T Nation

Modifying 5x5 Schedule Questions


#1

As a beginner, more or less, I've decided to go for strength as a means to achieving several ends (aging well, looking better naked, moving furniture, whatever). I've spent a lot of time reading, throwing weights around, setting up a home gym, etc. I've learned a lot and decided to get seriously started with something like StrongLifts 5x5.

I like this program a lot primarily for its simplicity. If I could, I'd follow it exactly as Mehdi prescribes just to make it as easy on myself as possible starting out.

Unfortunately, I can't consistently work out MWF, or any other 3 days per week, because I'm an airline pilot and my schedule is an ever-changing roller coaster. I frequently have a lot of time off and could follow the routine no problem, but other times I'm working my arse off for several weeks at a time.

A typical scenario is 4 days flying, 3 days off. I might be able to work out on the first work day before reporting at the airport. I'd go to work, rest the next 3 days while flying my trip, and probably get home too late/exhausted to work out on day 4.

So whether I work out on the first day of a trip or not, I'll only have 3 or 4 consecutive days per week to work out when I'm really busy. With a rest day between workouts, that's just 2 workouts per week. I can sometimes find a decent gym on the road, but I can't count on it (or on my schedule leaving me time to use one if I do find it).

So, like it or not, I'm going to have less frequency and more recovery time than what Mehdi and most other 5x5 gurus prescribe. If I'm following StrongLifts as published and I know I'm coming up on a long, job-induced recovery period, would it make sense to increase my weights more than the 5 lbs called for by the program since there's no threat that I'd be over-training (plenty of recovery time)?

Would this provide any compensation for not working out as often as the program prescribes when the job gets in the way? Are there any other/better adjustments I could make to suit my inconvenient schedule? Are there any other programs that might be a better fit altogether? Please help, and thanks!


#2

I tried A/B back to back once, and I found I didn’t recuperate enough. But that was me.

Where you are staying on the road, no gyms available? In the hotel? Down the street? Hotel next door? What I’m trying to get across is that when you make your work out a priority, you find the time, you find the place and you get it done.

Apart from that, I just continue from the last day and follow the program and see where it takes me. I base my decision on the day, not how I think my body might react to a work out down the road.


#3

[quote]JFG wrote:
I tried A/B back to back once, and I found I didn’t recuperate enough. But that was me.

Where you are staying on the road, no gyms available? In the hotel? Down the street? Hotel next door? What I’m trying to get across is that when you make your work out a priority, you find the time, you find the place and you get it done.

Apart from that, I just continue from the last day and follow the program and see where it takes me. I base my decision on the day, not how I think my body might react to a work out down the road. [/quote]

Yeah, I don’t think I could handle back to back - gotta have that rest day in between. But adding more than the recommended weight followed by more than the recommended rest seems like a theoretically reasonable approach and I may just try it and see what happens. And it does make sense to see how I’m feeling that day like you said. I’m just eager to get going and frustrated that my job gets in the way so much of the time.

As I mentioned, sometimes I can find a decent gym on the road. Most hotel gyms don’t have enough weights, if any, and they’re always dumbbells - I’ve never seen bars on racks. Occasionally I’ll have access to a real gym in the area, but it’s hit and miss and my layovers are often too short - meaning I have to choose between getting adequate rest or working out, but I can’t do both. In that case, rest is the priority both for flight safety and personal health and wellbeing. Not to be a pussy, but fatigue really is a big deal in my line of work.

But yes, I do hit the gym whenever it’s at all feasible on the road and always when I’m home. The problem is it’s still not going to be enough to really follow 5x5 during the busy times at work. I’m just trying to be proactive in facing that reality and come up with a workable solution rather than setting myself up for failure from the start.


#4

Instead of trying to modify an existing program why not use a program that is only 2 days a week and still has a strength focus. The progress would be slower but alot less stress than trying to fit in 3 days if you can’t due to work and other commitments. I use the 5/3/1 2 day a week template sometimes instead of the 3 or 4 and have found that I have still made slow but steady progress.

or this program from Dan John

Obviously the weight listed might need to be changed on the second program.


#5

[quote]Camm wrote:
Instead of trying to modify an existing program why not use a program that is only 2 days a week and still has a strength focus. The progress would be slower but alot less stress than trying to fit in 3 days if you can’t due to work and other commitments. I use the 5/3/1 2 day a week template sometimes instead of the 3 or 4 and have found that I have still made slow but steady progress.

or this program from Dan John

Obviously the weight listed might need to be changed on the second program.[/quote]

Thanks - I just briefly scanned these but they definitely look promising so far.

…I just looked a little closer at the first program. I like his idea of creating a ‘C’ workout but, instead of making it extra/optional, I think maybe I’ll create a C workout to use when I can’t do A and B, but press on with A and B and not waste my time with C if I don’t have to.

As I explained above, there are often fairly long stretches of time when I’ll be able to follow StrongLifts to the letter. I wouldn’t want to do a slower program during those times because I’d be missing out on potential gains. The purpose of C, then, would be to prevent the loss of those gains while I’m on the road.

I guess it’s not that complicated after all. But I think I also have to accept the fact that being on the road is going to slow me down a little whether I like it or not. That might be just as well since I’m almost 40 (-:


#6

[quote]SpatialD wrote:

[quote]Camm wrote:
Instead of trying to modify an existing program why not use a program that is only 2 days a week and still has a strength focus. The progress would be slower but alot less stress than trying to fit in 3 days if you can’t due to work and other commitments. I use the 5/3/1 2 day a week template sometimes instead of the 3 or 4 and have found that I have still made slow but steady progress.

or this program from Dan John

Obviously the weight listed might need to be changed on the second program.[/quote]

Thanks - I just briefly scanned these but they definitely look promising so far.

…I just looked a little closer at the first program. I like his idea of creating a ‘C’ workout but, instead of making it extra/optional, I think maybe I’ll create a C workout to use when I can’t do A and B, but press on with A and B and not waste my time with C if I don’t have to.

As I explained above, there are often fairly long stretches of time when I’ll be able to follow StrongLifts to the letter. I wouldn’t want to do a slower program during those times because I’d be missing out on potential gains. The purpose of C, then, would be to prevent the loss of those gains while I’m on the road.

I guess it’s not that complicated after all. But I think I also have to accept the fact that being on the road is going to slow me down a little whether I like it or not. That might be just as well since I’m almost 40 (-:[/quote]

Plazma. Im 47 and that stuff is nothing short of amazing.


#7

[quote]SpatialD wrote:

[quote]Camm wrote:
Instead of trying to modify an existing program why not use a program that is only 2 days a week and still has a strength focus. The progress would be slower but alot less stress than trying to fit in 3 days if you can’t due to work and other commitments. I use the 5/3/1 2 day a week template sometimes instead of the 3 or 4 and have found that I have still made slow but steady progress.

or this program from Dan John

Obviously the weight listed might need to be changed on the second program.[/quote]

Thanks - I just briefly scanned these but they definitely look promising so far.

…I just looked a little closer at the first program. I like his idea of creating a ‘C’ workout but, instead of making it extra/optional, I think maybe I’ll create a C workout to use when I can’t do A and B, but press on with A and B and not waste my time with C if I don’t have to.

As I explained above, there are often fairly long stretches of time when I’ll be able to follow StrongLifts to the letter. I wouldn’t want to do a slower program during those times because I’d be missing out on potential gains. The purpose of C, then, would be to prevent the loss of those gains while I’m on the road.

I guess it’s not that complicated after all. But I think I also have to accept the fact that being on the road is going to slow me down a little whether I like it or not. That might be just as well since I’m almost 40 (-:[/quote]

Occasionally doing two workouts a week instead of three won’t destroy the program - or your progress. 5x5 is actually pretty good for this since the A/B/A scheme means you will never miss a ‘monday’ workout, so to speak.


#8

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:

[quote]SpatialD wrote:

[quote]Camm wrote:
Instead of trying to modify an existing program why not use a program that is only 2 days a week and still has a strength focus. The progress would be slower but alot less stress than trying to fit in 3 days if you can’t due to work and other commitments. I use the 5/3/1 2 day a week template sometimes instead of the 3 or 4 and have found that I have still made slow but steady progress.

or this program from Dan John

Obviously the weight listed might need to be changed on the second program.[/quote]

Thanks - I just briefly scanned these but they definitely look promising so far.

…I just looked a little closer at the first program. I like his idea of creating a ‘C’ workout but, instead of making it extra/optional, I think maybe I’ll create a C workout to use when I can’t do A and B, but press on with A and B and not waste my time with C if I don’t have to.

As I explained above, there are often fairly long stretches of time when I’ll be able to follow StrongLifts to the letter. I wouldn’t want to do a slower program during those times because I’d be missing out on potential gains. The purpose of C, then, would be to prevent the loss of those gains while I’m on the road.

I guess it’s not that complicated after all. But I think I also have to accept the fact that being on the road is going to slow me down a little whether I like it or not. That might be just as well since I’m almost 40 (-:[/quote]

Occasionally doing two workouts a week instead of three won’t destroy the program - or your progress. 5x5 is actually pretty good for this since the A/B/A scheme means you will never miss a ‘monday’ workout, so to speak.[/quote]

Absolutely,

My problem was squatting two days in a row (in the SL 5x5 program or SS), it killed my knees.

So, choosing an actual A/B/A, where B doesn’t do have a squat, MIGHT (I did say might) be more beneficial?!


#9

In the work I’ve been doing so far I seem to handle squats okay and I think if I progress gradually enough I’ll be able to keep up. Plus, the more I read and think about it, the more I like the idea of switching to a C workout and doing something altogether different (but supportive) while I’m on the road. That’s more recovery time, plus supplemental work to round the overall program out a bit. I think the key is to keep going with something when it would be so easy to hang out at the hotel bar instead! I really think there’s potential to make my job limitations work to enhance SL 5x5 rather than mess it all up. I’m still learning but it’s starting to come together. Thanks for all the replies.