The mission of all that we do here is to better enable the development of the serious strength athlete. While this means taking time to work on things like basic mobility and capacity over just acquiring absurd levels of raw power, we have to understand that basic strength development is still priority number one.
We develop qualities such as strength most efficiently by A.) giving meaningful practice to the athlete and B.) correcting any one of the endless weaknesses that could potentially develop. It would seem that something as foundational as strength development would be one-dimensional enough to summarize in a single paragraph. It is not. Every activity breaks down to it's constituent physical components, and every one of those components breaks down again into smaller elements(sport into movements, movements into twitches, etc). The confusion comes in deciding which individual components to prioritize, as this pattern of divide-and-conquer seems to continue on into a damn near infinite regression.
Luckily for you, I am an avid minimalist, and believe that trying to train every possible physical trait optimally is, in fact, not optimal. The basis for this is covered by the 80/20 principle and the law of diminishing returns. Simply put, most of your progress will be determined by doing a small set of things correctly and consistently, and since there are limited hours in the day and recovery abilities are finite, you should focus almost exclusively on this small set of things until you need to do otherwise.
This information is not just useful for first time lifters looking for some structure before they venture into the free-weight room for the first time. These principles encompass how I have trained for years to develop competitive numbers, drug free and with an unimpressive genetic predisposition. The truism is as old as time: become great at the fundamentals and the rest will follow.
The major principle is the use of simple, compound movements. Some may be reading this and saying, “no fucking shit”. It has been so well established that heavy training with multi-joint movements is superior to any type of exclusive isolation work that it almost isn't worth repeating. But if you will bear with me, I will add some nuance to this point.
When lifters, new or advanced, structure workouts, we assume they are attempting to improve their physical ability to generate force or otherwise move more weight on a loaded bar. The mistake new lifters make is to accomplish this by following some watered down Bodybuilding Encyclopedia bullshit that has you running through 35 work sets in a workout, covering every possible movement variation and a variety of isolation exercises. Even if said noob was fortunate enough to stumble across a more focused strength athletics resource, they will still be overcome with a myriad of 'special exercises' that this world record holder in that federation used to add 300lbs to his squat in 7 days.
As I said earlier, training every goddamn angle of your body is not practical or useful. 12 upper body exercises in a workout will not improve your bench press any more than a simple bench-only linear progression will, and special exercise selections (a la Westside Method or conjugated periodization) is best left to coaches who have been at this for a very, very long time.
One of the best programs I ever ran was the Greyskull LP, a simple 5x5 routine that prescribed squatting, benching, and pressing multiple times a week and relied only on 10lb improvements each session to drive progress. This led me to a 315x7 push press and 475x8 unwrapped squat at around 230lbs bodyweight. Warmup, bench, squat, curl, leave. Warmup, press, deadlift, row, leave. This was my life for months, and it worked.
Getting strong is synonymous with lifting more weight. More weight is lifted when you 'get better' at the lift you are training. In this sense, strength work can almost be interchangeable with skill work. When you become a more skilled squatter, you will be more technical, efficient, stable, explosive, and strong. You will be moving greater loads with less effort. If we assume you have maintained or improved other sport specific traits, when your old 1 rep max can now be done for 5 sets of 5 across can't you definitively say that you are a better and more effective athlete? Treat basic movements like squatting, deadlifting, and pressing as skills you must acquire to be successful and your training will become simple, manageable, and effective.
This is the basic outline of on of my favorite splits:
Monday Wednesday Friday
Bench 5x5 Press 5x5 Bench 5x5
Squat 5x5 Deadlift 1x5 Squat 5x5
Start about 20% off of your 5 rep max. The last set of each exercise is done to failure and weight is jumped 5-10lbs each session. Pressing exercises alternate every week (bench-press-bench-press-bench) but squatting is always done on Monday and Friday. This is similar to many basic linear progressions, but I want to give a shout out to Johnny Pain of Strengthvillain.com for this one.