One Year of Lifting Plan

I am a beginner. I been messing around for the last 3 months and now want to get serious about lifting. These are my current lifts & stats. I was doing a program a friend gave me that was:

Squat - 5x4-6
Bench Press - 4x6-8, 1xamrap
Chin-Ups - 50 total
Dips - 3xamrap
Abs - 3x20
Curls - 1x50

Deadlift - 4x3-5, 1x10
Overhead Press - 4x6-8, 1xamrap
Rows - 5x10-15
Split Squat - 4x8-12
Back Ext - 3x20
Farmers Walk - 3 trips

Squat - Work up to heavy single, then 4x8
Front Squat - 3x5
RDL - 4x8-12
Lunges - 4x8-12
Abs - 3x20
Calves - 1x50

Bench Press - 3-5x5
Incline Bench Press - 3x8-10
Chin-Ups - 50 total
DB Rows - 2xamrap
Push-Ups - 3xamrap
Curls - 1x50

5’9 181 - 37 yr old male (I don’t know bf% but I have love handles, and around my belly mainly. I would say I am “skinny fat” where I have skinny limbs but fat through my midsection).

Bench Press - 155 for 4 sets of 5
Overhead Press - 115 for 1 set of 13 and 125 for 5 sets of 5
Back Squat - 225 for 5 sets of 3, and 185 for 2 sets of 10
Deadlift - 265 for 5 sets of 4 and 225 for 1 set of 12
Chin-Ups - 9 straight from dead hang position

My goal is get stronger and bigger. I’m just not having as much fun with this program anymore. I do like the idea of just doing more reps and then adding weight. I find it to be an easy way to progress and make sure I am progressing.

Are there any programs you would recommend I do? I would like to either lift Monday through Friday or just lift Tuesday/Thursday/Sunday.

My friend said I can do 5/3/1 but instead of the percentages just use a rep range to aim for but keep the 5/3/1 exercise layout.

Are there any programs or ideas any of you would have?

I find the squat being the hardest lift for me to improve, so I was thinking about doing a squat everyday type program to really get my form down. Maybe I can just squat at the beginning of every workout (non squat days just 2-3 light sets?).

I’m lost because there are so many programs out there and have no idea where to start.

These are the numbers I would love to hit by summer time for my lifts:

Bench Press - 225x8
Overhead Press - 135x10
Squat - 315x10
Deadlift - 405x5

I would love any help or advice this forum can give to this beginner plan out my 2018-2019 of lifting.

Program looks good, but I think 5/3/1 BBB would be best for you at this time. The program you listed would definitely be worth a try again 6 months or so from now, just seems like a lot of extra stuff and a lot of variability.

BBB Will get you time under heavy weights with 5/3/1 sets and also get some volume in 10 rep ranges to drill technique and get some hypertrophy work in. I’d also spend more time on warm up sets to work technique, especially on squat.

There are probably other 5/3/1 programs that can get you pushing more reps, which could get you to your goals faster, but I personally experienced really good progress with BBB.

Keeping abs, farmers walks, and calves could be nice too


2 questions

  1. Based on my numbers would I set my TM to the following? I can hit these numbers for 5 reps ANY time.
    Back Squat - 225
    Deadlift - 265
    Bench Press - 155
    OH Press - 125

  2. So currently I do 225 squat with 5 sets of 3. Based on the calculator I would only touch 225 in week 3 for set 3. If I am only squatting 135, 150, 170, 190 for 1-5 reps how am I going to get strong enough to do 225? Maybe I’m not understanding something.

You can always use a 1RM calculator for these 5’s:
So Back Squat - 225x5 = 259. Multiply by .9 for Training Max = 233, then work off this for percentages. BBB sets will be 10s of 165
Deadlift - 265x5 = 305, TM of 275. BBB sets of 155
Bench - 178, TM of 160. BBB sets of 80
OHP - 144, TM of 130. BBB sets of 65

You’ll be getting strong through volume work and recovering from that. BBB has you skip the AMRAP on the last set, but I guess you can throw it in if you want to push those sets deeper. I personally did that.

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Thank you for that. 5/3/1 with the percentages seems a bit to confusing for me. Is there a way for me to follow the same approach but without the percentages? For example deadlift day:

Deadlift - 3x3-6
Deadlift - 5x10 @ 50% (Month 1), 60% (Month 2), 70% (Month 3)
Hanging Leg Raises - 5x10-20
Farmers Walk - 3 trips

So once I can get to 3x6 at lets say 265, I can then move up to 275 and go back to 3x3 and start again?

I guess so, but I think it’s easy once you plug in the numbers

5’s week would be (Bench in this example)
(178*.65=115)x5, (178*.75=133)x5, (178*.85=150)x5
3’s week would be
(178*.70=125)x3, (178*.8=145)x3, (178*.9=160)x3
5/3/1 would look like
(178*.75=133)x5, (178*.85=151)x3, (178x.95=169)x1

You’re getting much better manageable volume than frying yourself early on from a few heavy sets.

Thanks! I workout at my brother in laws garage gym and he doesn’t have a lot of plates. So I’m just trying to make it easy to get in and do the workout without thinking about too many exact numbers and percentages.

But maybe I’ll give this a run, thank you for your time and input.

Yeah just sneak in the big plates when you gotta!

Another program I found, that I think I like is the Dan Green template.

Not sure if we can link, but if not, it looks like:

Back Squat
Paused Squat

Bench Press
CGBP or DB Press
DB Flyes, Tri Extensions, Skull Crushers

Front Squat
Farmers Walk
Seated Side Lateral Raise

Overhead Press
DB Incline Press
T-Bar Row
Seated Side Lateral Raise

Deficit Deadlift
Kroc Rows

I do like the idea of lifting 5 days in a row and having the weekends to just do some mobility work and enjoy family time.

Could I do something like this?

I was looking through 5/3/1 and Jim has a “More Squatting” template that looks along the lines of what I’d want to do. Has anyone run this? Would 5 days in a row be too much for someone with my strength levels?

Sorry for all the questions but I want to be big and strong and when reading online there seems to be soooo much information I don’t even know what to do. I want to get the most bang for my buck in the least amount of time possible. I have literally 5am-615am everyday to train. So I would love to take full advantage of that.

Dude, you don’t need our permission. Do whatever you want. If it’s a program recommended by Dan Green, I’m sure it’s fine. Don’t sweat the specifics.
5am-615am to train is a lot of time. More than enough, really.

The most helpful thing I can say is don’t get caught up in paralysis by analysis. You need to understand that there is no perfect program. There is no program that works best for everyone. Everyone responds differently to different stimuli, and you will need to try different things to see what works for you. The best program for you will be the one that keeps you going back to the gym. You need to find something that suits you mentally. If percentages aren’t your thing, don’t do percentages. Find a program that doesn’t use them. Just don’t get bogged down in details, don’t worry about bad training sessions, don’t worry about a missed session here or there. Your focus should be on putting in hard work several days a week, on the big compound lifts, eating to support your goals, and resting appropriately. That’s it.


Thank you so much. I needed to hear that.

There is just so much information online that I had no idea how to even start this journey. I felt like there is so much information that contradicts itself so I didn’t know if what I choose will be “right” I guess.

How long should I stick to a “program” before I decide if it’s not working anymore? My friend told me I to get to my modest goals I probably will never have to “switch programs” or exercises.

Are there really that many things that contradict each other? I’ve been in the iron game for 15+ years, and I haven’t found that to be true. What I HAVE found to be true is that there are a lot of different approaches that can work. An example: some people might find it contradictory to see one coach advocating for full body training 3x per week, and another advocating for body part splits 5x a week. Are these 2 approaches different? Very. But that doesn’t mean they don’t both have merit. You can make solid gains either way, especially as a beginner. It’s not a contradiction, it’s just 2 different ways to solve the same problem.

That’s why, when you aren’t sure what the best way to start is, you might as well just flip a coin. Just pick one and go with it. There’s certainly no harm in that. If your first program isn’t your favorite, no big deal. On to the next!

When you hate the program, change. Other than that, there generally isn’t a need to. I would say give any program at least 2 months to see how you like it. After that, you can switch things up if you truly don’t think a program is right for you.

But, generally speaking, if you’ve made a reasonable program choice and you’re stalling, the program isn’t the problem. More commonly, it’s going to be diet and/or effort applied to the program. You get out what you put in. If you consistently just go through the motions at the gym just to get your sets and reps done, you won’t progress. You have to work hard at this. You also have to eat enough good food to sustain muscle growth. When you stall with your lifting, you’ll likely also notice that your bodyweight changes have stalled. This means that you’ve gotten to the point where the amount you were previously eating is no longer sufficient for you to continue to grow, and you have to raise the bar, start eating more. If you’re constantly adjusting your diet appropriately, and you keep working hard, then your friend is right, you may never actually NEED to switch programs.


Thank you so much! You are right. I’m going to flip a coin and see what happens.

Thank you for your advice!

Yeah… I wouldn’t advise it.


I know I’ve been tooting my own horn lately in a lot of these beginner-middle “what should I do now?!” threads but I do it for a reason. Over the past three or four years, I followed no specific program, I did all sorts of stuff that conventional wisdom says you’re not supposed to (deadlifting >90% on consecutive days frequently), most of my workouts are less than 30 minutes long (often only one exercise), and lately I haven’t been sleeping for shit because I have a 7 week old kid. I PR’d my deadlift at 605 two weeks ago, and I’m pretty sure I’m good for more once I get another pair of 45’s to load my bar a little heavier. I know you (flip) have basically just been winging it lately, and it certainly doesn’t seem to have hurt your progress, either.

I am no one’s idea of a role model or world champion, and I’m not saying that what I did is BETTER than doing a time-tested and proven program or that it trumps advice from a champion lifer or that any noob should try to emulate what I do to the letter. I’m merely saying that if I could achieve a decent level of size and strength doing “whatever the fuck I want, usually deadlifts, sometimes squats or sandbag lifting, get in and do something for 20 minutes every day” - it’s really hard for me to believe that anyone really “fails” because they picked the wrong program with the wrong number of sets and reps or the wrong exercise frequency. Effort and consistency is going to trump program selection every time in this game.

Early on, I think programs are good because they give novices some structure. Newbies don’t really know how to auto-regulate that well. But the specific program is definitely less important than simply showing up and doing the work.


I was thinking about why winging it works for me, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because I tend to have pretty specific goals, and while I’m winging it a lot, I’m also choosing lifts that support my goals. I’m not doing things aimlessly. I’m preparing for a show right now that basically comes down to hip hinges in various ways, and an overhead press event. So I’m working on presses and hip hinges almost exclusively right now. This gives me guidelines for what I should be doing every time I go in the gym. When I was powerlifting, everything was about bringing up my bench, deadlift, and squat, and over time, I learned what movements were best for bringing those up, and in what rep ranges. When I’ve got an event in strongman coming up in competition that I suck at, I’ll generally train that movement twice per week.

I think if you really don’t have any concrete goals in mind, and you just show up at the gym hoping that a generic workout is going to get you somewhere, you’ll probably fail. People who are just weak all over probably need more structure, and then once you’ve made it to the point where you CAN have more specific goals, you can play it by ear more.

It’s like how I learned piano when I was young. I was classically trained, learned the basics, learned to read music, scales, chords, etc. Then once I learned all of that, I was able to take that knowledge and improvise, because I knew how music was structured in the first place.

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Thank you all for your responses. So @flipcollar I really like like what you said about concrete goals.

My goal in training is to get to a

405x10 Back Squat
315x10 Bench Press
5x10 Chin-Ups in one training session

If I want that to be my PRIMARY training focus, what would you suggest I do in order to obtain this? I know I have to get stronger all over, but do you think it’s better to do an upper/lower type split or a full body since there are only a few lifts I want to get REALLY good at.

I know what my training goal is now, so I want to just find the best way to approach it. Anything helps, thanks.

Some lofty goals for sure, but achievable. Between those 3 goals, you’re closest to reaching the pull ups right now. And as long as your bodyweight stays reasonable, I think you’ll hit that goal regardless of what you do.

So I personally like 5/3/1, because you have a squat day and a bench day, along with a deadlift day that can support squat gains, and an overhead press day to support bench gains. It seems pretty well suited to what you need. But that being said, any lifting program that is designed with powerlifting in mind will work for you, because your goals are 2/3 of a powerlifting meet, essentially. If you want to get good at squatting and benching, you’re going to want to bench and squat often . So, pick a powerlifting program that looks good on paper to you, and run it until you’re sick of it. Then move on to another. Repeat until you get where you want to be

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Thank you guys!

I can’t wait for the day that I’m able to do this:

I have picked my program. I have decided to go with the full body #1 from the 5/3/1 book.

Back Squat - 5x5 @ SSL
Bench Press - 5/3/1 5’s Pro
Rows - 50-100

Back Squat - 5/3/1 5’s Pro
Deadlift - 5/3/1 5’s Pro
OH Press - 5x5 @ SSL

Back Squat - 5x5 @ FSL
Bench Press - 5x5 @ FSL
Chin-Ups - 50-100

I think this will help me get to my primary goal and everything else will follow along.

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Good choice. 5/3/1 won’t disappoint you.

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