The All Pro Simple Beginner Routine (ASBR) is a classic strength and hypertrophy workout routine for novices. It supposedly originated on BodyBuilding.com and this particular version was modified a bit by tr3pid.
There is an extensive FAQ section that is copied from the spreadsheet below.
- Program runs in 5 week cycles
- 3 workouts per week
- Progression occurs through weekly increases in reps
- e.g. Week 1 calls for 8 reps, Week 2 calls for 9 reps, and so on…
- Primary movements are squat, bench press, bent row, overhead press, stiff legged deadlift, upright row, and calf raises
All Pro Simple Beginner Routine Program Spreadsheet
All Pro Simple Beginner Routine Program FAQ
Q1: So how many sets am I doing exactly?
A: You are doing exactly 2 work-sets for each exercise. In addition, you are doing 2 warm-up sets for the first three exercises only (Squats, Bench Press and Bent Over Rows) – the remaining four exercises do not require warm-ups, however you can do them if you feel the need to. Here is a blue-print for all the sets you should be doing, in that order:
Squats: warm-up, warm-up, work-set, work-set
Bench Press: warm-up, warm-up, work-set, work-set
Bent Over Row: warm-up, warm-up, work-set, work-set
Over Head Press: work-set, work-set
Stiff Legged Deadlifts: work-set, work-set
Curls: work-set, work-set
Calf Raises: work-set, work-set
Q3: Will I gain muscle mass on this routine?
A: despite what you may think, gaining muscle mass is not just about lifting weights; the training is just a catalyst, which will create the conditions necessary for new musclee to be built. However, to actually build that muscle, you need to eat at a calorie surplus (consume more calories than you burn). There is no way around this, and you will not be able to avoid having to do some simple calculations if you want results. To understand this, visit this thread: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=121703981 and make sure to read and understand the entire first post by Emma. If you have any questions regarding diet, ask them in that thread. This is possibly the single most important thread you can read over here – if you will only read on thread, let it be that one.
Q4: I have never lifted before and I am completely out of shape. Is this routine appropriate for me?
A: All Pro designed this routine with EXACTLY you in mind. It’s perfect for you.
Q5: I have tested my 10 rep maxes for each exercise. I have already completed two full weeks of the first cycle, and the weights seem too low for me, I feel like I could lift much more! Should I increase the weight?
A: first things first – avoid increasing weight mid-cycle and only do it with the beginning of the next cycle if necessary. Second, the routine is designed so that the first 2-3 weeks will feel relatively easy – this is true for everyone, and you are not superman for feeling the same thing. Finish the first cycle completely (full 5 weeks) without adding any weight to any exercise, even if it does feel too simple. If at the end of the 5th week of the first cycle you still feel that some of the weights are way too low, you may attempt to increase the weight by slightly more than 10% for the next cycle – however, this only makes sense if it was REALLY too easy for you. if it was just a “little” easy, you’re better off sticking with the program. All of these dilemmas can be avoided if you simply test your 10 rep maxes for each exercise properly, so make sure to take your time doing that properly.
Q6: there is no triceps exercise in this routine, what gives?
A: your triceps are being hit quite hard during both Bench Presses and the Overhead Presses – as a beginner, you do not need more than that. Do not add any extra triceps work or you are almost guaranteed to fail on either the BP’s or the OHP’s, or both.
Q7: I like doing pull-ups, push-ups, and standing on my head. Can I add in those exercises into the routine?
A: do not add any extra exercises until you have completed a minimum of 3 cycles. Once you’re going into the fourth, and you feel like you need to do some extra work on certain muscles, you can add an isolated assistance exercise for them – do only one set and at the very end of your routine (after calf raises). The assistance exercise follows the same rep scheme as all the other exercises. And do not ever add more than one assistance exercise per cycle – if you do so, and some of your other lifts stall, you won’t know which of your new additions might have caused that stall. Stick to only adding one extra assistance exercise per cycle, up to a maximum of two (though I believe that is already pushing it). Only do this if you know and have solid reason to believe that you really do require that extra assistance work – if uncertain, ask in this thread, someone will surely help you out.
Q8: Why are there no regular Deadlifts in this routine, only stiff-legged deadlifts? I feel like a boss doing deadlifts
A: there are two reasons for that:
1) Neither squats nor regular deadlifts address the posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors complex) properly. By doing squats + stiff-legged deadlifts, this problem is solved, and a balance is introduced.
2) Squats and regular deadlifts are two exercises that are very taxing to the central nervous system. As a beginner if you did both of those exercises on the same routine, you are more likely to burn out sooner than later. Stif-legged deadlifts solve this issue.
Q9: what type of extra cardio should I do?
A: it is best that you do not overdo your cardio on this routine, since it can get you fatigued enough to hamper your performance in the gym. Two 30 minute jogging sessions (moderate heart rate or HIIT) per week should be enough. I would make sure that none of your cardio takes place on the day right before any of your heavy days. Do any cardio you want to do on rest days. Remember though that cardio is primarily good for your cardiovascular system’s health – for fat loss, your diet will be far more important than any cardio that you do.
Q10: What type of ab workouts should I do?
A: seems like everyone responds to different ab exercises, so you will just have to try for yourself and see which one works best for you. you can do cardio either on your off days, or on your work-out days right after the work-out, assuming you still have enough energy for them. if you go for crunches or similar, make sure to do them with extra weight – aim for 15 reps on the first week of the cycle, and add 2 extra reps per week for a total of 25 reps on week 5 of the cycle. Ab workout is not necessary for everybody though – your midsection is getting tons of workout in this routine since it acts as a stabilizer in basically every single exercise. So up to you to decide, though it’s probably a good idea not to introduce cardio until after you’ve completed the entire first cycle. Start with one set, and if it does not hinder your performance in the other exercises – add a second set at the start of the next cycle.
Q11: Are there any videos that show how each exercise should be performed?
A: there are tons of them online. A good place to get started is this playlist: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8FAF74A332E11464
Q12: Can I substitute any of the exercises in this routine for other exercises?
A: as a general rule, no, you can’t (barring certain situations where an injury may prevent you from doing a specific movement). One exception being the curls, which can be substituted for standing upright rows (https://exrx.net/WeightExercises/DeltoidLateral/BBUprightRow). This is more of a compound exercise and it actually fits the rest of the routine more nicely. Curls were added by all pro mostly because “everyone would want to do them anyway”, so if your ego will survive it, go for the upright rows instead of the curls – it’s a far better overall body exercise. Up to you though.
Q13: Can I use dumbbells instead of a barbell to perform the exercises in this routine?
A: Yes, you can. However, keep in mind that the program was designed with a barbell in mind; some of these exercises are more difficult to perform correctly with dumbbells, not to mention that as the weights you lift increase, your grip on the dumbbells will become a limiting factor (not so with a barbell). Do everything you can to get your hands on a bar, and only use dumbbells as a last resort.
Q14: I missed my medium training day due to [insert any reason here]. What should I do?
A: if for some reason you are not capable of performing three exercises on a given week, you can perform only two, however both will then have to be heavy days. Allow a minimum of 2 rest days both before and after your second heavy day on such a week. However, doing this too often will hinder recovery – the routine was very carefully designed for 3 weekly workouts, and changing that should only be done in extreme cases.
Q15: So I managed to complete all reps for both work-sets for all exercises on my “test day” (heavy day of week 5). How much should I increase my weights for those exercises?
A: You should add 10% to each exercise that you passed, and don’t forget to include the weight of the bar. For example, if you use an Olympic 45 lbs. bar, and you load that with 55 lbs. for squats, you would increase the weight up to (55 + 45)*1,1 for the next cycle, which would make it 110 lbs (again, this includes the barbell).
Q16: So I have managed to complete all reps for all exercises on all workouts, except for the overhead press… I only managed to get 11 reps on the second work-set of week 5 heavy day for those… can I bump the weight up anyway for the next cycle? I mean come on, I only missed one rep… pretty please?
A: You can already see by the sarcastic way the question above was phrased that the answer is going to be “no” you can only increase the weight for the next cycle by 10% if you manage to complete 12 reps for each work-set on heavy day of week 5. Not a single rep more, and not a single rep less. If you failed even a single rep, you will need to repeat the weight for that failed exercise for the duration of the entire next cycle (5 week period). This is a safe-guard designed to make sure you do not keep infinitely stalling on the same exercise and to give the involved muscles enough time to rest and recover for some more banging.
Q17: How do I know if I am a “Beginner” or not?
A: A beginner is, generally speaking, anyone who cannot squat twice his body weight, and bench press 1,5 times his body weight, for one repetition. So if you weigh 200 lbs for example, you should be able to squat once for close to 400 lbs. and bench press once for close to 300 lbs, in order to be considered to have moved beyond the “beginner” stage. It has nothing to do with how long you have been lifting weights – there are many people who have been going to the gym for a few years and who are still considered beginners. As long as your lifts are noticeably below the threshold described above, you are still a beginner and you’ll benefit greatly from this routine.