T Nation

Am I Lifting Enough?


I’m new to lifting and I do a three day split. I work on Deadlifts on Monday, Bench Wednesday, and Front squat Friday. I run randomly in between. This is my second week and I’ve been doing one exercise to go with each main lift, but I feel like waiting that long in between each day is to far apart. How much is to much and how much is not enough? If my body feels like it can handle it should I go for it, or should I just stay committed to this for a couple months to see how it works?


My general philosophy is to do a little as possible to illicit the most benefit. This can only be accomplished by setting clear, quantifiable goals.

Since you didn’t state your goal, here are two examples:

  1. If the goal is to gain LBM, do the minimum to gain ~1lb a week.

  2. If the goal is to lose weight, do the minimum to lose ~1lb a week.

What you have outlined isn’t a bad method at all, however, you gave ZERO indication of the intensity. If what you are doing is providing the outcome you desire, do not change until it stops working.


Sorry about lack of detail. I do 5x5 for each lift except on the last set I go until failure which is usually only one or two more reps if any. My goal right now is strength. I couldn’t care less about my weight. I just want to build pure strength. I’m guessing I’ll have to gain weight right? I’m 6 ft 160 lbs and I use 120 lbs for bench, 100 for the front squat, and 180 for deadlifts.


Can work very well but you need to be pushing it and hitting rep PRs/going up in weight most workouts.
What is the program?


I just kinda came up with it. I searched everywhere I could for all the information I could find, and I decided this sounded good for what I’ve been told is good. I did worse on bench today then last time although I believe that might be because of the static stretching I did right before. You’re saying I should increase weight every single week?


Some kind of progress most sessions,typically one or two more reps over the 5 sets

eg one week on bench your sets 3,3,3,3,5 next week shoot for 3,3,4,3,5 etc
For deadlifts as a beginner you should be going up 5lbs most weeks

You know what if in doubt just do 5/3/1 ‘Triumvirate’ template its pretty minimalist and gets great results sometimes phenomenal as long as you set it up right and stick to the principles


Thanks for the advice. I’m gonna stick with this program for now. I’m very hesitant to try and find my max or anything higher than my 5 rep max because I have no spotter. Should I not worry about a spotter? I feel like I could probably just bail out of the exercises or is that not a safe idea?


At your level, eat to recover. You should get stronger and gain muscle simultaneously. Also, as Rampant Badger said, you should be adding weight to the bar as you become more proficient in the lifts. 5/3/1 is a great routine as well.


Just take your number of reps times the weight time .0333 and add back in the weight you are lifting, that’s your max. No need for a spotter. What you are doing is very similar to 5/3/1 anyway - add in a day of military press and you are basically there.


No and really, really no.

The formula (weight x reps x 0.033)+weight is an ESTIMATE only. It is not your max. Yes, it can give an idea of where your max is. That’s all. The heavier the weight used the more accurate the estimate.

As to it being basically 531, just no. There’s nothing wrong with OP’s training but is definitely not basically 531.


OP is doing Bench, Squat, and Deadlift - 5/3/1 includes Bench, Squat, and Deadlift.
5/3/1 adds other work as assistance exercises. OP is doing essentially the same.

Granted, OP is not working on Training Max, incorporating percentages thereof, adding PR sets, etc…, so you are right, it’s not 5/3/1. But, I found a lot of the terminology with 5/3/1 to be intimidating and I took four weeks researching it before feeling comfortable enough to start it. I wanted the OP to feel less intimidated by the jargon.

As far as the difference between an estimated max and your max, not sure of your point. Of course they are different, but you are not using your max for training anyway, you’re using your training max.

So, admittedly, fast and loose with the facts, but my intent was to reduce the intimidation factor, not to misrepresent the program.


I do Military press with Bench, Bent over rows with Deadlifts, and I was thinking of doing Goblet Squats with Front squats as of tomorrow.


It sounds good man. I’m just starting the 5/3/1 myself so I don’t want to piss off any of the gurus by pretending to know what I am talking about. I wasted a lot of time being clueless in the gym and think it might be better to use a program that’s proven, but yours looks good.


If you want to use 5/3/1, try hitting a 5RM and using that number as your TM for 5/3/1. It has worked well for me so far and I think I remember Jim mentioning something like that a while back (I could be wrong on the second point but it has worked for me very well).


Which means OP is doing Cube, the Lilliebridge Method, Starting Strength, Greyskull LP and the vast majority of other strength and powerlifting programs.

As you said, he isn’t using the 531 loading and rep scheme and not using a training max. So, he’s not even close to doing 531, which is a very simple but very versatile program to get strong - and big if you want.

Just out of interest, what did you find intimidating about 531? I found the books very simple and straightforward, and very accessible.


Probably the most intimidating things are those that matter least - the different options for assistance work. There is so much information on different options - BBB, Triumvirate, GVT, I Ain’t Doing Jack Shit - that you can lose sight of the important stuff, the 5/3/1 component. Once I figured out the cycles and percentages, that seemed relatively simple, but there’s a lot of other noise about the assistance work that clouds the issue for the first timer.

Figuring out my maxes was also a little intimidating - I didn’t want to go to the gym and find out what my one rep max was and risk not gettting the bar off my chest. Once you learn about how to figure out TM, and that it’s just a starting point, then that isn’t such a big deal either.

I’ve been lifting for a long time but mostly just grab ass shit and making it up as I go, or reading some old timey books (Getting Stronger by Bill Pearl and some Arnold stuff), so the Powerlifting is all new to me and I wouldn’t recognize the difference between the programs you mentioned.

I think there should be a 5/3/1 Guide for Dummies, an introductory type explanation for idiots like me. I just finished a few weeks of Mass Made Simple and started 5/3/1 today, am very enthusiastic about it, and didn’t want the OP to be intimidated, or overwhelmed. Guess my enthusiasm got the best of me.

To someone with your experience, it clearly isn’t the same as what he is doing. To someone with less experience, the similarities are striking. I guess I lack the sophistication to make a qualitative judgement. Glad you chimed in, I learned something.


The first edition book is pretty much this. You can get it on kindle now for like $5.

I’m still blown away by what an awesome era we live in whenever I write that. I would’ve killed for that book when I first started.



I was going to ask, have you actually read the book? I used to be kind of confused about 531, but within an hour of reading the book that all changed. If you haven’t read the book, you’re not an idiot - you just haven’t had a good explanation of 531 is all.

Anyway, happy I could help you learn something.

The thing about 531 is precisely that it is so simple and well explained (in the book). Prior to buying 531 I bought the Cube book, and while I enjoyed reading it I wasn’t in a position to set out a training cycle after one reading (which I was with 531). I had too many questions, and felt like there was too much not clear. A lot of the powerlifting programs are like that. They all use the comp lifts (obviously), and all use assistance BUT very, very few give easily understandable guidelines of how to set out assistance, and not that many use a training max (Cube does, btw).

I think the main thing that separates 531 from the bulk of other programs are the following:

  • it really is beautifully simple to apply, providing your cough up a few bucks for the book;
  • it focuses on long term, consistent improvement in small, steady increments instead of pushing to the nerve the whole time (credit where credit is due, Cube attempts this as well); and
  • it is hugely customisable (the only other system I can think of that is comparable in that respect is Westside, but that requires such a great understanding of the lifter and system that it is very hard to apply outside of Westside Barbell IMO)


I have Beyond 5/3/1. Time to invest in the first edition I think.

I got the app - a bit of a waste. Not sure I have explored all of its capabilities but I built my own spread sheet and got Excel on my phone and use that to record my progress. I looked at many of the other spread sheets available but didn’t want to use their assistance exercises so did my own.

As far as the OP is concerned, sorry to have hijacked your thread. What I have learned, whether it’s right or not, is to start light, progress slowly, add weight, eat, repeat. The thing I like about 5/3/1 is the options to “work up.” If you don’t feel like the intensity was enough, you can add sets - in 5/3/1 these are joker sets, FSL’s, etc…Don’t be afraid to work up if you’re feeling good.

Thanks for the discussion.



That makes more sense. I’ve got 531 and Beyond, and Beyond is definitely less accessible than 531. Which makes sense, really. Beyond is, well, beyond 531. With Beyond alone I’d have found it much harder to set up a cycle.