olympic weightlifting

Brian Alsruhe’s Linear Program

Program Review: Brian Alsruhe’s LInear Program

In the Summer of 2017, I finished my own version of Brian Alsruhe’s linear strength and conditioning program. Firstly I would be quick to highlight this is a very intense program and would only be for intermediate lifters at a minimum. High volume; fast-paced giant sets* and 10 minutes of heinous, lung-screaming conditioning at the end. The video on how to set out the program is below.

*Giant Sets are a way to cram volume and conditioning into a shorter time period by hitting an alternative muscle group straight after your main set, i.e. Deadlift and kettle bell swings.

This is a 12 week program where the first 4 weeks are 4 sets of 8, the next 4 are 5 sets of 5 and the final 4 are 7 sets of 3, all whilst working the accessory move in giant sets.

Essentially you have a 4 day per week split, where you incorporate your deadlift and deadlift accessory one day, squat and squat accessory another day and the same for both bench and OHP. I tweaked it slightly so I could hit each muscle group twice per week instead; i.e. 

  • Day 1: Bench Press / Squat accessory
  • Day 2: Deadlift / OHP accessory
  • Day 3: Back Squat / Bench accessory
  • Day 4: OHP / Deadlift accessory
  • Working in Giant Sets until I moved into the last 3-4 weeks of the program where I wanted to take longer breaks between heavy sets.
Brian Alsruhe deadlifting with a neck harness
Brian Alsruhe deadlifting with a neck harness post operation

Pros of this linear Program

  1. Simplicity: I’m a huge fan of linear progression as it’s simple to keep track of and week by week you’ll see slight improvements in your numbers for deadlift, squat, bench and OHP
  2. Fitness: The 10 minutes of conditioning at the end will definitely make you fitter, whilst making you wish you and everyone else was dead
  3. Strength: Clearly you’ll get stronger. Not a powerlifting program as such, but I tweaked it slightly to fit my goals. But for overall strength and fitness, it’s fantastic.

Cons of this Linear Program

  1. Muscle / Protein synthesis: Essentially you’re only hitting each lift once per week. On your squat day, you also hit your squat variation. So although you might be getting 12+ sets per week, it’s all on one day and so your potential for growth would be limited.
  2. Compound movements: I personally found that using giant sets with bench press or OHP was absolutely fine, but after squatting or deadlifting heavy, using giant sets began to hamper my main lifts in the latter rounds.

In terms of my progression, my squat went up by 2kg and deadlift went up by 4kg, bench press by 3kg and OHP by 3kg. For my own personal development, I would run more upper body hypertrophy work to complement my bench press and definitely split out the deadlift and squat accessory movements onto separate days.

In my opinion you would gain more traction from additional heavy accessory work on days separate from the main lift.

Now Read: Jujimufu’s Deadlifting Routine

Is Brian Alsruhe’s Program Good?

Essentially I would recommend this program for people looking to get fitter and stronger. In a sense this variation of the conjugate method is remarkably similar to Jim Wendler’s 5 | 3 | 1 program.

There are obvious cardiovascular benefits that complement your strength training and for anyone interested in strongman I think it’s great.

Obviously it’s not designed for powerlifting, but for simplicity and overall strength and fitness it’s an excellent free program. That makes you want to die on at least 2 days per week. Plus high calorie burn = more beer and chips.

As a final takeaway point, if you’re a powerlifter; any programs that incorporate a lot of overhead press or power cleans are inefficient.

As an olympic lifter running a program that is deadlift and bench press heavy will create the same issue. They’re not specific enough at an intermediate level and you either need to get a coach or find a more suitable program.

Remember, as a beginner athlete you want lots of GPP (General Physical Preparation) which means you have a wide exercise selection. As you improve, your exercise selection should decrease and you spend more of your time on the main lifts. This forms a core part of periodisation and you can see how to do so in my guide to olympic weightlifting exercise selection.

Have you run Brian’s program? Let me know in the comments what you thought of it

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