Updated: Jun 4, 2021
SF101 is the best general program I have written to date.
Simply because it is yet to fail the guys and girls I’ve prescribed it to, it includes all the fundamentals, allows for progression, includes testing (which everyone loves) and best of all is easily repeatable.
Of course, you can’t just throw the same program at everyone, I might not suggest it for a complete beginner; the exercise selection yes, but the percentage-based work and rep ranges probably wouldn’t be appropriate, nor would the testing.
On the other hand a truly advanced lifter might be ok with it, but it likely lacks the frequency (3 vs 4 days), individualisation and planning necessary for them to see continual progress. I also wouldn’t want them testing in this fashion or every 5 weeks for that matter.
Now that I’ve told you who this program probably isn’t for, the two extremes, here’s who it is for; the majority of us that live somewhere in the middle! Like I said before this is the best general program I’ve written, because it is applicable to most people who want to get strong.
That said, we’ve known for a long time how to get strong;
Frequent large, multi-joint movements and progressive overload.
SF101 delivers just that. It’s not fancy with exercise selection, you don’t need it to be. It’s not over the top with its intensity if you set it up right, you should. Best of all, it sets you up for success again and again with the testing protocol.
Originally, I set up SF101 to include circuits and mobility as well, the original download on the
website still has these included. Over time I’ve found most have disregarded the circuit work in favour of just the strength program.
Let’s go over the program and get into the nitty gritty
SF101 is a 3 days per week program. Again, for most general gym goers this is the perfect frequency because it’s easily manageable and sustainable no matter who you are. It doesn’t ask too much in terms of time commitment, allows for recovery, possibly other training (read; cardio)
Whole body approach
Each training day is a whole body session (sans calves) addressing each of the Big 4 movement patterns (Squat, Hinge, Push, Pull) in some capacity.
Percentage-based main work
There will always be pros and cons when using percentages in prescribing the intensity of an
exercise. There are pros and cons with any method and I might even get to work on a Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) version of SF101, though I feel the program might lose it’s simplicity in the process. That said, each session starts with two main exercises which have prescribed intensities.
Week 1 should actually be pretty easy but the intensity increases week to week to allow for
Self-prescribed assistance work
Due to the massive differences amongst lifters and exercises the intensity of the secondary exercise is self-prescribed. Things remain the same and lifters are encouraged to increase the weight when appropriate.
I feel this is one of the best aspects of SF101 because it sets you up for success. Too many lifters see the bright lights of a true 1RM and let themselves get away with below average technique for the sake of a few extra kilograms. SF101 uses 87% of your initial 1RM for 1 set of maximum repetitions. Most lifters should be able to hit about 5 reps with that percentage, so anything more is a bonus. I can’t recall any of my members not equalling or exceeding this after their first block. From there we re-calculate a new estimated 1RM and can easily run the program again. The excel sheet does all this work for you but the equation to estimate your new 1RM was made popular by Jim Wendler’s 531, here it is: (reps x load) x .0333 + load.
So, there you have it, the best program I have ever written. If you are looking for something simple, easy to implement and that will get you results look no further than SF101. You can grab it over on the programs tab of the website for a few bucks or if you are a member you can snag it for free as part of your membership.