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Advice for a Beginner in Strength?

I’d like to have some piece of advice on strength/powerlifting program.
(Also, I’m a non native english speaker, so please excuse me for making grammar mistakes)
I’ll put the weights as follow : kg (lb). Also, sorry for the big text, I wanna be as precise as I can.

Personal background :
I’m starting from an obese state, ~115kg (253lb) for 1m77 (5’8’’) height. I’ve lost weight down to 73kg (160 lb) during a 2 years period, with a classical Push Pull Legs frequency 1.5 program (and also good nutrition). Since mid 2018, I’ve taken back a significant amount of weight, I’m now 100kg ± 2kg (220lb), but I’m stable. I’ve also much more muscle mass than when I was 115kg.
I’m became tired of bodybuilding style of training, and wanted to try strength/PL training (just for fun, no competition plan). Also, I’d like to incorporate OHP, since my shoulders are quite weak.

Strenght training background:
I began with a linear program, increasing randomly weigth on a weekly basis, with 2x squat and 1x deadlift frequency (august 2019). 2 months later, I tried Madcow 5x5 for 12 weeks. My squat went up to 5x140kg (308 lb) and my dead 5x150kg (330lb). But I ran into a brick wall regarding OHP and bench : stalling after 5 weeks at 5x60kg (132 lb) for the bench, and 5x45 kg (99 lb) for the OHP.

After that, I try a 5/3/1 with BBB 5x10 template, and had good results, until the lockdown (from mars to may in my country, but gyms only reopened late june). I’ve been doing some kettbell and bodyweight training at home, but lost a lot of strength (as a lot of people).

After the lockdown, I continued with a 5/3/1 template, with a BBB variations 5x3@85 % TM on the 3’s and 5/3/1 weeks, and 5x5 at 80 % TM on the 5’s week. On this template, I invert the 5’s and 3’s week (inspired by the template given on the powerliftingtowin website).

The thing is that I feel like stalling, and don’t manage to gain back my strength at squatting. I think 5/3/1 has to low volume and to long adaptation period for my current level.
I wanted to try the Texas Method, but I feel like I can not deal with the volume on the monday (also given the fact that I can only train for ~1h15/session).

Do you think it would be relevant to make 1 step backward to a kind of modified Greyskull LP with the 3x5+ and then a 2x8@65% or 2x10@60% backoff sets for more volume ? With, as rate of progression, +2.5 kg (5lb) per week on SQT/deadlift, and +2.5kg every 2 weeks for OHP/bench, since I don’t have acess to microplates. Or do you have any other suggestions ?

I usually like incorporating explosive kettlebell mouvements (swing/snatch/clean&press) or Pendlay row as assistance work.

My biggest constraints are 3 or 4 training/weeks (only between monday and friday) with ~1h15/training (maybe 1h30 sometimes). I low bar squat and pull conventionnal with hookgrip (elbow valgus). My actual numbers : dead 7x140kg (308 lb) RPE9, SQT 5x125kg (275 lb) RPE9, bench 6x65kg (143 lb) RPE9, OHP 7x47.5kg (104 lb) RPE10 (so very big delay with my bench/OHP).

Thank you very much in advance !:slight_smile:

I think at your height and lifts that you should consider starting with weight loss. Probably not what you want to hear, but do you really want to train, eat, and end up at 230 and really sloppy?

You say your stalling, and your lifts are getting a bit into intermediate with squat and deadlift.

I would not look to linear progression (or at least not beginner LP, you could do a wave LP). I would look at something that give you a bit more volume and gives you progress over a long period of time. I have run the cube method and liked it. Many have good luck with 5/3/1. My wife ran the Calgary barbell program with good results.

Thanks for the quick reply.

I think you’re making a point here (every relevant piece of advice is good to be taken). Loosing 20 to 40 lb by the end of the year would be a good start. When I was ~160 lb, it was so hard for me to maintain that weight (basically no social life + strict dieting with macro counting) that when I started to have a social life after 2 years, I took back 60lb with barely noticing (my body remembered I was obese the vast majority of my life). But stabilizing at 190lb seems doable for me, with simple cues : 3 balanced meals/day, no snacking and no liquid calories would be a good starting point.

By this, do you mean a weekly LP, with a volume, light and intensity day within each week ?

I’ve read the cube method book, and it looks like fitting my schedule in terms of planning and workout length. Also, it avoids having a heavy squat and deadlift workout on the same week (which is killing me). If I get it well, after the main lift of the day, you can incorporate volume work as needed. What do you think of also incorporating conditioning on the off days, for weight loss purposes ? Also, since I’m late beginner, I think I can loose a big of fat while still adding some weight on the barbell.
I also might give an other chance to 531, it’s main advantage being that I can merge the main lifts into 2 sessions (eg squat+OHP and deadlift+bench) on the weeks that are busy in terms of work for me (a lot of meeting, business trip etc …).
I’ll also have a look into the Calgary barbell program.

Thanks a lot.

Whats is your end goal here? I ask as you posted this on the power lifting section. If its not power lifting then you might find the thread moved to the bigger stronger leaner (BSL) section. Which is no big deal.
If your goal is just to get BSL I would jump to a 531 programme and stick it out for a whilst. And if I were to recommend a programme it would be the original for starter. You can get much stronger on the below programme for a long time. Easily running it for 6-9 months.

If you want power lifting specific training - no answer. Never done power lifting. However 531 WILL bring up your squat, bench and deadlift.

You’re right, maybe I should have posted on BSL or even Beginner (sorry about that, I’m pretty new to seek help in forums) : I would just have liked to get some advice about programming for early intermediate, I do not intend to practice power lifting as a sport on its own (for now at least). The thing is that my squat/dead are beginning to be intermediate, while my bench and OHP are still novice.
Thanks for the link, I may give another shot to 531 for a longer period of time.

Honestly its no problem. I think the forum Mods have move it already. Those guys are pretty chill.

531 is great as it accommodates lifts being in different places. You can run it for a 300kg dead lift whilst struggling with a 50kg bench.

But my advice to you would be train hard and eat well. Get 150-200g of protein a day and try and loose 2kg a month. This will mean you’ll still have the ability to get stronger while getting trimmer. Give it 5 months of that and you can lose 10 kg of fat whilst simultaneously adding some muscle. The change will be OUTSTANDING!

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You can get around this in a few ways:

Spread the volume over two days:

  • Monday: Bench 5x5, Chins 3xAMRAP
  • Tuesday: Squat 5x5, Deadlift 1x5

Blend.the volume into the light day;

  • Monday: Squat 5x5; Press 3x5; Back Extension
  • Wednesday: Bench 5x5; Deadlift 1x5; Chins

Either will work fine.


Thanks for all the advice provided guys, that gives me a lot of material to study.

I really like the 2nd variation you’re suggesting. I’d never have thought of that tweak.

I assume this is for Week 1, and for Week 2, you just invert OHP and bench, right ? Like :

  • Monday : Squat 5x5, Bench 3x5
  • Wednesday : OHP 5x5, DL 1x5@90% 5RM
  • Friday : Squat new 5RM, OHP new 5RM
    Increase 5lb/week for squat and deadlift, 5lb every other week for bench and OHP

That’s right.