How To Use The “GZCLP For Hypertrophy” Spreadsheet

Back in July 2017, I put out an infographic on /r/fitness from Reddit about Cody LeFever’s GZCLP linear progression program in order to simplify and bring more awareness to what I thought was one of the best workout routines for beginners to barbell training. It brought plenty of well-deserved attention to an often overlooked program choice for beginners and became a widely-used reference to this day.

Ever since releasing that infographic, I’ve received plenty of PMs with questions and feedback. Based on progress updates from both anonymous Redditors as well as my own training clients, I made some tweaks while keeping the main principles around, which resulted in what I think is a pretty damn incredible workout program for beginners.

TWEAKED THE SET X REP PROGRESSION

Trainees seemed to benefit from more reps per set instead of ten sets of singles (plus the time issue), so I've changed the progression cycle to reflect that.

INCREASED INTENSITY FOR PULLING LIFTS

People seemed to have better results when they increase the intensity on pulling movements (lat pull downs, rows, etc.) right from the very beginning.

1-2 MANDATORY ACCESSORY LIFTS

While accessories were largely optional on the original program, GZCLP for Hypertrophy actually makes it mandatory and gives you options on what to do.

Based on the progress of my coaching clients, the results have been pretty amazing — so I decided to put the program in an easy-to-use spreadsheet format that automates all of the thinking for you.

All you have to do is to choose your exercises and log your weights after each workout, and the spreadsheet will show you exactly how to progress and calculate what you should do next time that session comes back around.

How To Build Your Own Customized GZCLP Routine

Head over to the Setup tab and choose your unit of measurement (whether your gym uses the metric system or freedom units) using the drop-down box. Feel free to type in a different number in the Increment fields if you wish to adjust the default settings.

Choose the exercises you want to do based on your available equipment and workout preferences. The second exercise (except for squats) can be switched for a variation, while the third exercise can be any pulling movement you’d like.

For the 4th and 5th exercises, you’re free to choose whichever you want, however I have some recommended pairings in the section below.

If you’re starting from scratch, don’t switch any of the rep schemes for the first three exercises — only switch these if you decided to use this spreadsheet while in the middle of a progression cycle.

Suggested Accessory Exercises

While there are no hard rules or guidelines with choosing accessory exercises, I’ve come up with a few potential pairings that you can choose to go with based on a few common goals.

You can choose to do either 3 sets of 8-12 reps, or 3 sets of 10-15 reps — this is largely up to you. General guideline I follow is to use 8-12 reps for compound accessories (leg presses, dips, etc) and 10-15 reps for isolation lifts (lateral raises, curls, flyes, etc). Experiment and see what feels good — it doesn’t matter so much what you choose because you can always change it as you go along.

Feel free to change up your accessories after every 8-12 weeks just to keep your routine feeling fresh and to bring up and potentially lagging parts. Remember: these are just suggestions — making the routine yours is what’s so awesome about GZCLP!

PAIRING TYPE

WORKOUT A1

WORKOUT B1

WORKOUT A2

WORKOUT B2

PAIRING TYPE

“BIG FOUR” ASSISTANCE

WORKOUT A1

Leg Press
Lateral Raises

WORKOUT B1

Chest Dips
Leg Curls

WORKOUT A2

Rear Delt Flyes 
Leg Press

WORKOUT B2

Hyperextensions
Chest Dips

PAIRING TYPE

GENERAL HYPERTROPHY

WORKOUT A1

Leg Extension
Ab Machine

WORKOUT B1

Chest Flyes
Tricep Extension

WORKOUT A2

Lateral Raises
Rear Delt Flyes

WORKOUT B2

Leg Curls
Bicep Curls

PAIRING TYPE

SHOULDERS & ABS FOCUS

WORKOUT A1

Lateral Raises
Ab Machine

WORKOUT B1

Shrugs
Tricep Extension

WORKOUT A2

Face Pulls
Crunches

WORKOUT B2

Rear Delt Flyes
Bicep Curls

PAIRING TYPE

BICEPS & TRICEPS FOCUS

WORKOUT A1

Bicep Curls
Ab Machine

WORKOUT B1

Tricep Extensions
Chest Flyes

WORKOUT A2

Bicep Curls
Lateral Raises

WORKOUT B2

Tricep Extensions
Shrugs

PAIRING TYPE

LOWER BODY FOCUS

WORKOUT A1

Leg Extension
Ab Machine

WORKOUT B1

Hyperextensions
Leg Curls

WORKOUT A2

Leg Press
Crunches

WORKOUT B2

Good Mornings
Calf Raises

Logging Your Workouts On The Spreadsheet

Once you’ve completed your routine setup, everything should be carried over to the “Workout Tracker” tab. This step is pretty simple: during the first week of workouts, log the weights you used and how many reps you did for each set.

After the first week, you’ll no longer need to fill in your weights: the spreadsheet will calculate the weights you need to use for that coming week based on your performance from the previous week. It’ll also adjust the number of sets you need to do in case you weren’t able to meet the base volume required to make progress.

You don’t have to use the actual spreadsheet during your workouts; as a matter of fact, even I would find that to be pretty tedious. Instead, I highly recommend you download a workout tracking app — I highly recommend using Strong (download for iOS / download for Android).

If you need to change your accessory exercises, it shouldn’t be a problem: just click on the exercise itself to make the drop-down arrow appear, and select a new exercise. Choose your set x rep scheme then enter the minimum amount of weight increments, and everything should carry over moving forward.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do it for as long as you’re making progress on it. On average, my clients stay on this program for anywhere between 4 to 6 months before needing to transition to a different program. The workout tracker has 52 weeks’ worth of workouts on it, or an entire year of training, should you need it for that long.

You can run this program whether you’re on a cut, a bulk, or a recomp. Weight loss (or weight gain) is largely dependent on your diet and your calorie intake, so adjust this accordingly depending on what your current goals are.

It depends. Does she want to get strong? Does she want to build a little bit of muscle so she can “get toned”?

If the answer to either or both of those questions is a resounding yes, then ditch the pink dumbbells and YES — absolutely do this program.

The original GZCLP T1 progression scheme went 5×3 -> 6×2 -> 10×1 (moving to the next set X rep scheme once you fail to add weight at your current one) then testing for a new 5RM at the end of that cycle.

My version adds 3×5 and 4×4 at the beginning of the cycle and takes out 10×1, since I’ve noticed that those who aren’t training for powerlifting benefit more from additional reps per set than ten sets of singles. Not to mention 10 sets of a compound lift takes up a lot of time and energy.

T2 progression schemes are kept the same on this version.

For T3/accessories, I did away with the AMRAP on the last set and instead chose to increase the weights once the lifter can complete 3 sets of 15 reps (or 3 sets of 12 reps, depending on which rep scheme you choose).

Your spreadsheet should automatically change the weights and rep goals accordingly based on the performance that you log.

No problem – as a matter of fact, the original GZCLP program was written to be a 3x/week routine. Just fill in each workout as you do them, and ignore the week number in the headers.

Warming up is largely personal, and what works for me may not necessarily work for others. However, feel free to use the following warm-up protocol:

For the first exercise of the day, do anywhere from 4-5 warm-up sets before your first working set at the following progression:

Bar x 8
50% x 5
70% to 80% x 3
80% to 90% x 2
90% to 95% x 1

For the second and third exercises, 2-3 warm-up sets will do as they are lighter in weight. I like the following protocol:

50% x 5
75% x 3
90% to 95% x 1-2

Keep in mind that the purpose of warming up is just to prep your muscles for the heavy lifts. This is also why it’s unnecessary to warm-up for any accessory isolation exercises you choose to do at the end of your workout.

For bodyweight exercises such as pullups, chinups, or dips, simply enter your bodyweight. If you’re using the assisted machines, be sure to subtract your weight from this figure — likewise, if you’re using additional weight, be sure to add the extra weight to your bodyweight.

Rest times is your opportunity to catch your breath and get ready for the next set. Here are the official GZCL guidelines for rest periods:

For the first exercise, rest between around 3-5 minutes between each set.
For the second and third exercises, rest between 2-3 minutes between each set.
For accessory exercises, rest for 60-90 seconds between each set.

Whichever ones you can do and/or enjoy. If you want to do the same movement, go ahead — if you want to vary it between workout days, then you’re free to do so as well.

Nobody’s stopping you from doing so. You might get a little bit more benefit out of using different exercises (plus doing the same exercises again and again may get a bit boring), but if you want to do this, go right ahead.

For volume exercises that require a rep range of either 8-12 or 10-15, the weight will only increase when you can hit the top end of the rep range for each set. So if you’re doing 3 sets of 8-12 reps with 10kg, the weight will only increase once you can perform 3 sets of 12 reps for that exercise.

From my personal experience, I’ve found that some exercises are better suited for higher rep ranges before increasing the weight (i.e. lateral raises) or respond better to higher volume (i.e. calf raises). But this is a matter of preference — feel free to choose whatever rep range you enjoy doing more.

With a program this long, sometimes the routine may get a bit stale and boring. While I highly recommend against changing the core lifts, you’re more than free to change your accessory exercises every now and then.

To do this, just click on the exercise in the Workout Tracker sheet to reveal the drop-down. Select your new exercise, pick your rep scheme, and fill in the amount of weight you want to increment the lifts by. You’ll have to fill in brand new weight values, but everything should carry over in the weeks after that.

If you skipped an exercise for any reason, be sure to leave the Actual Reps fields blank. That will make sure that your previous weights and reps are carried over unchanged for your next workout.

There are literally thousands of exercises that you can do, so it would be a futile effort to include each and every single one of them in the spreadsheet.

For example, while Tricep Extensions are included, there are several variants of it: seated, standing, lying down, or you can do it with a barbell, dumbbell, or cables.

It literally doesn’t matter — just pick one you like, and do it.