For beginners, building a base level of strength and hypertrophy is essential. This will allow them to move onto intermediate and advanced programs and take their strength to the next level.
Therefore, when starting strength training, it is recommended to find the appropriate program that’ll yield optimal results.
The Greyskull LP (linear progression) training program is perfect for beginners and is seen as an advancement of the popular “Starting Strength” program.
This article will dissect the methods used in Greyskull LP, and explain what makes it highly effective for developing strength and size.
What is Linear Periodization?
The purpose of physical training is to place some form of stress on the body in order to cause an adaptation. However, if training intensity does not gradually increase over time, the body will become accustomed to this stress and it will fail to adapt further.
Periodized training programs can be used to ensure that stress is applied in a gradual, methodical manner to optimize the rate of change.
Linear periodization is just one type of periodized program that is used to structure training.
While there are other training structures, such as reverse linear, undulating, and block periodization, linear periodization tends to be the most commonly used.
This method is particularly popular for beginner training programs. That’s primarily because linear periodized programs are highly effective and very simple to follow.
LP programs start at a relatively low-intensity level and gradually increase in intensity as time progresses. As intensity increases, the total training volume tends to decrease.
The simplest way to increase intensity is to gradually add more weight to each lift that is performed.
By gradually increasing the intensity of workouts, the body will make substantial adaptations in both strength and muscle size (1).
The Formation of the Greyskull LP
John Sheaffer, also known as Johnny Pain, is the creator of the Greyskull LP.
The inspiration to create his own program came from completing another linear periodized program called the “Starting Strength” program.
This is an extremely popular linear periodization program utilized by many beginners.
Having completed Starting Strength, Sheaffer was dissatisfied with the results. Although his strength did increase, he felt that improvements were less than optimal.
He was not alone in his experience as others suggest that Starting Strength does not maximize the rate of muscle development.
As a result, he set out to design what would become Greyskull LP. The goal of the program is to maximize improvements in strength and size while minimizing fat gain.
In addition to designing the training program, Sheaffer also wrote a book titled “The Greyskull LPThe Greyskull LP” which is intended to serve as an in-depth training guide.
The Greyskull LP Download
Download the Greyskull LP Excel / Google Spreadsheet below.
The Greyskull LP program is a three-day training program that has been specifically designed for beginners and novices.
The program is to be run for six weeks in total, however, it can be cycled multiple times providing that results are still being experienced.
The way in which Greyskull has been designed allows for consistent progress to be made over a prolonged period of time.
It does this through pre-program testing, progressive overload, plug-ins, and resetting techniques.
As with most training programs, it is essential that strength levels are assessed prior to beginning Greyskull LP.
The one-rep max (1RM) test is seen as the ultimate and most accurate test of strength. Your one-rep max is simply the maximal amount of weight that you can lift for one repetition.
Greyskull LP requires you to test your base lifts which are the squat, deadlift, bench, and overhead press.
Rows, chin-ups, tricep extensions, bicep curls, and shrugs, are accessory exercises that must also be tested.
While 1RM tests are excellent assessors of strength, performing maximal lifts as a beginner may be risky.
It is possible to complete submaximal tests that involve performing a higher number of reps with a lighter weight. The results from the submax tests can be used to estimate your 1RM.
Once you have your 1RM results, you can input them into the Greyskull LP spreadsheet. Once this has been done, the training program and weights to use will automatically be generated.
Exercise Selection and Training Methods
In order to cause adaptations in muscular strength, the program uses a number of “base” exercises that form the thrust of the training.
These exercises are compound movements that allow a large amount of weight to be lifted and consequently, have the greatest potential for enhancing strength (2).
Since it follows linear progression, the weights used for each lift gradually increase as the weeks pass. This is similar to many other popular beginner programs such as Starting Strength.
However, unlike many other beginner programs, Greyskull LP utilizes AMRAP sets. AMRAP or As Many Reps As Possible allows individuals to substantially increase training volume.
The inclusion of AMRAP sets and greater volume allows the individual to continue to make progress even if the weight isn’t constantly increasing on a week-to-week basis.
In the spreadsheet, all AMRAP sets are notated by a “+” sign.
One of the reasons for increasing training volume through AMRAP is to bring about muscle growth. Scientific studies have indicated that training volume is highly important for muscle hypertrophy (3).
Greyskull LP Workouts
As mentioned, the most effective strength training programs tend to revolve around compound exercises. The Greyskull LP is no different.
When it comes to exercise selection, exercises are typically categorized as primary and accessory.
The purpose of the primary exercises is to cause substantial improvements in strength whereas accessories iron out weaknesses and generally facilitate strength development.
In the Greyskull LP, primary exercises are referred to as “base” exercises. These exercises serve as the foundation of the training program.
The base exercises are squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press.
With the exception of the deadlifts, three working sets of each base exercise are to be performed with the final set being an AMRAP set.
The volume is reduced for the deadlift with only one AMRAP set to be completed.
With these base exercises, workouts focus on sets of five repetitions. Research has shown that heavy lifts at lower repetitions are most optimal for strength development (4).
However, for the accessory exercises, three sets of twelve repetitions are used with the final set being an AMRAP set, once again.
As mentioned, for linear periodization programs to be effective, intensity must increase. This is done primarily by adding more weight to each lift.
While the spreadsheet gives you the option of adjusting the weight progressions, it is recommended to use the following:
- Squat and Deadlift: +5 lbs
- Bench and Overhead Press: +2.5 lbs
In order for weight to be added to these lifts, five repetitions must be completed with the original weight.
These progressions may seem like quite a lot, however, beginners are often able to make very rapid progress with their strength.
Resetting / Deloading
Deloading is the process of significantly reducing training load in order to allow the body to recover fully before resuming intense training. Deloading can be a useful tool when progress has stalled.
In the Greyskull LP, the deload is referred to as a ‘reset’. The reset should be applied when individuals are unable to add more weight to each lift.
Taking a deload week will allow the body to fully recover and may allow progress to resume once again.
To reset, once you cannot add more weight to the lifts, reduce the weight lifted by 10% and complete a week of training.
Upon completing a reset, you can continue as normal with the program and hopefully begin to lift heavier than ever before.
Greyskull LP Plug-Ins
In addition to the base program, there are a variety of add-ons known as “plug-ins” which can be added to the base plan.
The plug-ins incorporate additional accessory exercises and training methods to allow you to make the most optimal progress towards a specific goal.
For example, an individual wishing to develop their arms may wish to use an “arm plugin”. This will add two or three arm isolation exercises to the program to help build significant muscle size.
It should be noted that, with plugins, the number of sets and reps performed is not prescribed for you.
Therefore, you should focus on gradually progressing these lifts from workout to workout. This can be done by gradually adding weight, volume, or a combination of both.
It is important that the plugin exercises are performed after the primary exercise that they complement. For example, performing bicep curls after completing sets of bench press.
The Greyskull LP Book and Program Variations
Johnny Sheaffer released a book that provides all the information required to understand the mechanisms behind this method.
Within the book, you can find the base program, specific plugins, program variations, and an exercise index.
Buy the book here: https://amzn.to/3dc8AWI
In addition to providing the base plan, there are a number of program variations that cater to specific goals in the book. You can find a mass gain, fat loss, female training, powerlifting, and weightlifting plan.
While these programs all follow the same structure as the basic plan, there are several modifications that are applied to help you achieve specific results.
Q1) What is the Greyskull LP?
A) The Greyskull LP is a linear periodized training program that has been specifically designed to maximize muscle development while minimizing fat gain.
Q2) Who is the program for?
A) Considering that the Greyskull LP is a linear periodized program, it is ideal for strength training beginners and novices. However, it can also effectively be used by those at an intermediate level.
Q3) How does the Greyskull LP work?
A) The Greyskull LP gradually increases training intensity over time in order to force the body to increase in strength and size. It does this through a concept known as progressive overload.
Q4) How long can I run the program?
A) The program is designed to run in six-week cycles. Providing that progress is still being made, it can be cycled multiple times. If progress begins to stall, you may need to take a deload week or “reset”.
Other Powerlifting Programs
- nSuns 531 LP Powerlifting Program Guide with Spreadsheets
- The Starting Strength Linear Periodization Program
- The Juggernaut Method: Unstoppable Strength Training Program
- Madcow 5×5 Program: The Workout for Strength and Size
- The High Bar vs Low Bar Squat Debate
The Greyskull LP is a simple yet effective linear periodization training program that can significantly improve muscle strength and size.
It does this through clever programming, heavy lifting, progressive overload, advanced training methods (such as AMRAP), and “reset” periods.
1– Lorenz, Daniel S.; Reiman, Michael P.; Walker, John C. (2010-11). “Periodization”. Sports Health. 2 (6): 509–518. doi:10.1177/1941738110375910. ISSN 1941-7381. PMC 3438871. PMID 23015982.
2 – Paoli, Antonio; Gentil, Paulo; Moro, Tatiana; Marcolin, Giuseppe; Bianco, Antonino (2017-12-22). “Resistance Training with Single vs. Multi-joint Exercises at Equal Total Load Volume: Effects on Body Composition, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Muscle Strength”. Frontiers in Physiology. 8. doi:10.3389/fphys.2017.01105. ISSN 1664-042X. PMC 5744434. PMID 29312007.
3 – SCHOENFELD, BRAD J.; CONTRERAS, BRET; KRIEGER, JAMES; GRGIC, JOZO; DELCASTILLO, KENNETH; BELLIARD, RAMON; ALTO, ANDREW (2019-1). “Resistance Training Volume Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy but Not Strength in Trained Men”. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 51 (1): 94–103. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000001764. ISSN 0195-9131. PMC 6303131. PMID 30153194.
4 – Schoenfeld, Brad J.; Peterson, Mark D.; Ogborn, Dan; Contreras, Bret; Sonmez, Gul T. (2015-10). “Effects of Low- vs. High-Load Resistance Training on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy in Well-Trained Men”. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 29 (10): 2954–2963. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000000958. ISSN 1533-4287. PMID 25853914.