For the past year and a half I've been doing starting strength with some good results. I'm now getting married within year and want to transition to a program that focuses more on size and aesthetics rather than strength. Unfortunately all the one's that I find are more bodybuilding related and require you to work out five days a week which with a study and work routine isn't a possibility for me.

Are there any programs similar to starting strength (ie. can be performed three days a week) that are more aesthetic based or how would I go about designing one?

  • 2
    What exactly do you mean by "size and aesthetics"? You want bulk? Definition? Both? Where are you now relative to your goal?
    – Amir Roth
    Jul 15, 2013 at 14:11

2 Answers 2


Disclaimer: I don't bodybuild and have not tried these.

Boring But Big

The 5/3/1 variant called Boring But Big gets good press. The idea is to do 5 sets of 10 on one major lift each day, then finish the workout with assistance lifts.

Kilgore/Hartman/Lascek's Novice Mass-Gain

Dr. Lon Kilgore (co-author of Starting Strength), Dr. Michael Hartman, and Justin Lascek of 70s Big present a novice mass-gain progression in their book FIT. It recommends 3 sets of 10 on multiple versions of the major lifts as well as a small number of bodybuilding-specific exercises. The authors are well-respected in the S&C community, so I give this program weight.

  • Monday: squat, calf raise, overhead press, lat pulldown, shrugs
  • Wednesday: bench press, rows, dips, deadlift, weighted crunch
  • Friday: front squat, back extension, curls, french press, chin-ups

The exercises in italics alternate between barbell and dumbbell versions each week. Dips and chin-ups are done to failure if one cannot get 10 full reps, and use added weight if one can do more than 10 in a set. Deadlifts only get 1 set, not 3, at the heaviest weight.

GreySkull Linear Progression

You could also look into GreySkull LP: a novice progression, similar to Starting Strength but with more of a focus on upper-body mass gain and aesthetics.

  • Are they not more strength orientated though?
    – Michael A
    Jul 15, 2013 at 2:34
  • This is a much better answer than the accepted "google it".
    – Daniel
    Jul 18, 2013 at 15:29

A very common 3-day split is push/pull/legs. If you google it there are a million different variations. Find one you like and tweak it to fit you as time goes on.

Alternatively you could do a more "old school" bb'er routine like chest/tris, back/bis, shoulders/legs.

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