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531, Conditioning/Diet Questions


I am about to start lifting weights. I have not worked out in a long time after being a lazy piece of shit. I have drafted a quick bare bones program which will let me get back into shape. Unfortunately dips and chinups are off the table until I lose weight but here is my tempalte:

Squat 5/3/1 + 5x5 FSL
Ab work 3-5 sets
Hypers 3-5 sets

Bench press 5/3/1 + 5x5 FSL
Lat pulldowns 3-5 sets
dumbbell curls 3-5 sets

Deadlift 5/3/1 + 5x5 FSL
Ab work 3-5 sets
Hypers 3-5 sets

Overhead press 5/3/1 + 5x5 FSL
Lat pulldowns 3-5 sets
Dumbbell curls - 3-5 sets

I just had a few questions about how to program conditioning, being a fat guy running is pretty much useless, I am "running" 15 minute miles and my joint are in agony.

I was looking at maybe using my light 35lb kettlebells on conditioning days in my garden. Lots of cleans, swings, snatches, racked squats and doing them to get a good sweat on without the problems associated with running at my current condition.

Lastly I am wondering how I should approach diet. I was just going to start eating around 2800 calories with a protein requirement of 1g per LBM and measure myself each week and adjust calories depending on how I look in the mirror and how much i weigh each week. I am sick of fad diets and I have no special requirements like gluten free, dairy free.


This is all answered in the books. Including your diet question.

What are your thoughts behind the accessory work? Why curls twice a week?

You could not find a pre existing template that suited your needs? Lots to choose from.


All of this is spot on.

I'd seriously consider adding bodyweight rows instead of at least one lot of curls, if not both. It will add a rowing movement that your programs currently missing completely, as well as getting you used to moving your body through space as preparation for the pull-ups. They're not called fat man pull-ups for nothing.


I just looked through this forum at Jim's replies and most of them which were aimed at beginners were do some kind of FSL work, pick 2-3 assistance exercises and if possible follow the wendler 6.

Chins (various)
Ab work
Low back (raises/RH)

I can not do dips or chinups so doing lat pulldowns and fsl 5X5 with close grip bench instead of dips.

I basically wanted a very simple program without loads of exercises that just focused on compound lifts. As for the diet I have not got the book so I have no idea that Jim had covered diet. I am new to lifting weights and just browsing the internet 5/3/1 was one of the main recommendations.


Re: Diet, and this is from another forum post quoting Jim:

Breakfast (I choose one of these meals for breakfast)

  1. 4 whole eggs, mixed with 1 cup oatmeal; add some real maple syrup to taste.

  2. A steak and a baked potato (yes, I grill out at 7 in the morning.

  3. Protein drink with milk, a couple pieces of toast with peanut butter.

  4. 6 whole eggs, 2 pieces of toast

  5. 6 whole eggs with salsa, 1 apple

  6. Huge protein drink

Lunch (choose 1)

  1. Chicken Salad
  2. Chicken with rice
  3. Turkey Sandwich

Dinner (choose 1 of these)

  1. About 10 different chicken dishes that my wife cooks - they are excellent but I couldn't tell you what they are - just a lot of chicken and not too many carbs

  2. Steak

At dinner, my wife also bakes some green beans with Olive Oil. I eat about 20-30 green beans - I love them. I don't know how she cooks them, but they are damn good.

I also eat about 1-3 protein drinks a day - each of them being about 60-70g of protein. I will also snack on some apples and protein bars throughout the day.

The goal of my eating is to get at least 200g of protein. I don't get too wrapped up in the other stuff, only I try not to eat too crappy. I never stay away from anything, so if I want to eat something...I do. Like tonight, I will go to gymnastics with my son and then we go to the play area at the mall (a tired kid is a good kid). I love the pretzels at the mall, so I will eat them. Or I will get a slice of pizza.

The point is this: you don't have to stuff yourself all the time - just eat to your are content, exercise a lot and you will be fine. I'm not trying to look like a bodybuilder, so I don't eat like one. I know myself too well to know that I don't care enough to eat like that. Self-realization will go a long way in conquering your diet habits.

Here is the best advice I can give you: Eat different foods and see how you feel. If you feel like shit after you eat X food, don't eat it. Fast food makes me feel like crap, so I don't eat it too much. But I don't need to eat oatmeal all day to perform in the gym.

Here are some of my diet philosophies:

  1. If you are 20% body fat or close to it - don't be concerned about carb cycling. Just eat less and take a walk.

  2. If you look in the mirror and you look fat, clean up your diet.

  3. if you look in the mirror and like what you see, stay on track.

  4. If you eat something and it tastes like shit, don't eat it.

  5. If you eat something and you FEEL like shit, don't eat it.

  6. You DO NOT need to eat 6 times a day.

  7. Eating vegetables and fruits is good, but only the ones that taste OK. I'm not going to live my life eating crap.

  8. It's easier and cheaper to eat clean than it is to eat like crap.

  9. (Amendment to #8) You should eat crap sometimes. We all have our Diet Demons.

  10. I have made an effort to cut out all protein drinks in my diet. I no longer spray the porcelain.

  11. In reference to #10, I still manage to get a lot of protein in my diet (around 225-300 per day).

  12. If you want to get super jacked (5%) and don't have a naturally fast metabolism, be prepared to give up a large portion of your life.

Best of luck


If your strength levels are low and you're a beginner I would suggest starting Rippetoe's Starting Strength program. 5/3/1 is great but it is more for intermediate lifters (percentages based off your 1RM... you don't have a 1RM yet). Also you need to learn the big basic lifts properly.

Starting strength and light cardio (walking / hiking) on off days is what I'd recommend for real beginners trying to lose weight and get in shape.


If you can perform a lift, then you have a 1RM for it.

5s pro plus FSL is a fine beginner's approach, I'd have thought.


I'm with craze9. Use a true beginner program first.


Anyone have any advice on conditioning for fat guys?


30 min walking daily
if you did nothing, don't try to do everything. Ease into it and give your body time to adapt to tve new stress.
Focus on strength first. Eat healthy, lift heavy, be consistent.
Good luck.


Thanks for the kind words, it is slightly daunting starting out, so much I am having to read up on, consistency and keeping things basic seem to be the key as far as i can tell.

I walk about 3 miles a day to work, it is 0.7 miles away and I walk there and back for my first shift and there and back for my second.


Okay, but a beginner has low neuromuscular efficiency so is not capable of producing maximal force on the bar. So their 1RM will be low compared to their, say, 5RM. Also a beginner is going to make such quick progress that in 4 weeks their 1RM will be vastly different from what they calculated their training weights with. It really doesn't make sense for someone who could add 5-10 lbs to their lifts every workout to do a more advanced program based on weekly or monthly progress.


Another that does not understand the program.

OP, glad you are looking after yourself. Getting the book would be a great investment in yourself.

Do the beginner program outlined in the book and have fun.


I agree that the beginner should be doing higher reps, that's why they should be doing 5s pro and FSL.

As for where they are in 4 weeks, I'm more interested where they are in 3 years. 380-400lbs TM (not 1RM) Maybe most people would scoff at that progress but I can think of dozens of guys at my gym who would swap their last 3 years for that end result in a blink of an eye.

That's not to discount SS or SL or others. If that's the favoured programming then go for it. I'm just suggesting 531 shouldn't be excluded because of "slower" progress. Especially if you plan to do it later given the reason it wasn't done in the first place is one of its principles!


I just did some quick calculations based on 36 months of training, I deduct 6 months of progress to calculate for possible injuries, stalls, setbacks etc.

I see one of Jim's biggest points is to start "too light" so I am starting very light and I am kind of surprised how fast the program progresses in just 3 years!

Say you start out at these beginner weights:

Bench press - 60kg to 135kg
Overhead Press - 40kg to 115kg
Squat - 65kg to 215kg
Deadlift - 100 kg to 250kg

So I would likely finish 36 months of training with these stats:

OHP 253lbs
BP 297lbs
SQ 473lbs
DL 551lbs

I would be very happy with those.


All I'm saying is that it makes most sense to use simple linear progression as a beginner. The 5/3/1 program I know (and have done myself) is not a beginner program: http://www.T-Nation.com/workouts/beyond-531-program-1-1. I don't have the e-book; if there is a beginner program in there I'm sure it's good and suggest the OP follow that.

But the template posted above is more complexity than he needs. Especially if those are 4 separate workouts done once a week. Why squat once a week when you can squat 3x / week and add weight to the bar every time? I recently began training a friend who had never lifted before and he's added 50lbs to his 5-rep squat in 2 weeks, will probably add another 50lbs in the next two weeks, and I won't be surprised if he adds another 50lbs in the month after that.

As a beginner, your potential for strength and muscle gains is really high. To be honest, almost anything you do in the gym will work, at this point, including the template above. But you might as well maximize your potential. 6 months of simple linear progression and you'll be a lot stronger (and if diet is okay, in much better shape). If I could go back in time and start over as a novice that is what I'd do.

OP, worrying about 3 years down the line right now is a bit silly. Focus on 6 months (most people won't even last that long without some kind of hiatus or setback). You have good general advice re: diet and conditioning in this thread, I suggest you follow it. As long as you're doing the big lifts regularly you'll get stronger. But I would recommend you adopt a simple program that allows quick linear progression on the main lifts. Hitting a lift once / week is less frequency than makes sense for you.


Makes more sense to you. Your opinion and I respect that. But seriously, get the book(s) and yes, there is a template.

That is why the beginner template from the book was mentioned.

We all know SS (and the likes) can get you up there pretty fast. No argument there. The problem is you not understanding the difference between TM and PR.

And if I could it again, I would choose a 5/3/1 template and start with that. Lot less injuries.

The above is just silly. You don't plan for hiatus, you prepare for them. completely different.

And the OP hit is square on the nail with his three year plan.



I respect your point of view and appreciate some honest feedback but I don't personally see the point in running a linear program for my specific goals. I am not looking to be a powerlifter, nor do I need to rush to get my PR's up in six months.

Most resources for new lifters I have used, the starting strength forum, the stronglifts site, the Tnation forum and so on say the same thing, linear progression needs to be done 3 times a week with no running, lots of food and rest or "YNDTP", to quote Mr Rippetoe himself.

I understand why people interested in the sport of powerlifting would be reccomended to do a linear program, but I do not fit that category to warrant that program.

I am just as concerned about getting fit, being able to run and do chinups and get healthy and stay injury free.

3 years is not a long time away, it is the blink of an eye. If it takes me 36 months to get to a 500lb deadlift yet I can also run an 18 minute 5k, do 25 chinups and achieve a well rounded and balanced level of fitness to me, that is fine and well worth the extra 24 months.

Once again I thank you sincerely for your advice but I just personally, for me, didn't think the linear programming fit my goals or my needs.


OP, I'd say the template looks good to go! I'd say run with it as-is for a cycle or two and see how you feel.

You mentioned conditioning and kettlebells, so I'd recommend reading over some of Dan John's material: http://www.T-Nation.com/training/maximal-fat-loss-minimal-equipment I'd probably consider deleting the lower body FSL or something (but thats just me)

As far as diet stuff, you mentioned keeping track of calories and protein grams, so maybe Dr. Jade Teta's article can help -- particularly his comments in the comments section: http://www.T-Nation.com/diet-fat-loss/how-to-burn-stubborn-body-fat Hopefully those links will give ya some ideas to mull around.


It was mentioned by you, not by Tsantos or the OP.

Hmm, I really don't think that's the problem. I have done the program.

If you want to talk about a beginner program in the e-book that I don't have (and neither does the OP), that's one thing. I was talking about the template above and 5/3/1 in general. And I think taking someone who benches 130 lbs and having them calculate their percentages is over-complicating things.

Not sure why you think that; I've never had a serious injury from lifting (one that made me stop lifting) in 10 years of training, and the vast majority of those years were not on 5/3/1.

Anyway, agree to disagree. You'd do 1 program for 3 years. I'd do SS for 6 months, then switch to 5/3/1 or something like it. I'm pretty sure after 6 months my squat would be higher squatting 3x week than squatting 1x week, and I'm not sure what I would have lost by the faster progress.

My point was about setting realistic, achievable goals. You chose to interpret it in the stupidest possible light; that is the internet, I suppose.

To the OP:

Fair enough. As long as you're informed on the topics and aren't just leaping into a program, that's good enough for me. Best of luck.