T Nation

Critique for a Marine


#1

Not sure if this is the correct forum to put this in, let me know if it isn't.

5/3/1 is definitely my favorite plan, and the one I am most able to keep doing regularly. The problem in the past has been that I typically lost all my conditioning and endurance, and packed on a little too much weight. So I am looking at restructuring it, and I came up with 2 options, and wanted to see what you all thought would be the best route. I have to be able to run 3 miles, do pull-ups, crunches, sprint 880m, press 30# OHP 100x, etc... and keep within Height/Weight standards for my job. So here are the two options, let me know which one you think would be best, or if they're both garbage where I should be heading instead with this. Thanks!

5/3/1 Military Style Option 1:

Week 1:
Monday
A.M.
5/3/1 Squat
BBB Deadlift
Superset:
Lunges/Pull-Ups

P.M.
Run

Tuesday
A.M.
5/3/1 Press
BBB Bench
Superset:
Upright Rows/Push-Ups

Wednesday
A.M.
Run
Recon Short Card:

Thursday
A.M.
5/3/1 Deadlift
BBB Squat
Superset:
Bent Over Row/Prisoner Jump Squat

Friday
A.M.
5/3/1 Bench
BBB Press
Superset:
Push-Ups/Arnold Press

Saturday:
A.M.
Run
Recon Short Card with Sandbag

5/3/1 Military Style Option 2:

Monday:
5/3/1 Squat and Press
BBB Deadlift and Bench
Superset:
Power Clean/Thrusters
Recon Short Card

Tuesday:
Run

Wednesday:
5/3/1 Deadlift and Bench
BBB Squat and Press
Superset:
Hang Squat Clean/Bent Over Row
Recon Short Card

Thursday:
Run

Friday:
5/3/1 Squat and Press
BBB Deadlift and Bench
Superset:
Power Clean/Thrusters
Recon Short Card

Saturday:
Run

Sunday:
Rest

Monday:
5/3/1 Deadlift and Bench
BBB Squat and Press
Superset:
Hang Squat Clean/Bent Over Row
Recon Short Card

Tuesday:
Run

Wednesday:
5/3/1 Squat and Press
BBB Deadlift and Bench
Superset:
Power Clean/Thrusters
Recon Short Card

Thursday:
Run

Friday:
5/3/1 Deadlift and Bench
BBB Squat and Press
Superset:
Hang Squat Clean/Bent Over Row
Recon Short Card

Saturday:
Run

Sunday:
Rest


#2

I looked at what's required of you and to be honest, why do you feel you need 531 for your job?

Here's my suggestion based on what's required of you:

Monday - squat/press
Thurs - DL/bench

Do main lifts only. Looking at what's required of you, I'd only do the required reps and get done w/ it. Crunches on squat/DL days - Pull ups on press/bench days. A two day per week training template will benefit you much more and give you more time for some of the other things that are required of you. You and I both know the military requires some pretty serious conditioning so that should be your focus.

The short card looks brutal. Is there a time limit on that?

This should cover you w/o killing you. I sure hope they feed you well cuz adding 531 to what's already required is no joke at all.

I would not advise BBB at all if you need to keep conditioning up and body weight in check. You are a marine. You don't need to be powerlifting strong, you need to be strong enough to do your job well. Do the things that will allow you to do that while still maintaining good recovery.

Good luck and thank you for your service.


#3

First, there is not a time limit for the Recon Short Card, however you want to be under 20 minutes on it. That's just to ensure that you are getting some good conditioning out of it.

So to ensure that I understand you correctly:
Mon:
Squat/Press

Thurs:
Deadlift/Bench

So from that I would assume that the Recon Short Card and runs should be done similar to the following:

Mon:
P.M. Run

Tues:
Recon Short Card

Wed:
Run

Fri:
Recon Short Card

Sat:
Run

Sun:
Rest


#4

Oo-rah Marine.

First off, you are proposing a hell of a lot of work. What is your MOS and what do you do in terms of Unit PT? Are the programs you're suggesting in addition to the required unit PT? If so, you might not have to run nearly as much as you are proposing.

Second, I would agree that BBB probably doesn't meet your needs right now. That extra volume (particularly in the second program you suggested) is going to cripple your ability to recover. You need to narrow your focus down to the things that really matter.

If you have the time/energy to lift 4x a week, I would recommend the Triumvirate. Since you're limited to 3 exercises/day, you have to do things that give you the most bang for your buck. This could look something like

Monday
Squat 5/3/1
RDL 5x10 (or other deadlift variation)
Ab Wheel 5x10
Conditioning- Sprints, Sled Drags, Prowler Pushes, intervals

Tuesday
Bench 5/3/1 SS with Chins
DB Press 5x10 (or other press variation)
Rows or Curls 5x10
Conditioning- Short card

Thursday
Deadlift 5/3/1
Leg Press 5x10 (or other squat variation)
Ab Wheel 5x10
Conditioning- Sprints, Sleds, ect

Friday
Press 5/3/1 SS with Chins
DB Bench 5x10 (or other bench variation)
Rows or curls 5x10
Conditioning-Short Card

Saturday- 3 to 5 mile run

If instead, you wont to compress the lifting into two days and use the other two lifting days to focus on calisthenics, that could look like

Monday
Squat 5/3/1
Bench 5/3/1 SS with Chins
Leg Raise 5x10
Conditioning- Sprints ect

Tuesday
Run 1-3 miles
Short Card

Thursday
Deadlift 5/3/1
Press 5/3/1 SS with chins
Ab Wheel 5x10
Conditioning- Sprints ect

Friday
1-3 mile run
Short card

Saturday
Optional assistance (Rows, Weighted Chins, Curls, Dips, Lunges, Front Squat, whatever you want) OR a longer run OR both.

I am awaiting Marine TBS and my current program is very similar to option 1 up there, and when I am at the school I will be following something similar to option 2 since I won't have as much time to work out. Best of luck to you and I hope this helps.


#5

Looks good to me. Just remember to listen to your body when you need more rest.


#6

Thanks everyone.

So a follow on question based off of some lab results I got back yesterday. HDL is kind of low, testosterone is REALLY low! I'm 30 yrs old, so I am definitely not interested in TRT yet, if ever. I would like to increase naturally. I've been doing some research and would like some clarification.

What all seems solid, and consistent:
Compound movements. At high volume. 5/3/1 was mentioned multiple times.
Eat cholesterol. Beef, fish, olive/coconut oil, nuts/seeds, etc...

What I'm still confused about:
Carbs! Oats, Quinoa, Pita, Whole Wheat, etc...
From what I saw, you need some carbs to increase testosterone, but not too many.

What I've been doing for the past 2-3 years:
My training has been neither steady, nor consistent. Bouncing between programs, large periods of no or limited training, etc...
My diet has remained fairly solid with some deviation occasionally.
Training: Strong Lifts, Starting Strength, 5/3/1, Military Athlete, USMC HITT.
Diet: Meat, veggies, 1 fruit a day, limited cheese, heavy cream in coffee (just a splash), peanut butter, occasional nuts/seeds. The meat has been primarily chicken, fish, with occasional pork/beef thrown in. I have avoided rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, grains. The reasoning is that they tend to tear my gut up, and I gain weight incredibly easy on them, which is bad for me, and my job.

Anyone have experience/advice on this?


#7

What were your numbers on the test levels?


#8

188 total.
50 or 5.0 free. Doc said my free numbers we a little high, however not to place much stock in that because they are highly and wildly inaccurate.

I go back in 4 and 10 weeks for more tests, and I would really like to see at least some respectable if not amazing increases on those tests.


#9

My doc said once they are low, there's no way to bring them back up w/o TRT. My endocrinologist said I may not have to be on TRT forever, but more than likely, natty levels don't return to normal. I tried thru diet, lifting, sleep, etc. to no avail.

If you start feeling fatigued or head feeling foggy, loss of focus, depressed/suicidal and just overall not yourself, etc; better get help pretty quick.

I don't like to rely on anything, but in this case, I don't have a choice what my body decides to do on its own.


#10

In my research for this, I utilized articles written by Brett McKay.

While his articles are somewhat anecdotal, he does include and reference various studies that he used, he had tests done on himself, implemented changes, and saw improvements.


#11

I hope it works for you in all seriousness. Its great but sucks to be married to it.


#12

Thanks! Honestly this has been a struggle for some time for me, and kind of seemed like the hits kept coming. Vitamin D deficient, low T, low HDL, foot problems, etc... At least the low T answers some other stuff, difficulty losing weight/bf, irritability, melancholy, etc...


#13

Hey man, just thought I would throw some input on how I balance out PT (Im in the Army) and my goals of getting stronger.

First, I make priorities. I typically have a 2 or 3 week notice before my PT test, so I can do some sport specific training leading up to that. So I will focus on strength, and no extra conditioning other than morning PT during this period. Once I get notice of a PT test I will cut to the base 5/3/1 sets and reps, do push ups and sit ups daily, and some form of interval/speed running 3 times a week. I can typically shave a little more than a minute from my 2 mile time in this period, without loosing any strength.

Second, REALLY listen to your body! If you are feeling beat up just do the base sets and call it a day. There is no shame in only being in the gym for 20 minutes, especially if you are feeling beat! There are some days I just take an extra day of rest, and pick back up the next day. Just make sure you are disciplined with this, one day can easily turn into a week.

Third, food and sleep. with doing morning pt (if you have to) and lifting in the evening, you need more food than most people, so eat! If you eat in the chow hall, beg them for more food, or go through 2 times. And sleep, I know in our line of work people like to stay up late and party every night. If your goal is to get strong that cannot be you, set a bed time, and follow it! I also try to catch 20 minute naps whenever possible (after pt, during lunch, ect.).

This is what works for me, our bodies will adapt to what you put it through for the most part, and when in doubt eat and sleep more!


#14

Nate thanks for the input.

Luckily I'm at the point in my career where I don't typically have to do morning PT anymore. That's usually reserved for E-5 and below in my unit. With that being said, I do occasionally have to go and play the game with the Os.

I'm married so I'm not stuck with chow hall food, thankfully. It does affect the sleep schedule though. My wife usually doesn't get up until 0700-0800 and I'm up around 0400, so by 2030-2100 I'm trying to pass out and she's still wide awake. We all have struggles right?


#15

Mr. Wendler, or anyone else,

I'm about to kick my first cycle back on 5/3/1 and after re-reading your books I had a quick question about assistance work. You highly encourage dips, the gym I use does not have a dip stand, are bench dips an acceptable substitute or should I find a different exercise?

Thanks for all the help everyone.


#16

Posting some numbers for tracking purposes:
Height: 74"
BW: 211.6
Neck: 16"
Waist: 35"
BF per DOD standard: 16%

Big 4 lifts as calculated in 5/3/1 2nd Edition for Theoretical 1RM:
Squat: 157.5
Press: 134.2
Deadlift: 247.5
Bench: 203.5

Recon Short Card time (Not including the 3 sets of chin ups at the end): 35:30

I'll update with a PFT and CFT score as I run those as well.

I currently have a 6 week cycle followed by deload programmed out. Will update 1RM after that, even though I am not going to adjust any of the numbers in my excel document. I have 2 more 6 week cycles with 1 week deload programmed for after that, which will incorporate more/different assistance/conditioning work to progress with. Leaving plenty of room to adjust those as time goes on though.

Thanks everyone, and yeah, I know, those are some weak numbers for my size.


#17

I'm interested in what kind of template you chose at the end.

I'm a serviceman too and I'm also 30 years. Although I'm nowhere near your size. Few people understand how difficult is sometimes following any kind of strenght routine while being a serviceman. One of my last thoughts about this is; "I'm I going to be able to do THIS on this days that I had a 20 mile march or a 5 mile run or a day on the field?" Few, if any, strenght template has been able to offer me that, 5/3/1 is probably the closest one but If you push yourself (BBB, FSL, etc) it's very demanding too.

You appear to be more experienced in lifting that I, so tell me. Which one did you chose and why? Before I was deployed overseas and closest thing to a gym I saw was 50 miles away I was doing a fullbody 3 days a week.


#18

So I ended up choosing a 2 days/week with 2 lifts/day template. Assistance I kept stupid simple, because K.I.S.S.! Assistance is 5 rounds of 10 dips, 10 leg raises, 10 dumbbell side bends.

The other 3 days of the week I do the Recon Short Card and a Run Progression given to me by the dog for my jacked up feet.

For you, I would say keep a similar template of 2 days/week with 2 lifts per day. Add something like SST if you want assistance work. With the 2 days/week it leaves you a lot of room to be flexible on which days you are able to train, so you can balance this all out with your unit PT plan. Know what I mean?

Good luck brother!


#19

Thanks a lot brother, I will look into the 2 days template that I have around.

Thanks again, be safe.


#20

Just to confuse you some more (HA, kidding)...

I am recently retired from the Navy, I was a SWCC boat operator for the past 11 years. I was able to skip out on unit PT the majority of the time (basically always), and used 531 for a good chunk of that time. I was still able to keep in good condition, but to be honest, good condition for standing on a boat (manning crew served and slinging ammo, but still...standing on a boat) is different than good condition for a ground pounder - especially if you are Recon (or MARSOC).

Anyway, a couple notes from my experience (and this mainly plays into 'listening to your body':

I dropped deadlifts most of the time, because the pounding my lower back would take from squats and deadlifts was too much (my numbers were higher than yours, but I wasn't putting in the mileage you are either). I also neglected overhead pressing for a long time, and am still trying to catch up (I've been doing it religiously for a few years now and am nowhere near a 1xBW OHP...maybe 3/4 or so).

Obviously, conditioning plays a huge role in your job, but strength is very underrated in the military, even in combat arms. Sure, a smaller guy might be able to run a sub-18:00 3 mile, but I bet he's gonna have trouble dragging anyone bigger than him off the X. I might not have been the fastest runner (or even close, though the last few years I was in, I was turning in a 1.5 mile time around 9:30 while still squatting in the high 400's), but I could move some weight.

Point being, I agree you have a wide range of things you need to worry about, but bringing up your strength definitely needs to be a focus. Having said all that, everyone is different, so doing the 2-lift 2 day a week template (plus all your other stuff) might work best for you.

Also, Naval Special Warfare did a hormone study with UPITT a few years ago (NSW Group 2 - East Coast - to be exact). They found that a very high percentage (forget exact numbers, but something approaching 90%) of the guys still operating were experiencing low T, along with all the other hormonal issues that come with it. That's due to a number of factors, from the stress of the job (which we might not really feel as 'stress' but it's still there) to the way we train, to the hours we put in doing everything required of us. FWIW, you mentioned avoiding TRT, but it might be in your best interest, as long as the docs actually know what they are doing and do it right. If you are interested, peruse the TRT board on here a bit and you should see some good info. EDIT: Just to clarify, the study was across all of the East Coast SEAL teams, and ages ranged from guys straight out of BUD/S to guys close to retirement - so we're talking about guys in their 20's who were already approaching low T.

Also, 200 is considered the very bottom of the 'normal' range in civilian medicine, while the Navy requires you to be at 180 before they will do any replacement, and if they put you on TRT, 600ish seems to be the upper limit of what they are willing to put you at - from a buddy's experience. You are already below normal, getting back up to mid- to high-normal would have all kinds of benefits for you.