T Nation

My 5/3/1 @ 38 Years Old


#1

I’d like some feedback on my current training. I’m not new to 5/3/1 and have both the 2nd Edition and Beyond books. My family and I have recently moved and all of my weights and rack are in storage while my house is being built. For now I’m at a local gym which gives me access to more options than my home gym (probably bad) in my training. I do not compete, I just like being big and strong and look good naked. One thing I’ve been trying to do is avoid gaining too much fat while eating a shit ton - and for me that shit ton is about 3000-3200 calories a day, clean (but tasty!).

6 feet tall, 221 pounds, 13-14% bf.

Goal is to get stronger and stay lean or even get leaner through volume, not sacrificing performance for a rabbit diet.

Recently tested maxes (last week during my deload - I just felt really good during the deload so I did the high-intensity deload from Beyond 5/3/1 and joker set my way to these maxes instead of stopping at TM). I could have pushed these, but I was satisfied with the numbers as they were at or near my expectations.

Squat 470 lbs.
Bench 320 lbs.
Dead Lift 510 lbs.
Press 210 lbs.

Current injuries: some shoulder impingement that’s nagging, tendonitis in one knee; slight quadriceps strain in opposite leg, probably a compensation injury. All things that I take into account with my training; but these are par for the course at my age (I think) and lifting for 15 years, at very consistent for the past 6.

I set my training maxes to about 80-85% of tested max.

Training Split:

Sunday Hill Sprints
Monday Press
Tuesday Dead Lift
Wednesday Hill Sprints
Thursday Bench
Friday Off
Saturday Squat

I walk 2 miles every morning - some weeks less consistent than others, but I try to get at least 3, 2 mile walks a week at a brisk (like I’ve got somewhere to be in a hurry) pace. Hill sprints are about 50 yards and I do 10 of them, rest is simply the walk back down the hill. This is what seems to kill my knee/quad so I may swap this out for freestyle swimming sprints - not as effective as hill sprints, but less taxing on the quad/knee.

Quick note: my arms are quite strong in relationship to my chest, so you’ll see a lot of chest exercises as this to me is a weakness.

Press Day 5/3/1 rep maxes + LSF AMRAP superset w/ chin-ups on warm ups and main work
SST Close Grip Bench superset w/ chin-ups
Bench 5x10 BBB@50% superset with Dumbbell Rows
Dips superset with barbell curls 2-3 sets of 10-20 each
Triceps Rope Pressdown 3 x 15-20
Rear Delt Bent over Row 3 x 15-20

Deadlift Day 5/3/1 rep maxes + LSF AMRAP superset with band pull-aparts on warm ups and main work
SST Front Squat / band pull-aparts
Squat 5x10 BBB@50%
Bulgarian Split Squat w/ Body weight for 100 reps (50 per leg)
Hanging Leg Raise 5x10

Bench Day 5/3/1/ rep maxes + LSF AMRAP superset with pull ups on warm ups and main work
SST Incline Press / super set with pull ups
Press 5x10 BBB@50% super set with Barbell Rows or T bar Rows
Incline Dumbbell Press 3x10
Lateral Raise 3x10 superset with Incline Dumbbell Curl
Face Pulls for 100-120 reps (4-5 sets)

Squat Day 5/3/1 rep maxes + LSF AMRAP w/ band pull aparts
SST RDL superset w/ band pull aparts
Dead Lift 5x10 BBB@50% super set with ab wheel
Hyperextensions 2-3 dropsets to failure

I’m sure the first recommendation is going to be do BBB or the SST, not both, or lower one of the two volumes, perhaps to the 5’s progression? Or stick with what I’m doing now since recovery doesn’t seem to be a problem? My weight hasn’t budged and I’m in my second cycle of the above template. Instead of going for 6 weeks, I deloaded on week 4. This cycle I plan to go 3 weeks, up my TM and go another 3 weeks before deload.


#2

I may have missed it, but why are you combining templates?


#3

When you say “My weight hasn’t budged and I’m in my second cycle of the above template” are you saying your bodyweight or “strength weight” hasn’t budged?

I personally think you have too much volume and would say not to mix templates in the way you have, you also noted some tweaks and minor injuries, I would not say that’s par for the course at your age but may be a result of your programming


#4

To add volume. My chest is a weakness so I wanted to include incline presses and close grip bench. I also think my quads are weaker than my hamstrings, so I wanted to include front squats; this is all while trying to add size using BBB. I find the 50% BBB sets super light - like 150 pound bench 5x10 I can superset with 100 pound dumbbell rows without giving it a thought. Or squatting 205 5x10 is also super easy for me, so I add the SST template to BBB - which is simply 3 more sets in the 5-10 rep range of a similar exercise at a different angle.


#5

body weight hasn’t budged, not strength weight.


#6

But you mentioned shoulder impingement so I’d caution against adding any more volume to that area with presses and just do what’s required. If you absolutely have to focus on the chest as a weakness move to flat dumbbell press (palms facing in) or weighted dips positioning emphasis for the chest as opposed to more barbell work would be my suggestion.

Just my opinion, but personally I think you may be over-analyzing what muscles are weaker/stronger versus working towards moving the weight on the main lifts.


#7

thanks - makes sense. I should also state that I took a good few months off from doing a lot of heavy pressing and was doing lighter volume work to get the kinks out; I even took out OHP for 2+ months altogether. So my first cycle last month was the start of trying to incorporate more pressing to see if the hiatus cleared up any issues. My dips are chest focused (wide/forward lean, feet out in front, not behind).

I think my opinion on what muscle is a weak point via mirror. My chest just seems underdeveloped visually compared with my arms/shoulders and upper back. Although aesthetics are not the goal of 5/3/1, symmetry/balance is.

The shoulder impingement I’ve had since I was 19 years old from being a pitcher with poor coaching - no matter how long a hiatus I take it always seems to start hurting again, even if I use a football bar or neutral grip dumbbell pressing. Like Jim, I too will probably bite the bullet and get it fixed surgically some day when I get tired of the pain and follow his routine that he once outlined after shoulder surgery.


#8

If you’ve read this forum or Jim’s site, you know this kind of thing is generally seen as a terrible idea.

If you want to do it anyway, you’re staking off on your own, and you’ll just have to be your own scientist, record, measure and draw your own conclusions.

One thing I will say in general, though, is that I don’t really get the point of using a programming philosophy as the backbone of your training, and then violating important rules of that philosophy to make the training look the way you want it to look. If you know enough to make big decisions about volume/frequency/intensity that clash with the philosophy you’re using, you know enough to have your own training philosophy. In other words, I’d just design the training to look the way you want it to rather than using 5/3/1 to structure aspects of it while violating numerous important principles of the program.

Just my .02. The best thing about training is that it is a voluntary activity and so we are all free to do whatever the hell we want.


#9

One other thought, you could also try to get more volume through bodyweight pushups as opposed to the barbell, especially if aesthetics is a goal, good luck


#10

Are you referring to “a terrible idea” as combining SST with BBB? If so, that may be a valid point. I’ve looked at the SST as an additional strength template and BBB as a hypertrophy template.

The reason I posted here was to get feedback on my routine - and the consensus is I’m doing too much, but I don’t know how you think I’m violating any of the principles? Do you think I should do either SST or BBB is enough or do you believe the rest of my accessory work is too high in volume as well? Do you think doing rep maxes and LSF AMRAP + BBB@50% (template 2) shouldn’t be combined?


#11

Do one for a couple cycles. Then do the other for a couple cycles.


#12

This is pretty impressive. Not trying to be rude but if these are your stats why are you asking people on the internet who are probably no where near advanced as your their opinion? Seems to me you have it pretty figured out.


#13

I’ve been lifting a while but I don’t know everything. I don’t have a training partner and typically lift solo in my basement - for now I’m at a local gym and to be honest my recently tested maxes are slightly lower than they were 6 months ago (like my bench was 345 and squat was 475), but that’s because I deviated from 5/3/1 at the end of 2015 for a couple tries at the conjugate method, and then after that I went into pure volume training without really pressing/squatting too heavy. When I looked at my routine on paper I asked myself if this was too much and perhaps I should take the less is more approach; before changing my mind on my own, I wanted to get a consensus. The inner volume junky is pulling me in one direction, but the other part of me wants a 550 pound deadlift and 500 pound squat (and a 350 pound bench). Like in another forum thread here, I cheated on 5/3/1, but now I’m back (this program/principles always call me back).


#14

No worries man. It just seems like your stats are such that you don’t need reassurance. I think recovery varies so much between people its crazy. I train what many would consider very high volume, but for me I recover just fine. If you want to really follow 5-3-1 and its principles for certain don’t mix templates.


#15

I would pick one scheme for the main work and one for supplemental. E.g., 5s Pro + 5x5xSSL, or Spinal Tap + 3x5xFSL (or anything that makes sense to you in light of your goals/ideas about how much volume you need).

Since we’re listing qualifications now, I lift a lot more and weigh a lot less. But as that guy said, you’ve made enough progress to have some faith in your judgment at this point. If you think you need the extra work, do it. My point was that you would probably do better to come up with your own programming (loading patterns, progressions, etc.) than trying to jam 3 different 5/3/1 programs, each meant to be used alone, into one program.


#16

My plan is to take out SST for now, except on deadlift day where I plan to keep pushing front squats and Bulgarian split squats; I suck at these two lifts, so I don’t want to stop doing them until I don’t suck anymore at them (Westside mentality). I get it, looking at my plan I’m doing OHP 5/3/1 and then 5 sets of benching, 3 sets of close grip benching, and 3 sets of chest dips, then 3 sets of triceps press downs, then bitching about my shoulder hurting. Same on bench day, I included some incline dumbbell pressing and barbell incline pressing and heavy benching… So during the week I’m doing 7 chest exercises; not really smart with a nagging shoulder. Too much overlap.

I’ll probably mix up the BBB bench set with setup, bar path, grip width and speed for more pec “feel” to address what I believe is a weak point - unless that sounds stupid too?

As for my stats and not needing reassurance - that’s only in the eyes of the beholder. I’ve been stuck at a 500 pound deadlift for 2 years; honestly, all my maxes are pretty much stalled right where they stalled the last time I tested them; of course, I’m to blame for that. 5/3/1 didn’t stop working, I simply didn’t eat for what it took to progress further, and I know that. The difference between my recent tested maxes and previous is that I’m 10 pounds heavier than I was a year ago but stayed at the same leanness. Now that I’ve found the right amount of calories to gain weight without getting fat I’m excited to push my numbers again - hence this post about my routine and getting feedback about the volume and intensity I’m programming.


#17

That’s another good point - qualifications noted. I know a guy in the 199 weight class (or w/e it is now) that can bench 385 (he’s also 25, not 38), so yea, at my weight I expect I should be stronger, hence trying to figure out the right intensity and volume. The reason I’ve selected a few templates to base my programming off of was for simplicity; there’s something comforting knowing what weight and how many reps I’m going to perform before I go to the gym. I tried at one point to come up with my own programming using the Westside method and while my squat went up quickly (like 50 pounds in 4 months), my bench suffered/stalled.

Going to drop SST for now (except front squats on DL day), keep rep maxes + LSF AMRAP as the main work, and use BBB for assistance work; remove incline dumbbell presses, but keep dips.

Routine Adjustments:

Press Day 5/3/1 rep maxes + LSF AMRAP superset w/ chin-ups on warm ups and main work
Bench 5x10 BBB@50% superset with Dumbbell Rows
Dips superset with barbell curls 2-3 sets of 10-20 each
Rear Delts (bent over row, chest supported rear delt raise, etc…) Row 3 x 15-20

Deadlift Day 5/3/1 rep maxes + LSF AMRAP superset with band pull-aparts on warm ups and main work
Front Squat 3x5-10 reps
Squat 5x10 BBB@50%
Bulgarian Split Squat w/ Body weight for 100 reps (50 per leg)
Hanging Leg Raise 5x10+

Bench Day 5/3/1/ rep maxes + LSF AMRAP superset with pull ups on warm ups and main work
Press 5x10 BBB@50% super set with Barbell Rows or T bar Rows
Lateral Raise 3x10 superset with Incline Dumbbell Curl
Face Pulls for 100 reps (4-5 sets)

Squat Day 5/3/1 rep maxes + LSF AMRAP w/ band pull aparts
Dead Lift 5x10 BBB@50% super set with ab wheel
Hyperextensions 2-3 dropsets to failure

Edit: I just noticed I was typing SSS (singles, speed, size) instead of SST (simple strength template) this whole time which probably confused some. I went back and corrected myself accordingly.