T Nation

Need a Sanity Check to Ease my ADHD

Took a break for a couple years, lifts dropped. I’m looking for something sensible, but I need to build a better back. I think my best gains came when I got strong enough to do weighted dips, 5 sets of chinups spread out through the workout twice a week, and 5x10 squat/deadlift. I lost mostly on leg muscles and back, I feel like.

Current lifts:

  • DL: 220 lbs
  • Bench: 185 lbs
  • Squat: 175 lbs
  • Press: 120 lbs

Those aren’t PRs, just something I could do last week for 1 rep (with 2-3 warm up sets).

I’m probably going to do 5s pro with 5x5 FSL, it’s at least what I thought makes sense. I was planning on doing something like 3 sets of around 8-10 reps for accessories and I wanted to get them to 5 sets during the first 2 cycles, then back to 3 and I focus on main lift PRs.

- Chinups
- Facepulls
- DB Incline
- Tri pushdowns
- Abs

- DB rows
- BB Curls
- Dips
- Lat raises
- Hyperextensions

- Chinups
- Facepulls
- Overhead triceps extensions
- Farmer walks a couple times with whatever DBs, I just walk more some days
- Lat pullsdowns (I just do those for a pump, not counting sets/reps)

- If lower back’s not fried, 2 sets of SLDL/Goodmornings
- DB bench press
- DB rows, usually same weight as Deadlift day
- Random chest press for pump, I don’t count reps
- BB curls or hammer curls with DBs, I don’t count reps
- Random leg machine for pump, leg extensions or hamstring curls

If I add something it’s usually some shrugs at the end, if I feel good. Or some facepulls on a day that I’m not doing them normally.

Goal is to regain 85% of my previous lifts, then at that point progress will slow down a little bit most likely. Does this above make sense or do I need to switch things around?

I’m sorry but I’m confused. 5 sets of how many chinups? Because if it’s less than 10 reps per set, throughout an entire workout, twice a week, that’s not very strong, unless you’re an extremely heavy guy. How much do you weigh?

And 5x10 squat/deadlift with how much weight? Again, this may or may not be significant at all. Depends on the weight.

Accessories look good for the most part as far as selection. As far as the days you do them…I’m not sure dips contribute really anything honestly to the deadlift. They’re a good movement for sure but I think you should do them with your press. Jim said in this article:

that they didn’t help his bench (in his opinion) but they helped his press.

And what are lat raises? I’d also do the farmers walks with your squats or deadlifts. Give your lower back and grip a chance to recover on your upper body days. And DB bench on squat day? Again, I’d put this with your bench, or maybe press. And then you have another chest press simply for a pump on your squat day…

I think you’re doing a lot (maybe too much) of pressing and possibly on the wrong days. Maybe wrong isn’t the correct term but I think you’d be better served picking one or two good pressing movements and doing them after your bench and your press. Maybe dips (for higher reps for a pump) & DB press (for strength) after press, and machine press (for higher reps for a pump) & DB bench (for strength) after bench.

And I’d superset your pulling movements with the pressing. Do your face pulls in between sets of bench/press, do chinups in between sets of dips & DB presses, and do rows in between sets of machine presses & DB bench. If you’re not doing at least as much volume on the pulling as you are on the pressing, you’re very likely going to run into shoulder issues at some point. Keep your entire back strong (namely the upper back for this purpose), and your shoulder and upper body lifts will thank you.

Then on your lower body days, you can do your farmers walks and back extensions, maybe after the deadlifts, and your extra leg work maybe after your squats. You can, and should, do something like face pulls daily, as they take nothing out of you and will only help you, and as far as your legs, I think prioritizing hamstring/glute work will probably be more beneficial for joint health and success on the lifts. Not that weak quads are ok - you want strong quads, but even stronger hams/glutes.

It’s not horrible and you don’t need to listen to me, but even out the pressing and pulling (do both vertical pulling - chinups, and do slightly more horizontal pulling - rowing movements, for complete lat development and ideal shoulder health), and do all the really heavy stuff that’ll tax your legs and lower back on the same days so you have days to let those muscles recover fully.

1 Like

I do the dips on the next day (after press), because I’m not as tired, I guess they’re not the most technical thing but I hurt my shoulders more often. Same for DB bench press, I keep the reps lowish (5-8) and it seems easy to f up. I might move them to be with the main pressing lifts for 2 weeks and see how it is.

I’ve done this twice, first time was 5 sets of 3 chinups spread out, then I was going for more reps until I reached 5x10. Second time (after a break) I started at 5x5, when I reached 5x10 reps I started adding a bit of weight, then stopped at some point. Both times had 2 months duration each, by memory.

Squats were 132 lbs (60kg), deadlifts were at about 180 lbs. I was going for 50% of main left, rest was lengthier though, maybe 5 mins but I didn’t track.

I thought I am, but maybe face pulls and DB curls should be just done in addition to 2 main back lifts. This setup was based on 2 pushes, 2 pulls, 1 or 2 abs/legs. 50 reps per group initially and then I scale the sets up.

So it might end up looking like this:


  • Dips
  • DB Bench
  • Chinups
  • DB Rows
  • Abs


  • Overhead triceps extension
  • BB Curls
  • Farmer walks
  • Back extensions
  • Might try cleans before deadlift


  • DB Bench
  • Machine press
  • Chinups
  • DB Rows
  • Should be abs, but traps aren’t used much the next day so might do cleans or shrugs before the bench instead.


  • If lower back’s not fried, 2 sets of SLDL/Goodmornings
  • Triceps pushdown
  • BB curls or hammer curls with DBs, I don’t count reps
  • Farmer walks or shrugs
  • Leg extensions / hamstring curls, I just do those for fun

Squat and Deadlift days still have some pushing, pulling is more than pushing (because I’m still doing face pulls probably most days), there’s some curling because I never curled and now I’m curling like 20 lbs so I do it when no one’s watching.

I’ll see how I feel. Thank you for the input.

Personally, if you’re stuck for time like myself, I’ll superset antagonistic (meaning having an opposite muscle focus from the main lift of the day) assistance in between my warm up sets. For example, do chins in between sets of squats, even if you can only do 1 or 2. Frequent sets will help you in this situation. I went from barely being able to do 5 chin-ups to doing 14. And guess what? My deadlift went up. ALSO: DO 100 BAND PULL-APARTS ON UPPER BODY DAYS AND PLEASE DELOAD EVERY CYCLE. YOU WILL NOT LOSE STRENGTH.

Do dips or pushups in between sets of Deadlift. Make sure you establish a good conditioning base while you use 5/3/1 so you don’t die out at rep 8 during your PR set when you were strong enough to do 13. Supersetting antagonistic assistance work is a good way to accomplish this. You can superset ab work (get a basic ab wheel, I have one and I use it at least 3x/week) in between sets of bench and press. You’ll get stronger really quickly, seeing as how you were a stronger human before you took a layoff. Just stick with the original layout and go for a PR every training session. My deadlift went from 335 x 3 to 295 x 13 in the span of 3 cycles. Good luck, and please don’t quit when it gets hard.

1 Like

Lateral deltoid dumbell raises?

OP - Listen to this man.

I superset everything and it takes a few weeks for your body to adjust, but once it does you can fit in A LOT of work in a little amount of time. I basically do giant and big sets for everything lol

1 Like

This dude also pulls my max for very easy reps. @nighthours, please listen to him if you won’t listen to me.

Wanted to give it a couple workouts before I post, so I can try some stuff.

Tried a bench workout and a squat workout. The bench I superset’ed with chins, 2 sets between main work and 3 sets between the FSL 5x5 ones. I thought my bench would drop but I actually felt pretty good, could be just my body easing into training but we’ll see. Also I bench in a power rack so the chinup bar is right above me, convenient.

The deadlift I superset’ed with dips, it’s taxing me a bit but I’ll give it a try for a few weeks, with slighter higher resting times I could still do same amount of dips anyway (4-5 minutes maybe, total).

Band pull-aparts I think I’ll do at home while stretching, same for ab wheel.I vaguely remember Wendler talking about 100 face pulls as well, so will probably do those in the gym on upper days. Could be just muscles being sore but I can feel the upper back contract, it’s nice. Using same machine for triceps so I’m just supersetting those, it’s early to tell because the weights are smaller, but I don’t feel fatigue.

The back volume will probably be 2 days of rows, 2 days of chins and on days before an off-day I’ll add pullovers or pull downs if feeling good.

If lifts are improving I’ll superset the rows at some point too.

Just wanted to share where I’m at in case someone has similar questions. Also thank you for the insights, really appreciate it.

I’m quite sure he uses face pulls and pull aparts interchangeably. I think most people do. They are quite similar in terms of muscles worked, good sets/reps to use, and effects on the body. I’d go ahead and do 100 face pulls a day, and then do some more pull aparts. Do 100 of each! Daily! It will not hinder progress at all, and will only help keep your shoulders healthy.

And this looks good

Work the back often!

But good luck man and stay strong.

Just wanted to post an update, finished the first 3 weeks.

Didn’t miss days which is important to me until I build a habit.

My upper body lifts actually moved up so fast, the 5x5 and main 3 sets feel like a warm up now. Feels good but also feels bad, like I’m not doing enough.

Deadlift feels quite strong too, I think it’s mostly my grip, it was giving up when I was testing the max 3 weeks ago. TM for this cycle was 185 lbs, I pulled 2 reps of 220 lbs this morning. Not trying to rush it, was just curious if I got strong, I dunno.

Squats were same TM as bench when I started, haven’t moved a lot. :stuck_out_tongue: Kind of disappointed. I slacked on single leg exercises, did abs/back raises and traps only, so I guess I deserve it. Next cycle I’m adding lunges on deadlift day and some goblet squats/front squats on squat day.

I’ve been doing chinups to superset bench and press, made the mistake to do 3-5 sets of 3 the first 2 weeks, didn’t make much progress. Week 3 I went for 30 and 40, as many sets as needed. Will scale to 50 next cycle, then I’ll start reducing the number of sets until I get to 5x10.

Dips I went from 5x3 to 5x15 in 3 weeks, I’ll probably add some weight next cycle. Pretty happy though.

Facepulls I tried 50 reps on Bench and Press days, the first week. Then as someone suggested I dropped the weight and did 100 facepulls each workout. My shoulders look better I think and dips are quite stable. But I’m getting nagging lil aches, so I guess my form turns to shit near the end. Will keep doing those but just 50 per day, might scale later.

Supersetting is amazing.

Gained about 3.5-4 lbs roughly, started at 152 lbs, I was 156 this morning (35 y.o).

Thank you for the help again, just wanted to post an update about what worked.

1 Like

Nice work sticking to it.
Progress slowly is one of the principles of 5/3/1. Jim would also say to focus on bar speed and keep it moving fast. Don’t worry about the weight on the bar.
Awesome job.