T Nation

Newbie Workout Critique


Hi Guys,

I've just started lifting and need some help in designing a program. I'm 27 and weigh about 165. I've never lifted weights before but I practice brazilian jiu-jitsu and want to get stronger and in better condition. Here is the program I'm thinking of trying out:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

squats 5x5
deadlift 5x5
chinups 5x5
bench Press 5x5
standing Military Press 5x5

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday,
jiu-jitsu practice


For the weight routines would it be better to swap dips for the bench?

Also any general feed back or recommendations would be appreciated.

Thanks for your time,


it doesn't look bad to me.

dips are great and could substitute for bench. but if you choose to do that make sure you are using a chain belt and adding weight as you progress.

that also goes for your chin ups. make sure you are using a chain belt and adding weight if the 5x5 program isn't challenging enough.

it seems as though you don't have much time and are trying to be as efficient as possible in the gym.

if that is not the case i would suggest breaking up your routine so that you are deadlifting and squatting only once or twice at the most per week.

I'm expecting a lot of people to tell you it isn't good to perform such taxing exercises 3 times a week but you aren't doing much else and the body is great at adapting. Go for it and listen to what your body tells you.

let us know your experience.
Good luck


Well, you've got a great exercise selection. I think I would agree that a lot of people would tell you that doing all those movements 5x5, 3x a week might be a little excessive. I guess I might try to break it up so I wasn't doing squats and deadlifts on the same day. Also, I would try to avoid doing chins following deadlifts, as in my experience, that will severely decrease your performance on the chins

Maybe you could break it up so one day you'd be doing squats, bench, and chins, and the other day would be deadlifts, mil press, and ab work. You could also throw in an Oly-style movement on each day, although you'd probably want someone to help you with good technique since you're just starting out.

I think a good article for you to look through would be one called Money Exercises. Thib's got some good advice in there for training for sports, and there's a sample program.


I understand that you're trying to go for simplicity here. However, the push/pull ratio concerns me.

30 sets a week pressing

15 sets of chins is all of your pulling

Not only is the ratio off, you have nothing in the horizantal plane for your back.

Maybe add rows?

Also, I'm not an expert in this by any means but I'm doing TBT right now and the variations in sets/reps seem to do my body a lot of good. There is nothing wrong with 5x5 but other schemes might benefit you.


Well, he does have deadlifts in there, and those will give the upper back a healthy workout as well.


Thanks for the quick feedback. I thought originally that the deadlifts/chins would be part of the pulling portion of the weight work, and that jiu-jitsu would also add quite a bit of pulling and other "non-standard" calisthenic type exercises while rolling.

I'm not strong enough to add the chains to dips or chins. The program was mostly to try and develop a strong base that I can build on with other workouts later.

  • Greg


Follow TBT or some other full-body program on this site. 5x5 like that won't work for long. You also forgot single-leg exercises and pre-hab work. good luck.


"won't work for long"

You are going to have to explain that statement. There are some on this site that would disagree with you.


Obviously this program would work for a while but he would overtrain and/or stagnate. I think my statement was pretty clear. No program works forever, especially his poorly designed one.


This idea of over-training is just out of control. It makes me think that everyone is losing touch with what real hard work actually is. If he is eating and sleeping adequately he will not over train nor will most people on most training/work regimens.


I disagree that doing this three times a week would overtrain him. TBT is a more taxing system. This might, however, cause him to stagnate eventually since he is doing the exact same set/rep scheme for the same exercies.

I think it was one of Waterbury's articles that said you can do a program for x amount of time if you don't vary anything (one month?). It will work for x amount of time if you vary the sets/reps (2-3 months?). And it will work for x amount of time if you change exercises/sets/reps (?).

At any rate, a little variety won't kill you.


Is the burping going to be done by you, or will you be burping a baby?


burpees are a great (hard) exercise, not involving burps. They're hard to describe, so you might want to search them on google if you don't know what they are.
Also to the original poster: aren't you very sore/tired on the days after lifting. Do you have the energy for all the other stuff you're doing?


You could set the program up similarly to the Starr/Pendlay Intermediate:

Monday: Squats, Bench, Rows 5x5
Wednesday: Deadlifts, Military Press, Chins 5x5
Friday: Squats, Bench, Rows 5x5

Maybe try adding some unilateral stuff on Wednesday after the deadlifts and some direct ab work.


There is a time and a place for every program out there. This program is sound and good, however it is not the right program for him if you add all the work on the other days.

Sure you can eat your way out of overtraining, but he has to keep the weight for bjj.

A more sound program would be something like this:

Squat 3x12
Pullover 3x15
Bench 3x8
Power Cleans 5x5
Rows 3x12
OHP 3x10
Curls 2x8
Leg Raises 1x25
Twisting Sit-ups 1x25

This should take less than 1 hour to complete. Provided that he eats good and rest goods he should grow.