T Nation

Overcoming Mediocrity


Hey Folks,

I’m a 23 years old, 6’0, ~200 lbs weakling who’s been lost in the limbo of program hoping for the last year or so as I started getting interested in weight training. Despite lifting consistently during that time, I didn’t gain much strength.

Still, I would dare say it wasn’t a total waste of time. I improved my form on most lifts and did add some mass to my frame. I also learned through trial and error that I prefer upper/lower and full body splits to their counterparts.

On to new years’ resolutions: commit to 5/3/1 for a full year and logging my training here to hold myself accountable.

During my program hoping journey, I did a quick stint of 5/3/1. I liked how straight forward and simple it was, but I stopped after 2 cycles when I read it wasn’t sufficient volume to sustain progress. T3hPwnisher’s article on his blog (which is awesome, by the way) ‘‘Quit building your 1RM and start building some strength’’, along with most of what I’ve read from Greg Nuckols, convinced me to give 5/3/1 another try.

My first cycle will be the original 5/3/1, followed by the 4 days/week 28-week plan from Beyond 5/3/1. TM will follow the 5 forward, 3 backward trend.

  • Cycle 1: Original 5/3/1
  • Cycle 2-3: FSLxAMRAP (Rest-Pause on upper body lifts)
  • Deload
  • Cycle 4-5: Pyramid
  • Deload and TM back 3
  • Cycle 6-7: TMxAMRAP
  • Deload
  • Cycle 8-9: Jokers

Simplest strength template, as outlined in 5/3/1 2nd ed., will be used for main accessories. Here’s a sample template, subject to change:

Day 1: Monday
Agile 8
531 Squat
SST Stiff-Legged Deadlift
3x10-12 Leg Press
3x10-12 Leg Curls
20 mins LISS

Day 2: Tuesday
531 Bench Press
3x6-8 Pendlay Rows
SST Incline Bench Press
3x10-12 Pulldowns
Chest & Arms

Agile 8
30-45 mins LISS

Day 3: Thursday
Agile 8
531 Deadlift
SST Front Squat
3x10-12 Good Morning
3x10-12 Bulgarian Split Squat
20 mins LISS

Day 4: Friday
531 Press
3x6-8 Chin ups
SST Close Grip Bench Press
3x10-12 DB Rows
Shoulders & Arms

Last week, I tested some very conservative 3RM, accumulating fatigue on purpose and stopping at first sign of technical breakdown


  • 3RM: 255
  • TM: 245
    Stiff-Legged Deadlift
  • 3RM: 245
  • TM: 235

Paused Bench Press

  • 3RM: 200
  • TM: 195
    Incline Bench Press
  • 3RM: 175
  • TM: 175


  • 3RM: 295
  • TM: 285
    Front Squat (learning the movement)
  • 3RM: 185
  • TM: 185


  • 3RM: 120
  • TM: 115
    Close Grip Bench Press
  • 3RM: 190
  • TM: 185

Updates will be posted weekly.