T Nation

Choosing my Next Step in Lifting

Hey everyone. I am looking for what to do next. A little background on me. I am going to be 35 in sept. and a father of two. I started lifting around 3-4 years ago but seriously following programs and lifting for about 1-2 years. I started seriously lifting following starting strength a few times. I had some set backs during this time and most recently with covid I had to rethink some things. During running starting strength I was told I was underweight and that I had to be 200 lbs to be a good lifter and get my numbers up. I did that but became fairly obese and not happy with my image anymore. This sent me looking for a better program and a healthy option. Covid had taken me out of the gym but luckily I have a rack and some weights at home. I purchased andy bakers garage gym warrior program but got injured a few weeks in and took some time off. Most recently I have been following barbell medicine program allan thrall had posted. I enjoy it but Im almost done with it and can’t keep doing the four day a week programs since my family wants to see me more and I can get by with three days a week of lifting. I don’t plan on competing or anything just trying to get in shape and gain some muscle while doing it. I looked at the cube method but not completely sold on it. I would run a conjugate method program but having to cycle it weird due to only three days a week wouldn’t sit right with me so I am leaning towards 5\3\1. Any recommendations for a better program with limited equipment?

Just because I think everyone should try it once, Super Squats.

How tall are you? What are your lifts? What do you have access to?
Next I’m going to propose a radical idea - make your own program. Answer those questions and I’m sure others will chime in with what to go with. Also, how long do you want each of these 3 sessions to be?

I’m 5’10 and weigh 178 lbs. my lifts are not very high right know and because I have been on barbell medicines programming most of the numbers are fairly low. My estimated 1rms are; squat-207 lbs, bench-173 lbs, deadlift 222lbs, press-107 lbs. the issue I find with barbell medicines programs is that the RPE programming is great to feel good but most of my lifts drop and I don’t have a number to hit or shoot for. For example this week has been to squat 1 rep at 8 rpe, 4 reps at 9 RPE. So I go till I feel I could maybe get three reps and call it an 8 on the RPE scale but then take 5lbs off because I don’t know what a 9 RPE would be for 4 reps. I’ve always felt that my squat and deadlift drop on there programming too. What I do enjoy in most of their programming is that every three to four weeks the exercises change. So one week you might bench press competition style then three weeks later you do close grip bench.

My equipment currently is power rack, barbell, weights, pull up bar, some bands, adjustable bench, rings in the rack, lat pull down system on the rack, an Olympic dumbbell handle.

I’m looking for something 3 days a week just lifting and about an hour long.

I think simplifying things would really help you. 5x5, 5/3/1, and I wasn’t joking Super Squats. SS isn’t a powerlifting program, but it’s simple, it works and it challenges you mentally.


I’m not sure on if Super Squats is a great idea for someone that can’t squat well over 1.5 body weight. I just done my own kind of version and aside from the physically taxing nature of it - you need to know when to push on and when to ease up. That’s a training / experience thing that you can not fake. I mean SS works AND I’m 100% in agreement everyone should try it. But you run the risk of putting a guy off.

I watched a video of Dave Tate today (or maybe last night) on here about keeping training simple. Especially for guys / girl that are new to this.
If I were you - I’d pick a programme - its not really important which one (start with the one below if you like its very solid) and stay consistent. Honestly the programme is secondary to this.

Split this in to 3 work outs
Push: Press, bench press and incline bench
Pull: Pull down, Tbar or Bent over row
Legs: Squat, Stiff leg dead lift (I’d throw in front squat or lunge also).

If you’re excited about it, and really want to run conjugate style just use the 4 day rotation, training 3 times per week. The programing is pretty tough, so an extra day of rest works pretty well for normal guys. If your gym is at home you might be able to sneak in an extra small 10 minute workout or two during the week and it will be perfect.

Some kind of squat/bench/dead 3 way, or anything else could be totally cool too. But if you’re hype to run conjugate, jump on it.

Also consider DeFranco’s Westside for Skinny Bastards, that’s kind of conjugate and 3 days per week.

I am going to assume a Powerlifting focus, seeing as this is the Powerlifting category. I don’t believe in estimated maxes, the calculators are usually wildly inaccurate, so I’m going to semi ignore those numbers. No one has a 207 max, because no one is ever going to load that number on a bar.
You should keep it simple, especially right now. Conjugate is the opposite of simple. There are great things in it, but it is complicated and requires homework outside of the lifting. So, my advice is to avoid it for right now - it doesn’t do what you need.
You can build a basic progressive overload program with virtually no effort - other than a log so you can doublecheck what you actually did later on. An easy 3 day split would be
Day 1 - Upper Body
Day 2 - Lower Body
Day 3 - Assistance work

By this I mean, do flat bench with competition grip for 3-4 worksets on day 1 and make that the anchor movement. 3-6 reps. If you hit 6 reps for all the sets, up the weight next week. If you stay at a weight with no change in reps for 2 weeks then add weight the next week anyway and the following week drop the weight and get at least 18 reps total even if it means an extra set or two. Pick ONE triceps accessory exercise, and do that for at least 4 weeks. Change the accessory exercise when it goes stale. Do at least 8 reps for 4 sets on this.
Day 2, Back Squats. This is your anchor exercise. 4 worksets. Same rep range and plan as the bench on day 1. If you respond better to more reps, do a down set at high reps at the end. Do ONE accessory exercise for 4 reps of 8. Same deal as Day 1.
Day 3. Adress your wek points. Keep it all 7-10 rep range, not too heavy. Do something for triceps (Not what you did on Day 1 for accessory), do something for delts, do something for core. Like DB raises, nosebreakers, OH squats, hammer curls. Don’t push the weight on day 3, pump blood through the muscles.
Done. If you have exercise ADD, change up the accessories every month. If you want to do Close Grip, or Board Presses, or Power Cleans, or OHP (DB or Barbell) then leave those to day 3. You can use Deadlifts as accessory on Day 2, or occasionally run deads as the main exercise with high rep squats as accessory for 4 weeks.
This is easy to follow, easy to track progress and know what you did last time. And it requires less mental prep to go do it.

1 Like

Strictly controlled volume and intensity on the big lifts with rotating accessories to develop specific weaknesses? Sound conjugate.

Some of the ideas being advised I like. I know on my current program they throw the squat bench and deadlift at the first two work days than have you hit variations as accessories. It seems like a good idea but what I see is I have one good training day and progress only to struggle the next training day. So for example I might crush my bench work out Monday and add 5lbs from last Monday but Wednesday when I go to do close grip bench press i can only hit 110lbs when last week I crushed 140lbs. This is pretty consistent. I have a few weeks left on it and honestly just feel smoked like when I was gonna at the end with starting strength.

I do like training powerlifting and I I’ve tried other programs before. I’ve done 5x5 and I did run 5/3/1 in the past but I had an issue with my shoulder and was naive and thought it was the program when it was truly me. I was doing a HLM from Andy baker but had an issue with my knee. Still have an issue with my knee and think that’s why my squat is low and I don’t push as hard as I could. I have done conjugate but it was a mix between Andy bakers style programming and Dave Tate’s. The issue I was at a gym with equipment and the ability to go 4 days a week where now I’m using my home gym with limited equipment and limited time

Barbell Medicine/Feigenbaum is into high volume training, without seeing the actual program this is what I’m guessing is your issue. You don’t need a ton of volume to make progress, and while some people respond well to high volume a lot others will not go far.

There are some full body 5/3/1 templates, I would suggest going with one of those. Your numbers are pretty low so I’m willing to bet technique isn’t too solid, you would be better doing 5’s progression instead of AMRAP sets.

I was thinking about running full body with FSL for 5/3/1 but I have both the first book and beyond 5/3/1 so I can look up the 5s progression. I’m assuming it’s the one where you take out the 5/3/1 and just run 5s the whole time

Yeah, that’s it. It’s in Beyond 5/3/1

It’s a little conjugate. I steal openly. I just eliminated the math and simplified it for three days. Louie is pretty smart, but genius tends to complicate things for the uninitiated.

1 Like

Would anyone recommend the cube Method or would it be better to stick to a novice program/ 5/3/1 programming?

No. You should be squatting and benching more than once a week.


Your right. I gave this some thought after I posted it and slept on it and decided that I am going to push on and do 5/3/1 just not sure the template. I like the full body but worry about my knee and squatting 3 days a week. I also like the trimutive And build the monolith. The biggest issue I see is lack of equipment with some accessories like the leg press or like in the monolith it’s last set is 20 reps for the squat 3 days and I’m not sure how my knee will hold up.

Beyond 531 1.1-1.2. it’s on this site.

I like it as it does two big lifts a day. One heavy, one FSL. Each lift is fine every 5 days on average. Never felt wasted, all my lifts went up, but I’m relatively weak compared to hardartery and others on here. I didn’t do conditioning as I do outdoor sports instead. Also, did a home version of it without a rack using wendlers suggestions of ohp, clean, row, deadlift. It worked.

What’s wrong with your knee?

Just pick a template that looks good and won’t kill you, there are plenty to choose from. You could even do an upper/lower template 3 days a week, you would have 2 upper/1 lower on week and 1 upper/2 lower the next.

I was told it is arthritis but I’m looking at getting
A specialist to look into it. It gets very sore. For example I stained a small 5ft x 6ft section of flooring this weekend And my knee has been sore since then. I’m starting to feel better after 3 days of it acting up. I like the full body and want to look into the one mentioned before but I might try the full body for a couple of cycles and see how it goes.