Greyskull LP: What Is It? Results? Is It Good?

Greyskull LP is one of my favorite online cookie-cutter strength programs. It is extremely popular for multiple reasons, including simplicity and effectiveness. Powerlifters and general gym-goers can benefit from gains in strength and muscle mass by following this program.

But what is Greyskull LP and is it good? Greyskull LP is a 3-day-per-week strength program that uses linear progression and AMRAPs (as many reps as possible) to develop gains in strength and muscle mass. The program can be adapted to your needs as a general gym-goer, powerlifter, or athlete in another sport. 

In this article, I will discuss:

  • What Greyskull LP is
  • How it works
  • The pros and cons of the program
  • Who should and should not do the program
  • How to manage it to fit your situation

What Is Greyskull LP?

What is Greyskull LP?

Greyskull LP is a popular templated strength program that can be individualized to you as a lifter. The LP in Greyskull LP stands for linear progression, which is a core principle behind the strategy used to drive performance. It was invented by John Sheaffer with the aim of driving strength in the following movements:

  • Squat
  • Bench press
  • Deadlift 
  • Overhead Press

This program was not intended for powerlifters, but for general strength athletes. But since the squat, bench press, and deadlift are a large portion of the program, powerlifters have capitalized on it. Sheaffer himself developed this program as he struggled with plateaus in his training. 

There are two parts to the program: a core part that is uniform for everyone and a flexible part that can be adapted to the lifter’s needs.

Greyskull LP was written so that lifters can apply the program principles to themselves as opposed to following a set-in-stone program. Therefore, it has a lot of flexibility. The author recommends adapting the accessory movements to what suits your goals and what you enjoy doing.

It has a bias towards squatting more than deadlifting, but it evenly prioritizes the bench press and overhead press.

If you are keen to learn more about this program, check out Sheaffer’s book on Amazon.

Isolation movements can easily be added to the Greyskull LP program. For ideas on isolation exercises that may be beneficial to you as a powerlifter, check out my article Do Powerlifters Do Isolation Exercises? (Yes, Here’s How).

Want to get advice on programming, technique, or competing? Speak with one of our coaches.

How Does Greyskull LP Work?

How does greyskull lp work?

Greyskull LP starts with the core part of the program, which relies on cycling through a two-week training period.

Here is what the core program looks like. The two main lifts on each day will always remain the same, while you can choose your accessory movements based on your individual goals and weaknesses. I provide some sample programs with different accessory movements based on your goals at the end of this article.

Week 1

Day 1

  • Bench Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Squat – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Plug-In Accessory Exercises

Day 2

  • Overhead Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Deadlift – 1xAMRAP
  • Plug-In Accessory Exercises

Day 3

  • Bench Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Squat – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Plug-In Accessory Exercises

Week 2

Day 1

  • Overhead Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Squat – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Plug-In Accessory Exercises

Day 2

  • Bench Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Deadlift – 1xAMRAP
  • Plug-In Accessory Exercises

Day 3

  • Overhead Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Squat – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Plug In Accessory Exercises

This two-week cycle is repeated until you plateau. After every squat, bench press, overhead press, and deadlift session, you increase the load by the smallest increment you have available. As a rule of thumb, this can be 2.5lbs for the upper body movements and 5lbs for the lower body movements. 

As you can see with the training frequency and training sets prescribed for squats and deadlifts, squats are performed with a higher frequency and with more volume. The deadlifts are performed only once a week and with one set. This relies on the assumption that the benefits and adaptations from training squats outweigh those of training the deadlift more frequently.

Deadlifting too often can be detrimental to your training. I talk about some tell-tale signs that you’re deadlifting too much in Are You Deadlifting Too Much? 16 Signs To Know.

The overhead press and bench press are evenly prioritized, with each lift alternating between being trained once a week to twice a week. In total, each of these upper body lifts is trained three times every two weeks.

The quantitative aspect of the program relies on two main elements: linear progression and AMRAPs. 

Linear progression refers to the strategy of increasing the load prescription every workout by a fixed increment. The author suggests keeping it to the smallest increment that you have access to.

One thing you are not to do is to deviate from progressing linearly even if you feel like you can. If you do this, you can build a lot of fatigue, which might decrease your performance in your next session. By keeping a small increment of linear progression, you give yourself a better chance of being able to lift a heavier load next session.

AMRAP stands for as many reps as possible. It refers to a set that is performed until no more reps can be done. This allows you to perform the best you can in each session.

It also gives you the opportunity to do two things: hit a personal best, which is motivating, and increase strength and muscle size due to the number of reps you will do. When you train to failure, it activates the important muscle fibers that are responsible for most of your strength and size gains.

With that said, you should avoid training to failure all the time. We cover the reasons behind this in Do Powerlifters Train To Failure? (Not Often, Here’s Why).

5 Advantages of Greyskull LP

5 advantages of greyskull lp

I like Greyskull LP for many reasons, and I have recommended this program for different people who want to get into strength training.

There are 5 major advantages to Greyskull LP:

  1. It autoregulates to your readiness and fatigue levels
  2. It challenges you to make personal bests
  3. Its simplicity makes it a time-efficient program 
  4. It stops you from going too heavy
  5. It is a good precursor to RPE-based programming

1. It Autoregulates to Your Readiness and Fatigue Levels

Even though Greyskull LP is not an RPE (rate of perceived exertion) autoregulated program, it does have an element of autoregulation with it. The last set for the core exercises, which is an AMRAP set, will depend not only on your physical capabilities that specific day but also on how motivated you are to train until failure that session. 

For example, if you are feeling particularly sore or stiff and you feel that performing a set to failure may risk injury, you have the opportunity to stop at where you actually want to.

If you are feeling especially fresh and strong that day, the AMRAP sets will allow you to perform more than you realized you could.

Wondering if training high reps is beneficial for powerlifting? Check out my article Do Powerlifters Do High Reps (Yes, Here’s Why).

2. It Challenges You to Make Personal Bests

The AMRAP sets specifically encourage you to perform a new personal best at a specific weight or a specific rep.

For the squat, bench press, and overhead press, the prior two sets give you a chance to warm up towards this set, which will help you gain confidence with the load that is prescribed each day.

3. Its Simplicity Makes it a Time-Efficient Program 

Greyskull LP is known for its simplicity. With regards to the sets and reps prescription for each exercise, there is a singular load throughout, so you save time. 

The most number of sets you do for each of the core lifts is 3, which can take you no more than 15 to 20 minutes to do, depending on how long you rest for and whether you add more warm-up sets prior.

You can expect Greyskull LP programs to generally take about an hour to perform unless you take your time with the exercises or add lots of accessory exercises in addition to the core portion of the program.

The time-efficient nature of Greyskull LP can be especially attractive for powerlifters who can’t spend a lot of time in the gym. I break down why most powerlifting workouts take so long in How Many Hours A Day Do Powerlifters Train? (Full Breakdown).

4. It Stops You From Going Too Heavy

The strict linear progression with the smallest accessible load increment stops you from being overzealous with load. This takes the thinking out of the equation of choosing the load prescription in subsequent workouts. Going too heavy may mean that you will not even achieve 5 reps in the first two sets. 

If you start this program as instructed, you should be choosing a very light load where your AMRAP sets may even achieve more than 10 repetitions. 

5. It is a Good Precursor to RPE-Based Programming

If you run Greyskull LP long enough, you will eventually reach a point where you would have performed many months of sets where you have no repetitions in reserve. Also, you will likely have final sets where you only achieve 4, 5 or 6 repetitions. 

RPE-based programming requires selecting loads based on a prescribed RPE, which is synonymous with reps in reserve.

Here is an example of an RPE scale for weight training:

  • RPE 10 Could not do more reps or load
  • RPE 9.5 Could not do more reps but could do slightly more load
  • REP 9 Could do 1 more repetition
  • RPE 8.5 Could do 1 to 2 more repetitions or could do 1 more repetition and slightly more load
  • RPE 8 Could do 2 more repetitions
  • RPE 7.5 Could do 2 to 3 more repetitions or could do 2 more repetitions and slightly more load
  • RPE 7 Could do 3 more repetitions

RPEs of less than 7 indicate loads that are extremely easy with which you could do 4, 5, or more reps per set.

By definition, an AMRAP is performing sets to RPE 10. With the journey of achieving many AMRAP sets at various intensities in training, you have the experiential knowledge of what reps feel like at different RPEs.

This will ultimately put you in a better position to rate the RPEs of your sets more accurately and select loads for a prescribed RPE. The more accurately and consistently you can select loads for an RPE or rate a set with an RPE, the more effective RPE-based programming can be for you. This will help you develop into a more advanced athlete as you progress.

Learn more about RPE and RIR training in RPE vs RIR: What Are The Differences? How To Use Them?

4 Disadvantages of Greyskull LP

Greyskull LP is not necessarily the best program out there, and there are certainly drawbacks. Four disadvantages to Greyskull LP are:

  1. Deadlift programming is not appropriate for beginners
  2. Deadlift volume is suboptimal for intermediates
  3. It may encourage technique breakdown to achieve performance
  4. The repetitiveness of the exercises and prescription may bore you

1. Deadlift Programming is not Appropriate for Beginners

The beginner is someone who does not have much lifting experience and is at the very start of their lifting journey. They will experience beginner gains or noob gains, which refers to how quickly they make progress.

Most of the changes with strength progression in the beginner occur in the nervous system as they practice the movement more and more.

It’s best for a beginner to practice each movement with more repetitions. In order for this to happen, the load needs to be light enough so the lifter can focus on movement quality and technique. This becomes difficult if there is a competitive motivation to perform as many reps as possible with high muscular effort in an AMRAP set.

Beginners tend to have a lot of weaknesses and have inconsistent technique, so an AMRAP set can encourage more technique breakdown. In my professional opinion, performing 1 set per week is not sufficient to practice the deadlift effectively. I also do not recommend beginners train the deadlift to failure.

If you need help perfecting your deadlift technique, check out these 10 deadlift cues that can help you pull more weight.

2. Deadlift Volume is Suboptimal for Intermediates

If the deadlift prescription is not appropriate for beginners, is it appropriate for intermediates? I would argue that it is appropriate but suboptimal. While an intermediate lifter normally has good and consistent technique, they need a bit more volume to drive muscle mass and strength in that particular lift.

This doesn’t mean that a single set done to failure cannot elicit performance in the deadlift. But in most cases, intermediate lifters will likely be able to perform more sets to failure.

Wondering how you can increase your deadlift? Check out my recommendations for adding 100lbs to your deadlift.

3. It May Encourage Technique Breakdown to Achieve Performance

AMRAP sets can normally trigger lifters to psyche up and focus on maximal effort in performance. This makes it more difficult to think internally about positions of the body and posture during execution. 

Due to this, AMRAP sets can encourage lifters to become complacent in setting up properly or even breathing and bracing properly. This may risk allowing lifters to break down their technique in order to achieve more reps. 

This is not desirable because you reinforce the bad technique by allowing reps to be performed poorly. This may even risk injuries as a consequence.

4. The Repetitiveness of the Exercises and Prescription May Bore You

There is not much variation between the core lifts, and the sets and reps are the same on a weekly basis. Physically, you may be able to continuously progress for quite a long time, and it might be a good program for you. However, it can get repetitive and you may get bored of it.

Having differences and variations can keep your interest peaked over time. If following a program becomes an unpleasant experience after a while, it becomes more likely that you will not be able to stick with it. 

Who Should Do Greyskull LP?

Who should do Greyskull LP?

Greyskull LP is suitable for various demographics. You should do Greyskull LP if:

  • You are a late beginner to early intermediate lifter
  • You are transitioning from bodybuilding style training
  • You want to get stronger for health
  • You want to get stronger for another sport

You Are a Late Beginner to Early Intermediate Lifter

As a beginner, you need to prioritize developing good habits and solidifying your technique. This will set a good foundation for pursuing a sustainable lifting journey. By the time you have solidified your technique and its consistency within your first year of training properly, you would be a late beginner.

You can use Greyskull LP and manipulate its variables to keep progressing until you plateau.

If your progress starts to stall, follow these tips for breaking through a squat plateau or a bench press plateau.

You are Transitioning from Bodybuilding-Style Training

If you have transitioned from bodybuilding-style training and have little experience with the main compound lifts such as the squat or deadlift but you want to powerlift, this program may be useful for you.

The reason why this program will be useful in this scenario is because of the increased exposure to these very specific lifts, which are done at a higher level of training frequency.

You Want to Get Stronger for Health

If you are a general gym-goer and you want to get stronger for health reasons, this is a very simple beginner program that can keep you motivated through its linear progression and AMRAP sets. 

The program is simple enough and can be performed with three short session durations. You can even manipulate this program to train at the gym twice or four times a week should you wish to.

You Want to Get Stronger for Another Sport

If your main sport is not lifting-related, but you want to get stronger without a dedicated coach, Greyskull LP may be a useful program to have alongside your main sport training.

The reason why Greyskull LP is a useful program for sports athletes is that the program tackles a wide range of different movements in different directions. This means that you also target most of the muscles in the body with this program.

Who Should NOT Do Greyskull LP?

Greyskull LP is not for everyone. You should avoid this program if: 

  • You are an absolute beginner or an advanced lifter
  • You have poor and/or inconsistent technique
  • You are preparing for a powerlifting competition
  • You have an injury or have just recovered from one

You Are an Absolute Beginner or an Advanced Lifter

If you are an absolute beginner, you should avoid this program as you should not be pushing yourself to failure. An absolute beginner does not have good work capacity to train to failure, and it can create soreness that puts you off.

As well, performing sets to failure is not an appropriate strategy for reinforcing good technique. When certain muscles fatigue, the way you position your body changes from rep to rep.

On the other hand, if you are an advanced lifter, this program will not be sufficient to help you drive further progress. The volume in this program is relatively low, and it is also unlikely that you will be able to continuously rely on linear progression to keep getting stronger.

If you’re an intermediate lifter looking for a different program to try, Candito’s powerlifting program may be a better option for you.

You Have Poor and/or Inconsistent Technique

If your technique is inconsistent or you have poor technique, your training sets should be somewhat easier. This means avoiding performing sets that take you to absolute failure.

This is so you have the energy to pay attention to more internal cueing, posture, and positioning to best practice technique.  

You Are Preparing for a Powerlifting Competition

If you are preparing for a powerlifting competition, Greyskull LP is not appropriate for you. It does not have major exposure to higher intensity sets, and training sets to failure is not going to help you dissipate fatigue. 

You Have an Injury or Have Just Recovered From One

If you are nursing an injury or you have just recovered from an injury, the muscle or joint you have injured is still a vulnerable part of your body. This means that its work capacity will be a lot lower and become a major weak link in your body. 

This will also mean that your technique may suffer, as pain and injury can change the way you move. Your body moves in a position to minimize any pain or discomfort, which may mean your technique breaks down. As such, exposing yourself to AMRAP sets will be a high-risk factor for further injury to your vulnerable areas.

Modified Greyskull LP for Powerlifters

Fundamentally, Greyskull LP was not necessarily for powerlifters, but for general strength athletes. The original Greyskull LP program can be good for powerlifters, but some modifications can be made to help suit them more.

The exercises selected for the plugin for powerlifters are chosen to support the movement and stability of the core lifts. For example, powerlifters will need a strong back to support them for the squat, bench press, and deadlift. As such, the Greyskull LP plugin for powerlifting includes exercises such as the barbell row and pull-ups.

Powerlifters also need strong hips and a strong core, so there are good mornings and Romanian deadlifts to complement the deadlift and core exercises such as deadbugs and Copenhagen planks.

Below is a modified version of Greyskull LP for powerlifters. The two main adjustments made from the original program are:

  • The bench press is performed twice a week regularly and is prioritized over the overhead press for greater specificity to practicing the competition lifts.
  • The deadlift is performed to an AMRAP set every other week and alternates with a day where it is not performed to failure but for more volume and submaximal intensity (or training that isn’t done at a max effort).

Week 1

Day 1

  • Bench Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Squat – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Barbell Row – 3×8, leaving 4 reps in reserve
  • Hamstring Curl – 3×10, leaving 4 reps in reserve
  • Split Squat – 3×8, leaving 4 reps in reserve

Day 2

  • Overhead Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Deadlift – 3×5, leaving 5 reps in reserve
  • Romanian Deadlift – 3×6, leaving 4 reps in reserve
  • Leg Press – 3×10, leaving 4 reps in reserve
  • Deadbugs – 3×10
  • Copenhagen Planks – 2x20sec

Day 3

  • Bench Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Squat – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Pull-Ups – 3×6
  • Dips – 3×6
  • Good Mornings – 3×8, leaving 4 reps in reserve

Week 2

Day 1

  • Bench Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Squat – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Barbell Row – 3×8, leaving 4 reps in reserve
  • Hamstring Curl – 3×10, leaving 4 reps in reserve
  • Split Squat – 3×8, leaving 4 reps in reserve

Day 2

  • Overhead Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Deadlift – 1xAMRAP, Same Load as Last Week
  • Romanian Deadlift – 3×6, leaving 4 reps in reserve
  • Leg Press – 3×10, leaving 4 reps in reserve
  • Deadbugs – 3×10
  • Copenhagen Planks – 2x20sec

Day 3

  • Bench Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Squat – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Pull-Ups – 3×6
  • Dips – 3×6
  • Good Mornings – 3×8, leaving 4 reps in reserve

Greyskull LP Plugins: How To Individualize Accessory Exercises

Greyskull LP Plugins: How to individualize accessory exercises

Greyskull LP plugins refer to the accessory exercises that are performed after the core part of each session. Here is a list of options I have come up with that you can integrate to your own version of Greyskull LP.

Greyskull LP Plugin for Bodybuilding

The exercise selection for this plugin has been chosen to target all major muscle groups. These have also been chosen to be opposite muscles to the ones that are targeted in the core lifts of each day. This helps bring a balanced stimulus to opposite muscle pairs, which are known as agonist-antagonist pairs.

Week 1

Day 1

  • Bench Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Squat – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Barbell Row – 3×8, leaving 2 to 4 reps in reserve
  • Hamstring Curl – 3×10, leaving 2 to 4 reps in reserve
  • Side Plank – 3x30sec

Day 2

  • Overhead Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Deadlift – 1xAMRAP
  • Lat Pulldown – 3×8, leaving 2 to 4 reps in reserve
  • Dumbbell Curls – 3×12, leaving 2 reps in reserve
  • Skullcrushers – 3×12, leaving 2 reps in reserve
  • Leg Raises – 3×15

Day 3

  • Bench Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Squat – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Barbell Row – 3×8, leaving 2 to 4 reps in reserve
  • Hamstring Curl – 3×10, leaving 2 to 4 reps in reserve
  • Side Plank – 3x30sec

Week 2

Day 1

  • Overhead Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Squat – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Lat Pulldown – 3×8, leaving 2 to 4 reps in reserve
  • Dumbbell Curls – 3×12, leaving 2 reps in reserve
  • Skullcrushers – 3×12, leaving 2 reps in reserve
  • Leg Raises – 3×15

Day 2

  • Bench Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Deadlift – 1xAMRAP
  • Barbell Row – 3×8, leaving 2 to 4 reps in reserve
  • Hamstring Curl – 3×10, leaving 2 to 4 reps in reserve
  • Side Plank – 3x30sec

Day 3

  • Overhead Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Squat – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Lat Pulldown – 3×8, leaving 2 to 4 reps in reserve
  • Dumbbell Curls – 3×12, leaving 2 reps in reserve
  • Skullcrushers – 3×12, leaving 2 reps in reserve
  • Leg Raises – 3×15

Greyskull LP Plugin for Court, Field and Martial Art Sports 

greyskull lp plugin for court, field and martial art sports

The exercise plugin for court, field and martial art sports will be designed with speed, power, and compound movements in mind.

There will be a lot of movements that include a rotational element in it, as this is key for a lot of sports including football, soccer, martial arts, and tennis. Some of the exercises will also assist activities involved in mixed martial arts, such as grappling and striking.

Week 1

Day 1

  • Bench Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Squat – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Half-Kneeling Landmine Press – 3×6, leaving 5 reps in reserve
  • SingleArm Landmine Row – 3×8, leaving 5 reps in reserve
  • Pallof Press – 3×10, leaving 2 to 4 reps in reserve

Day 2

  • Overhead Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Deadlift – 1xAMRAP
  • Box Step Up – 3×6, leaving 5 reps in reserve
  • Kettlebell Swings – 3×15, leaving 5 reps in reserve
  • B-Stance Hip Thrust – 3×15, leaving 5 reps in reserve

Day 3

  • Bench Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Squat – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Dips – 3×8
  • Pull-Ups – 3×8
  • Cable Woodchop – 3×10, leaving 2 to 4 reps in reserve

Week 2

Day 1

  • Overhead Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Squat – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Half-Kneeling Landmine Press – 3×6, leaving 5 reps in reserve
  • Single-Arm Landmine Row – 3×8, leaving 5 reps in reserve
  • Pallof Press – 3×10, leaving 2 to 4 reps in reserve

Day 2

  • Bench Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Deadlift – 1xAMRAP
  • Box Step Ups – 3×6, leaving 5 reps in reserve
  • Kettlebell Swings – 3×15, leaving 5 reps in reserve
  • B-Stance Hip Thrust – 3×15, leaving 5 reps in reserve

Day 3

  • Overhead Press – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Squat – 2×5, 1xAMRAP
  • Dips – 3×8
  • Pull Ups – 3×8
  • Cable Woodchop – 3×10, leaving 2 to 4 reps in reserve

Additional Program Reviews

Conclusion

Greyskull LP really is a great program, and its value comes from its simplicity and adaptability. Giving you options to adapt this template is an important component to thinking about your needs and how to take more agency over your training. Ultimately, this will help you stick with the program and potentially run it longer than most other template programs.


About The Author: Norman Cheung ASCC, British Powerlifting Team Coach

Norman Cheung

Norman Cheung is a powerlifting coach and an accredited strength and conditioning coach under the UKSCA. He has been coaching powerlifting since 2012 and has been an IPF Team GB coach since 2016. He has experience with coaching a variety of lifters from novices to international medallists and international university teams. Along side coaching, he takes interest in helping powerlifters take their first step into coaching. He currently runs his coaching services at strongambitionscoaching.com