I’m 23, 5’9", 120 lbs as of August 16, 2018. I’m from Bangladesh (Southeast Asia). I’m in the last year of my college degree, and I’ve finally decided to start training. I watched a lot of Youtube videos, and I heard of this place from brian_alsruhe. Now I’m here and I’ll be in your care. A lot of guys have already been really nice and helped me out a lot about deciding what program to follow and how to eat well. I want to start this training log to keep track of my progress.
The program I’ve decided to follow is Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 for hardgainers. I love how it looks, and I’m looking forward to the widowmaker sets. I’ll be posting training and eating updates everyday, so that experienced guys with stories to tell can give me advice and keep me motivated along the way.
I do not know my true 1 RM. So calculating the weights for 5/3/1 is a bit confusing. I’ve simply decided to take the empty barbell (45 lbs) as 65% of my training max for all the lifts (Seeing as I can’t go lower than the empty barbell). This makes my training max 69 lbs and my true max 77 lbs. I don’t know if I can actually lift that much, but as this is the lowest possible combination, I’ll go with this. If I feel that this weight is too light, I’ll ask for advice.
I’ve come to understand that I’m too skinny to worry about calories and macros in meticulous detail. I’ve therefore decided to go by Youtuber Alan Thralls saying, “If you’re a skinny man or woman, forget about myfitnesspal. Stop counting calories. Just Eat A Lot.”
For starters, I’ll go with basic good food and aim to do 4 good meals a day. I’ll do beef, chicken and salmon for protein. Rice, potatoes and bread for carbs. And I’ll do a glass of milk with a banana blended in, twice everyday.
My goal is simple. I want to gain weight and become stronger. But coming from an engineering background, I like to put numbers on everything. So I’ll set some quantitative goals as well.
Long term goals will be
200 lbs body-weight, but a flat stomach. I don’t care about seeing my abs, mainly because my girlfriend cringes at the sight of ripped men. (Please don’t assume she’s against me training and gaining muscle. She’s my biggest supporter in my weight gain campaign. She just doesn’t like the ripped look.)
I want to have huge and defined thighs, and I am setting a goal of growing them up to 25 inches. Currently mine are 20.5 inches.
I want a wide and straight back. I usually hunch over when I walk because my back is so weak. I want to straighten out and widen my back.
No particular goal in mind about upper body. I want to grow my arms to match my calves, and chest+shoulders big enough to fill out my shirts.
Short term goals will be
Eat 4 good meals and drink 2 glasses of milk a day for a week
Sleep 8 hours at night for a week
Sign up for a membership at the local barbell gym
Train four days (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday) for a week
Update this thread every night about my meals throughout the day for a week
That’s all for now. Thanks for taking the time to read this
You can use technique bars (curl bars) at the gym to go lower on your bench and squats if the bar is too heavy, and you can do goblet squats for the sub-45 lifts on squat day. The lower you start, the longer you’ll progress. I’m glad you stuck around. Do this right - a lot of us are envious of you despite what you might think, because most of us want to go back and train the right way from the beginning.
Do lots of band pull aparts and face pulls. That’ll help correct your posture. And don’t forget your conditioning. Such an underrated part of 5/3/1.
Sure! I’ve made up my mind. I’ll do this for a long time. And now to the immediate matter at hand. I scouted some gyms around me and finally decided which one I’m gonna join. I’m gonna go and have my first workout in 2 hours. I have some questions.
It says in the program about accessory work that:
Dip, push-up, or dumbbell bench/incline/press (choose one) – 50-100 total reps
Pull-up, row, lat pulldown, inverted row, curl, shrug (choose one) – 50-100 total reps
Any abdominal, low back, single-leg movement, kettlebell swing, kettlebell snatch (choose one) – 50-100 total reps
If I can’t do 50 reps of pushups or other stuff, is it enough to just do as much as I can? Or does it have to at least 50? I can’t do a single pullup (I tried. My back is so weak lol) or dip (I also tried. My arms and chest are super weak too). What can I do?
If you well and truly cant do 50, then yes do what you can. But try your absolute best, and next time youre on that day, try beat that best. 531’s ideology is that every workout is better then the last
Re: pull ups
Has your gym got a lat pull down machine, or an assisted pull up machine? If you cant do a movement, substitute it for an easier movement and work hardto improve that movement until you can do the full thing
Options for pushups: pushups on a wall/bench/your knees. Or if none of those are suitable you COULD do light dumbbells. I’d try for pushups. Even if you don’t do them all at the gym. Two pushups at a time, 25 times a day (only takes a couple seconds), will get you 50.
Options for pull-ups: assisted pull up machine, which allows for a clear progression (its the one machine that as you lower the weight it gets more difficult - since the weight you’re lowering is the weight it’s taking off of your bodyweight). Don’t cheat yourself on the assisted pull-ups. Dead hang to chin over the bar. My wife started on the APU and now she can do 5 dead hang pull-ups. The other option, and one that I’d consider doing 1/5 sets of, is negatives. Jump up with your chin over/at the bar and let yourself down as slowly as you can.
This is just the beginning. Do not underestimate the importance of bodyweight exercises. People in prison get jacked as shit using calisthenics in a dog cage one hour a day, so you can do it too.
Best advice I can give, and it seems like this won’t be a problem, is checking your engineering intuition and proclivities at the door. We’ve had a lot of engineers come through here who just can’t help themselves from overthinking things, and it often leads them to forget the most basic principles that must be in place to achieve success. They get bogged down in the details.
The fundamentals you MUST stick to are: to eat with intention, lift consistently and with intensity, train the compound movements the hardest, and stay healthy. If you do these things, your programming won’t matter much, and bad days won’t affect your long term goals. You have a lot of work ahead of you, but if you stay dedicated over a long period of time, you’ll get what you want. Don’t get impatient, the results will come. As long as your scale weight goes up every month, and you continue to lift heavier weights month after month, you’re doing it right. You may experience daily improvement at first, and that’s great to start, but don’t be discouraged when results slow. It happens to everyone, you just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. As I mentioned in the other thread, it took me 16 years to get where I am since i began, with lots of ups and downs, but it has all been worth it. I’ve loved the journey, and you will too.
Awesome, my Bangladeshi brother. We gotta get in a lift when I’m there. I live in the US however. I’d be interested in knowing what city you’re located and which barbell gym you’re going to. My parents wouldn’t let me leave the house in Dhaka during the strikes, and the gym I had access to in Rangpur wasn’t good so I decided to just deload haha.
Great clearly listed goals and action plan. With an engineering background as well, looks like you got a future in project management.
But I agree with the checking engineering intuition at the door. You gotta be flexible with things and may have to re-adjust stuff here and there. But at this point, you’re bound to make super newbie gains.
For your goal of having a straight back, lat pulldowns, face pulls, and band pull aparts should really help. I work a desk job and that can contribute to a hunched over posture, so make sure you take some time throughout the day to stand. My desk happens to have a standing option, so see if you can arrange for that at home.
face pulls are magical. I do these ALL the time. At the end of most workouts, in the 15+ rep range, just for overall shoulder health and posture. Band pull aparts are probably great too, just not a thing that I generally do.
Main lift- Overhead Press (Couldn’t wait to get started. Would have liked to start with a squat workout but Squats are on Mondays. Didn’t want to wait for Monday so I started on Friday)
Agile 8 (Used a pvc pipe, no one knows what a foam roller might be in Dhaka.), 5 mins airbike
45 x 5 (First time I touched 45, I knew this thing won’t be going up 55 times today)
52.5 x 0 (Couldn’t get it overhead, didn’t count as a set)
45 x 5 (Thought I’d just go with this, and ask for advice later)
45 x 3 (The third one took a year to go up. I knew not another one was in me with 45)
22 x 10 x 5 (I know, so weak)
Lat Pull down: 60 reps
Pushup: 20 reps
Incline DB Press: (5 lbs in each hand) x 5 x 10
Ran Home: 10 mins (There is not one Sled/Prowler in my country. I’ll have to weld one up in my Garage)
Breakfast- Pasta (Leftover from last night), Rice, Shrimp Curry, 1 glass of milk
Brunch- 1 banana, Beef Curry, 1 glass of Lemonade
Lunch- Rice, beef (A lot of it. I never ate that much beef in one sitting before), eggs, mashed potatoes, Green Veggies
Post Workout- a glass of milk, 1 banana (nothing serious, so I didn’t bother with blending)
Dinner- Rice, Salmon, Green Veggies, mashed potatoes
Asking for Advice
What should I do with OHP? If I take 45 as 65%, I won’t be getting 5/3/1 done any time soon. Should I start lighter or should I keep pushing sets of 45 until I’m strong enough to do 45 x 5, 52.5 x 5, 60 x 5, 45 x 10 x 5?
Thanks, I’ll keep this in mind. Added it to the stuff I read everyday after I wake up as a routine.
Dang bro! Thought you were a malay from that username! I’m in Dhaka. And I found the best place near my home. It’s called the Big Barbell Gym. Look it up on google maps, it’s in Mohammadpur. The place is great, just doesn’t have a sled. No one does in Bangladesh so no worries. And sure, when you come around we can lift together.
Thanks, And yes I’ll keep that in mind.
Hmm, it seems I have quite a bit of welding and grinding to do in the near future.
I think most gyms don’t have sleds/prowlers, but you can always do loaded carries:
Grab two heavy ass dumbbells and walk around with em
Bearhug a plate or two and walk around with them
If you have a loading pin, put plates on that and walk around with it.
You can also do KB swings for cardio/conditioning, or swing a dumbbell if you don’t have access to kettlebells.
Maybe try these things for cardio too:
Either dumbells or straight sets of 45. I’d prefer to do straight sets of 45, and add weight over time. No rush.
@amit_hasan I figured I would drop a little tip that might help you when you might be finding it hard to take in enough calories for training and general recovery. Since you mentioned on your other thread that at times you find it hard to eat large meals or just suffer from lack of a appetite. As simple as this may sound , learn to eat fast. That way you will be able to ingest a large amount of calories ( when needed) before your brain can get the signal that you are actually full.
Main lift- Squats (Finally…!)
Bodyweight x 2 x 10 (for warmup)
45 x 5 (Felt way lighter than last time I held it)
52.5 x 5 (Felt good)
60 x 12 (Was a PR set)
45 x 20 (Widowmaker Set. I loved fight)
Lat Pull downs- 30 reps
Face pulls- 30 reps
Push ups- 20 reps
DB incline- 40 reps
Barbell Lunges- 6 reps (Why does this feel WAAYY harder than squats? I thought I could knock out 20 reps easily but when I actually tried… Well, I got only 6)
Cool down- Ran Home- 10 mins
Breakfast- Pasta, Meatballs, Eggs
Brunch- Milk, Banana, Honey
Lunch- Rice, Beef, Veggies
Post Workout- Milk, Banana
Second lunch- Rice, Salmon, Veggies (I was hungry even after the post workout, so I decided to knock out a second lunch)
Dinner- Will eat later