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5/3/1 Best Strategy at Age 42?

Hello, this is my first post here.Allow me a brief CV.42 yo male,lifted from age 18 to 27 actively,used mostly the 90’s bodybuilding bro splits.Hurt badly my left shoulder from ego bench press, then studies,boredom etc-not any real excuse.At 40 i decided to grab the barbell again.Initially I tried SL 5x5,hit a wall after 5 months,tried GSLP for 3 months, it carried me well,then I tried Madcow 5x5,I followed it 100% to the point, but it buried me, 3 months no progress.
I made the change to 5/3/1 with FSL after reading Beyond a month ago.So far I’m satisfied.

My question is: which program do you folks recommend for a person at my age?
My goals are to come as close as possible to my best ever lifts,that is approx 115kg x 5 BP,150Kg x5 squat,170Kg x5 DL.
Should I worry about too low/too high weekly volume?How often should I deload?what would be a realistic annual progression?what should I do if I stall?
Lastly,would it be wise to try the BBB or BBS challenges?

I’d like a fair opinion from the coach himself too if possible.Thanks a lot.

Not because your 40 that you need to stop doing heavy lifting…i suggest you to do explosive lift, heavy lift and conditionning. 5/3/1 is perfect because you push heavy, volume is low and you only train 4 times a week.

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I’m 55. Using 531 BBB. About 155-160lbs. I do a lot of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Pretty sure 531 is responsible for my longevity on the mats and success at tournaments. It is my attempt to prevent injuries. If I just stick to the program I don’t get hurt and the volume is not crazy. So it should work in your 40’s too.

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I’m 54. Recommend Krypteia. Essentially full body and conditioning with the 45 minutes cap.


So here are some answers to your many questions:

  1. I have no idea- it has nothing to do with your age, more than miles on your body and what you are willing to do and put up with. That is obviously a question only you can answer.
  2. I have never, ever EVER worried about weekly volume. It’s short-sighted.
  3. Deload before you need to deload; just look for the signs.
  4. Progress? There is no realistic annual progress. Way too many factors that are 100% up to you.
  5. You should never stall - thus the TM testing or the “5 @ 95%” rule.
  6. It’s wise to do one of these if you can finish it; I don’t know if it’s correct for you, though.

Do what you can do and only worry about that - best advice I’ve ever gotten.

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Thanks coach and guys.I am pretty sure i can do the challenge so I Will try BBS and BBB one after another. I am willing to spend time and efford in the gym in order to achieve my goals and beyond.
Last question coach:would some amraps and jokers every couple of weeks outside of BBS / BBB Hurt? I would really like to hit a couple every now and then. Thanks.

Hey drnikos - We are in the same boat more or less, I am 41, picked up training again after a really log hiatus (I used to play sports back in the day and was an active lifter in my youth). My left shoulder is weird from a car accident in the 90s and of course there are the accumulated dings of age. I got back into things on SL, which was great until it started taking more than an hour and a half and was compromising recovery. I jumped right into 531 for beginners and haven’t looked back.

I am doing:
5/3/1+ 5x5 FSL 3 x a week, doing ABA BAB

A: Squat and bench
B: DL and press

I try to condition on off days (prowler, hill runs, walking) and generally just play things by ear based on my recovery, some weeks are two workouts based on time and how I am feeling.

I am feeling more athletic and stronger than ever - Really happy with the program.

Good luck in your training.

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You can do whatever you want. I wouldn’t do this as part of a smart program. You are better off learning how the very basics of programming so you can avoid all of this.

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Cheers buddy, started with beginner s myself, considering a 4 Day program now. Good luck to you too!

Thanks coach, I Will try minimal amraps/jokers, If any at all.

42 y/o here. Just want to chime in. Age is just a number. I wouldn’t put a mental limit on yourself simply because of your age. About ten years ago I consciously decided that I would not do that and I haven’t. Most of my friends from high school/college who had played sports with look like they have eaten their younger version of themselves and have become horribly out-of-shape. I do 5/3/1 or Juggernaut method (typically rotate them in four-month cycles). As for my training split, I simply do what we did when I was playing sports: a four-day split with two “strength days” (primarily bench/squat based) and two “explosive days” (based on Olympic-lift derivatives such as hang cleans, push presses, snatch pulls etc…). Back work is done on the explosive days. I use 5/3/1 or Juggernaut for the squat, bench, push press, and front squat. Two other days I take an intense metabolic conditioning class at a local fitness studio. Not to brag, but at 42 I can destroy kids twenty years my younger in sprints, agility drills, suicides etc… at the fitness studio. It’s a great feeling and has reinforced that age is simply a number and by staying committed to fitness you can maintain a very good level of fitness long beyond what society tells you that you can. I don’t push my strength gains as hard as I would’ve even ten years ago and I judiciously warm-up with mobility drills every workout. New research has proven that not exercising is worse than smoking and that exercising literally is the single best thing you can do for your health (a clean diet #2). I don’t plan on ever stopping.

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