T Nation

Bastardising a Program - Heading for a Big Fall?


#1

I class myself as very much a beginner, having 'exercised' inconsistently for a number of years. I began listing with more regularity about 2 years ago, and really got into it about a year or so ago. I had started doing Crossfit at a decent gym with a lot of focus on strength but have since moved away and have not found another one yet.

Goals are size and strength, current stats:
187 cm, 90-92kg, (18-20% bf)
Squat: 110
Deadlift: 140
Bench: 72.5
OH Press: 50

I currently train early mornings in a Puregym, which has a reasonable selection of equipment and is cheap as chips. I had been running 5/3/1 for about 4 cycles, but had massively stalled on the squat and the OH press. A friend of mine had been having great success on Stronglifts, and I thought it was worth a go. However, my Bench and Deadlift were still progressing on 5/3/1, and I wanted to maintain that. So...I combined the two programs to come up with my own variation.

The main things I wanted to get out of the program were:

Lifting 5 days a week - I love it, and I work in an office for 10-12 hours a day, so it's very important to me to get into the gym.
Squatting 3+ times a week - I really want to make some gains squatting, and am really starting to enjoy it. I also feel that my recovery from 3-4x per week is better than 1x per week.
Deadlifting more than 1 set per week - again, I love the deadlift and have made real progress in the last 6 months
Pressing - Huge weakness of mine, looking to improve with increased training volume

The program is effectively this:

Monday:
Squat (5x5)
OH Press (5x5)
Pullups

Tuesday:
Pendlay Rows
Core

Wednesday:
Squat (5x5)
Bench (5/3/1)
Pullups

Thursday:
Deadlift (5/3/1)
Dips
Kroc Rows

Friday:
Squat (5x5)
OH Press (5x5)
Pullups

Saturday:
Active Recovery

Sunday:
Jack shit

I've been running this for about 10 weeks with good results, all my numbers have gone up and overall I have felt fine. My concern is that soon I will start to burnout, fry my CNS, get ill/injured etc.

Any advice from the more experienced lifters out there would be greatly appreciated.

Greg


#2

That looks pretty reasonable to me.

The only thing I can see maybe becoming a bit of a problem is… 5/3/1 Bench Wed, Dips Thurs, OHP Fri, and just being worn down from that. That’s a lot of pressing, and not a lot of recovery within that block of 3 days.

Likewise, the 5/3/1 deadlifts on Thursday may affect your squats on Friday, because of your lower back. (This will also affect your OHP, if your low back is fatigued.)

If you like what you’re doing and it’s working for you, I’d keep with it.

However:
If your OHP or Squat is consistently hard on Friday, I wouldn’t increase the weight for the Friday session. Just keep the same weight you used in the earlier sessions.

If you notice your OHP is getting hard to lock out, I’d remove the dips on Thursday, and/or do them for higher reps after you bench on Wednesday.

If you notice your lower back is arching and/or sore for the OHP, I’d do the OHP first on Friday, then squats. There may just be too much fatigue carrying over from the Deadlift and Squats.

Also, I’d stick some heavy ab work in there somewhere. I think ab wheel rollouts would be ideal, and after a deadlift session. I don’t think high rep crunches are particularly useful for anything, but something heavy enough that 5-8 reps is pretty hard is good. This will also help with any sort of arching you get with the OHP.

If you still find yourself arching back a bit and turning the OHP into a standing incline bench press (rather than straight overhead), I’d also work on increasing thoracic mobility. Stretching backwards over a foam roller is a good place to start.

But, with all of those, just add them in if you need them. Don’t make a bunch of changes to something that works, until it stops working. And then just tweak and adjust it for as long as you can.


#3

[quote]LoRez wrote:
Don’t make a bunch of changes to something that works, until it stops working. And then just tweak and adjust it for as long as you can.[/quote]

Exactly this. There’s nothing massively wrong with your program so just adjust it as little problems arise, or as boredom sets in.


#4

[quote]GregortheViking wrote:
Tuesday:
Pendlay Rows
Core[/quote]
This is a pretty weird day in the context of the rest of the week. Seems like you threw it in just to be doing something and hit your “5 workouts a week” goal. I mean, I don’t know how much “core” work you’re doing or the sets/reps you’re doing with the rows, but do you feel it’s necessary as a standalone and couldn’t just be done as part of another day?

This is ultimately more important than getting any advice from anyone. If you’re legitimately getting tangible/trackable results, then you’re on track. There’s no “best” way to Frankenstein programs together, it’s all trial and error and making adjustments based on whatever results you do or don’t see.

As an option though, look into the 5/3/1 full body template. Wendler described it here:
http://www.T-Nation.com/strength-training-topics/1316
(click ‘Oldest First’ to make it easier to read)
It’s a M-W-F plan, but you could try plugging in some easy-ish 5x5 on Tu-Thu for squats and one other movement, almost like technique work.

Why would you all of a sudden burnout? If you’ve been seeing results, you’re conditioned enough to handle the workload and I’m presuming you’ve been eating enough.

Has your bodyweight and/or body comp changed in these last 10 weeks?


#5

[quote]LoRez wrote:

If you notice your OHP is getting hard to lock out, I’d remove the dips on Thursday, and/or do them for higher reps after you bench on Wednesday.

If you notice your lower back is arching and/or sore for the OHP, I’d do the OHP first on Friday, then squats. There may just be too much fatigue carrying over from the Deadlift and Squats.

Also, I’d stick some heavy ab work in there somewhere. I think ab wheel rollouts would be ideal, and after a deadlift session. I don’t think high rep crunches are particularly useful for anything, but something heavy enough that 5-8 reps is pretty hard is good. This will also help with any sort of arching you get with the OHP.[/quote]

Good advice that, thanks, will move the dips, and stick some heavy ab work in after deadlifts, see how I go.


#6

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]GregortheViking wrote:
Tuesday:
Pendlay Rows
Core[/quote]
This is a pretty weird day in the context of the rest of the week. Seems like you threw it in just to be doing something and hit your “5 workouts a week” goal. I mean, I don’t know how much “core” work you’re doing or the sets/reps you’re doing with the rows, but do you feel it’s necessary as a standalone and couldn’t just be done as part of another day?

Why would you all of a sudden burnout? If you’ve been seeing results, you’re conditioned enough to handle the workload and I’m presuming you’ve been eating enough.

Has your bodyweight and/or body comp changed in these last 10 weeks?[/quote]

It is in part to get me to the gym for that fifth day, I will usually chuck in some lighter squat work, some rowing sprints or something. I am limited in terms of time for each session though, so it’s difficult to fit in a heavy pulling session anywhere else.

My bodyweight and body comp have changed very little in the last 10 weeks to be honest, my weight has fluctuated between 90-92kg for most of the year, and while I have put on a bit of thickness around my chest and arms, there’s not a significant difference. Have recalculated my target intake as of this week, looking for around 3,600 kcal per day, so will see what difference that makes.


#7

So I removed dips from today’s session and added ab rollouts with a barbell. Much, much more difficult than I anticipated, but felt good. Almost got stuck at full extnesion a couple of times which would have been awkward! Feeling better with the increased calories as well, even though it’s only 3 days in, hit a rep PR on deadlift and felt as though there were one or two more in the tank.

Think it’s about time to make a log, and keep better track of scale and tape measurements, see how things progress over the next few weeks, then alter things as and when necessary.


#8

[quote]GregortheViking wrote:
So I removed dips from today’s session and added ab rollouts with a barbell. Much, much more difficult than I anticipated, but felt good. Almost got stuck at full extnesion a couple of times which would have been awkward! Feeling better with the increased calories as well, even though it’s only 3 days in, hit a rep PR on deadlift and felt as though there were one or two more in the tank.

Think it’s about time to make a log, and keep better track of scale and tape measurements, see how things progress over the next few weeks, then alter things as and when necessary.[/quote]

If you get stuck on rollouts, just drop your elbows to the floor to bail.

A work on program design: the limiting factor with high-frequency templates is usually the lower back. So if you find that you stall, I’d first change things so your lumbar region takes less of a pounding - replacing pendlay rows with chest supported rows, for instance. Good luck!