T Nation

All I Got is A Barbell and Squat Stand in 2018!


Week 2 - 1/12/17 - THURSDAY

Just mobility work and meal prepping. Went on a 30 minute walk.

I need to make sure I am eating properly. I am not eating as consistently as I need to be. I’m trying to keep it simple. So far this week on lifting days I’ve eaten:

-4 eggs
-2 english muffins
-1 oz cheese
-1 shake (peanut butter, 1 banana, 2-3 handfuls of spinach, chia/hemp seeds)

-1/2 lb chicken thighs
-1 cup rice
-veggies (salad)
-1 banana

-1/2 lb chicken thighs
-1/2 lb potatoes
-veggies (roasted)

This gives me roughly:
213g Carbs
85g Fat
174g Protein
2315 Calories

Since I’m trying to change my body composition, I feel like as long as I stay eating like this I’ll be fine.


So the one thing I know is I’m not following any structured sets/reps. I feel like I should just so I have more of a true progression? Any ideas? I was thinking along these lines:

-Front Squat 5x5
-Overhead Press 5x5
-Deadlift 3x5+ (AMRAP on last set)
-Assistance: Curls, Core Work

-Front Squat 3x5 (5lbs more then Monday’s workot)
-Bench Press 3x5+ (AMRAP on last set and some higher rep back off sets?)
-Rows 5x12
-Assistance: Chin Ups/Dips, Core Work

-Front Squat work up to heavy single then 4x6 back off sets or 1x20 after the heavy single like @T3hPwnisher suggested?
-Overhead Press work up to a heavy single then 4x8-12 back off sets
-Rows 5x12
-Assistance: Chin Ups/Dips, Core Work

For progression - maybe add 10lbs to front squats/deadlifts and 5lbs to overhead press/bench weekly?

Seems like my setup is more along the lines of the Texas Method. What you think @Evolv, @BOTSLAYER, @MarkKO, @RampantBadger, @ActivitiesGuy, @jblues85, @flipcollar, @Yogi1 ? Sorry for tagging you guys, but you guys seem to give really great advice on this site, so your input would be much appreciated. I am trying to keep it simple as possible in terms of exercise selection. Just want to vary my reps with a bit more structured progression.

I know I am probably overthinking the sets/reps more than I need to, but I know I do have to do more than sets of 5.


Seems reasonable enough to me. I think that relatively simple programming can get you a long way. I know that some of us (myself included) can say things like “Why make your own version instead of just doing the program you like?” but I think as long as you’re putting in consistent hard work on some sensible exercises, and eating properly, that will get you 80-90% of the way there.


Thanks! But should I follow a more structured approach or should I just try to do better than the last workout? I do like a lot of the programs out there (Such as the 5/3/1 full body), but since I’m doing Front Squats/Overhead presses over Back Squats/Bench Presses, I don’t know if the programs will work the same way? Probably doesn’t make a difference, but that’s my line of thinking.


Many people have done well with a “more structured approach” but as long as you’re making progress…I mean, I went from a 405 deadlift to a 505 deadlift in eleven months with no more structure beyond “go to the gym and do some deadlifts a couple times a week, mostly singles, whatever weight I feel like working up to that day.” So you don’t need to overthink this. Pick a program, or don’t. Just work hard.


Thanks man, I appreciate the feedback! I’ll definitely just keep chipping away until I get to my goals!


Yeah, I don’t really have much more to add over what @ActivitiesGuy mentioned. I think he summed it up well.

If you eventually have a hard time progressing past a certain point, programming numbers can be useful for some people, simply because getting under some weights are daunting to an individual or just the sheer work is easy to shy away from. Some lifters are more motivated to get under new intimidating weights than others. If it is written down into a calculated smart program, it can make you accountable on doing it rather than just making the choice immediately in the gym-- because in a calculated program, you might be staring at the number for weeks before you ever get to it, but you know it is coming and you can mentally start accepting that you are going to have to lift that weight on that day when it comes.

However, the same ideas apply that ActivitiesGuy mentioned, just getting in there and doing the work is the big picture. Keep doing what you’re doing-- and eat lots.


I legitimately think you’re spending too much time in the 5 rep range. I feel as though, since you’ve been posting here, most of your programs are centered around that.

It honestly might do you some good to just make a clean break from there. Use a style of programming that changes weekly and waves the weights/percentages that way. I say this as someone that spent years stuck in the 5s, and in doing so made little progress because I was neglecting a wide variety of rep ranges.

Just my take on things.


I appreciate your feedback! So based on my exercise selection and my goals, would you say I should just convert over to 531 + FSL/BBB or should I make sure to just do more than 5’s? For example on Wednesday my bench press. Let’s say my working sets go like 135x5, 135x5, 135x9 and then I do some backoff sets like 115 3x12? Or should I just switch over to 5/3/1 full body and the waves will already be set for me?

How would you design my program? I want to basically just not even have to think for the next year and just do. Just curious. Always appreciate the insight!


Thanks man! I never even have thought about the mental side of lifting. I think no matter the weight I never get psyched. I just Get focused and know it has to be done! I’m definitely noticing if I don’t eat enough it for sure effects me in the gym.


I haven’t got much to add really. I do agree with @T3hPwnisher in that adding in work either side o fives is a good idea; but beyond that if you’re working hard and being consistent, there’s no reason you won’t progress.

I think the real question is: will this program you’re doing work better than something already made given the same effort put in? The thing with programs like 531 is that we KNOW they work when followed. Your program MIGHT work.


Thanks man I appreciate the feedback! i hear you though. So what I’m taking away from everyone is just keep working hard and being consistent. This way if I need to eventually switch programming it’s all good because I will have already developed the habit of working hard in the gym. We all know 531 works, but if I give my program my 100% like you say no reason I shouldn’t progress with my program. But worst case scenario if I’m giving it my 100% and it doesn’t work, I can move to 531 because it will work.


I would say you have gotten some very good advice from everyone that has posted on your routine. Nothing beats consistency and hard work.

I do agree with the idea that it is a good idea to go above or below 5 reps. On Wednesdays I would change the 3x5 to 3-5x2-3 with 5 pounds heavier than Monday. That way you can handle some heavier weights and keep the volume at bay and not burn yourself out. I found with front squats to make up volume is to high bar back squat. Holding a bar in the front rack position for 8-20 reps is just miserable. Back and core stability will be your limiting factor and not your legs. For volume work I would go high bar after your heavy single on Saturday. That way you can still keep the back squat groove and if you decide to switch to back squats again it won’t feel as foreign.

The only drawback to full body workouts (at least for me) was that my upper body lifts took a slight hit since I was front squatting first. My front squat and deadlift took off big time but my bench press and oh press stagnated during that time. Of course another good thing about full body is they are easy to recover from and it’s simpler to do conditioning on off days. You could also add in stuff like farmers walks, suitcase carries and waiters walks at the end of your routine as well. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works for you!


I read through this whole log, and noted pwnisher’s responses in particular. It sounds like you’re not doing well with designing your own programs, and that you’re having trouble progressing. Your lifting numbers at least reflect that idea. My first thought when I looked at your outlined program was that it looked fine. It includes major compound movements in reasonable rep ranges. But given all the questions you’re asking and the concerns you’ve brought up, I think you would be best served by picking an established program (could be 5/3/1, could be literally ANYTHING else), and stick to it exactly. Your training intuition isn’t what it needs to be to go off the book at all, in my opinion. You obviously haven’t really figured out what works for you.

As a side note, I also saw you have concerns with times when you can only train a couple days a week. My experience has been that twice a week is not a problem. I have plenty of weeks when that’s all I can do. If you’re going to have weeks or months at a time when this is the case, I recommend the Dan John program from several years back that is set up for 2x a week. I think it’s excellent, and it definitely gets you out of your 5 rep mentality. In fact, you might be well served by running it for a few months, even if you have time to do more. Just a thought. I love his training theories in general.


Thanks for your input man! You are right that I should mix in some back squats for more leg volume. I haven’t done farmers walks in a while, I think I for sure want to add those in again!


Thank you for going through my log! I really appreciate the feedback! The thing I love about the 5/3/1 template is how adjustable it is. You don’t really need to change much to go from a 2 to 3 to 4 day split. The principles stay intact.

I am leaning towards your & @T3hPwnisher advice. I want to take all the guesswork out. I’m done thinking and I just want to do.

With that being said, based on my goals, how should I setup my 5/3/1 full body template? Since my main goals really driving up my front squat and overhead press, should I just swap back squats/bench press for overhead press in any of the programs? Maybe use bench press/back squats as my supplemental lift?

In terms of 5/3/1 I really like the following templates:
Full Body
Beach Body Challenge
Young Jim Wendler


Some great info above, I think he tagged the right group :smiley:

Personally, I dont like the linear progression (almost ever). I think performance based progression is far superior. Work based off percentages slowly ramping the weight (these are your warm ups) and your last set is AMRAP, If you hit X reps with that weight your AMRAP set will be more weight next workout. Redo your warm up sets.

If you stall for what you think is too long or just want to change the reps being used you can at any time.

You can add extra sets for volume. Drop volume if you are not recovering.

I used that rep scheme with PPL for about 2 years and had great results. Went from 170lbs and didn’t squat-225-205 to 190lbs 405-315-545 (true natty).

ooo add under grip pullups to monday to start that bicep pump!! if you want.

If recovery is an issue from deads move them to wed or saturday when you have 2 days off.

I like it. Simple, squat every workout, good balance of pull to press.

Ultimately you will have to find what works for you but the one universal thing that works for every body is hard work.


I had an awakening over the weekend. I’m going to do this right as of right now.

I decided for 2017 I’m going to just jump on in and do 5/3/1. I think for the type of person I am, it fits my profile. It takes all the guess work out and all I have to do is put in the work.

The most appealing thing is that no matter what life throws at me, I can adjust the template on the fly, without having to compromise the program. I can easily morph from 2-4 days without having to think about sets/reps/weight/volume/intensity. Just plug and play.

I will be doing this full body template variation

-Back Squat 5/3/1 + FSL
-Bench Press 5/3/1 + FSL
-Rows 50-100

-Front Squat 5/3/1 + FSL
-Overhead Press 5/3/1 + FSL
-Chin Ups 50-100

-Back Squat 3x5-10
-Deadlift 5/3/1 + FSL
-DB Bench 5x10 + DB Row 5x12

I read the 2nd edition from beginning to end and now will begin this journey. Like a few of you said 5/3/1 will work AS LONG as i put in the proper effort and dedication. My GOAL is to do 5/3/1 for the entire 2017. And see what my results are like after 1 year of true hard work.



Cycle 1 - Week 1 - Lifting - Sunday Jan 15th 17


150x10 (PR Set)

120x5 / 10
135x10 (PR Set) / 10
105x8 / 10
105x8 / 10
105x8 / 10

10 / 15 / 10
10 / 15 / 10
10 / 15 / 10

NOTES: Workout was very focused. I couldn’t believe how quick I got in and out of the gym. Whole workout probably took 60 minutes exactly. I could already tell that 5/3/1 doesn’t leave you feeling as beat up. That + set is definitely make or break! The power snatches definitely got me primed for squatting and benching. I think doing it before benching really gets your mobility going and your back active.


Cycle 1 - Week 1 - Conditioning - Monday Jan 16th 2017

30 Min Interval Running (Walk, Jog, Sprint)