Full Body Program 3x5

Would this routine work for size as a semi-beginner (4 months of training, learnt correct form on all exercises)? Working out 3 days a week, alternating A and B workouts with 1 day rest in between, weekends off (or if I missed a workout I could do it then).

Progression rate: +5lbs every week on upper body lifts, +10lbs on lower body lifts.

Bench press
Pendlay row
BB curl

Chin-ups (weighted)
Dips (weighted)

I know 3x5 is a proven rep scheme (Mark Rippetoe/starting strength/etc…) to add strength and size, I’m just a bit skeptical about it as the consensus seems to be 8-12 reps for hypertrophy. Although I can see how strength improves much faster on a 3x5 routine which will overload the muscles and force them to grow a lot more than for example a 3x10 routine. But on the other side of the spectrum you have the need for ‘volume’ and ‘time under tension’ to make muscles grow, which isn’t that high in a 3x5 routine. Can anyone share his experience with a program like this?

PS: I know I posted another routine on this forum a few days ago, I’m just curious about which routine I should pick. There’s an overflow of information on the internet, even T-nation articles contradict themselves, depending on the writer. I know I should find out myself ‘what works best for me’, but I’d like to have a good starting point!


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It’ll work if you eat enough.

It’ll work better if you squat in every workout.

It’ll work best if you just follow Rippetoe’s program without changing things around for no reason.

Starting Strength is proven to add many lbs of muscle to beginner trainees in short periods of time. I followed stronglifts and went from 175-200 in 8 months.

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Why would squatting 3x a week work better? Does it actually carry-over to upper body strength/mass?

Mark’s recommendations of 3500-4000 cals a day are just ridiculous imo, but eating in a surplus is necessary ofc.

How much of those 25lbs were muscle/fat do you think? Did you measure bf%?

The squat is the best mass builder of any single lift. It develops the entire leg as well as the back and torso. Look at any lifter who can squat worth a damn and they have a thick, solid, muscular midsection like a tree trunk.

Rippetoe has made a living out of taking beginners and adding strength and size to their frame. You are saying his calorie benchmark is ridiculous based on what? You have to eat big to get big. Don’t you weigh like 140 lbs? Get eating kid…

I would say the majority of that 25 lbs was muscle. I don’t measure my body fat percentage, but have been successful at both gaining large amounts of weight and cutting down to vascular abdominals. Trust me, gaining muscle is MUCH HARDER than losing fat.



You are right.

Pick any program and do it with intensity. That’s the most important thing.

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Isn’t squatting 3x a week overkill? Or does it get manageable after a few weeks? And yes, but I’ve never seen someone who solely squats… Al least they bench/deadlift too, isn’t that where the upper body mass mostly comes from?

Well, calories in vs out. If maintenance is at 2.5k, 3.5-4k is most likely going to get you fat in no time.

Yes, cutting isn’t the problem either for me since my stomach surgery… And yes I’m 143 lbs lol. But as I explained earlier, forcing 4K calories a day down my throat isn’t an option for me.

Of course you will bench and deadlift also … Squatting 3x a week becomes overkill eventually when you are handling heavier weight. That is when you deload and then eventually move on to a more intermediate program. There is protocol for this in Rippetoe’s program.

Also you don’t HAVE to eat 4,000 calories, you just have to eat enough to gain and recover from each workout. That number won’t be the same for everyone

Now that I’m looking into it, the original fierce 5 novice program (which I was running) actually has squats in there aswel 3 times a week, alternating back/front squat. But I replaced the front squats and SLDL with regular deadlifts and hamstring curls, which is an alternative the autor gave himself. His reasoning is that as long as you’re doing deadlifts OR squats in your workout, one will carry-over to the other. Therefore there’s no longer the need to squat in every workout.

One final question: isn’t some form of chin/pull-ups (and maybe dips) necessary in a workout routine like that? Both SS and SL seem to be lacking those.

The original stronglifts or madcow DID have pullups and dips in the program I believe, they were scrapped for whatever reason. Some people do use them still.

Thanks a lot for your help!

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Its a basic guide line no more and no less… many a strong and large lifter has been created by various range of reps over the years

.You will discover in time that this whole pursuit is 45% science 45% an art form and 10% just blind luck.

As already stated at a beginning stage …NOPE. At your level I would say you would actually put more stress on your body by going out and jogging 30 minutes 3 times a week.

that will come with time.

Any reason you want to only use one rep scheme versus a variety of rep ranges?

And the whole “squatting 3x a week is overkill” thing is a VERY recent development. 20 rep squats was around like 80 years ago, and it had you squatting 3x a week, and everyone seemed just fine. I’m not saying it’s necessary, but I think most beginners are at a severe risk of undertraining versus overtraining.

If going to do Rippetoe style stuff do Texas method. -pretty much guaranteed results as long as set it up right/start light etc…

If overall size is your no1 priority the Paul Carter or Joe Defranco programs I advised in the other thread would be best.

No not really, just to keep it simple I guess. Progression on a 3x5 program is easy to measure. “Complete x sets of x reps, add weight next time/next week, repeat.” That’s how I got my lifts back up to a ‘normal’ level after my surgery.

Also I gained 7kg on a program like that, but that’s just because I was able to eat a normal amount of calories again, now my weight gain has stagnated although I’m eating more. Changed up my program to a split routine (still hitting every muscle group twice a week) with higher reps (6-12). Maybe full body, only focussing on the compounds with - relatively - heavy weights works better for me? Less metabolic stress so less caloric expenditure? Just guessing here.

That article is a real eye opener for me… Especially the programmed active recovery days and the reasoning behind it. I’ve been going to the gym 3-4 days a week, working with the same intensity every time. After 2 weeks I always feel sluggish and tired all the time and feel the need to take 3-4 days off.

Well, size is my main focus as I am a small guy (always have been), but I’ve come to love lifting heavy sh*t. Also I notice that most guys that lift heavy in my gym are big and athletic but not huge. But they have a nicer physique than the bodybuilders in their tank tops mirin’ themselves in the mirror every time they can. Their muscle looks denser and seeing a guy lift 315 on bench or a 5 plate squat for reps is kind of impressive to me.

I’m not looking to become a 200lbs BB, gaining 20lbs (which would put me at 165) sitting at ~10% bf year round and being relatively strong for that weight would be my initial goal.

Thanks for the link!

if you stay lean, gaining 20lbs will make you look awesome so good luck!

As for your program - if you want to do SS then just do it as written, get what you can out of it then move on to a more bodybuilding-type routine. No sense in fucking around with it; just use it for its intended purpose and move on.

If your looking for one with a bit more variety search " solutions for the skinny fat ectomorph"

Beginner Program
A1) Back Squat 4×6-8
A2) Chin-Ups (25)
B1) Romanian Deadlift 2×8-12
B2) Incline Press 3×8
c1) Pushups 2 x max
C2) Thick Grip Barbell Curls 2×15
— Sprints
A1) Overhead Press 3×6-8
A2) Barbell Rows 3×8
B) Hip Thrust 2×10
C) Calfs 2×20
–Farmers Walks
A1) Deadlift 3×5
A2) Incline Press 3×8
B1) Front Squat 3×5
B2) Chin-Ups (25)
C1) Dips 2 x max
C2) Thick Grip Hammer Curls 2×10
Program Notes

  • For all exercises do at least five sets, including warm-up sets. So a squat workout planned for 3x6x135 will look like this: bar x 6, 95×6, 135x4x6.
  • Strive for 25 chin-ups in as little sets as possible. At first, shoot for five. Then four. Three is ideal. Two is great.
  • The 1’s and 2’s mean the exercises can be supersetted to save time.
  • Do two sets to failure of dips and push-ups. Strive to add one rep to the total each week.
  • Sprints are preferably done on a hill of about 50 yards, with 6-10 total repetitions. Sprint to the top, walk back down, catch your wind, and then go again. Do that a minimum of six times and a maximum of ten times.
  • Farmers walks are done for 100-200 yards. Just grab heavy dumbbells and go.
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Keeping the program how it is would be best to test out a few weeks. Changing it around can either be a waste of your time, or throw you in some other direction in terms of what results you expect.

For beginners, the 5x5 stronglifts would be a great place to start OR a full body routine… Plenty of gains to be made and can build up a great foundation for intermediate splits.

Heavy lifting with reps between 3-5 are for strength, rep range between 8-15 are for hypertrophy, and anything above would just be a form of endurance.

Hypertrophy training is so popular because it balances size gains with strength gains over time. It all depends on your goal… Don’t forget nutrition plays a key role to achieving anything in the gym.

what happens if I lift a weight 6 or 7 times?

I would say you’re still within that strength range, but that depends on how heavy you’re going also…

I would say for strength, low reps you should lift between 85-95% of your 1RM. That’d be ideal and rest anywhere between 2-5 minutes so that each set you are giving 100% to those earned reps!

Depends on your goals…