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My Young Brother In Law Needs To Get Strong

Jim -

Wanted to pick your brain (and other members here too) about something because I’m wanting my brother in law to use 5/3/1 to reach his goals but because of the way he thinks I think he’s overcomplicating it. He will be a sophomore in HS starting in August.

If you had a use 5/3/1 to take a beginner (5’9, 124lbs) to get to a point where they were “strong” (lets say 405 deadlift, 405 squat, 315 bench, 185-205 strict press) what templates would you use over the course of the years (lets say 2-3 years) to help get them to that goal?

He’s already lean and plays basketball 3x a week. He’s naturally athletic, jump high and the whole thing, but his upper strength is abysmal.

Any advice or insight would be appreciated. I want to help him reach his goals using 5/3/1.

I think a lot of it depends on how true beginner you mean. At 5’9” and 125, that’s a lot of ground work needed to be done. A lot of goblet squats, rows, and the big four done weekly for a while.

Template wise, I’d say Krypteia. Everything of Jim’s I’ve listened to and read since forever has been around leads me to think Krypteia would be the move. Interested in what the man himself has to say though.


So he’s a beginner in the weight room. This is what he can do currently:

Squat - 155 for 3 sets of 10
Deadlift - 205 for 3 sets of 6
Bench Press - 115 for 3 sets of 6
OH Press - 95 for 3 sets of 5
Chin-Ups - 3 sets of 8
BB Row - 115 for 3 sets of 8

I know he has to lift and eat for quite some time lol. I was leaning towards Kryptera, Beginners or one of the full body templates in forever.

I tried to get him to use double progression for now, but he’s a math whiz so he loves the percentages in 5/3/1. But he’s the type of person he wants to map out a plan for 1 year so he can just get after it. I never think about 1 year from now when it comes to lifting lol, so figured I’d ask to see what others think.

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The 5/3/1 beginner school program is probably the best for training without much thought for an year.

What about Beyond 1.1-1.4? I think that’s like 6 months of training explicitly laid out and will definitely work.

You are kind of asking the wrong question here. It’s not what I would do - rather it is what you feel comfortable coaching (and what he feels/believes in). You can’t coach what you don’t know/understand. The number one rule of coaching: Coach what you know.

We use versions of the Krypteia program and are constantly updating, refining and tweaking. Always looking for an edge to make it even more simple, easy and to take less time. As long as you follow principles, you’ll be fine.

Is he on a competitive team of some kind, and is his main focus basketball? If that is the case then its probably a good idea to manage expectations of how much progress he is likely to make in the weight room if most of his time an energy should be building his skills on the court. If he just does it for fun then definitely go over how important its going to be to make sure to eat enough to accommodate all the activity he is going to be doing.

I think managing expectations is important again here. I don’t think you should put it in his head that 400lb lift somehow magically means he is “strong”. Maybe it would be better to set goals of relative strength (ie. 2.5 x bw deadlift, 2 x bw squat, 1.5 x bench, bw press) rather than exclusively bar weight goals. If he ends up blowing this stuff out of the water great, but it will be easier to get him to buy in later down the road if he learns how to set goals with different metrics rather than glorify a certain number. I think this is especially important with the bench, just judging by his current size it could take a lot longer than two years to get his bench press over 300lbs, especially if he has other athletic commitments.

What I recently did with a friend of mine who started lifting is after he finished up Starting Strength, I just recommended he run the Original 5/3/1 program doing 1 lift a day 3 days a week for several cycles. This works good cuz its probably the simplest form of 5/3/1 and lets the user play with assistance to see how their recovery works, but they are always motivated to hit new PR’s since they are a new lifter and they progress so quickly. Now he is at the point where he can probably move over to 5’s Pro with some supplemental work to make better progress, but he has the principles down and has bought into the program.

Honestly, being a sophomore, just getting him in the weight room is a start. Start him on the super basics. At that age he’ll grow regardless as long as he’s working out and sticking with it. Is being “strong” one of his goals or yours? Same with a 400+ lift. Id say make sure your on the same page as each other.