T Nation

Meathead, Looking for Programming Help

Background: High school track and team sports, then inactivity after marriage. Triathlon revived my competitive drive, but I lost a lot of weight. At 6’2" I dropped to 170-ish pounds. Spent 2 years on Starting Strength and 5x5 programs, built to 190, and very happy with lifts (especially considering my endurance background).

The point: I have always been thin. Eventually, I tried bulking, and built to 202, then I started “supplementing”. Built to 221 after a year or so, but now I had a gut. Cycled off for a while, dropped to 210, but feel most of the loss was muscle. I still look very athletic, but not as tanked as I’d like.

The problem: I know that genetics determines much of one’s appearance, and I don’t aspire to look like a pro bodybuilder. I also know that most of my success has come from low reps - 3x5 for strength, and 5-8 reps x 3-4 sets for mass. When I do any more than 2 sets of more than 10-12 reps, I really struggle to recover. In fact, I lost both strength and weight. But most programs for bulk focus on high reps, or high volume, or both.

The proposition: I really like the Westside for Meatheads program (https://www.t-nation.com/training/defrancos-training-rules-for-washed-up-meatheads), but know that the reps are too high for me. On Defranco’s own site, he has a Westside for Hardgainers outline (https://www.defrancostraining.com/westside-for-skinny-bastards-part1/), which rarely goes over 10 reps. However it lacks the conditioning of Meatheads.

Seeing as I am basically between these two audiences, Could I just do the Hardgainers program, and add the conditioning to it? Or would it be better to just reduce the reps of Meatheads? Or should I just shut up, and do one of the programs as written?

Don’t how you feel about 5/3/1 but might be worth a look.


Yes, I’ve tried 5/3/1, but had a real hard time with the progressions. As recommended, I started with 90% of my maxes, but Squats and Presses both stalled at the third month! Both times I ran the program! But 5x5 programs worked for me. That’s why I was thinking that 5-10 reps is probably the ideal zone for me.

And so after your squat and press stalled and you took %10 off your training maxes (as the program advises), what happened?

You should probably start at 85% of your 5RM - start slow, hit PR’s. Also, what program did you run? Did you include any FSL’s or Joker sets? I find these help with the progression, but you have to use them intelligently.