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Lifting for Years, Never Followed a Routine


been off and on for about 5-6 years, with consistency for about 2 years.

always just made my own programs. usually 3x/week, mon: chest, wed: back, fri: legs.

now i want to move on to a structured program to see if i can really eek out some more strength/mass/size.

i just started madcow and in theory, i love it. it is easy, proven and fairly quick while being intense. that said i don't want to short change myself so i'd love some further insight.

my stats:



bench: 225x8
squat: 250x5
deadlift: max ~340lbs (this is less known since i am very on/off doing deads)

as you can tell, i want to get more serious. so looking forward to some advice. thanks.


Madcow, starting strenght are all great beginner programs, you should just pick one ans stick with it, itll bring results.
After you stall, id suggest you try 5/3/1 or you could just start with it since youre not such a beginner.
The important thing tho is just pick a proven program and stick with it, with good nutrition itll sure bring results.


Madcow is a great program, stick with it until you stall a couple times and then take a look at 5/3/1. There are lots of variations based on different goals. I think you’re probably too advanced for starting strength, at least on bench press.


Aside from the fact that you should absolutely run a real program, I would move leg day from Friday to a different day. You’re obviously either skipping it a lot or putting little effort into it. 6 years of training should have gotten you much better results.


After years of unstructured lifting you probably know how to do the lifts, but your routines are probably just a collection of exercises. You probably know how to do all sorts of lifts, but not how to put them together to make progress. Now is your chance to learn about programming.

Do Madcow for like 6-8 weeks. Get used to the higher frequency, different numbers of worksets on different days, and the heavy/light/medium setup. See how your body responds to the basic, full body approach. After 2 months, you should kind of “figure the program out.” You’ll understand how its supposed to work, and you’ll find how it works for you and what areas it improves or doesn’t improve. Also, if you’ve never done a set routine before you’ll probably be pretty bored with it by then.

After that, try a basic body builder type routine for 6-8 weeks. Here’s were you learn about assistance exercises and higher rep ranges. After the Madcow program you’ll probably be anxious to do some dumbbell flies and tricep extensions. Get a little swole, and see the differences between training for a pump and training the basics for strength.

When you get bored 6-8 weeks later try 5-3-1 for two months. This will teach you about wave loading, deloads and periodization.

After that you should be bigger, stronger and wiser.


^^^ good advice.