T Nation

Madcow 5x5/Starting Strength?

Now I really don’t mean to repeat posts or take up precious space, but I’ve read the stickies and I just would like someone to maybe clear this up. There is also a TLTR info section at the end.

I was never heavy into lifting, but started about 4 years ago as a freshman (I am now 18, just out of highschool) with simple football summer workouts and benching/curling whenever i had extra time. I was not consistent. Then I did lots of circuit work because I was going to go naval academy and did specialized training to lose weight and get good at pullups etc.

I got fat again and just this past 3-4 months put off about 30 lbs and lowered my bf% to about 8.9% through resistance training (high volume low intensity). I then started trying to bulk on my friends ridiculous routine it was an insane amount of volume (BB split with 3-6 exercises per area) and no intensity progression.

Now I’ve been doing Wendlers 5/3/1 with his basic template given in the 2nd edition. However, most of what I’ve read and seen is guys are starting that when they get bench press to 225 and then other compound movements in proportion to that (225 bench was just easy to remember).

So basically I was going to go back to an even more novice simpler routine because I think i can tap back into beginner gains and just add weight and get stronger. Problem is I roughly know what I can max out at with weight/reps and starting strength seems a little too novice for me (my technique and form are spot on, had American Strongman Andrew Durniat show me proper technique on all of the lifts).

So would madcows 5x5 be a safe bet? I’m just trying to pick an appropriate program to get results.

heres some TLTR summaries:

5ft 8in 8-9% bf
160 lbs

bench: 160x8 (that was my last work set and I just went all out, it was however, after 2 other sets)

squat: 205x7 and i think i actually did ~195x10 on my last squat day on 5/3/1

deadlifts: 235x13 << this is why i think to need to be off of 5/3/1, deadlifts I actually know pretty solidly how much I can do and on my 3x3 day i ended up banging out that. Which makes me think i could use a more aggressive progression program

is madcow 5x5 a safe bet or should i try starting strength, even though i know my limits and maxes fairly well.

I don’t know where you should start. I think you’re right about “starting strength” being a little to novice for where you are. I may be wrong though.

It sounds like you’re mostly just looking for something to produce faster results than 5/3/1, because you still think you can work more aggressively than 5/3/1 is offering. Is that correct?

5/3/1 is a good program, I made slow and steady progress on it over the past year. You don’t have to be at a certain level with how advanced you are, as long as you know your 1RMs you can go for it.

And about how you’re doing much higher reps than the prescribed, that’s fine. After about a year the weights will slowly creep up on you and you’ll get progressively heavier and lower reps. That’s when the real fun begins but also the rep outs will be for “survival”, you’ll be happy to get just three reps so you can stick with the program for another week. That’s what happened to me haha. So I took a week to re-test my 1RMs and now I starting over. Just keep breaking rep PRs like Jim Wendler says and you will get stronger.

[quote]LoRez wrote:
I don’t know where you should start. I think you’re right about “starting strength” being a little to novice for where you are. I may be wrong though.

It sounds like you’re mostly just looking for something to produce faster results than 5/3/1, because you still think you can work more aggressively than 5/3/1 is offering. Is that correct?[/quote]

Yeah, pretty much. I just feel lost since I’ve basically jumped around in routines far beyond SS. I eventually just want to bodybuild, but getting my stats decent is my top priority.

I’m not sure If i will double post on accident now but what i just typed didn’t. Yeah pretty much I think i can make more progess being more aggressive. HOwever, how basic and aggressive I should go is hard for me to find considering ive ended up doing a 4 day split with a bodybuilding routine for a month and 5/3/1 for 2 weeks now, plus everything i included.

to marrot,

I totally am sold on 5/3/1 working and being great. But, in your opinion, don’t my stats seem a bit low to be going on a method based on monthly improvements? Do you think i might get more and faster out of madcow or SS? I ask this totally just bc I’ve seen kids who are much less…genetically gifted…than me surpass some of my lifts and size gains.

[quote]bbuehler3 wrote:
I’m not sure If i will double post on accident now but what i just typed didn’t. Yeah pretty much I think i can make more progess being more aggressive. HOwever, how basic and aggressive I should go is hard for me to find considering ive ended up doing a 4 day split with a bodybuilding routine for a month and 5/3/1 for 2 weeks now, plus everything i included.

to marrot,

I totally am sold on 5/3/1 working and being great. But, in your opinion, don’t my stats seem a bit low to be going on a method based on monthly improvements? Do you think i might get more and faster out of madcow or SS? I ask this totally just bc I’ve seen kids who are much less…genetically gifted…than me surpass some of my lifts and size gains.[/quote]

Its a big misconception with 5/3/1 that you will only get 5 or 10 pounds stronger each month. Yes, that is how much you are adding to your training maxes, but your progress is not limited. If you squatted 200x6 one month and 210x9 the next, that is more than a ten pound gain.

All that being said, madcow is a good program. If you want to give it a shot go ahead, you can always come back to 5/3/1 after you give madcow a run, or you can just stick with 5/3/1. Either way is fine

Its a big misconception with 5/3/1 that you will only get 5 or 10 pounds stronger each month. Yes, that is how much you are adding to your training maxes, but your progress is not limited. If you squatted 200x6 one month and 210x9 the next, that is more than a ten pound gain.

All that being said, madcow is a good program. If you want to give it a shot go ahead, you can always come back to 5/3/1 after you give madcow a run, or you can just stick with 5/3/1. Either way is fine[/quote]

Very true, just feel frustrated with so much change. I think im going to go to madcow for now. It seems a bit more advanced than SS and SL. I found an online outline that setups your weights/sets/reps for 12 weeks. Which is only a plus. If anyone has any other thoughts or comments I should be aware of please go ahead. As a side note i will keep the excessive pullups inbetween all pressing sets like jim recommends hahaha.

[quote]bbuehler3 wrote:

Its a big misconception with 5/3/1 that you will only get 5 or 10 pounds stronger each month. Yes, that is how much you are adding to your training maxes, but your progress is not limited. If you squatted 200x6 one month and 210x9 the next, that is more than a ten pound gain.

All that being said, madcow is a good program. If you want to give it a shot go ahead, you can always come back to 5/3/1 after you give madcow a run, or you can just stick with 5/3/1. Either way is fine[/quote]

Very true, just feel frustrated with so much change. I think im going to go to madcow for now. It seems a bit more advanced than SS and SL. I found an online outline that setups your weights/sets/reps for 12 weeks. Which is only a plus. If anyone has any other thoughts or comments I should be aware of please go ahead. As a side note i will keep the excessive pullups inbetween all pressing sets like jim recommends hahaha.[/quote]

That’s the general consensus on the program. It’s a good stepping stone between SS/SL and other programs (like percentage based ones).

I ran madcow for 12 weeks (the same spreadsheet you got) after I had to take 2 months off of lifting from a car accident. It’s a good program and you’ll get a lot stronger. Just don’t forget to eat.

Since you’re training rows heavy twice a week, you don’t really need chins between each pressing set. I can’t remember what exactly the lay out is on wednesday, but I believe it is this:

Light(er) squats 4x5
Press 5x5
Deadlift 5x5

In the advanced madcow program, he has you do 4 sets of chins after the deadlifts, that way the press is balanced out. If you do this, all your pressing will be balanced and you won’t have to worry about chins between each pressing set.

It’s just a thought, you can do it either way.

[quote]bbuehler3 wrote:
I’m not sure If i will double post on accident now but what i just typed didn’t. Yeah pretty much I think i can make more progess being more aggressive. HOwever, how basic and aggressive I should go is hard for me to find considering ive ended up doing a 4 day split with a bodybuilding routine for a month and 5/3/1 for 2 weeks now, plus everything i included.

to marrot,

I totally am sold on 5/3/1 working and being great. But, in your opinion, don’t my stats seem a bit low to be going on a method based on monthly improvements? Do you think i might get more and faster out of madcow or SS? I ask this totally just bc I’ve seen kids who are much less…genetically gifted…than me surpass some of my lifts and size gains.[/quote]

No, I started 5/3/1 last year with 95 OHP, 210 DL, 125 bench, and 200 squat (on a smith machine). Now I have 135 OHP, 315 DL, 160 bench, and 240 squat (no smith machine). Definitely not optimal progress but pretty good for only gaining 10 lbs BW, not even using one of the assistance routines from the book (yeah, I’ll buy it eventually. jeez), and practicing breakdancing 6+ hours/week.

But I’m just saying 5/3/1 will give slow and steady progress. When I stalled on SL5x5, I immediately switched to 5/3/1 because I knew I could rely on 5/3/1 to give me consistent strength gains where SL5x5 didn’t. I never did madcow though so I can’t say anything about that.

[quote]marrot wrote:
Definitely not optimal progress but pretty good for only gaining 10 lbs BW, not even using one of the assistance routines from the book (yeah, I’ll buy it eventually. jeez), and practicing breakdancing 6+ hours/week.
[/quote]

:expressionless:

Go breakdance on the street corner till you make 20 bucks and buy the book!

I’m in the same boat as you OP…played sports all high school and just now getting the chance to focus solely on lifting. Madcow treated me great, but I absolutely nothing about SS. Nice deadlift also…

[quote]bbuehler3 wrote:

just feel frustrated with so much change. I think im going to go to madcow for now.[/quote]

Just sayin…

[quote]csulli wrote:

[quote]marrot wrote:
Definitely not optimal progress but pretty good for only gaining 10 lbs BW, not even using one of the assistance routines from the book (yeah, I’ll buy it eventually. jeez), and practicing breakdancing 6+ hours/week.
[/quote]

:expressionless:

Go breakdance on the street corner till you make 20 bucks and buy the book![/quote]

Got the book. Happy now? Because I sure am. :smiley: