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531 BBB, Rows Instead of Overhead Press?

Hello, I suffer with arthritis of the distal tricep tendon and elbow joint, it only gets irritated with overhead work which p**s me off, ive had it for a few years and basically, everything is fine apart from overhead work and direct tricep lifts e.g isolations.

Normally, my routine consists of only bench press, squat, deadlift and row which I’ve made solid progress with over a year with no visible holes, but I’ve been seeing constantly positive reviews of 531 and the solid community that comes with it.

My question is, to avoid pain, would doing rows instead of overhead press suffice in my situation as per my previous routine/exercise list in the 531 BBB format? I know whole hearted that rows are an accessory lift and that Mr Wendler used it as a main lift before with success, its just I’ve not heard or read anyone in the same situation as me but Im wanting to do BBB as close as its reasonably and safely as possible with my situation without physically destroying my joint by heavy weights on my press (which I love).

Disclaimer - I’ve been under various sports physicians and medical experts who give the same information in the UK, don’t lift weights and go jogging and i can’t afford private and doctors won’t do anything else now with the pandemic. - so I result in wraps, straps and sleeves which don’t help much.


If you cant do the lift what do our answers matter? You cant do it…its as simple as that. Just do 3 lifts. Less training, more recovery. Focus more un powerlifting splits that never have an ohp day.

I know 5/3/1 is great and all, but I’d stick with the “solid progress with no visible holes” thing you’re doing. Maybe check out 5/3/1 when you need a change.

Of course, “need” can also be psychological. The approach that most follows the 5/3/1 way would be to do Rows as assistance work, not as a main lift. Either (1) Do one of the programs that has no press, or (2) Get one of the 4 day programs and take out the press day, making it a 3 day program.

I personally tried Barbell Rows as a main lift for a few months because when the beer virus caused my gym to go out of business, I bought a squat rack but no bench, so I couldn’t bench press. Rows as a main movement wasn’t terrible but it just never felt “right”, and you have to arbitrarily judge how much you can lift by degree of technique breakdown, very honestly, or you will hump the bar in the name of progress.


@oscare though the 4 lifts I do show no holes (I add in planks and side laterals for the icing) I never see program solely around them which makes me think I’m doing something wrong but anyway

So a 3 day variant being sometime like this?

Day 1
531 Squat
BBB Squat

Day 2
531 Bench
BBB Bench

Day 3
531 Deadlift
BBB Rows

Sometime like this?

Also what programs don’t have press in it?

Looks solid to me. More or less what I would have suggested.

Plenty of 531 templates, especially in Forever, have only one of the pressing movements when you fancy a change.

@dagill2 - so there’s a variant without overhead pressing? I’ve never seen it? Do you have the name of it? I have all the books and can’t find it

“Right” and “wrong” is either a moral question or a practical question. This is a practical question. Therefore, if it works, it is “right”.

I just realised, maybe by “wrong” you meant “not optimal”. If this is the case, I say run, flee, with great fear and trembling, for many good men have fallen into this pit.

@oscare it’s very balanced, when looking at the muscles worked, just love to see a 531 variant of it :slight_smile:

Loads. I don’t have my copy of Forever with me right now, but there’s whole sections on full body training or push/pull/Squat training that use either bench or press.

@dagill2 awesome, and can they be implemented into a 531 program like BBB if doing one press?

They are 531 programs. I’ll have a look later and get some Forever page numbers for you.

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@dagill2 Thank-you boss!

Full body Push/Pull/Squat starts on page 145. There’s countless templates there, some of which include Press, some of which don’t. I’m sure even the ones with Press in, would work fine if you did Bench instead but I haven’t tested.
Volume and Strength (starts p84) also looks like a decent change of pace. I’ve done something similar in the past
Morningstar is awesome, and I can’t see any reason why you couldn’t Bench instead of Press, but I haven’t tested it so I don’t know.

@dagill2 thankyou buddy ill check it out, ive don’t a slight alteration to bbb, its in the picture, which on this plan I can implement any template of 531 focussed around these 4 lifts am I right?

Looks practically identical to the template you had above, which looks good.

I’m not sure what value you’re going to get out of a single set of 5 barbell rows on Squat day though, if I’m honest. Seems like it’s not worth the set up time.

Edit: I assume that was a mistype, since it’s not on any other days.

@dagill2 yeah the single set of 5 was a typo lol ignore it haha - thankyou though glad it’s solid

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