T Nation

5/3/1 for Novice?


I’m 32 and been working off and on with lil to no result want to know if 5/3/1 a goo place to start


Yes, as long as you give it an honest shot.


So how would you segues I find my max being that I must for the percentage
that I must put on the bar


I love 5/3/1 but it isn’t a novice programme. The fundamentals of the programme are rigid percentage-based programming which means you need to have the current technique and strength to have or calculate a true 1 repetition max. I’d start with a truly linear programme, they’re hundreds out there, from StrongLifts, Starting Strength and programmes written by the likes of Alan Thrall. These are probably better for a true “novice” in order to build a base of strength, technique and size before jumping onto 5/3/1


A good place to start would be consistency.

Good luck


There is a beginners version of the program as well but the 4-day percentage based program is absolutely not for novices. To be able to get anything out of the training system, you must know what your current maxes are and be able to execute each movement with proper form. Both of which are things novices lack.


Find a weight that you can lift for 5 good, strong reps. You should not have to grind the weight up for any of the 5.

Use that as your TM. Or use 90% of that if you think you might have actually struggled to get five.

Full body 3x a week is pretty standard for a novice. You won’t go wrong with that. The books lay out how to program that,


Thank you very much I’ll look for those other programs would they be on


No but you can find Starting Strength and Alan Thrall easily with google.


What books lay out the 3× full body work out


I don’t have them handy because my kid is using my Kindle charger, but I’m close to certain that there is a full body plan in both 2nd Edition and Beyond.


There is definitely a 3x per week full body template in Beyond. There’s also Full Body, Full Boring which Jim opines is perfect for a beginner. That one is also 3x per week.


Is beyond what the book is called?


Is 2nd edition and beyond books if so who is the author


Beyond 5/3/1

Written by Jim Wendler


“Beginner” programmes are somewhat different from ones for “novices”. A “novice” is assumed to have no prior background in a field, be it strength training or knitting. Beginners have some experience, albeit limited. I’d stick to a purely linear programme for a novice or even just a body part split to learn how to feel a sore muscle. Dave Tate has a video on this, I forget who he talks with but 5x5 or the likes will have a good foundation for novices, and are set up to be able to become more complex as experience increases


There’s advice in the books about using the program as a beginner. Look into the 5’s progression for starters. I think that was all in Beyond 531?

531 has a slower progression than some other programs. That why others will recommend ones like Starting Strength. As a beginner you’ll be capable of progressing quite fast initially. But depending on your goals you might be fine with 531 from day one. Maybe the aggressive progression of some of the beginner programs can lead to trouble if someone is still getting to grips with correct form. That’s one advantage I can see to running 531 from the start. Or if you’re an athlete who trains for other stuff at the same time, or a busy guy, you might appreciate the better recovery from 531.


5/3/1 does not have slower progession.

5/3/1 looks at the big picture.

This “newb gainz” has got to die.


We have incoming 9th graders start on 5/3/1. Many are girls that have never been in a weight room before or boys that only know how to curl and use the leg press machine. They succeed using beginner 5/3/1 programs.

I am not sure it gets more novice than that.


For 531, the whole 5/10 lbs per month really throws people to believe that a person is only getting 5/10 lbs stronger, which is not the case, as shown by the rep pr calculator you use. When using the calculator, going up 20lbs in a cycle isn’t uncommon especially for novice lifters. If anything, I’d say the pr sets allows a trainee to progress faster versus most programs that are locked into a specific weight increase