Jonnie Candito Training: EVERY Program (With Bonus Excel)

Jonnie Candito training in the gym using his 6 week powerlifting program based on linear periodization

What Exactly Is Jonnie Candito Training?

With thousands of strength programs, powerbuilding routines and workouts available these days, it can be difficult to pinpoint a training method that will deliver the best results. However, Jonnie Candito training programs remove the guesswork.

Jonnie Candito is a very gifted and successful powerlifter who has competed at International level for Powerlifting and has designed free programs available for anyone. But, make no mistake, his method is superb and works for people of all training levels.

The following introduction to the Candito training programs offers detailed options for lifters who want to…

  • use the best program possible (get results the fastest)
  • develop specific lifts
  • break through strength barriers
  • build muscle mass
  • simply amplify their current routine

The Fundamental Concept Of Candito Programs

“Candito Training is created to spread no nonsense knowledge of Strength Training.
No gimmicks, just strength.”

Online programs are often criticized for their lack of specificity. In other words, many tend to lean toward a “one size fits all” concept, which can miss out on identifying or considering an individual’s specific needs and requirements.

Candito’s programs are unlike many standard free strength programs. He has developed multiple training guides that fit any number of different stages, needs and goals.

The Basic Format and Candito Excel Spreadsheets

Candito’s programs, like his powerlifting programs, come in Excel format. The spreadsheets are well designed and simple to use.

After a few clicks, anyone can have a personally tailored Candito strength program. Plus, there are supporting documents that supplement the excel spreadsheets. Links follow each section to download the sheets.

Candito 6 Week Training Program

Once the 6 week program spreadsheet has been downloaded (click here), you’ll find an input sheet for the following information:

  • Your program start date
  • Your preferred weight measurement (lbs or kg)
  • Your selected preferred accessory lifts to accompany the workouts
  • Your 1 Rep Max (1RM) values for the Squat, Deadlift and Bench

After those values are submitted, the custom program will automatically generate. Easy as 1, 2, 3!

The 6 Week Concept

This program utilizes linear periodization, which basically means it’s split into distinct phases designed to manipulate the volume, intensity, complexity and focus of the training period.

There are 6 phases in total for this program:

  • Muscular Conditioning
  • Hypertrophy
  • Linear Max OT
  • Heavy Weight Acclimatization/ Explosiveness
  • Intense Strength Training
  • Deload

Periodization is based on metabolic fatigue and mechanical overload. In simpler terms, it’s designed to stress the muscles to the point of fatigue so that they are forced to adapt, growing bigger and stronger.

Periodization is extremely effective for structuring training and for ensuring that efforts are optimized.

Moreover, linear periodization is ideal for beginners because it starts with a high volume and relatively lower intensity. This allows people to get accustomed to the movements and physical demands required for each exercise, before the training begins to ramp up.

6 Week Workout Phases

Week 1 Muscular Conditioning
Week 2 Hypertrophy
Week 3 Linear Max OT
Week 4 Heavy Weight Acclimatization/ Explosiveness
Week 5 Intense Strength Training
Week 6 Deload

 

The 6-week program’s structure resembles a stereotypical powerlifting split and focuses on upper/lower workouts rather than muscle group based workouts.

Candito believes that following a 5-day split (typically used by bodybuilders), is not the best method for making strength gains. A typical 5 day split focuses on one or two muscle groups per session, which has the potential for too much volume.

Note: this is different than a 6 day workout routine which some elite lifters decide to use (only meant for advanced lifters).

With too high a volume, it increases the risk of injury by negatively impacting form through fatigue. However, the upper/lower split allows for a similar volume of high-quality exercise without becoming extremely fatiguing.

Understanding the Jonnie Candito 6 Week Training Program

There are several key elements of the plan, including finding your true 1RM and selecting the most effective accessory and optional exercises.

Understanding 1 Rep Maxes for Strength Exercises within the Candito Program

Since you’ll need to input your 1 Rep Max (1RM) values for the squat, deadlift, and bench press, knowing how to find the right number is crucial to the success of the program.

In simplest terms, the 1RM is the most amount of weight that can be lifted for one repetition. These 1RMs form the foundation of most strength training programs (most exercises use a percentage of the 1RM for working sets).

If you are uncertain or need to determine the 1RM, it is possible to perform sub-max strength tests such as the 3, 5 or 10 rep max test. Sub-max strength testing has proved to be a safe and effective method.

The deadlift, squat and bench form the foundation of the program, because they are compound exercises that challenge muscles throughout the body.

Compound exercises are “big” movements, requiring exertion from more than one muscle group, which makes them excellent exercises for strength and stability improvements.

There are no three compound exercises quite like these three for building strength, size and stability. The deadlift works a variety of muscles and specifically develops the posterior chain (all musculature found at the rear of the body and lower back) as they are responsible for driving the movement.

The squat builds and develops the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and glutes, yet it is much more than just a lower body exercise. During the squat a great amount of work is required from the core in order to stabilize the body during the descent and ascent.

Similarly, the bench press is an excellent upper body development exercise, specifically for the chest and shoulders.

Accessory Exercises

Accessory exercises are designed to complement the core lifts and facilitate improvements with each exercise found in the Candito programs. To make each exercises have the maximum possible positive effect, choose depending on your weaknesses (view this awesome chart to help).

They allow you to target different muscle groups, hit them in a different way, iron out any imbalances and reduce any weaknesses. For example, the chest fly is a suitable accessory for the bench press because it targets the pectorals using a very different motion.

How To Use The Accessories

Every upper body session requires three accessory exercises to accompany the bench press.

However, remember, you will be performing these three accessories with every upper body session, so select wisely.

There are three accessory exercise categories each, with three or four exercises to select.

The categories are:

  • Back (horizontal)
  • Shoulders
  • Back (vertical)

Many people wonder why there are two back accessory exercises and what the difference is between horizontal and vertical.

By taking a brief look at the muscles of the back and the actions they control, it becomes clear why there is a need for both horizontal and vertical pulling exercises.

The upper back differs from both the chest and shoulders, because there are many major muscles that generate and control motion. The chest and shoulders only have the one major muscle group, the pectorals and deltoids, respectively.

However, in the back are the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids and trapezius all which have their individual roles in generating and controlling movement. Therefore, it’s important to train the back with different motions to ensure all the major back muscles are worked.

A horizontal pulling exercise involves pulling a load in, towards the torso (e.g. the dumbbell row), while a vertical pull involves pulling a load in an upward-downward motion (e.g. pull-ups).

Due to the mechanics of each of the movements, a horizontal pull will require effort from the rhomboids and traps to pull the scapula together whilst a vertical pull will target the lats as the lats have a large degree of control over the shoulder joint.

List of Accessory Exercises

These are the accessory exercises to choose (Exercises listed in order of perceived effectiveness):

Back (horizontal pull) Shoulders Back (vertical pull)
Dumbbell Row Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press Weighted Pull-up
Machine Row Standing Overhead Press Weighted Chin-up
Barbell Row Military Press Lat Pulldown
Lateral DB Raises

Optional Exercises

With every upper body workout, the only requirement is to complete the 4 exercises: bench press and 3 chosen accessories. However, there are optional exercises that can be completed after the core and accessory exercises.

Unlike the core and accessory exercises, many of these exercises are targeted, isolating just one muscle group. Isolation work should be considered supplementary and non-essential to the training, but can help to add volume (the number 1 driver of muscle mass and strength increases).

You may be surprised to find no accessory lower body exercises. Candito makes it very clear that this is because the squat and deadlift combined are more than enough to induce efficient strength development.

However, you can select optional exercises which are either explosive-based or hypertrophy-based, or even a mixture of both if you want to increase general strength.

Powerlifters and bodybuilders are recommended to use hypertrophy exercises, while athletes and those looking to improve power output should focus on explosive exercises.

Frequency and Reps for Optional Exercises

Both the upper body and hypertrophy options are intended to be low impact, so stick to a rep range of 8-12.

Due to the nature of the explosive exercises, a higher intensity is required, so stick to four reps per exercise.

Optional Exercises for Upper Body:

  • Lateral Dumbbell Raise (Shoulders)
  • Incline Fly (Chest)
  • One Arm Tricep Extension (Arms)
  • Bicep Cable / Machine Exercises (Arms)
  • Preacher Curl (Arms)
  • Hammer Curl (Arms)

Optional Exercises for Lower Body:

Hypertrophy

  • Calf Raises
  • Leg Curl
  • Leg Extension
  • Isolation Glute Exercise
  • Single Leg Press
  • Single Leg Curl

Explosive

  • Box Jumps
  • Jump Squats
  • Power Cleans
  • Deep Squat Jumps
  • Single Leg Box Jumps
  • Med Ball Throws
  • Explosive Single Leg Press

Using the Candito 6 Week Program Template

For my own 6 week program, I have selected Barbell Row, Military Press and Weighted Pull-ups as my accessory exercises. This is now what my program looks like:

Week 1 – Muscular Conditioning

Day Exercise Sets x Reps
Monday Squat
DeadliftOptional Exercise
Optional Exercise
4 x 6
2 x 6
3 x 8-12
3 x 8-12
Tuesday Bench Press
Barbell Row
Military Press
Weighted Pull-ups
Optional ExerciseOptional Exercise
4 x 10,10, 8, 6
4 x 10, 10, 8, 64 x 12, 12, 10, 84 x 12, 12, 10, 83 x 8-123 x 8-12
Thursday Bench Press
Barbell Row
Military Press
Weighted Pull-ups
Optional ExerciseOptional Exercise
4 x 10,10, 8, 6
4 x 10, 10, 8, 64 x 12, 12, 10, 84 x 12, 12, 10, 83 x 8-123 x 8-12
Friday Squat
DeadliftOptional Exercise
Optional Exercise
4 x 8
4 x 8
3 x 8-12
3 x 8-12
Saturday Bench Press
Barbell Row
Military Press
Weighted Pull-ups
Optional ExerciseOptional Exercise
1 x Max Reps
4 x 10, 10, 8, 64 x 12, 12, 10, 84 x 12, 12, 10, 83 x 8-123 x 8-12

 

Week 2 – Hypertrophy

Day Exercise Sets x Reps
Monday Squat
Extra Volume Squats
Deadlift VariationOptional Exercise
Optional Exercise
1 x MR (<10)
5 x 3
3 x 6
3 x 8-12
3 x 8-12
Tuesday Bench Press
Barbell Row
Military Press
Weighted Pull-ups
Optional Exercise
Optional Exercise
3 x 10, 8, 6-8
3 x 10, 10, 83 x 10, 8, 63 x 10, 8, 63 x 8-123 x 8-12
Thursday Squat
Back Off Squats
Deadlift VariationOptional Exercise
Optional Exercise
1 x MR (<10)
10 x 3
3 x 8
3 x 8-12
3 x 8-12
Friday Bench Press
Barbell Row
Military Press
Weighted Pull-ups
Optional Exercise
Optional Exercise
3 x 10, 8, 6-8
3 x 10, 8, 83 x 10, 8, 63 x 10, 8, 63 x 8-12
3 x 8-12
Sunday Bench Press
Barbell Row
Military Press
Weighted Pull-ups
Optional Exercise
Optional Exercise
1 x Max Reps
3 x 10, 8, 83 x 10, 8, 63 x 10, 8, 63 x 8-123 x 8-12

 

Week 3 – Linear OT

Day Exercise Sets x Reps
Monday Squat
Deadlift
3 x 4-6
2 x 3-6
Wednesday Bench Press
Barbell Row
Military Press
Weighted Pull-ups
3 x 4-6
3 x 6
3 x 6
3 x 6
Friday Squat
Deadlift Variation
1 x 4-6
1 x 8
Saturday Bench Press
Barbell Row
Military Press
Weighted Pull-ups
3 x 4-6
3 x 6
3 x 6
3 x 6

 

Week 4 – Heavy Weight / Explosiveness

Day Exercise Sets x Reps
Monday Squat
Deadlift
Optional Exercise
Optional Exercise
3 x 3
2 x 63 x 8-12
3 x 8-12
Tuesday Bench Press
Barbell Row
Military Press
Weighted Pull-ups
Optional Exercise
Optional Exercise
3 x 3
4 x 10, 10, 8, 6
4 x 12, 12, 10, 8
4 x 12, 12, 10, 84 x 8-12
4 x 8-12
Thursday Squat
Deadlift VariationOptional Exercise
Optional Exercise
2 x 3, 1-2
2 x 3, 1-23 x 8-12
3 x 8-12
Friday Bench Press
Barbell Row
Military Press
Weighted Pull-ups
Optional Exercise
Optional Exercise
3 x 3, 2-4, 1-2
4 x 10, 10, 8, 6
4 x 12, 12, 10, 8
4 x 12, 12, 10, 83 x 8-12
3 x 8-12

 

Week 5 – Intense Strength Training

Day Exercise Sets x Reps
Monday Squat
Deadlift
Optional Exercise
Optional Exercise
1 x 1-4
3 x 4, 4, 23 x 8-12
3 x 8-12
Wednesday Bench Press
Barbell Row
Military Press
Weighted Pull-ups
Optional Exercise
Optional Exercise
1 x 1-4
3 x 8, 6, 6
3 x 8, 6, 6
3 x 8, 6, 63 x 8-12
3 x 8-12
Friday Deadlift
Optional Exercise
Optional Exercise
1 x 1-4
3 x 8-12
3 x 8-12

 

Week 6 – Deload

Options:
1) Skip this week and start next training cycle
2) Use this week as a deload week by repeating week 1 sessions (skip last session)
3) Test 1RM then deload or start a new cycle

 

Download Candito’s 6 Week Program here

How Beginners Can Get Started Using The Candito Linear Program

The Candito Linear Program is another beginner strength program produced by Candito, derived from his 6 week program, but is much more flexible and simplistic.

This program also follows linear periodization and includes mandatory accessory exercises. However, it differs from the 6-week program in that, once selected, the exercises will not change week by week.

The only thing that will alter is the weight in candito lp, which varies from 0-10 pounds, depending on various factors.

Linear Program Templates

There are three templates of the Linear Program, all which have slight differences in terms of accessory and optional lifts. You can download the templates here.

You have the ability to choose from:

  • Strength/Control—For general strength gains
  • Strength/Power—For athletic development
  • Strength/Hypertrophy—For building muscle mass

Candito LP Strength/Control Template

Day Exercise Sets x Reps
Monday
(Heavy Lower Day)
Squat
DeadliftOptional Exercise
Optional Exercise
3 x 6
2 x 6
3 x 8-12
3 x 8-12
Tuesday
(Heavy Upper Day)
Bench Press
Accessory Upper Back Exercise (1)
Accessory Shoulder Exercise
Accessory Upper Back Exercise (2)
Optional Exercise
3 x 6

3 x 6

1 x 6

1 x 6

3 x 8-12

Thursday
(Control Lower Day)
Pause Squat
Pause Deadlifts
Optional Exercise
Optional Exercise
6 x 4
3 x 4
3 x 8-12
3 x 8-12
Friday
(Control Upper Day)
Spoto Press
Accessory Upper Back Exercise (1) (paused)
Shoulder Exercise
Accessory Upper Back Exercise (2) (no pause)
Optional Exercise
6 x 4
6 x 4
1 x 10
1 x 10
3 x 8-12

 

Candito Powerlifting Programs: Break Through Your Plateau

Despite having personal bests of a 650lbs deadlift, 570lbs squat and 350lbs bench, Candito, like every powerlifter, has experienced the frustration caused by a lack of improvement.

In order to help individuals push through these tough periods and facilitate heavier lifts, Candito designed “Single Lift Programs.”

Adopting any of the three powerlifting peaking programs will allow anyone to burst through any plateau, continue on their quest for strength gains and get suitably prepared for competition.

Be aware that the following programs are for intermediate/advanced lifters.

The Candito Deadlift Program

The ‘Deadlift Program’ is an advanced strength training program, specifically orientated for those preparing for a powerlifting competition. Its purpose is to gradually build and prepare you for a certain date.

Two types of deadlift tend to dominate the gym scene – the conventional and the sumo. Some people prefer the conventional deadlift, while others gravitate towards the sumo. Both are equally as effective at building strength, but in slightly different ways.

Researchers have performed electromyography (EMG) tests on both the sumo and conventional deadlift which indicate that the sumo requires more effort from the quadriceps (legs) and trapezius (upper back) than the conventional style which places more stress on the lower/mid back.

While the movement is similar between the two exercises, the differences are found in the set up.

To set up properly for conventional deadlift you must stand with the feet directly under the bar about hip width apart, grip the bar at approximately shoulder width, keep the hips high and the back in a neutral position. To perform the lift you must then drive through your heels, keep the bar tight to the body until the bar rises up to hip height.

For the sumo deadlift, you start with a much wider stance and keep the feet pointed out while gripping the middle of the bar.

Deadlift Accessory Exercises

You must select just four accessory exercises, one for each phase. There are many variations of the deadlift to choose from, regardless of whether you pull sumo or conventional.

Accessory Exercise Options for Deadlift Program:

  • Beltless Deadlift
  • Paused Deadlift
  • Beltless Paused Deadlift
  • Added Resistance Deadlift (Bands/Chains)
  • Deficit Deadlift
  • Snatch Grip Stiff Leg Deadlift
  • Wide Stance Snatch Grip Deadlift
  • Moderate Stance Snatch Grip Deadlift
  • Stiff Leg Deadlift
  • Sumo Stiff Leg Deadlift
  • Wide Stance Good Morning
  • Narrow Stance Good Morning
  • Low Block Pull
  • Narrow Sumo Deadlift
  • Conventional Stance Deficit Deadlift
  • Conventional Stiff Leg Deadlift

The Candito program is divided into four different phases, three of which are mandatory and one which is optional.

Each phase runs for three weeks, with the exception of phase four, which runs for four weeks, making it a 10 week program (13 weeks including the optional phase).

In each phase you will be training your deadlift twice per week.

Phase 1 Close Variation
Phase 2 Distant Variation
Phase 3 Optional Bridge / High Volume
Phase 4 Competition Peak

 

As the name suggests, Phase 1 focuses predominantly on close variations of the deadlift, but Phase 2 focuses on distant variations of the deadlift.

If progress is good, there is no need to include this phase 3.

The optional Phase 3 ups the volume of training and is designed specifically for the highly-conditioned who may be struggling to make progress with only moderate fatigue.

The reason the experienced lifter doesn’t consistently experience drastic improvement is the Repeated Bout Effect (EBE), which is where the muscles have become so accustomed to the training stimulus that adaptations become minimal.

Phase 4, or the Competition Peak, rounds off the program. This phase is all about gradually building up toward a competition or toward retesting your 1RM and setting a new personal Best.

Download Candito’s Deadlift Program here.

Candito Squat Program

The Squat and Deadlift programs have the same aim: to improve strength with the lift. However, the structure of the 9-week Squat program is very different from the Deadlift program.

With this program you must specify your goal max for the squat, because it will impact the program from week 4 onward. Therefore, reassess the goal max before beginning week 4, but be realistic and base it on your prior 3 week’s performance.

The 9-week squat program has five distinct phases:

Week 1-3 High Frequency
Week 4-5 High Volume / Reduced Frequency
Week 6 5 Rep Max Transition
Week 7-8 Max Strength Phase
Week 9 Max Out Week

 

As far as accessories go, your option for accessory 1 is either a pin or box squat. You don’t actually have a choice with accessory 2. The options are pause squat or pause squat.

There are also open accessory slots programmed into each workout. Candito encourages the use of isolation or low impact exercises to fill these open slots and recommends exercises such as hamstring curls, leg extensions, seated hip adduction and abduction, lunges, and hip thrusts.

Breaking Down The Five Phases

In the High Frequency Phase, you will train five times per week and will perform many sets.

The High Volume Reduced Frequency phase is exactly how it sounds – training days are cut from five days to only two per week. Those 2 sessions however, are extremely high in terms of the volume of work and intensity. For example, in week 4, you are required to complete 10 sets of 3 reps of squats.

From there, the program moves into the 5 Rep Max Transition and Max Strength Phases where the weight on the bar steadily increases as the number of reps gradually decreases.

The final three weeks of this program brings a ramp up in the intensity of each workout. By doing so, it prepares the body for the upcoming max out week.

The final week of the Squat program begins the same as the weeks previous, then culminates in a max test on the Friday to determine whether or not you have been successful in attaining your goal max.

You’ll discover “checkpoints” embedded into the spreadsheet which allow you to evaluate if you are on track to hit your goal max.

To use the checkpoint, all that is required is to input the weight you have been squatting for a certain number of reps. Based on your performance, the checkpoint will then recommend whether or not you need to make adjustments to your goal max.

Download Candito’s Squat Program here

The Candito Bench Program

The bench program was the very first advanced single lift program that Candito designed after feeling he had hit a wall. The 6 week program manipulates frequency, intensity and volume to allow you to smash right through any barriers.

Because the squat program is derived from the bench program, you may find similar characteristics between the two programs. As with all the Candito Single Lift programs, start by inputting your current 1 Rep Max value, goal weight, and accessory exercises.

There are 2 Bench accessory exercises to choose from.

Bench Accessory 1:

  • Close Grip Bench Press
  • Wide Grip Bench Press
  • Spoto Press
  • Slingshot Bench Press

Bench Accessory 2:

  • Standing Overhead Barbell Press
  • Incline Bench Press
  • Seated Barbell Press
  • Push Press

There are also isolation accessory slots placed in many of the workouts. Just a reminder, isolation exercises, are exercises that focusing on just one muscle group across one joint.

Candito emphasizes that the purpose of including isolation exercises is to reduce any weaknesses. Think logically before choosing your isolation exercises and don’t be afraid of changing them up regularly.

The program runs through 4 phases:

Week 1-3 Maximum Fatigue Phase
Week 4 High Volume & Full Recovery Phase
Week 5 High Intensity Peak Set Phase
Week 6 Max Out Phase

 

The concept behind the maximum fatigue phase is to build volume and ultimate fatigue, placing the focus on accessory work to iron out any weakness or imbalance.

Building such a high level of fatigue will be quite a shock to the body as it is not used to this type of training stimulus – as a result, it has no other option but to adapt and improve.

Week 4 will bring a radical change in training as you will go from training five times per week to training only two times per week. The number of sets and training intensity will increase during this phase and you’ll spend a lot more time solely benching.

The High Intensity Peak Set phase continues to increase the intensity and challenge you to set a new 5 Rep Max personal best. The final week brings the program to a conclusion and at this point, the 1 rep max is re-tested to evaluate your progress.

Download Candito’s Bench Program Spreadsheet here

Where to Find Candito Workout Resources

Candito (also referred to with the incorrect spelling of “Johnny” Candito) has an immense social media presence and uses these platforms to demonstrate his incredible understanding, experience and knowledge of strength training through regular training videos and posts.

He currently has over 200,000 subscribers to his CanditoTrainingHQ youtube channel and over 80,000 followers on instagram.

He posts first-rate material with much of his content relating to his training programs making it an extremely worthwhile resource to check out.

All programs can be downloaded from CanditoHQ for free, with optional donations. Keep an eye out for a forthcoming squat bench deadlift program which is expected to be released in the near future, and his “All 3 Lifts” program, which is aimed at improving the three powerlifting exercises simultaneously.