day 4 (Optional, Upper Accessory)

Warm-up 

Row Variation (4-6x8-12)

Incline Press (4-6x8-12)


Week 12


Day 1 - Pull

Warm-up

Deadlifts (5x5 @ 60-65%)

Squats (3-4x8-12)


Day 2 - Push

Warm-up

Bench (5x5 @ 60-65%)

Close Grip Bench (3-4x6-8)


Day 3 - Legs

Warm-up

Squats (5x5 @ 60-65%)

RDLs (3-4x8-12)


Day 4 (Optional, Upper Accessory)

Warm-up

Row Variation (4-6x8-12)

Incline Press (4-6x8-12)






Week 13


Day 1 - Pull

Warm-up

Deadlifts (4x5 @ 75-85%)

Deadlifts, Back-Off Sets (2-4x5 @ 65-70%)


Day 2 - Push

Warm-up

Bench (4x5 @ 75-85%)

Bench, Back-Off Sets (2-4x5 @ 65-70%)


Day 3 - Legs

Warm-up

Squats (4x5 @ 75-85%)

Squats, Back-Off Sets (2-4x5 @ 65-70%)


Day 4 (Optional, Upper Accessory)

Warm-up

Row Variation (4-6x8-12)

Incline Press (4-6x8-12)


Week 14


Day 1 - Pull

Warm-up

Deadlifts (6x3 @80-85%)

Deadlifts, Back-Off Sets (3-5x3 @70-75%)


Day 2 - Push

Warm-up

Bench (6x3 @ 80-85%)

Bench, Back-Off Sets (3-5x3 @70-75%)


Day 3 - Legs

Warm-up

Squats (6x3 @ 80-85%)

Squats, Back-Off Sets (3-5x3 @70-75%)


Day 4 (Optional, Upper Accessory)

Warm-up

Row Variation (4-6x8-12)

Incline Press (4-6x8-12)






Week 15


Day 1 - Pull

Warm-up

Deadlifts (5x1 @ 90-95%)

Deadlifts, Back-Off Sets (3-5x1 @ 80-85%)


Day 2 - Push

Warm-up

Bench (5x1 @ 90-95%)

Bench, Back-Off Sets (3-5x1 @ 80-85%)


Day 3 - Legs

Warm-up

Squats (5x1 @ 90-95%)

Squats, Back-Off Sets (3-5x1 @ 80-85%)


Day 4 (Optional, Upper Accessory)

Warm-up

Row Variation (4-6x8-12)



Week 16


Day 1 - Pull

Warm-up

Deadlifts (5x5 @ 60-65%)


Day 2 - Push

Warm-up

Bench (5x5 @ 60-65%)


Day 3 - Legs

Warm-up

Squats (5x5 @ 60-65%)


Day 4 (Optional, Upper Accessory)

Warm-up 

Row Variation (4-6x8-12)

Incline Press (4-6x8-12)

_______________________________________________

Muscle & Mirth / Garage Gym Powerlifting strongly recommends that you consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program.

You should be in good physical condition and be able to participate in the exercise.

Muscle & Mirth / Garage Gym Powerlifting is not a licensed medical care provider and represents that it has no expertise in diagnosing, examining, or treating medical conditions of any kind, or in determining the effect of any specific exercise on a medical condition.

You should understand that when participating in any exercise or exercise program, there is the possibility of physical injury. If you engage in this exercise or exercise program, you agree that you do so at your own risk, are voluntarily participating in these activities, assume all risk of injury to yourself, and agree to release and discharge Muscle & Mirth / Garage Gym Powerlifting and its affiliates from any and all claims or causes of action, known or unknown.

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