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Main Lift Substitution?

I’m very busy, so I have little time for working out, and I’m also also old (43), so I need time to recover. Love the logical progressive approach to 5/3/1, but I need to design a template that works for me over the long haul. Here is what I am thinking about doing every week:


Squats (5/3/1, FSL - 3X8)
Press (5/3/1, FSL - 3X8)


Deadlifts (5/3/1, FSL - 3X8)
Bench (5/3/1, FSL - 3X8)

Now my question. I am considering replacing the press with rows. I have two reasons for doing so:

  1. Most “experts” suggest doing more pulling than pushing exercises. Specifically, rows work the opposing muscles to the bench, providing a balanced upper body.
  2. Without rows, I don’t work biceps, and have to depend on deads for lats.

Personally, I would prefer doing the four main lifts in the original program, so I am open to being convinced to stick with it. I am just worried that with little to no time for assistance work, I may develop imbalances if I stick to the big four.

Am I concerned over nothing?

PS: I am non-competitive, and my goals are a combination of strength and mass.

Do chins/rows in between your pressing movements. Keep your back strong enough to meet your goals (that may mean more back work or less) and keep you injury free - not to meet some golden ratio.

What about doing pull aparts between pressing sets and chin/pull ups or fat-man pull ups (aka inverted rows) deadlifts and squats? I’ve been doing that (fat-man pull ups for DL and push-ups for squats) with pull aparts between bench and press. It doesn’t make things take any longer.

You got good answers to your questions already; chins/rows between sets of pressing, and light upper back work (BPA, Face Pull, etc…) takes maybe 2 minutes at the end of your session.

Just wanted to say you aren’t old. Maybe this just pisses me off b/c I’m 35 now and starting to hear friends grumble about aches and pains and being old, but keep in mind, Dave Ricks just squatted an IPF open world record at 57. In other words, one of the greatest lifters of all time PRd his raw squat at 57. 43 is not fucking old in the strength game.

Letting a limiting belief frame your whole program doesn’t seem smart to me. Is your recovery that much worse than when you were 25? Maybe, maybe not. If it is, it’s probably something you can work on.

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Most experts are morons. Literally never done anything in lifting. Do the program.

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Thanks all - am convinced to keep the four main lifts (this is what I wanted to do really). I’ll find a way to add in back work (maybe replace the FSL deadlift sets with rows)

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You’re right - strength gains can be had after 40 for sure. For recovery, I just meant that I can’t do a ton of lifts after my two main ones (with FSL added). It might be age, but maybe it’s just the limited time I have to do everything I would need to recover properly (e.g. sleeping beyond 7 hours).As we get older, we tend to get busier, so I guess it is hard to separate the two.

don’t know your situation, but I’m 51 I’ve done 27 weeks of BBB, 3 month challenge monolith and now on hard gainer. There have been days all I had time for was the main lifts and that’s fine don’t worry about the accessory work, do it when there is time and since doing Hard Gainer I’ve learned how to do them in between sets. I’m currently on 2nd cycle of Hard Gainer, decided to go back 3 to go forward 5 and started out with 25 total reps on the accessory work. There is a way to get it done just need to figure it out.

Thanks gsalyer - I think part of it is psychological with me. I am comfortable with main lifts and supplemental work, but when I “have” to do accessory work, I get overwhelmed (mainly because of time - I really have to fit these workouts in quickly). I also don’t leave myself much time between sets. I may try simply doing some chins at the end of the workout, but without overthinking it (not even writing it down).

Nice to hear that older people than me are doing even more, so that gives me something to shoot for.