GZCL: General Gainz Program Explained

GZCL: General Gainz is a weightlifting program based on the GZCL principle, created by Cody Lefever. The GZCL name comes from his Reddit username - u/gzcl. It's the newest program from Cody, combining the learnings from all other GZCL programs, from VDIP and GZCLP to Jacked & Tan 2.0..

GZCL principle

Before diving in, here's some basic terminology:

  • Rep Max: This refers to the maximum weight you can lift for a given number of reps. For instance, if you can do 5 reps (and no more) with 100 kg, then your 5 rep max is 100 kg. When measuring this, you should not go to full failure, but stop when you can't maintain good form for another rep.

Now, let's talk about exercises. Exercises in GZCL programs are split into 3 tiers:

  • T1: These are main compound exercises (e.g., Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, Overhead Press ). These exercises involve the highest intensity (i.e., the largest weights, about 85-100% of your 2-3 rep max), but with lower volume (fewer reps and sets). Typically, you will perform 10-15 total reps, usually within 1-3 reps per set.
  • T2: These are secondary compound exercises (e.g., Front Squat, Romanian Deadlift, Incline Bench Press, etc). These exercises have lower intensity (lower weights), but higher volume (more reps and sets). You should pick exercises that will assist with your T1 exercises. For example, if you want to improve your Squat, you could do Front Squats as a T2 exercise. These exercises are performed with 65-85% of your 2-3 rep max, usually within 5-8 reps per set.
  • T3: These are isolation exercises (e.g., Leg Press, Leg Curl, Triceps Extension, Lateral Raise). These exercises have the lowest intensity (lightest weights), but highest volume (most reps and sets). The goal is to choose exercises that will assist with your T1 and T2 exercises. These are performed with less than 65% of your 2-3 rep max, usually with 8 or more reps per set.

A useful rule of thumb is the 1:2:3 rule - for every rep you perform in T1, do 2 reps in T2, and 3 in T3.

This is a very short description of the GZCL principle. For more information, and more details, I REALLY recommend to read Cody's blogpost.

Application of the GZCL Principle to the General Gainz program

T1 Exercises

The progression is based on 4 actions:

  • Find: you pick a weight you can do for 3-6 reps (3RM-6RM), make an attempt, and estimate it's complexity. Whether it was easy (RPE 8 - 2 reps in the tank), medium (RPE 9 - 1 rep in the tank), or hard - (RPE 10 - no reps in the tank).
  • Hold: next time you try to do the same reps with same weight (e.g., for a second chance).
  • Push: next time you try to do more reps with same weight, push your limits.
  • Extend: Do 1-rep sets after the first 3-6 RM set. The number of sets matches your first RM set. For example, if you did a 5RM, you do 5 additional 1-rep sets with the same weight. You can extend the number of sets up to an additional 3 sets if the first set was easy or medium.

So, initially you do Find and Extend. In the next workouts, you make a decision - either Hold or Push, and after that - Extend again.

Once you get to 6RM + 6 sets, you can increase the weight.

Rest time is important; otherwise, you can pretty much do the extension sets forever. 3-5 minutes after first set, and 2-3 minutes after extension sets.

T2 Exercises

Pretty similar to T1 - also have 4 actions with the same meaning:

  • Find: you pick a weight you can do for 6-10 reps (6RM-10RM), make an attempt, and estimate it's complexity. Whether it was easy (RPE 8 - 2 reps in the tank), medium (RPE 9 - 1 rep in the tank) or hard - (RPE 10 - no reps in the tank).
  • Hold: next time you try to do the same reps with same weight (e.g., for a second chance).
  • Push: next time you try to do more reps with same weight, push your limits.
  • Extend: Do half-sets after the first 6-10 RM set. Your goal is to get 2 times of the reps from the first set, doing sets with half reps of your first set. For example if you did 10RM first set, you want to get 20 reps total in the extension sets. So, you do 4 sets of 5 reps (5 = 10 / 2). You can extend the number of sets up to an additional 2 sets if the first set was easy or medium.

Once you get to 10RM + all extension sets, you can increase the weight.

Rest time is important here too. Rest for 2-4 minutes after the first set, and 1-2 minutes after extension sets.

T3 Exercises

T3 exercises consist of just 3 sets of AMRAP (or Max Rep Sets - MRS). Keep short rest times between them - 30-90 seconds.

Again, this is just a brief description, and for full information and details, please read the original post on Reddit with the GZCL General Gainz application.

Check the interactive playground below to see how the program works, and what the weights/sets/reps look like for each day. You can simulate doing RM, and then singles or half-sets after, etc.

You can run the GZCL: General Gainz program in the Liftosaur app.

Muscle Balance

Muscles used, relatively to each other
Back
100%
Glutes
86%
Hamstrings
67%
Chest
57%
Quadriceps
44%
Shoulders
33%
Calves
25%
Abs
15%
Triceps
15%
Forearms
13%
Biceps
10%

Try it out in interactive playground!

Tap on squares to finish sets. Tap multiple times to reduce completed reps. Finish workout and see what the next time the workout would look like (with possibly updated weights, reps and sets).

For convenience, you can finish all the sets of an exercise by clicking on the icon. And you can adjust the exercise variables (weight, reps, TM, RIR, etc) by clicking on the icon.

Day 1

Squat
Barbell

T1.

  • Find: Initially set your 1RM for the exercise, and work up to the first set.
  • Extend: Do the same amount of singles (1 rep) as it was your RM, with the same weight. E.g. if you did 4RM, do 4 sets x 1 rep after. You can extend the number of sets up to 3 extra sets (e.g. for 4RM - up to 7 sets x 1 rep max) if 4RM was easy.
  • Next time, you'd either try to do the same number of reps with the same weight (Hold), or try to Push and do more reps.
  • If you are able to do 6 reps with 6 extensions, the weight will be increased next time
Romanian Deadlift
Barbell

T2.

  • Find: Initially set your 1RM for the exercise, and work up to the first set.
  • Extend: Do the of "halfes" sets (your RM from the first set / 2) so the volume would be double of your RM. E.g. if you did 10RM, do 4 sets x 5 reps (20 total) after. You can extend the number of sets up to 2 extra sets if 10RM was easy.
  • Next time, you'd either try to do the same number of reps with the same weight (Hold), or try to Push and do more reps.
  • If you are able to do 10RM with 4 extensions, the weight will be increased next time
Seated Leg Curl
Leverage Machine

T3. All sets are Max Rep Sets (AMRAP).

Leg Extension
Leverage Machine

T3. All sets are Max Rep Sets (AMRAP).

Day 2

Bench Press
Barbell

T1.

  • Find: Initially set your 1RM for the exercise, and work up to the first set.
  • Extend: Do the same amount of singles (1 rep) as it was your RM, with the same weight. E.g. if you did 4RM, do 4 sets x 1 rep after. You can extend the number of sets up to 3 extra sets (e.g. for 4RM - up to 7 sets x 1 rep max) if 4RM was easy.
  • Next time, you'd either try to do the same number of reps with the same weight (Hold), or try to Push and do more reps.
  • If you are able to do 6 reps with 6 extensions, the weight will be increased next time
Incline Bench Press
Barbell

T2.

  • Find: Initially set your 1RM for the exercise, and work up to the first set.
  • Extend: Do the of "halfes" sets (your RM from the first set / 2) so the volume would be double of your RM. E.g. if you did 10RM, do 4 sets x 5 reps (20 total) after. You can extend the number of sets up to 2 extra sets if 10RM was easy.
  • Next time, you'd either try to do the same number of reps with the same weight (Hold), or try to Push and do more reps.
  • If you are able to do 10RM with 4 extensions, the weight will be increased next time
Seated Row
Cable

T3. All sets are Max Rep Sets (AMRAP).

Lat Pulldown
Cable

T3. All sets are Max Rep Sets (AMRAP).

Day 3

Deadlift
Barbell

T1.

  • Find: Initially set your 1RM for the exercise, and work up to the first set.
  • Extend: Do the same amount of singles (1 rep) as it was your RM, with the same weight. E.g. if you did 4RM, do 4 sets x 1 rep after. You can extend the number of sets up to 3 extra sets (e.g. for 4RM - up to 7 sets x 1 rep max) if 4RM was easy.
  • Next time, you'd either try to do the same number of reps with the same weight (Hold), or try to Push and do more reps.
  • If you are able to do 6 reps with 6 extensions, the weight will be increased next time
Front Squat
Barbell

T2.

  • Find: Initially set your 1RM for the exercise, and work up to the first set.
  • Extend: Do the of "halfes" sets (your RM from the first set / 2) so the volume would be double of your RM. E.g. if you did 10RM, do 4 sets x 5 reps (20 total) after. You can extend the number of sets up to 2 extra sets if 10RM was easy.
  • Next time, you'd either try to do the same number of reps with the same weight (Hold), or try to Push and do more reps.
  • If you are able to do 10RM with 4 extensions, the weight will be increased next time
Crunch
Cable

T3. All sets are Max Rep Sets (AMRAP).

Good Morning
Barbell

T3. All sets are Max Rep Sets (AMRAP).

Day 4

Overhead Press
Barbell

T1.

  • Find: Initially set your 1RM for the exercise, and work up to the first set.
  • Extend: Do the same amount of singles (1 rep) as it was your RM, with the same weight. E.g. if you did 4RM, do 4 sets x 1 rep after. You can extend the number of sets up to 3 extra sets (e.g. for 4RM - up to 7 sets x 1 rep max) if 4RM was easy.
  • Next time, you'd either try to do the same number of reps with the same weight (Hold), or try to Push and do more reps.
  • If you are able to do 6 reps with 6 extensions, the weight will be increased next time
Chin Up
Bodyweight

T2.

  • Find: Initially set your 1RM for the exercise, and work up to the first set.
  • Extend: Do the of "halfes" sets (your RM from the first set / 2) so the volume would be double of your RM. E.g. if you did 10RM, do 4 sets x 5 reps (20 total) after. You can extend the number of sets up to 2 extra sets if 10RM was easy.
  • Next time, you'd either try to do the same number of reps with the same weight (Hold), or try to Push and do more reps.
  • If you are able to do 10RM with 4 extensions, the weight will be increased next time
Bicep Curl
Dumbbell

T3. All sets are Max Rep Sets (AMRAP).

Skullcrusher
EZ Bar

T3. All sets are Max Rep Sets (AMRAP).

You can use this program on Liftosaur - a weightlifting tracker app!
  • Log your workouts there, and have a history of all your workouts on your phone
  • It will automatically update weights, reps and sets for you from workout to workout - according to the program logic
  • And you can customize the programs in any way, change exercises, the exercise logic, sets/reps/weights, etc.
Download on the App Store
Get it on Google Play