T Nation

Critique My Workout Plan


Going for bulk, but also want to keep things simple. Lifted a bit in college, nothing serious, and not since. Current stats: 5’7, 150lb, 24% BF, 24 y/o, 2400 kcal a day.

Bench 3x8
OHP 3x8
B/O Row 3x8
Squat 3x8
Deadlift 3x8

Plan to grip the bars hard and keep the cores stiff through all of the exercises to build the forearms and the core. But, should I add a good core exercise also? Or a pull-up?

I’ll probably divide the exercises into pull and push days, or just do all of them in one go.



Just pick any one on this site and learn.

There is no progression. 3x8 every workout? Same exercise? 2,3,6 times a week?

So again, no.

Follow someone much smarter then both of us and get on the road to proper workouts.


Why? Where’s the data suggesting things like “progression” lead to additional gains? Why can’t you just pick a bunch of good compound movements that are known to build whole body strength, and do them however you wish? I mean, of course I’ll be increasing weights slowly with adder weights or additional plates as I progress.

I’m not belittling your opinion here. I’m asking for an intelligent argument why those so-called smart routines designed by others, which were probably intentionally made super complicated so they would get published, would work better than a simple one like this.


Not @JFG but here’s my two cents

  1. The data suggesting progression improves results is that the vast majority of successful strength athletes use some kind of progression in their training. Success leaves clues. Across almost all gyms you will tend to see the people who turn up and do whatever they feel like on the day are significantly more likely to be smaller, weaker and fatter and make far less (if any) progress compared to the people who come in with pre-determined purpose for the medium or long term.
  2. Most proven programs/systems are anything but complicated. Even the more complex ones like concurrent (aka conjugate) training utilise similar basic principles.
  3. One key reason progression works is that it facilitates the assessment if its effectiveness. If you have a set plan or system within which you work it is much easier to determine what elements of that system have worked better than others for particular purposes based on the results produced. It is then possible to make changes where necessary to improve the system to enable it to better help pursue a particular goal; or there will be evidence suggesting that a different method is likely to work better.
  4. It takes a very long time for an individual to know their response to training well enough to maintain progress by feel alone (no planning, system, etc); and in the vast majority of cases this degree of mastery is obtained by spending many years following different set progression models and gradually experimenting with combinations and methods over time. Even in those cases a closer look at what they do will show a very systematic approach.


Perhaps I do not quite understand what progression is. This is the paper I remember from college, and is how I train: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19204579

3x8 at a particular weight would be my target. When it feels easier and easier to complete those three sets, I would first try to reduce the break between sets to 3 minutes from an initial 5 minute-break between sets (the contraction and relaxation phases would be a constant 1 second). When it feels “easy” once again to complete the exercise, I will test it out by doing one extra rep on each of the set. If I’m able to do that, I’ll go up on the weight by 5-10%, and target 3x8 with a 5 minute-break between sets again.

Is this what progression is? If not, can you explain what it is or link to an explanation? Thank you.

Any other critiques?


That is indeed a form of progression. Progression simply means how you increase workload: intensity (how heavy), volume (how many reps per set or in total) and (kind of) frequency (how often). Usually you increase one at the expense of the other, although not always. What you increase usually depends in what you want to achieve.

Personally, I’d suggest a couple of tweaks to make your training more effective based on what I’ve found to work.

  • start with a rep range: 5-8, for example. When you can do eight reps, add 10 lbs to lower body lifts and 5 lbs to upper body lifts. Then go back to five reps, etc.
  • don’t limit yourself just to that rep range. Back-off sets (performed after the main set or sets) often work well. For example, you might do 3x10 reps with a set amount less than the main set just to get the muscles full of blood and increase time under tension.
  • not all exercises work well in the same rep ranges. Rows, for instance, tend to work well with high reps even with heavier loads while deadlifts can work better for lower reps.
  • pressing and squatting variations often benefit from frequency and volume provided intensity is managed well
  • don’t sweat tempo (eccentric and concentric timing) and rest periods too much. Lower the weight under control, explode upwards and rest long enough between sets to be able to do that again.
  • pay attention to how often you train. Three to four days a week seems to work best for most people focusing on big lifts.

Specifically based on how you want to train, you may enjoy:

Day one
Deadlift 3x3-5
Squat 3x10
Chin/pull-ups 25-50 reps in total

Day two
Bench press 3x5-8
OHP 3x10
Row 5x10

Day three
Squat 3x5-8, then 5x10
Chin/pull-ups 25-50 total reps

Day four
OHP 3x5-8
Bench press 3x10
Row 5x10


If want simple just do a proven 5x5 template like below. Over 6 months the difference in results will be night and day…


Progression is better today then yesterday.

JW thinks that anybody that times the break between sets is an idiot.
Yet, one of Waterbury’s progression theory is shorter breaks between sets.
Who is right?

And 5 minutes? Why?

Every good work out has a progression model. In your initial post, you just mentioned exercise and sets/reps. You did not post a work out. So my initial response stands. It sucks balls.

Stop approaching weight lifting thru academia. How many cycles of 5/3/1 have you done? Ever try a CT work out? How about SS until you stall then Move to Texas Method? Ever gave Gironda’s 8x8 a try? How about a Smolov cycle?? 20 rep breathing squat? etc, etc, etc.

Go in the trenches, do it and learn.

Also, you don’t just pick and exercise for a well rounded program, you think about what you are doing and why.

At the end of the day, a bad program done consistently is better then the perfect program done inconsistently.

And your super complicated comment is the exact reason you should not program your own. It shows your lack experience. 5x5 complicated? Really?


You’re going to destroy your low back with that work out program.


How did you set it up?


Nothing fancy 4 days a week. Assistance was the triumvarate I think. Tbh Im not a fan of JW. He says things like walking is cardio and is very rude and arrogant on his coaching forum.


You use FSL or joker sets or anything like that? And you run triumvrate the whole time? You usually only stick with an assistance program for 2 cycles.

I like 5/3/1 for the fact that it’s full season programming rather than just 1 phase. Been a very helpful baseline, but you gotta run it the way Jim says. People cut out the throws, jumps, conditioning, don’t cycle the assistance, etc, and run into a lot of roadblocks.

Best way I’ve run it so far was going for rep PRs on the final set, then following that with a FSL AMRAP set and then going through phases of accumulation and intensification.

And walking is great cardio, haha.


He’s right and he isn’t rude or arrogant but honest and forthright. Big difference.


If you would actually keep a log, we could tell you where you went wrong.

And consistency is a major component of all programs.


I’m talking the actual assistance program rather than the assistance lifts.

Like, you’d run triumvirate for 2 cycles, which was like a solid base building block with bodyweight and similar assistance. After that, you’d run something like BBB to specialized in the 5/3/1 lifts with higher volume, then after than you could run FSL for 5-8x5 for a higher intensity block for 2 cycles, and then after that you could run something with a little more of a conditioning focus.

The original 5/3/1 is still pretty relevant, but I think, without high starting lifts, you could stand to push the volume more.


What are we defining as “gains” in this case?

Edit: And I actually never felt like the reps were prescribed, since it was AMRAP. And with how moldable it is, even the sets are pretty free form.

What else could it be?


When you say “strength”, do you mean weight moved in a specific rep range, or something else? If it was the former, triumvirate was less than ideal. More accumulation, whereas it sounds like your goal was intensification.

I have gotten fantastic gains with 5/3/1, but it has to be looked at holistically. It has improved my conditioning, work capacity, hypertrophy and strength; it just needed to be structured to support those goals.

What would you classify walking as if not cardio? I wouldn’t call it conditioning, but it is light cardio for me.


Unless you have specific conditioning goals (spartan race, half marathon/other running goals, strongman, baseball, martial arts, etc), walking is sufficient for cardiovascular health. If you’d like, walk up a hill or on the treadmill incline and/or with a weighted vest.


Did you actually squat 305lb, or was it based off those 1rm calculators you see around places?


This is fantastic. Thank you for taking the time to be this helpful!