Bought the 531 Forever and It's a Bit Overwhelming

I glanced over the book and it contains terminologies I have not seen before.
I’m thinking to run a cycle that I created my own and one of the templates from the book.

I want to point out that I’m 21M and have been lifting for 15 months. I did a full-body workout routine for 2 months then I created my own split. I did my own split for 8 months.
It was 3-day split
Monday 5-3x10chest, 3-3x10 biceps, 3-3x15abs
Wednesday 5-3x10back, 3-3x10 triceps, 3-3x15 abs
Friday 5-3x10legs, 3-3x10 delts, 3-3x15 abs

I ate in a slight caloric surplus and the results were okay-ish(meh?). 83 kg to 89kg. 1.83cm.
1-I hit a plateau on my chest and shoulder exercises early
2-I had a good pump on chest day and after that day my chest was wobbling while walking but it always felt like I could do them again on Thursday or Friday. Also, my upper chest is non-existent
3- When I’m doing biceps first exercises I always felt like I’m out of energy. My biceps are the worst part and the least developed.
4- My back and legs are good comparing to other parts. I hıt plateau for them later than others

I hıt a plateau in all my lifts but i didn’t know that as a thing. I’ve just kept lifting. My body is now has a shape, it’s like all my muscles have their own line and frame but no size.

After that, I tried a bro split since my arms were the weakest part I thought it would be better to have them their own day. Chest,Back,Legs,Arms,Shoulder. It felt so bad. I keep the same amount of exercise for parts but changed the sets for 4x12. I run it for 3 months with the same surplus and I believe gained like 3-4 kg of pure fat. I had visible abs at the end of my split and now it’s covered with fat. Arms day was 3-4x12 biceps first and it felt terrible, I didn’t feel anything, not for my biceps nor as a workout.

For the last 2 months, I experimented with other routines. I tried UL split and it felt like my full body starter routine and I mentally disregarded it. I run a PPL routine for 2 weeks and it’s like the exact opposite of what I’m looking for: doubles the volume of back and leg days, while biceps after back exercises and push days overall feels bad.

My only concerns are just aesthetic and hypertrophy. I don’t care about strength but after my experience, I do think that I need to incorporate some strength training into my routine. Also, I have some excess fat from 5 months of experimenting that needs to go.
I’m thinking of doing my own new split( Chest/Back/Arms/R/Chest/Legs/Arms/R ) for my hypertrophy cycle and one of the templates(COFFINWORM ?) from the book for strength gains, OR should I just stop creating my own program?

My 1 RM bench is 80 kg and I don’t know about the Squats and Deadlifts.

Kind regards


Long story short;

Just read the book a couple of times. If forever is your first/only Wendler book, you may have trouble. Most people would advice you to get 531 2nd edition or Beyond as a first book, forever builds om those.


Read the part about programming leaders, anchors, deloads, and so on. → Pick leader and anchor templates, program them and follow them. Do one or 2 assistance exercises for 5 sets of 10 reps every training day. All will be well.


@dutchjb Thank you sir

Dude, you paid $40 and shipping. Don’t glance over the book: READ it. Cover to cover. Multiple times. Take notes. Highlight it. Tab it. It’s SUCH a valuable book.


@T3hPwnisher Well didn’t expect it to be that long also all this time I lurked around bodybuilding-style sites and youtube channels and their programs were just simple and plain. There are no FSL, Leader, and Anchors no Week 1,2,3,4 type of things just the exercises with 8-12 rep ranges. I will definitely take my time for it.

Thank you, sir

I believe you have mistaken a routine for a program. A routine is just something you do when you show up to the gym: a program builds upon itself into something. What Jim has released is a book on programs. It will give you the tools to program your training for the rest of your life (hence “Forever”)

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Yes, stop. Either do one of the 5/3/1 templates aimed at hypertrophy or do a program like this:

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@T3hPwnisher my mistake and understood sir.

@strongmangoals thank you sir

I think you picked the wrong book.


There are definitely more hypertrophy focused books than 5/3/1, but personally I made my best muscle gains and had the best body composition since my focus became strength training.

You answered your own question in your own post. In Forever there are terminologies you have never seen because you started reading from the last book. Im sure that if you read any book series from the last book, you will not understand much. I suggest starting with at least beyond, before you read forever.

@antiquity @bert2145 As I mentioned I hit plateaus early in my lifts and I thought I need some strength training to help my overall lifts. I didn’t have any knowledge of powerlifting training and I thought a detailed book might help me rather than doing experiments as I did with my hypertrophy training BUT as I’m seeing how detailed this book is a book for hypertrophy training also could help me. I’m scheming in my mind like 6 weeks of a strength program, a deload, and then 6 weeks of a hypertrophy program. Any tips are appreciated. Thank you for your replies.

@hankthetank89 I’m still reading the Forever but gonna buy the second edition and Beyond along with a hypertrophy-focused book* when I feel certain about the hypertrophy book.
thank you for your replies

Well you are still relatively in a beginner level, building strength on the basics can yield good results for sure. There are a ton of content on the topic and it’s partially about what gets you going really.

Starting Strength is one I find very effective and efficient for strength and even muscle building, definitely a beginner/very early intermediate plan.

Paul Carter has an article, I can’t remember the name, other than adequate rest and a ton of good quality food, he suggests picking 7 or 8 main multi joint exercises that align with your goals and joint angles/leverages and get stronger on those. Pick a weight you can do for roughly 8, work it up to 12, then add weight. You can do this in the 4 to 8, or 6 to 10 range, if you prefer heavier weights. Also exercise dependent. You can do accessories on top of that, get some blood in the muscles, but the focus is to get stronger on your chosen movements. Search for something like Paul Carter beginner training, or why aren’t you progressing, begginer mistakes, something along these lines, it’s a T Nation article.

In my earlier stages I was also very fond of Dorian Yates’ training style, I have one of his books, with detailed training planning for introductory, beginners, intermediate, and his advanced years are listed as well. As a beginner I would suggest one of his early routines where the frequency is higher each week per muscle.

Chris Aceto has a book called Competitive Bodybuilding, full of great diet and training planning, worth a read, also mentions how strength phases can be important for bodybuilders too.

In regards to 5/3/1, buy the 2nd edition 5/3/1, if I’m right it’s available as an ebook as well so you can get it instantaneously as soon as you pay, get a grasp of the basic 5/3/1 components. There is a beginner routine in Forever at the start, highly recommended. Buy Beyond as well, there are some things in that book that are also mentioned in Forever but not yet in the 2nd Edition.

You can also alternate between strength and hypertrophy as you said, but if you focused mostly on hypertrophy in the past 15 months, getting strong on the basics can be very helpful, great foundation for the future.

Well, I read Paul Cartes’s articles about newbies and took a look at Dorian Yates’s routine. His routine looks similar to what I did for 8 months. I think I saw my mistake here. It’s a mental blockage. My research on aesthetic concerns created deep biases against any full-body/strength-based programs. I see now that following a program with 80% compound exercises with progressive rep ranges and chin-ups/dips for assistance would be more optimal than doing a 3x10 bench and 3 exercises for biceps BUT still I made some progress and changed my physique. I thought of myself as an intermediate lifter but a quick reality check shows me I’m not. I think I should approach compound exercises with progressive schemes at least for 1-2 years even tho my goals are aesthetic and then try some hypertrophy programs. So yeah not gonna buy hypertrophy-focused books, also searched about Starting Strength and Deep Water Beginner. I think that Boring But Big has some great volume alongside strength training. I will wait for the 2nd edition and beyond then ill make a decision whether it is SS, SL 5x5, or some template for beginners from 531, and then hopefully ill get to try Boring But Big.

By the way, thank you ALL for taking your precious time to help.

Sounds solid, probably the best decision you could have made.

Just one thing, what you find on Dorian Yates online, that’s only his program he followed in his last 3-4 competitive years. Prior to that he trained each muscle with less exercises per session and more frequency per week. As you go back in his career the weekly frequency of each muscle and overall training days goes up the less advanced he was when he done it.

i looked into that and i didnt see a program… there is only a split and exercises… how do you progress on that, how and when?

The same way you progress on any bro split - there are options, but quite often, once you can complete all reps of all sets with a weight, you can up the weight and start again. The vast majority of people progress this way, not with percentage-based programs.

So you are telling me that if i do 3x8 reps with same weight it will eventually increase to 3x10 reps? with no overreaching and no wave progressing and nothing? im not talking about beginners, but lets say - advanced… you are telling me that if i just do 1x500lbs deadlift for a month or two, i will be able to do 1x505 in a while? Really? Im not really sure if that works like that.