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ICF 531 Hybrid Program

Looking for insight to my next training cycle. Currently wrapping up a wendler progam from forever called prep and fat loss. I am going to try and gain some actual size and strength in 2020. I love 531 and it’s principles. However in the past i gained my most size from a beginner program Ice Cream Fitness. I am still a beginner but I cant stand linear progression every day on all the beginner programs. It eventually kills my drive to go lift and grind a 5rm each day. I was going to run ICF but instead of a normal 5x5 replace it with 5x531 for the big 4. I would also put front squat on workout B day. I also have grown to love supersetting work so i would superset antagonistic movements to save time. And use giant sets for assistance on workout A.

Any concerns with this approach? Any improvements?

Workout A
Squat 5x531
Bench 5x531 Superset with Pendlay Row 5x5

Giant set
Shrugs 3x8
Tricep 3x8
Bicep 3x8

SSB Goodmorning 2x10
Core 3x10

Workout B
Deadlift 5sPRO
Front Squat 5x5
OHP 5x531 Superset Weighted Pullup 5x5
Weighted Dip 3x8 Superset Curl 3x8
Core 3x10

If you’d rather go with Blahahaha than Wendler that’s just dandy.

Of course it should be noted that Wendler is/was a powerlifter/coach of great renown and Blaha haha is the world’s most secret and deadly mercenary, so it depends on your goals.


In all seriousness just stick with 5/3/1 since you have at least one of his books…

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No, that is not an improvement to any 531 program, and would be a disaster IMO. You’re falling for the typical beginner’s trap: this program (developed by someone who knows what they’re doing) would be better if I could add X, Y and Z to it. Run Krypteia from the Forever book, which is a natural progression from the Prep and Fat Loss. Do fewer things and do them well, don’t tack on lots of extra stuff.

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Just a heads up to the OP… your going to find a that large % on here might not hold ICF or its creator in very high regards.

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That’s understatement of the century. Mixing 531 and ICF is like grilling a steak to perfection, then adding ketchup.


No. It’s like buying a $1,000 bottle of bourbon, pouring a shot of it over ice, then adding diet Dr. Pepper to it and chugging it.

(I actually had no idea with ICF was until I googled it, but this plan was bad even before knowing the creator of ICF).


If you want to put on muscle, I’d do OG 531. Hit rep PRs on the main lift, pick some assistance exercises you can do AMRAP sets with.

Press 531
DB Bench x AMRAP
Dips x AMRAP
Feet Elevated Push-ups x AMRAP
Moderate calves upper back and/or abs between sets

Squat 531
Front Squat or Goblet Squat x AMRAP or 2 sets a couple reps shy of failure
DB RDL w/Shrug x AMRAP or 2 sets a couple reps shy of failure
Light upper back and/or curls between sets

Bench 531
Inc DB Press x AMRAP
Feet Elevated Push-up x AMRAP
Light calves, abs and/or upper back between sets

DL 531
Pull-ups x AMRAP x 2
Chest Supported DB Rows x AMRAP x 1 or 2

I’m doing something similar to this (not 531) and have put on a noticeable amount of muscle in a couple months. Easy to see improvements to upper body in the mirror, pants a noticeably tighter in legs and ass. Pretty good results for someone as old as me (44) that’s been lifting as long as I have.


These responses are killing me - I actually laughed out loud at some of these.

Kudos to you all.


Jim i am going to try and take advantage of having you in this thread.

What do you suggest for someone who isn’t beginner in the sense i have been lifting for a few years but my numbers are beginner. I wasted a lot of time afraid of food but thats something i am changing this year.

Would you reccomend the beginner prep for someone who has been lifting got 3ish years?

My goal is to just get stronger for a while.

Thanks sir

Thanks for this. This looks like it could be fun!

Your experience level in strength training is always in relation to your strength levels. If your numbers are beginner numbers, you’re a beginner in this sense.
Beginner Prep School is a great template if you’re looking to get into 5/3/1. Other good options would be OG with PR Sets, or 5’s Pro + FSL.