The Big 3 workout routine was originally designed by Bill Starr for football players. The program assisted them to increase their muscle strength and size. But even if you are someone who is looking out to gain a decent amount of size and strength by sticking to the basic compound lifts, the Big Three workout routine is your best choice.
The outline of the Big Three workout plan is simple in nature but considering its progressions to be easier could be a mistake. If you follow this workout program religiously, you can surely expect to get bigger and stronger. This workout program also enhances your explosive power that further helps in your overall strength gains.
What Will I Learn?
Bill Starr’s Big 3 workout routine is an apt workout program for both novice as well as advanced intermediate lifters. It makes the use of basic compound lifts that help in increasing your strength along with putting on size to your frame.
Following this workout plan, you would be required to train three days a week. You will get a day of rest between two consecutive training days and two days of rest between your medium and heavy days. In this workout plan, you would be training only three compound lifts namely:
- Power Cleans
- Bench Press
As you will progress through the sets, the weight that you will be lifting will be increased for each set. The three days on which you will be training are divided into heavy days, light days, and medium days based on the intensity of lifts. The following section will let you know how your workout routine will look like.
Bill Starr’s Big Three Workout Routine
Big Three Workout Plan
Sets x Reps
Monday (Heavy Day)
On heavy days your top set needs to be as much as you can handle with proper form.
5 x 5
5 x 5
5 x 5
Wednesday (Light Day)
The top set that you perform on this day should weigh around 80% of your heavy day’s top set.
5 x 5
5 x 5
5 x 5
Friday (Medium Day)
The top set that you perform on this day should weigh around 90% of your Heavy Day’s top set.
5 x 5
5 x 5
5 x 5
While following this workout routine, you will be increasing the weights from 5-15% between the sets. If you are not too comfortable with this much increase, you can keep the same weight as your first set for your second and third set.
For instance, suppose your top set on squats is 135 lbs. Now instead of beginning with an extremely lower weight that would be less challenging to you, you can start your sets with 115 lbs. Now lift the same weight on your second and third set. Your progression for squats in such a case would look something like this:-
On the contrary, if you are lifting pretty much heavier on your top set, you can start your sets with a lighter weight and progress by making larger increments between the sets. It is recommended that you should not lift more than 135 pounds for your first set when it comes to squats and bench presses, irrespective of the weight that you would be lifting on your final set.
While progressing with the sets, take a rest period of around 2 minutes between the sets but not more than that. Your rest periods on the starting sets must be shorter in duration and should increase as the weight gets increased with the sets. You can follow the below-mentioned rest pattern for the same.
- Set 1- 30 seconds
- Set 2- 60 seconds
- Set 3- 90 seconds
- Set 4- 120 seconds
- Set 5
If you are an advanced lifter and you are used to lifting pretty heavier weights, you can make some alterations in this program. Your rep scheme in such a scenario will be 5, 5, 5, 3, 3, 3, 6-10. Replacing the last two heavier sets with 3 sets of 3 reps will allow you to use heavier weights in the top set. The last set of 6-10 reps will be performed with a weight with which you can get at least 6 reps but not more than 10 reps. Your progression in such a case will be like this:-
- 135lbs x5
- 165lbs x5
- 195lbs x5
- 225lbs x5
- 255lbs x5
- 285lbs x5
- 210lbs x(6-10)
Progressing with heavier weights on all the exercises on the same day can be a bit stressful for you. In such a case, you can approach each exercise independently using the following scheme:-
- Power Clean- Heavy
- Bench Press- Medium
- Squat- Light
- Power Clean- Light
- Bench Press- Heavy
- Squat- Medium
- Power Clean- Medium
- Bench Press- Light
- Squat- Heavy
Following this pattern of lifting will make sure that your body doesn’t get excessively stressed in one session. It will also help in promoting recuperation for the muscles targeted with these lifts.
The progression of this workout plan is pretty simple and basic. As long as you are able to complete the prescribed number of sets and reps for each lift, you will be increasing around 5-10 lbs on your squat and 2.5-5 lbs on your bench press and power cleans every week. However, if you are unable to complete the given number of sets and reps, drop the weight by 10% and restart the program.
To promote recovery and recuperation along with providing your joints with some relief, you should get through a deloading week, after a few weeks of your heavy training. In a deloading week, you would be lifting weights that are light enough to get you through 8-12 reps with ease and proper form. This also helps in lubricating your joints and breaking plateaus.
We expect that this program will surely provide you with the results that you are looking for. Just get through it.