T Nation

5x5 or 5/3/1 for a 40 Year Old Relative Beginner?

Hi all,

I am 40 and have been doing a lot of sport for last 10 years and over the last 4-5 years I’ve lifted on and off. I’ve not done much this year but want to get back in the gym.

I’ve had success with both 5x5 and 531 in the past. I’m wondering which is going to best suit me right now. I am 5’11 / 180cm and 81kg. I will be in the gym 2-3 times per week x 60 mins, (plus doing 4 BJJ sessions a week), the odd run and a short yoga session most days (c15 mins). My lifts are probably about 140kg Deadlift, 80kg bench, 100kg squat and 65 kg shoulder press (give or take).

I would like a plan over the next 3 months. Any advice?

What are you trying to do with your lifting, specifically in the 3 month time frame?

Are you planning on lifting after that?

People might ask about your goals so you might list that.

The program you choose should be one that you enjoy and can complete consistently.

Those two factors are probably the most important for long term success.

In regards to which program, I’ve never done stronglifts 5x5 and I don’t like the look of it. You can’t progress by 5 lbs per week for long…Unless you start way too light.

But if it appeals to you and you enjoy it then do it.

Sorry yes, I should have mentioned goals. Simply to get stronger and put on a little muscle / size. Yes I will lift beyond 3 months :slight_smile:

I think 5/3/1 full body with a low TM would be the better choice right out of the gate. You’re going to need to eat a LOT to put on size with 4 days of rolling. Maybe ditch the run too while you’re trying to build. I don’t think you will put on a great deal of size with only two days of lifting per week. Aim for three if you’re doing full-body.

You could also lift more and roll less if you want to prioritize your lifting goals for a while. It depends on what’s most important to you, how much time you have available and how far you want to take your size and strength.

I hadn’t thought of doing full body. I am worried I might not have the energy after bjj and squats to tackle deadlifts for example (and in only 60 mins in the gym?)

Yeah you’re right. The bjj is my priority and the reason I am keen to get stronger and a little bigger. I was thinking of going for a similar approach to diet as discussed in 531 (diet A, but only 25g of protein per shake)

How about about a 3 day spit with 1 assistance exercise per body part? I think that is probably the most I can do.

I think the best thing to do is start working lifting in (which is why I recommended a very low TM) and see how you handle it.

I’m in a similar situation now. I’ve lifted seriously for a little over four years but I"m only 3 months into BJJ. So I’ve put my lifting on the back burner, going down to 1-2 days/week and 2-3 days of rolling per week. My priority is BJJ, and I know I can more or less maintain my strength with 2 days/week of lifting. Plus I’ve learned that a 600 lb deadlift doesn’t really count for too much on the mats, unless I need to move myself and my partner over to open mat space while he’s trying to sink a triangle on me.

As far as recovery goes, you will probably have a rough few weeks if you haven’t been lifting consistently. Once you grow accustomed to lifting, I think 3 days of full body lifting and 3-4 days of rolling is do-able for most guys our age. Yes, even with deadlifts. I’ve rolled the day after squatting 425 on a SSB bar and I was fine by the time we were done with BJJ warm-ups, but I’ve also squatted every week for the last four years. Getting used to lifting takes time and consistency.

The bottom line is this… If you are serious about getting bigger and stronger, you’ll need to do what it takes to get bigger and stronger. Start by fitting the lifting into your life and making sure you are eating for recovery. If you are getting stronger and adding size, well, you’re in the sweet spot. If not, you’ll need to adjust.

And to specifically address this, sure, you can do that. I think full body will be better to add strength and size on only 3 days/week, but the best lifting is the lifting you do. Again, you will either make progress towards getting bigger and stronger, or not. If it works, great. If not, you’ll need to adjust.

Thanks, I will look in to doing a full body session. It’s not something I’ve considered or done in a long time.

I’m still digesting Wendler’s new book so I can’t recommend anything from there. I’m sure he has some great stuff that might fit really well into your life, but I haven’t tried any of it yet. I did 9 consecutive cycles of his full-body program from the original 5/3/1. On it I made progress across the board and squatting multiple times per week was a great way to get used to doing serious work. It really fires up your appetite too.

I’m not in shape for the crossfit games or anything, but I was able to complete all of the workouts in under an hour. I think it was a great way to spend 3 hours/week for me at the time.

Of course, I wasn’t doing BJJ back then, but I’m pretty sure I could have managed that too. A lower TM would really make a big difference there in my opinion.

Just listen to your body on the mat and in the squat rack. Good luck!

Spend $20 on Wendler’s 5/3/1 book and read it. Like twojarslave said there’s some great stuff in there.

I’ve been doing 5/3/1 off an don for 5-10 years using Jim’s stuff. He lays out programs for splits or total body workouts, programs for 1-2-3-4-5 days a week. It’s an excellent resource.

I’ve gone really hard sometimes using the programs and been (as Jim puts it) ‘just north of vag’ sometimes…his book provides guidance on all aspects which is really helpful going through different stages in your lifting life.

Thank you. I’ve bought and read 3 of the 531 books but thank you anyway.