T Nation

5/3/1 for a Beginner?


So, my friend wants to enter a powerlifting meet with me in September. He hasn't lifted in a couple years and asked me what he should do. And I'm not sure.

I love 5/3/1 (though I'm giving The Juggernaut Method a run currently). I was going to suggest that, but since he hasn't lifted in so long and is basically a beginner, would he and his newbie gains benefit from the linear progression of a program like Starting Strength or 5x5? Just have him do Starting Strength or 5x5 until he stalls (which probably wont happen til after the meet), or should I just test his maxes and give him the 5/3/1 outline?


I've made tremendous gains with SL5x5, so my bet goes for any 5x5 program. It's a total, all around starting strength program so I believe it'd help your friend more than 5/3/1.


+1 For stronglifts 5 x 5, if you are keen on getting him to do the 5/3/1 you could try this beginner variation.


Yes just do something simple for now like the above posts recommend, for these reasons

1) Progression, increase weight weekly or bi-weekly, whatever. 5/3/1 is better for when that kind of stuff stops working.
2) Frequency, core lifts can be done more frequently which is fine for beginners
3) Form, because your doing the same lifts more frequently you get more practice to do them with better form. First few weeks he might be finding the best squat stance, bench press grip, etc.


He'd definitely be better off with a linear progression program but advise him to go with Starting Strength or Madcow Intermediate 5x5, not Stronglifts (which is just a poor copy a Bill Starr program with good marketing).


Like your friend, I hadn't lifted for many years prior to this year, and I started 5/3/1 in January doing it exactly as it's written in the book. I've already added a hundred pounds to my deadlift and fifty to my squat. I haven't tried any other programs and I don't ever intend to, so I can't comment on them, but 5/3/1 would definitely be a good choice should you choose to use it.


I asked this question last June when I first came here on my older acc now deactivated.

I was advised not to do 531 as it doesn't allow a beginner to make the big jumps which they should make. As in 531 is for when adding 2.5kg to a lift is a big deal.... not so as a beginner.

After 6 months of 5*5 and 4 more months of other programs I have a 505/520/250 (Squat/DL/Bench)

So maybe I'd look to transferring off 531 untill the non % programs stop working.

Just my 2p :slight_smile: