5/3/1 for Overweight Firefighter

Hey guys, I’m a 6’1 250 overweight firefighter. Between shift work, two children at home (2 years old & 1 year old, not planned haha), and working on my Fire Science degree my wife and I have only been to the gym a handful of times in two years. All that is to say I am in the process of getting a garage gym put together. I have kettlebells, a battle rope, a jump rope, and an airdyne already that I have just accumulated over time but soon I’ll have a rack, barbell, and weights. I played football through high school so I have at least spent a lot of time under a barbell, but it has been a long time.

Needless to say my diet is crap being that we are constantly on the go. I carry most all of my fat in my belly and face. Diet Cokes, shells and cheese, and McDonalds breakfast are my weaknesses.

I have read a lot but I seem to be suffering from paralysis by analysis. How would ya’ll suggest I get started? Training, nutrition., recovery, etc.

Thanks guys.

Panthera tigris en Fuego,

I’m assuming you have some kind of training background, so this is what I want you to do. Spend a few weeks getting your form “down” and getting settled in. For that, I want you to do this:

Day One


Day Two


I don’t care what you do but follow these rules:

Don’t do anymore than 5 reps per set.
Don’t “max out” on your 5 reps for at least two weeks.
No workout should be “hard”; you should train hard but always smart.
ALWAYS start with the empty barbell and do around 10 sets per movement, per day.

Assistance work (done every training day)

KB goblet squat - 10 reps
Push-ups or dips - 5-10 reps
KB row - 10 reps

Do the above like a circuit, 5 times through but do not turn it into a conditioning circuit. Just get through it.

So you are going to do the above in an A/B/A, B/A/B style for about two weeks; more if you need to feel comfortable. Ride the AirDyne for 20 minutes on the off days. Do the Agile 8 every single day; once in the morning and once before you train.

Still with me?

After two weeks is up, do a “soft test” to determine your TM. Work up and find your approximate 5RM for each lift. Whatever you do for a 5RM, let that be your TM. Err on “too low” because it’s my experience that the lower the TM, the stronger the person gets. I just put 100lbs on a bench press (220 to 320) in 4 months on someone and we started at 85% and ended with him being able to do his TM for 16 reps AFTER a Krypteia workout. If anyone knows Krypteia knows that that performance is insane. So anyone that tells you to raise your TM knows nothing about strength training and should never be allowed to talk again.

So now do this training program, exact same schedule:

Squat/dead: 5’s PRO, 3x5 @ FSL
Bench/Press - 5’s PRO, 3x10@ FSL

Same assistance program as before. You can do KB standing press instead of push-ups/dips, if you want.

Do this for 3 cycles; ride AirDyne for 20-30 minutes on off days. Same schedule for Agile 8.

Keep it simple as hell, ride the fuck out of the Airdyne and don’t turn your training into anything more than it has to be. I literally, LITERALLY have seen people make HUGE strides doing fewer movements and only adjusting the numbers based on bar speed.

Workouts should be "hard’ but you should never, EVER be dead. Phone that shit in once you get in good shape. Good luck.


I can’t thank you enough. I’m definitely buying your new book when it comes out, I’ve just recently come across all your work and I’m blown away.

As far nutrition, I’m assuming eat more protein, drink more water, and don’t eat shit?

Again, thank you so much.

6’ 1" and 250 is overweight? or should you say 6’1" 250 and out of shape? I hate the standard body mass index that the Drs and medical staff use who wants to look like a pencil or Olympic swimmer lol. As a firefighter I can understand having performance based goals with the body to match them.

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Ah, I see what you’re saying. Yes, out of shape is a good way to put it. I wasn’t even in good shape before the kids, but it’s gotten worse since. Instead of us loading up kids and running all over town to get to the gym I figured I could make better use of my days at home. I work 24 on 48 off and so I run daddy day care on my off days while my wife is at work. That usually gives me and 1 to 3 hour window while they nap where I can get some work done without missing time with them.

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