Newb, Skinny Guy Looking to Start 5/3/1. Looking for the BASICS

Yep…I’m that far behind that I just read this book from 2008 yesterday. :slight_smile:

46 y/o male. I’ve been lifting regular for about 5 years; prior was an endurance sport guy…so my strength has a lot to be desired.

My plan is to do the 5/3/1 BBB plan- So as I understand it I do SQUAT, BENCH,DEADLIFT, PRESS each once a week, and with the BBB component, after I finish my main set, I do that move at the BBB % 5x10, and then do one more assistance move. Do I have this correct so far?

I also see conditioning and Ab work in the book. If I take a piece of the NOV work and add Sled, or Hill Sprints, do I add those to my 4 training days or do them on days off AS LONG AS I DON’T DO LEG CONDITIONING BEFORE LEG DAYS? Where do I add the Ab work?

Overall I assume it would be most advisable to start with the most simple 5/3/1 for a few months before venturing into 5/3/1 Beyond or Forever…but I am 100% open to the advice of those who have had success with these programs.

Hit me with what you have to share, and thank you!


Welcome to the 531 life.


You can do as you like. Wendler recomends doing them after the gym, so you can have full rest days off. I do one day gym, one day conditioning, so my training week is 8-9 days, if i decide to take a full rest day somewhere.

The original program suggests it as an assistance. You have push assistance, pull assistance, abs and single leg assistance after the main and supplemental work.
I used to do abs in leg days. Nowdays i just do abs in conditioning days as i like to do bodyweight exercise circuits and different HIT workouts which all include abwork.

Thank you! I’m excited for this changeup.

I always want to work more days than not, but I wonder it I would benefit more from having a full day of rest? I can’t do massive lifts…hell, I can’t even do big lifts so I don’t know how much recovery I do or don’t need so I guess I’ll start by listening to him and taking the full off days and doing conditioning on gym days.

I’m a little confused about Assistance beyond the BBB set. Can you help me with some suggestions/examples.

For example: Bench day I do my main sets, and then my BBB 5x10. What is a good assistance to do? My bench is my biggest weakness; it’s total shite. So yesterday I did dips after main set and BBB. Do I want to do a pull for my assistance on a bench day, or do I do more chest? I think that’s what really confuses me.

Thanks again!

If you Google “Boring but big beefcake training”, you will find an article on Jim Wendler’s site that lays everything out very explicitly for you.

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If you go by the original program you do push/pull/abs/single leg every training. Since i cant tolerate high volume, i do push/pull assistance of upper body days and abs/legs on lower.
On bench day my assistance push is weighted dips and my pull is pulldowns.
On OHP day my push is close grip paused bench, and pull is rows.
On DL days my assistance is lunges.
On Squat days its good mornings.
You can do any exercises you like, different angles, barbells, dumbbells, machines. I believe there are some exercises listed in the books also which Wendler preffers but it doesnt matter too much.

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Follow up question:


Bench Press
Bench press 5x10/rows 5x10

for the last part, am I supersetting the bench and rows? Am I choosing one or the other? Sorry about the confusion.


You are doing both.
You can do superset or no. I dont like supersets as i feel like im doing cardio instead of strenght. The 5x10 is also not set in stone, you can do 3x12 or whatever also.

I’d superset to save time. Sounds like Hank wouldn’t. Either approach works.

Edit: Missed your other question. You’re doing both.

I’m the same age as you, with background in distance running and Army-focused calisthenics for the most part. I’ve been doing 5/3/1 for a few years now, and also have run Doug Hepburn type training with 5/3/1 principles with good results. BBB is great and it’s also a lot of fun trying other templates. I had good results with alternate lifts on BBB as well, where you BBB overhead press on bench days, DL on squat days, etc. As far as leg conditioning, it works well on upper body days or on it’s own day, but not before lower body lifts as you mentioned. At my age, I almost never regret adding an extra rest day when I feel I need it. Typically I run an 8-9 day training week, and lift roughly every other day.