Bret Contreras’ 2×4 Maximum Strength Program Review

TLDR: 8 compound movements, 14 weeks, get as strong as possible

2×4 stands for 2 lifts, performed 4 separate days a week. The program is a 14 week long, split into 2 6-week blocks that are followed by a 1-week deload, and is primarily focused on developing strength in the big 3; Squat, Bench Press, Overhead Press and Deadlift.

Every session has a focus compound movement of the day, and an accessory compound movement. If the focus movement of the day is an upper body lift, the accessory movement will be lower body, vice versa. The program revolves around 8 exercises: Back squats, Front squats, Military Press, Floor Press, Close Grip Bench Press, Bench Press, Block Pulls and Deadlift.

With that, every workout has a main exercise that you try and hit a PR in for either 3 sets of 5, 3 sets of 3 or 3 sets of 1, for either straight sets or ascending weights per set, and an accessory workout in the same set-rep scheme but using a variation to it like Paused Reps or Explosive Reps. The program will run for 6 weeks before a 1-week deload is implemented, and then repeated once more.

There are also suggestions as to how to implement this program for geared lifters and advanced lifters. On top of that, Bret Contreras also includes a video database, training templates, and METCON workouts.

Overall, this program parallels 5/3/1 but with more variations in exercises, execution and loading schemes.


  • Strength oriented, focused on compound movements
  • Variations to the main exercises that can target different weaknesses
  • High frequency on upper and lower body movements


  • May not be enjoyed by people who love high volume workouts
  • First main PR exercise may be so tiring that it affects the execution of the second exercise


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