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Advice on my Program (Variation on 5x5)



I just joined the forum so I hope my topic is in the right place.

I would like to get some advice on my new program.
I started lifting this februari, after a period of 5 years of doing no physical exercise. Before that I went to the gym often (without knowing anything about lifting) and did kickboxing for about 1,5 year.

From februari on I used stronglifts 5x5 and made some real progress.

With stronglifts I noticed I got a lot stronger, but not proportionally bigger.
I would like to continue with something like stronglifts, but with a little assistance for mass.
Also I'd like to switch from 5x5 to 3x5 because of time issues.

I made the following program with stronglifts as a basis (the older version with some assistance)
and added lateral raises, flies and curls.

What do you think about my program? Anything absolutely wrong with it?
Any advice is welcome. Thanks!

Squats 3x5
Overhead press 3x5
Deadlift 1x5
Lateral raises 3x10
Chinups 3x10
Reverse crunches 3x12

Benchpress 3x5
Pendlay rows 3x5
Dips 3x10
Flies 3x10
Barbell curls 3x10
Plank 3x30s


You have no lower body movement in Workout B. So you have a fullbody A and an upper body B.

If your goal is more mass, I think there are many lifting programs out there that will be much better suited to that end than your home-brewed idea here.

For a better answer, you will want to provide more information. Age/height/weight. Lifting numbers. Training history. Specific goal. Time constraints. Physical constraints. Equipment constraints.

Stuff like that.


Thanks for the quick reply.

I left out the lower body in workout B on purpose. My motivation for that was that my legs are naturally pretty strong and I keep ripping out of my pants. With that in mind I thought one lower body workout instead of two would be ok. (Correct me if I'm talking BS).

My goal is not purely more mass. I really like strength training, but would like some additional exercises for mass to find a balance.

I'm 23 years old, 1,78meter and 82kg.

In the past I used to do strength training (not as serieus as I am now) and kickboxing. For the last 5 years I've done practically no physical exercise and started again in februari this year.

My squat is at 120kg, bench 90kg, overhead press 50kg, rows 80kg, and deadlift 115kg.
These are all 5x5.

I have relatively short legs, so my body is more suitable for squatting then deadlifting I've been told (and you can see it by my numbers).

I focussed a lot on form from the beginning and of course still am, and it's coming along.

Physically I have an injury from a ripped knee ligament from a couple of years back, but it doesn't hold me back much.

I have time for about 2-3 training days with 2 hours a training.
My goal is to get strong, but also to put on some extra mass.


There are so many 5x5 programs out there that meet your goals (Reg Park, Bill Starr, Starting Strength to name a few). My recommendation is to choose one and stick to it. Mendhi from StrongLifts recommends moving to 3x5 or Madcow once you have milked your 5x5 gains to the max.

I am a huge fan of 5/3/1 because it is great for the beginner all the way to the advanced lifter and you get to hammer the assistance (curls, dips, etc.) with that program to fit your goals. Wendler also has great options for 2 or 3 day a week templates that I have enjoyed more than his traditional 4 day a week program. You can also stick to 5/3/1 for a lifetime if you so desire.

You will get bigger and stronger using compound lifts like squats (front and back), presses (bench and overhead), and pulls (deadlift, rows, and pull-ups) without isolation movements. Size is a matter of making sure you are eating a caloric surplus and adding weight to your compound lifts.

I haven't seen too many guys walking around with a flat chest and tiny triceps that can bench press 350+ pounds. I use 5/3/1 Full Body Template and once I finish my squats, presses, and pulls each workout I have zero energy left for curls, flyes, tricep extensions or lateral raises.

I will say this though, if doing those isolation exercises after you have pushed your big movements pretty hard keep you motivated to train, then by all means go for it.


When you say you are doing a variation of 5x5 as inspired by Stronglifts, are you using the same progression model? If not, it would just be a collection of exercises on alternate days with arbitrary rep schemes for the sake of mimicking a popular program without understanding how it works.

As a beginner you would be better suited doing another program with a built in progression plan that suits your goals and schedule, or simply stick with stronglifts and add the isolations at the end of each session.

And scrap the flyes unless your objective is active recovery by pumping blood into the muscle. They suck for mass building. Always have a reason for doing things.


You need to buy bigger clothes, you are certainly way, way, way off the point where you should be worrying about ripping your pants.

I think that if you're not liking the results you're getting with stronglifts, it's time to switch to another program. My personal preference would be a 5/3/1 BBB variation.


Yeah, no, that's a load of crap. You have an excuse why you ditched extra leg work, but were sure to fit in plenty of beach muscle work (bench and dips and flies, curls, and laterals). I declare shenanigans.

Like dagill said, at your height and weight, I find it very hard to believe that your thighs are so huge they tear your pants on a regular basis. Unless you're wearing skinny jeans while you squat, I'm just not buying it.

Taking a 5x5 or 3x5 plan that's supposed to be three days a week and chopping a day off is a major change that sacrifices the quality/effectiveness of the plan. If you can only train twice a week, you're better off with a program designed specifically for that. For example:

Mass/size comes from calories. You said you gained strength and not much size previously and that's almost-certainly because your diet wasn't in line. Without enough calories, quality protein, carbs, and healthy fats, your body can't grow.


Stop wearing your girl friends skinny jeans and you wont have that problem. You barely weigh 175lbs at 5'10 you are no where near the size to be ripping out of some carpenter cut jeans or cargo jeans. Im 5'7" in shoes 230 and just over 28" thighs at the thickest point I believe and have only to ripped a few pairs of pants made for men. As for your program I think you would do much better with a different and better thought out program. You are a begginner for a reason. You are either new to this or not good at it. Both say that either following a well time tested program or getting a good coach is the way for you to go at this point.


Yes I'm still using the progressive load system, that works very well for me. I've read a lot of theory and put a lot of effort into understanding the different ways of training.

That last thing is actually what I'm doing. The schedule is still stronglifts, but with some higher rep assistance at the end. The only thing I changed on the stronglifts part was that I took out the squat at workout B, but I'm having my doubts If that is the right choice.

Thanks, I didn't know that. Why do they suck for mass building? I read so many different opinions (as always). A normal compound press would work better?


I know it sounds weird that I'm ripping my pants at this level, but if I buy bigger pants they fall down at my waist. Maybe I just should buy more stretch jeans haha.

5/3/1 BBB is also a good option. I wanted to start on that before, but a friend of mine who is an experienced lifter advised me against it. Maybe I should reconsider that.

Thanks for the advice guys!


Just straight Levi's 501's, fabric is ripping near the seams. But that was not the main question.

So the general opinion is to just stick with 5x5 or choose something like 5/3/1 BBB.
As Chris mentions, maybe I should focus more on my diet instead of my program.


Let's start with: What did you weigh in February when you started?


Buy a belt.


texas method


Unrelated, but...
RB, I see you suggest this a lot, and I'm also a fan.

You also suggest 10 x 3 for fat loss a lot.

Prior to running 10 x 3 for fat loss, would you suggest running the standard Waterbury method (main lift is 10 x 3, I believe), to sort of remove some additional variables before transitioning?

Or would you suggest running TM and then just switching over to 10 x 3?


If fatloss/conditioning is your first priority then I would jump right in to 10x3 for fatloss.

For generally getting strong and diesel then going back and forth for 2-3 months at a time between texas method and a Waterbury program is a good plan. 'SOB' training is actually the Waterbury program I would recommend most.

Also with any of these templates I would occasionaly tack on some extra direct arm work to a workout say once a fortnight.


I weighed around 78kg, and now I weigh 83kg, and lost a couple of kilo's of fat.
I'm staying with my old scheme, I think my diet has more room for improvement.


If you gained about 12 pounds in 8 months while actually dropping fat/getting leaner and getting stronger, most people would say that's pretty successful and on track. So, I'm not sure what the problem is or how you can say you're not looking bigger now. Have any before/after pics to compare?