The Building Foundations program is short and sweet. You’ll get undeniably stronger, build a decent amount of muscle and most importantly, master technique. The program is incredibly simple to follow and you’re only in the gym three times a week for between 30 and 60 minutes.
Building Foundations uses just five exercises. The ‘Big Three’, Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift and two assistance movements, the Overhead Press and the Dumbbell Row. The goal of the Building Foundations program is to get you accustomed to strength training, focussing on technique and getting a good head start of getting stronger.
Building Foundations works incredibly well for 16 year old kids, guys in their 70’s and women too. The youngest member of our community is 15 years old and the oldest in 76 years old, so it works great for everyone.
The Building Foundations program consists of two simple, easy to follow workouts.
Session A: Squat, Bench Press & Dumbbell Row
Session B: Squat, Overhead Press & Deadlift
You’ll be in the gym just three times a week, no exceptions. You’ll also need have at least one rest day between sessions as your body needs time to rest and recover.
To make it easy to stick to and free up your weekends, we recommend using Monday, Wednesday and Friday but feel free to change this to suit your diary and just remember to give yourself those rest days.
Here’s how your training week would look like;
|Squat: 5x5||Squat: 5x5||Squat: 5x5|
|Bench 5x5||Overhead Press 5x5||Bench 5x5|
|DB Row 3x12||Deadlift 1x5||DB Row 3x12|
The first number is the number of sets, the second number is the number of reps. So 5x5 is five sets of five reps and 3x12 is three sets of twelve reps. To make it easy to understand and follow, please download our spreadsheets below.
We recommend you start the weights light, like seriously light, so light that you feel as if you could do it all over again for the first couple of weeks. This is intentional. The goal is to allow you to get your technique to a safe level before the weights get heavy. Trust me, start light.
On Squat, Bench Press and Overhead Press, use the empty barbell. If you’re using an olympic 7ft barbell, it should be 20kg (45lb). If you find this is too heavy, you can usually get a 15kg (35lb) bar or a lighter bar made from aluminium. There’s no shame in starter lighter than 20kg, we all have to start somewhere.
For Deadlift, if possible use bumper plates (the rubber ones) as you can usually get the bar at the right height while only have 30kg bar weight. If not just place the bar on an empty box around 8 inches off the floor.
If you successfully complete all your reps, the next session, you’ll at 2.5kg (5lb) of weight to the bar. So session two, you’ll lift 22.5kg. In session three, you’ll lift 25kg etc.
The exception is on Deadlift, where you’ll increase the weight by 5kg (10lb). As you use the majority of all your muscles on the deadlift, you’ll be able to progress faster, hence the 5kg (10lb) increase.
Remember to include the weight of the bar, so 22.5kg would be the 20kg bar plus a 1.25kg plate on each side.
2.5kg doesn’t sound like a lot of weight but if you complete the Building Foundations 12 week program you’ll be able to Squat and Deadlift over 100kg!
What happens if I miss reps?
Missing reps happens to the best of us, so don’t worry if you do miss some reps in the program. The first time you fail to hit your reps, repeat the same weight on the next workout. If you still are unable to complete the lifts, take off 5-10kg (10-20lb) of weight off the bar and repeat the same process. Most of the time, you’ll break through the barrier with ease the second time around.
The Building Foundations program is primarily used to get new lifters introduced to strength training and most guys typically use it for 12 weeks before reading up on intermediate programming or invest in a strength coach but if you’ve completed the program and not missed a rep, there’s no harm in carrying on adding weight each workout until you eventually hit a barrier.
It all depends on the individual and some guys can struggle towards the end of the program, while others can easily go on to Squat 5x5 for 180kg. This program isn’t the most effective for every single person but it allows for new lifters to get accustomed to strength training and mastering technique.
I would wholeheartedly recommend for you to join our free community, post your review of our training program and ask questions to our hundreds of members about your next step. In the community, you’ll get your own training log and you can use our mobile app to track your workouts in the gym.
"As a strength enthusiast, I have come to appreciate the value of the CrazyStrength community. It is important for a lifter to join others who are supportive of one's efforts and can provide guidance. Even in sunny San Diego, there are very few who can relate to me on this level...I can communicate with like-minded lifters from all over the world and I have made many long term friends here...My squat and deadlift have never been stronger than they are now..." - Jay Balangue