Beginner's Guide: 7 Reasons Why I Chose To Do GreySkull LP

Updated January 27th 2022

Greyskull LP Overview

Greyskull LP is a beginner linnear progression strength training program with plug-ins that can help you add in customizing it according to your goals. 

Is GreySkull LP a good program?

After 7 months of doing Greyskull LP, I gained 65lbs on my bench press, 130lbs on my squat, 57.5lbs on my overhead press, and 95lbs on my deadlift.

Greyskull LP has multiple plug-ins that allow lifters to customize their exercises to their goals and to maximize their autonomy. 


In addition to gaining strength, you can also work on developing your physique through accessory movements.

The author, John Sheaffer (some may know him as Johnny Pain), was also looking for a program to build some size and strength.

Like most ambitious lifters, he ran starting strength.

And similar to my own experience, he found himself unimpressed by his progression.

Now, he did get strong, do not get me wrong.

But he was not enthusiastic about the fat gain and dull resets that happen during the Starting strength program.

So, Johnny Pain decided to make his own program to correct these issues.

He wanted to design a program for people who wanted to get stronger as well as develop a decent amount of muscle mass without being fat.

The program would include a fair amount of hypertrophy and maximal strength strategies and exercises.

Unlike other novice programs or strength programs, his bare bone structured program can be tweaked and conditioned for lifters of all different interests:

  1. weightlifters
  2. improving conditioning for sports
  3. gaining muscle mass with strength
  4. powerlifters

Greyskull lp, also known as Greyskull linear progression, is a beginner strength program that focuses on strength training in a linear progression style.

Linear progression means that for every successful workout completed, you would add additional weight for the next workout session.

So, before we get into the program, here is a list of Greyskull LP questions you might have after starting the program.

Greyskull LP program

Here is a sample program:

The base program can be found below:

GreySkull LP base program

Day 1:

  • Bench Press /Overhead press (alternating): 2x5, 1x5+
  • Squats: 2x5, 1x5+

Day 2:

  • Bench Press /Overhead press (alternating): 2x5, 1x5+
  • Deadlifts: 1x5+

Day 3:

  • Bench Press /Overhead press (alternating): 2x5, 1x5+
  • Squats: 2x5, 1x5+

Upper body exercises are trained first each day, in an alternating fashion.

Lower body exercises are always trained at the end, due to how taxing they can be.

Johnny Pain designed this program to have additional plugins to meet your goals.

One of the most common plugins was the arm plugin, which I used.

GreySkull LP base program with arms plugin

Day 1:

  • Bench Press /Overhead press (alternating): 2x5, 1x5+
  • Bicep curls: 2x10-12 / Chinups: 2x6-8 (alternating)
  • Squats: 2x5, 1x5+

Day 2:

  • Bench Press /Overhead press (alternating): 2x5, 1x5+
  • Bicep curls: 2x10-12 / Chinups: 2x6-8 (alternating)
  • Deadlifts: 1x5+

Day 3:

  • Bench Press /Overhead press (alternating): 2x5, 1x5+
  • Bicep curls: 2x10-12 / Chinups: 2x6-8 (alternating)
  • Squats: 2x5, 1x5+

The "+" denotes the last set of all the lifts is AMRAP - As Many Reps as Possible.

You will perform the lift until you have 1-2 reps left "in the tank."

It is the "1x5+" set that is the mastermind behind this program.

The AMRAP set differentiates Greyskull LP from all the other linear progression programs.

If you stall, like other beginner programs, you will deload 10% of the weight off the bar.

However, unlike other programs, because of the AMRAP set, you will have a chance to set nice rep PRs.

This gives the lifter opportunities to get stronger and make progress even after the reset.

Alternating Lifts - From Base Greyskull LP Program

  • Alternate Bench Press and Overhead press between each workout


  • Rest 2-3 minutes between each set. As the weight gets progressively heavier, your rest time may increase to about 5 minutes.

There are several strategies behind his madness.

Some of these benefits directly resulted from Johnny Pain wanting to correct issues with the starting strength program.

Johnny Pain found these advantages behind this programming style:

  • Because you are fresh during the first lift of the day, you can put more effort and intensity into the lift.

This is important since monster lifts, like squats and deadlifts, make you very fatigued.

Especially if you incorporate all the powerlifting techniques like the:

  1. thumbless squat grip
  2. Using a deadlift bar
  3. Using a lifting belt to add to your squat

These are just some strategies but they do allow you to squat and deadlift heavy, draining your stamina.

The most intense bench press session will not severely inhibit you from squatting or deadlifting but the converse is certainly not true.

  • With your first lift of the day, your focus and intensity are there.

You can actually focus on developing your upper body more.

Many beginners, as a result of running different linear progression programs, also show a disproportionate growth from their lower body and upper body, in favor of their lower body. So, Johnny Pain theorized that if lifters put more effort and focus on the upper body lifts first, these lifters should develop a more proportional upper body to lower body muscle mass ratio.

  • Since the hardest exercise and sets are last, the lifter no longer needs to worry and stress about hitting more sets after an exhausting squat or deadlift session.

After your squat or deadlift session, lifters can unwind and not dread any more grueling sets.

You do have to look out for hamstring back soreness from deadlifts and a sore upper back from squats.

The Greyskull LP schedule

  • Three times a week
  • Rest one day in between each workout
    • Ex. Monday, Wednesday, Friday workout, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday workout, etc.

Greyskull LP starting weights

You will want to start off with a weight that can challenge you at your current ability.

As a good rule of thumb, always start a lighter if you are not sure.

If you are a true beginner and have absolutely no idea where to start, start from the bar and do your prescribed exercise for 5 repetitions.

From there, increase your weight until your rep speed slows down dramatically more than your previous set.

This will be your starting weight.

It will be heavy enough to stimulate strength adaptations, neuromuscular coordination, hypertrophy, etc. while being light enough to ensure sustainable progress.

If, however, you find that bar speed is unchanged but form breakdown occurs, back off 10 lbs (5 kgs) and use that as a starting weight.

This will preserve good form and prevent injury well before you approach your linear progression limits.

Greyskull LP Progression

  1. Add 2.5 lbs to all upper body lifts in between every successful workout day
  2. Add 5 lbs to all lower body lifts in between every successful workout day
  3. If you reach more than 10 reps on your AMRAP set, you have a choice to double the weight added
  4. If you fail to perform at least 15 reps combined in your 3 sets, deload that lift by 10%

Solutions to Adding 2.5 lbs

Many gyms will not have access to micro plates (1.25 lbs). Here are some options to consider if your gym does not have access to micro plates:

Also keep in mind that if you are not using micro plates, you are not really doing the Greyskull LP program.

One reason behind using the micro plates is to have longer progressions with your upper body lifts, creating more practice and volume to help you get stronger.

  • Buy your own and bring them. They are affordable and and can be found on Amazon - Micro plates set
  • Move up 5 lbs increments instead. You may need to deload more frequently.
  • Add 5 lbs every other session you perform your upper body lift. Keep the weight the same for two sessions; shoot for a higher AMRAP number on the second session.
  • Add a fourth set, either by doing another set of 5 or another AMRAP set

Phraks greyskull lp accessories

Aside from the standard weighted chin-ups, curls, and neck extensions, here are other accessories lifters might use depending on their plug-in and goals:

  • Dips
  • Forearm work
  • Pull-overs
  • Calfs
  • Abs
  • Olympic lifts
  • Pull-up variations
  • Row Variations
  • Curl Variations

If you are having specific issues with overhead presses, 1-2 ohp accessories might help you break through your plateau.

How did I choose the Greyskull lp program?

Why did I choose GreySkull LP?

I was about one year into strength training and was coming off a major back injury.

It was not from a deadlift back crack— rather from improper squat bracing.

I loved the idea of strength training and I was hooked.

I wanted my next program to be similar to starting strength but with improvements made to its weak areas.

Just like how many lifters are weak at bottom of the overhead press, changes had to be made to be better.

I definitely wanted to try something new and see what other types of programming methodologies were out there.

Enter GreySkull LP.

What I was seeking:

  • I wanted more variety
    • Doing the big four exercises were great.
    • I loved everything about doing compound movements to increase my strength.
    • However, I am also interested in other areas of strength and muscular growth.
    • I wanted to have additional prescribed exercises that would help benefit my goals of gaining strength with some size.
  • I wanted to not kill myself every workout
    • When I was running Starting Strength, I faced the daunting tasks of hitting hard squat sessions, 3 sets of 5 reps.
    • I felt burnt out after every squat session and squats were just the first exercise on the list.
  • I wanted to have some sort of auto-regulation that did not make me feel burnt out
    • Every time I would deload from a lift, I knew it was to help me rest and recover from the stimulus.
    • I was also bummed every time that happened.
    • I would not be hitting any new PRs until I get back up to the weight I missed, which would take a few weeks.
    • It was just demotivating if you miss the same weight again and again.
    • It really brings down your confidence and motivation to continue strength training.

New Strategies from Greyskull LP

AMRAP - As Many Reps As Possible

This style of training allows you to push yourself to the limit, while leaving some reps in the tank, depending on how you are feeling.

For example, if you can do 15 reps of squats at 315 lbs, you would go for 10-15 reps on your AMRAP set, depending on how ambitious you are feeling that day.

I never tried AMRAP before but I knew I wanted to try something new and expand my learning.

It looked interesting at first and I decided to try this method of training.

When doing starting strength, the deloads were not well-programmed.

I built up a lot of progress with successful workout sessions and if I had an off-day or if I failed, 10% was taken off.

And when 10% was taken off, the weight was significantly easier and I would get stuck around the same weight the next time I get around the same weight I missed previously.

Now, I figure out if I should take a deload week vs a week off...

New frequency

I liked the thought of changing what I did in the past.

I was not a big fan of squatting three times a week and having to deadlift only once a week.

My progress was very good when I squat three times a week.

However, I wanted to try something else—maybe give deadlift barefoot a try?

I knew that deadlifting once a week was not very beneficial for me but with an AMRAP set, I figured there was no downside to trying this for a while.

Still Big Four Focused with Greyskull LP

  1. Squats
  2. Bench
  3. Deadlift
  4. Overhead Press.

Even if there are muscle groups not addressed by the big 4 lift, the big 4 will always be king, which is why I chose a new program that still placed a heavy emphasis on them.

I enjoyed working on my four compound lifts.

I was still a novice at the time and I saw that I could really work hard and improve those numbers.

This program helped me reach for my goals and aspirations - to be bigger and stronger. Here is why, the 7 reasons why I would highly recommend Greyskull LP:

  • It was fitting mentally

After getting injured, there is a sour taste in your mouth.

Though I never did squats with a sprained ankle, it was definitely a setback.

You do not want to do the same program that led you down an ill fate.

Besides, I have only tried one strength program in my entire life.

I knew there were better programs but I needed to put in the work first.

I wanted to experiment and see the world of strength training.

It was a time for a change for me.

And fortunately, upon reading the program description of GreySkull LP and its details, it felt like the right thing to do at the time.

just like how I knew I can deadlift 4 plates... it was only a matter of time.

  • Simplicity of the program.

Similar to starting strength, I found that the program was very simple to remember.

It was basically a pattern of alternating exercises.

Bench and overhead press alternate.

Squats and deadlifts are on a fixed schedule.

How much simpler could it get?

It's a lot easier to put into your schedule than strength training 6 days a week.

  • Big Four Exercises - King of Strength Training

Squat, Bench, Deadlift, and Overhead Press.

The program has a key emphasis on these important compound exercises.

I had to find a program that incorporated these four exercises.

On the flip side, do not be alarmed if it takes a long time for your muscles to recover.

  • Time Efficient with Greyskull LP

Because it had the best four compound exercises, it was extremely time-efficient.

And depending on the program variation chosen, there are very few accessories to worry about since there was a lot of room to improve on the compound lifts.

It is an easy way to improve your physique by only doing compound lifts.

  • No More Grinding, sort of

The AMRAP sets were a unique feature of the program I really enjoyed.

I wanted a program that was not very rigid.

At the same time, if I was feeling good, I can push more and get more reps.

A program that has a flexible minimum but does not have a ceiling...

And the best part, if you fail to get five reps on your final set, you will reset automatically.

  1. No questions asked.
  2. No more questioning yourself.
  3. No more over-psyching.

If your final set is not completed, you will reset to 90% of the weight.

  • Greyskull LP is Straight Forward

To emphasize the simplicity of the program, the base program only has four exercises.

Nothing extra to remember.

Hit your working sets and your AMRAP set.

Increase the weight.

Progress to your next workout session.

  • Greyskull LP Program Flexibility

Though I did not take advantage of all the program plugins, I did appreciate the multiple variations of the program.

There are programs that fit a powerlifting style, a more bodybuilding style, etc.

If you are deciding to become an elite powerlifter, give the powerlifting plugin a shot.

For me, I chose the arms plugin for more upper body development.

I stuck with one of the most simple programs and focused on keeping everything straightforward and basic.

Before Greyskull LP

My experience

My starting numbers:

  • 115 lbs bench for 8 reps
  • 155 lbs squat for 9 reps
  • 75 lbs overhead press for 11 reps
  • 165 lbs deadlift for 12 reps

Before starting the program, I did not do any paused benching or double overhand grip deadlifts.

Before I started this program I wanted to do the following:

  • Do one second pauses during my bench, with each repetition
  • Only use double overhand grip (both palms facing my body) during deadlifts

My Progression with Greyskull LP

What I did

I did GreySkull LP for about seven months.

I enjoyed the freshness of a new program and its slight twist to starting strength.

I was on a new leaf and it was time to get results.

Get the numbers I DESERVED.

While I still believe starting strength is a very good program, GreySkull LP made it a better variation FOR ME.

Similar to starting strength, you will realize that improving every workout for an extended period is almost impossible.

But better than starting strength, it allows you a greater amount of flexibility in what to do.

I was able to record all my lifts for every single session. The weights and reps reported were at the end of the month.

Month 1 Progression with Greyskull LP

  • 90 lbs overhead press for 10 reps
  • 195 lbs squat for 11 reps
  • 132.5 lbs bench press for 10 reps
  • 210 lbs deadlift for 10 reps

Month 2 Progression with Greyskull LP

  • 107.5 lbs overhead press for 6 reps
  • 210 lbs squat for 6 reps
  • 122.5 lbs bench press for 10 reps
  • 230 lbs deadlift for 8 reps

Month 3 Progression with Greyskull LP

  • 122.5 lbs overhead press for 5 reps
  • 250 lbs squat for 5 reps
  • 137.5 lbs bench press for 8 reps
  • 250 lbs deadlift for 6 reps

Month 4 Progression with Greyskull LP

  • 122.5 lbs overhead press for 6 reps
  • 260 lbs squat for 7 reps
  • 155 lbs bench press for 7 reps
  • 275 lbs deadlift for 4 reps

Month 5 Progression with Greyskull LP

  • 122.5 lbs overhead press for 7 reps
  • 270 lbs squat for 6 reps
  • 170 lbs bench press for 6 reps
  • 260 lbs deadlift for 3 reps

Month 6 Progression with Greyskull LP

  • 122.5 lbs overhead press for 8 reps
  • 280 lbs squat for 5 reps
  • 165 lbs bench press for 7 reps
  • 245 lbs deadlift for 4 reps - It was at this point that I started to add more deadlift volume, deviating from the program.

Month 7 Progression with Greyskull LP

  • 132.5 lbs overhead press for 3 reps
  • 285 lbs squat for 5 reps
  • 177.5 lbs bench press for 5 reps
  • 240 lbs deadlift for 6 reps

After Greyskull LP

You may have noticed that I deloaded a few times on many of my lifts.

Results from 7 months of GreySkull LP:

  • 180 lbs bench for 5 reps (paused)
  • 285 lbs squat for 5 reps
  • 132.5 lbs overhead press for 5 reps
  • 260 lbs deadlift for 3 reps

By the seventh month of doing Greyskull LP, I decided to add in a lot more accessories and started to experiment with the various equipment at my gym.

As a result, I modified the program so much that it was not really Greyskull LP anymore.

It was just a custom program, focused on squats, bench press, deadlifts, and overhead press.

Benefits of Greyskull LP

My Greyskull LP Results

After 7 months of doing Greyskull LP, I gained 65lbs on my bench press, 130lbs on my squat, 57.5lbs on my overhead press, and 95lbs on my deadlift.

For me, the program began to stall around 7 months after I was failing my deadlift sets.

The program pushed me to new all-time PRs for the bench, squat and overhead press.

The program did not help my deadlift as much.

One main reason for the lack of deadlift progress can be contributed to this -

I focused on training my grip

I was placing a heavy focus on doing double overhand grip and trying not to rely on a mixed grip.

I did not learn about hook grip at the time so I kept on doing double overhead until I could not grip the bar.

The weight was definitely not heavy for my back but for my grip, it was the limit.

As stubborn as I was before, I refused to let my grip fall behind, which lead to a poor outcome for my deadlift.

However, I can say that all that grip-focused training help me later on in life and I am able to pull close to 400 lbs now using only hook grip.

I just focused on deadlifts every week while I continued to get stronger while cutting.

What can be improved with Greyskull LP

Adding deadlift volume for Greyskull LP

One noticeable drawback I faced when using this program was that there was not enough deadlift volume.

At the beginning of the program, it will not be very apparent.

However, it was not until the fifth month until I noticed why my squats were improving much more rapidly than my deadlifts.

Keep in mind that I never squat more than I deadlift.

I did respond well to an increase in squatting volume and a decrease in deadlift volume for squat gains.

At that point, I realized I needed more stimulus than doing deadlifts once a week, with only doing one working set.

Here are some other suggestions to improve Greyskull LP's deadlift volume:

  • Switch deadlifts to 3x5+ instead of 1x5+
  • Alternate squats and deadlifts in the same way as overhead press and bench press
  • Add in a deadlift accessory on the third day of training or on the same deadlift day

Greyskull LP vs Starting Strength

If you want a true linear progression program, Starting Strength is the most direct and barebones program to run.

If you want a program with more flexibility and different exercises, Greyskull LP might fit you better.

The reason for this is simple - there are more Greyskull variant plugins to choose from whereas Starting Strength might be viewed as boring.

The biggest differences between the two programs are the AMRAP sets and the twice-a-week squatting/once-a-week deadlifting frequency.

In Starting Strength, you squat 3x a week and deadlifting is on a once a week/twice a week alternating schedule.

There are also no AMRAP sets.

Looking back at my training experience, I was fortunate enough to try a lot of different training styles and seeing what worked but specifically, how I responded to different training frequencies, volumes, and intensities.

In my opinion, beginners should stick with Starting Strength if they have no other strength or general sports goals.

There is a ton of chaotic issues in life and why should you complicate your training when you do not want to?

After Starting Strength or Greyskull LP, I would 100% run 5/3/1 Forever, which will be a nice introduction to AMRAP sets.

Greyskull lp vs stronglifts

Gryeskull LP is the better linear progression program with programming strategies such as AMRAPs, extra plug-ins, and progression rules that are just better than a regular deload from Stronglifts 5x5.

As a beginner, you may not appreciate Greyskull LP's programming but they do a lot more things right than wrong.

That is why so many people, including myself, was able to break old PRs while progressing in size and strength.

Takeaways with Greyskull LP

I liked the Greyskull LP program a lot.

When I finished Starting Strength and started Greyskull LP, I was pumped up and excited.

The program addressed my goals and what I wanted from training - getting stronger while building body mass.

I believe Greyskull LP is the one of the BEST options for beginner and novice strength training athletes.

Whether you are interested in strength or hypertrophy, the Greyskull LP book will provide you the necessary tools to meet your needs, with the plethora of plugins to support the flexible base program.

Greyskull LP 4 day variation

You have two options to have Greyskull LP as a 4 day variation—

Monday - Bench/Press Day

Tuesday - Deadlift Day

Wednesday - Rest

Thursday - Press/Bench Day

Friday - Squat Day

Saturday - Rest

Sunday - Rest


Monday - Workout A

Tuesday - Workout B

Wednesday - Rest

Thursday - A

Friday - B

Saturday - Rest

Sunday - Rest


Greyskull LP and running

Greyskull LP does have a plug-in for running, involving 3 fasted walking sessions, 2 running sessions, and 1 sprinting session.

This is great for those who are new to programming and working out in general.

After a couple of months, you can re-evaluate your progress and goals and make changes to the program as needed.


Can I run Greyskull LP for powerlifting?

Greyskull LP is a general strength training program and because this program emphasizes the squat, bench press, and the deadlift, you will have carryover into powerlifting. 

In the book, there is a powerlifting tailor for peaking for a meet.

Unless you are 100% locked in on being a powerlifter, chances are you have natural weaknesses and strength that cannot be solved just with the Big 3 movements.

As a result, lifters select a variety of exercises to strengthen all parts of their body so that there are no weak links.

Greyskull LP would not be appropriate for an intermediate or advanced lifter but beginners can dip their toes in powerlifting by training with barbell exercises and competing in meets.

Phraks Greyskull LP Program Right For You?

Have you decided what is right for you?

Maybe Fierce 5 suits your goals more if you are more bodybuilding-oriented.

We all have different aspirations for lifting and our program should directly reflect our aims and ambitions.

What are yours?

  • Are you trying to increase your Big 4 total?
  • Are you trying to gain strength?
  • Are you trying to get shredded?
  • Are you trying to gain strength, with some mass
  • Are you trying to lose weight while gaining strength?

Let's take action TODAY!

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