A Simple Program

The problem with this is that most beginners have a hard time deadlifting with a neutral spine as it is. Fatiguing their abs between sets isn’t going to help, and worse if they do something like situps or crunches that involves more spinal flexion. Its basically a recipe for disaster. Ab wheel between sets of squats would not be quite as bad, but again, how well can you brace with fatigued abs?

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You know personally I feel like abs between sets of squats/deadlifts actually “activates” them more. I can actually feel my core bracing harder during each set and feel stronger each consecutive set. I mean if you were to do weighted or aim for like 20+ reps per set I think it wouldn’t work. But if you shoot for 5-15 between each set I think it works well. I like the hanging leg raises because I feel that decompression between sets of squats/deads makes my back feel better.

I also think because of the fatigue it limits them on how much they lift, so they are actually working on technique before tonnage.

I mean if you can’t do 10 leg raises or 10 ab roll outs then personally you shouldn’t be even deadlifting or squatting to begin with lol. For the abs between sets of deadlifts and squats I always suggest hanging leg raises or ab wheel because they are self limiting. If you are really weak you will not be able to many if any at all.

I do agree though for some beginners it would be bad, but I think for most people it actually will be more beneficial long term for them.


For sure man! But that’s why in 5/3/1 there are leaders and anchors. You shouldn’t be doing PR sets every single week for months on end lol.

Your body will adapt. Let’s say you squat 225 for 5x6. But because of the fatigue and pace of the program you can only do 185 @ 5x6. That is ok man. Within a few weeks you’ll be right back up to 225 so don’t stress over the numbers so much.

I would say you need to stick to this for 6-8 months minimum to REALLY benefit. Probably really a full year. Double progression is meant for long term progression. It allows your ligament, joints, tendons, bones, muscles all get use to the load over the course of time. It’s not the end all be all of programming but it’s straight forward and you are able to see visually even the tiniest bit of progress.

Have fun man! Let me know if you have any other questions!

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Lots of interest in this. T-nation “boot camp”?? A bunch of folks run it together through end of year and keep a thread?


I’m all for it. I’m running it myself now (today being the first day) and can’t wait for my lower back to heal so I can bump up the weights 100-200lbs haha! It would be cool to see how others do and pros/cons at the end of the year.

There would be a few variations. But all using the same core principles!

The Original Version
The Barbell Only Version
The Fullbody Version
The Don’t Wanna Move Much Version

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As long as you aren’t pushing the ab work too hard, and not stuff that involves spinal flexion, then I suppose it could work for some people. When I’m thinking of beginners I’m thinking of someone starting a 5x5 program with an empty bar, this is more like novice/intermediate stuff.

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It sounds like half the people on this forum injured their backs in the last couple months, what the hell is going on? I had a minor injury about a month ago, just getting over it now.

Yeah I guess not for pure pure beginners, but I think more novice for sure!

I think it’s the summer time vibes. Everyone feels too good so they push a bit too hard haha. Don’t hear of as many injuries in the winter time lol.

I hurt myself doing RDLs with a band around my waist (hooked up behind me) with 185lbs. Maybe in my case I need to stay away from the lighter stuff and focus on heavy lifts

Damn sorry to hear man that sucks! Make sure you bracing those abs hard during RDLs!

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I’m sure you’re right. I’ve been lurking on the forums long enough to know I should just trust the folks who are more experienced than me. I could stand to drop a few lbs of BF too, so this probably won’t hurt to that end.

It looks like in the last version you posted, you had some chins mixed in on a lower body day. I was thinking about doing something like that or sometimes doing high pulls on either upper or lower days. Does that seem reasonable as long as I keep the load pretty light for those exercises and don’t lift more than two days in a row? As I’m typing this I’m realizing it’s kind of a dumb question because we’re definitely working the lats pretty hard on deadlift and then potentially doing a bunch of rows the next day, so I’m guessing the answer is it just works out if you take at least one rest day and stay consistent?

I will try to come up with my version this weekend. Classic beginner move, take a good program and try to make my special snowflake changes to it. I know I have no business designing my own program. But right now I just have the bar, a technique bar I got for my wife, weights, some bands, and a pull-up bar.
Plus a shoulder injury limits my overhead ROM so I temporarily gave up on OHP (with much shame). I plan to try it again in a few months.

Thanks again for posting this man, I’m getting kind of pumped to give it a try.

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Sounds good man, and I know I shouldn’t be doing PR sets every week… I started out doing them when I began lifting and I could get away with it because the weight was so light but it’s definitely caught up to me. I was planning on making a change to another 5/3/1 template but this sound pretty straight forward and seems easy to get into a groove with.

I’m thinking I’m going to drop the FSL sets on my program for these next couple weeks and focus on getting an idea where I stand on some of the more obscure lifts on the “barbell only” program. Half of the shit I had to look up online because I have no idea what it is haha.

One other question though- since I’m starting light on let’s say the pendlay row, since I’ve never done it before, I hit the 5x10-12 easy for the two weeks, I add 5# and it’s still easy, I just keep going through that progression until I start hitting weights that are more difficult? Similar to 5/3/1, it’s easy at the beginning but eventually you’ll find it gets much more difficult?

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Chins on lower body day is fine. It decompresses your spine after all the deads/squats and feels great. Plus gives you energy to really go all out for the rows the next day. It’s very hard to overwork your upper back. You can def hit it 4 days a week and be fine. Your body will adapt. Think you are lifting 2 days in a row, rest, 2 days in a row, 2 days rest. You will be fine.

That’s all good man. Just post your version and we experienced guys can actually give you some input and make it more sound based on your limitations/injuries. All you need is a barbell, weights, and a pull-up bar and that can take you a LONG way.

Excited to see what you come up with! The program doesn’t matter as much as long as the principles are the same!

We can always edit it a bit if there are movements you don’t feel comfortable doing. But all the movements are pretty basic and just need to start light! Which movements did you not understand? We could even limit the number of movements so you can gain some proficiency at them before adding more variety.

So you don’t NEED to hit the weights 2 weeks in a row. That’s just more of preference from me. You can add 5lbs-20lbs once you hit the upper range of the reps, but I always think slow and steady wins the race. But if it’s too light no reason to not add more weight.

For example for pendlay rows lets say you hit 135 @ 5x12 and it was too easy. Cool next week go to 145 @ 5x12. Still to easy that’s cool. Next week go to 155 and let’s say you hit 12,12,12,12,10. Now you can stick with 155 until you get to 5x12.

Remember as the workout goes on your fatigue will be higher because of the supersets and the short rest periods. So better to give yourself 2-4 weeks to get use to the program before any big jumps. You will not lose strength. You might lose some top end strength, of course, but nothing to really worry about.

But most importantly remember NOT EVERYTHING will go up at the same time. As long as your First and second lift of the day (Deadlift, Front Squat for example) go up nothing else matters. The other stuff goes up but it’s just assistance. You might be at 155 or 165 on rows for 2 months, but if you deadlift and front squat are going up that means your assistance is working!

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Cool that’s kind of what I was assuming the reply would be. I figure spend the first few weeks getting shit in order and really dial in starting weights and form on different and new movements.

I was definitely going to start conservative on a lot of the stuff that I’ve been having trouble with lately, that’s for sure. My squat TM right now is definitely way too low so i have some adjusting to do there. I do have a log on here where I’ll be keeping track of all this stuff and it’d be awesome if you’d pop your head in every once and a while for some pointers.

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What are all your 5x5 FSL weights for the major lifts?

My most recent FSL for the 3’s weeks were
Bench- 135
Deadlift- 245
Squat- 170
OHP- 85

They all do seem pretty low now that I look at it. I think I’d definitely be able to do quite a bit more than that, superset depending.

I would honestly just start with those numbers. For the first 2 weeks to get into the groove and go from there. You’ll probably hit the higher rep ranges for the first few weeks of workouts before it really starts getting tough.

Maybe even go if you really want to start heavier. But if can hit even at least the minimum reps on all the lifts you’ll be good to go.

Bench - 155
Deadlift - 265
Squat - 185
OH Press - 100

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Thanks man. I’ll try and figure out if I want to start on the heavier end or not. Might just split the middle and see how it goes.

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Whelp, I gave it a shot tonight and I didn’t die. Kinda wanted to at one point but felt pretty good after it was all done.

I think I will try it out. I got kind of excited and tried to write it up instead of going to bed like I should.

Tonight I did:
Zercher squat - hanging leg raise
RDL - chins
Split squat - isometric hamstring curls laying on my back
After dinner I did come curls just cuz

-Will get a rack soon and fix the Zercher thing.
-Only can do like 3-4 leg raises per set right now, but did them all through my warmup sets.
-using resistance bands for heavy assist on the chins
-there’s gotta be a better name for the hamstring thing but I don’t know it

Going forward I’m thinking:

Day 2
Kneeling landline press (ohp substitute) - chins
Snatch grip high pull - javelin press
Pushups - bentover row
Maybe curls again?

Day 3
Deadlift - hanging leg raise
Landmine squat - RDL
I guess the split squats and hamstring thing again?

Day 4
Floor press - bent over row
Standing two hand landmine press - chins
Pushups - face pulls/curls

As mentioned hopefully I’ll have the rack soon and then I might as well get a bench and quit doing floor presses . Also I’ve been doing “grease the groove” type stuff with pushups and trying to do a few sets of band pull aparts and/or face pulls daily. I think I will try to keep that up. Might do the hanging leg raises sometimes too, they do feel really good on the back.

Sets and reps are mostly the same as the written program but I might do higher rep ranges on the presses, my shoulders are real assholes and I think I need to stay light on those. Probably will end up getting a neutral grip bar at some point and hopefully can OHP. I’d appreciate any feedback anyone has, I’m sure there’s something dumb in here.

I will be kinda all over the place schedule-wise. Most likely I will only get in three days a week but there will hopefully be some weeks that I can do four. I like that the upper/lower split has the potential to be more flexible; I will have to figure it out as I get used to the new job.

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