Program Opinions

just joined.
Age 25, weight 176-177lbs/80kg, height 5,75"/175cm
Lifting for exactly 1 year, no prior lifting experience, no sport for about 3 years before the gym
Generic goal: getting stronger/fitter, some body recomp
Specific goals:
-short term: 2x bodyweight deadlift 1RM, 1x bodyweight overhead press 1RM
-medium term: same as above but to 3RM
-long term: same as above but to 5RM

Current 1RMs just tested:
-Deadlift: 308lbs/140kg
-Overhead press: 128lbs/58kg
-Bench press: not tested, but I do 170lbs/78kg 5x5, should be around 205lbs/94kg

I know my strength is lagging behind a bit but when I started I spent about 3 months fixing technique on all exercises (especially bench press) due to a crappy right shoulder - a bit rolled forward, subpar scapular activation and such. Been working consistently on strength gains for about 6-8 months. I’d rather go slow, safe and steady, as a general rule.
Just done a week testing 1RM, now I’ll do a deload week and then I want to start with this routine, main focus is on deadlift and overhead presses, #1 concern for me is to have a strong back and strong posterior chain overall:

Overhead Press 5x5
Chinups (weighted) 3x6-8
Dips (weighted) 3x6-8
Pullups (neutral grip) 3x8
Rear raises 5x10
Dumbbells flat bench 3x12
Straight arms pushdown 3x12
Rack work – press
Bag carry

Deadlift 3x5
Leg press 4x6
Front squat (with two pauses) 4x5-6
Farmer walks + suitcase carry circuit 3x
Rack work – deadlift
Wood choppers + leg raises 2x8
Side twists + side leg raises 2x8
RKC plank 6-10x10s


Push press 3x3
Dumbbell snatch 3x5
Dips (weighted) 3x6-8
Meadows rows 4x10
Dumbbells incline bench 3x12
Chinups 3x8
Rear raises 3x12
Overhead carry 3x1min circuit
Dumbbell row 1xF (each side, shooting for 25-30 reps)

Front squat 5x5
Romanian deadlift 3x8
Walking lunges 3x8
Deadpulls 4x4-5 (with 4-5 sec pause around the knees)
Bag carry
Rack work – front squat
Abs pushdown (Meadows version) 3x10
Abs side twists + side leg raises 2x8
RKC plank 6-10x10s

SAT- EXTRA (lower intensity work)
Cable cross dx 4x12 (right lower pec looks a tad less developed than the right)
V-handle pullups 3x8
Close grip bench press 3x12
Barbell curls 3x10-12
Face pulls 3x12
Bat wings 4x8
Hammer curls 3x10
Kickbacks 3x12
Triceps extenstions 3x12


Random thoughts:
-I know there is no bench press, I prefer to focus on overhead pressing and dips, I focused already on bench press to reach my bodyweight in 5x5 to make sure I have proper form on dips and can start doing them weightred. Also thinking about cycling on UPPER2 between Push Press and Incline Bench Press every few weeks;
-Later on thinking about replacing Romanian Deadlifts and Deadpulls on LOWER2 with Snatch Grip Deadlifts
-Would like to learn the front lever

Thanks in advance for any input!

Why not rows?You already did a vertical pull

As Matt Wenning said at some point,the easier exersices follow the harder ones,to ensure form won’t break down as you push them hard.So leg press should be after squats.Also I’d prefer you doing 1 pause and using slightly more weight than 2 pauses

Other than that,I think you have too much needless volume.Imo the best thing you can do is start with a variation of 531,adjusting it to your goals of course,an making changes as you go along and become more experienced
Some extra benefits of 531 is
1.You have access to the author himself
2.There are many people in the site that use it and keep detailed logs

I don’t see any problem with the lack of benching. Dips are taking care of your chest.

As routines go, it seems a little kitchen-sinky to me. I don’t think you need so many exercises per day, and I don’t think you need to train five days a week.

Why not just do the classic 4 day split of:

-Day 1 - Upper body (vertical push, vertical pull emphasis)
-Day 2 - Lower Body (hip/hamstring emphasis)
-Day 3 - Upper Body (horizontal push, horizontal pull emphasis)
-Day 4 - Lower Body (quad dominant)

That would work pretty well for your purposes.


Your program is messed up bro. You want to get strong on deadlifts, but you are doing weighted chin ups,pull ups, and some isolation work for your lats the day before deads. Why though? Why would you fatigue the prime movers the day before doing deads while you’re trying to lift heavy . You are also complicating your training too much. Romanian deads, rack pulls, deads, pulls with isometrics. You’ll plateau quickly. Want to get strong on normal deadlifts, do them twice a week. Doing all these exercises leaves no progression in the long-run. Strength is skill. You practice this skill and get better in the exercises you practice. When you plateau on normal deads , train one day with it and replace the other with a movement that attacks your weaknesses in it.

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Thanks for the inputs, will reply a bit in random order:

-about direct arm work: I forgot to mention it (apologies), but the reason I’m semi-decent in the DLs compared to the rest is leverages. I’m fairly short, but I have long arms. I also have decently broad shoulders and short/stocky torso… it’s all good, but the flip of the coin is that without direct arm work, my arms tend to look thin when compared to the rest. I also experienced some elbows soreness in the past and working on the arms fixed it (especially triceps)

-about Deadlift & pulls: I figured that putting vertical pulls the day before DLs wasn’t a big issue, I usually feel much more fatigue in the lats by horizontal pulls, so having vertical pulls on a day and DLs the day after, I thought, wouldn’t impair the DLs performance - again, no real clue about this.
Regarding doing DLs 2x a week… I’ve tried it, and it kind of messed my recovery times. I can give it anoter try and see how it works BUT I know for sure, there is absolutely no way for me to squat heavy and deadlift heavy on the same day. I’ve done it for a pair of months some time ago and the two lifts just killed each other (and me), if I try to DL heavy 2x a week, I have no room for heavy squats.

-about volume: you’re right, it’s on the high side, but consider that loads are obviously progressively lower. There are two main exercises (generally 5x5), they take up the bulk of my energy. Then two secondary exercises (usually in 3x-6-8) still on the medium-heavy side, and the rest is accessory work with higher reps but sensibly lower loads.
I have to keep my right shoulder (and pec and scapula) in check, so stuff like face pulls, straight arms pushdowns, rear raises and such really helped me since I added them to my previous routine - they’re done to be more resistance/postural work, low load, high reps, slow tempo. They don’t really fatigue me much.
Same goes for loaded carries, I feel like they’ve improved pretty much everything

Glad to help man.Some more input

The only thing I have an issue with as far as volume goes is the pressing.I find it’s harder to recover from a lot of pressing compared to pulling

Although you have the right mindset,that to get bigger you have to get stronger,you just threw in random stuff,setting yourself up for bad recovery and semi optimal progress.For example

Do either or.Why do both?As you said your performance on the last press will suck anyway due to fatigue

Do both of these and you probably will be dead at Thursday,where you have to PUSH PRESS and ROW

An extra day?Why

How do you think you’ll feel after 3 weeks of that type of training?

Also a very important point,what’s your progression plan and how often will you deload?

To sum it up,I think it’s better to do less,higher quality lifting,than more

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Thanks again for the replies!
Keep in mind that most of what I’ve done so far, has been trial and error. I’ve been trying various splits, sets/reps and exercises and I’ve noticed that there is stuff that most people do and that I end up hating (i.e. exercises like skullcrushers feel super weird to my elbows) and stuff that I absolutely love and nobody else is doing here around (like loaded carries or dumbbell snatches). So all input is golden to me.

Still in order:

-I’m all for less pressing, my only concern is about the aesthetic/mass result, the idea behind is to use dips as the main chest builder (both strength and mass), while dumbbells chest presses in 3x12 are pure hypertrophy to add some mass to the area - so the load would be quite average, and the exercise would be more about slow negatives. If I can have a proper chest development without the extra dumbbell presses, I’m 100% into it and I will definitely take them off

-About loaded carries + rack work: good catch, I must admit that the article about rack work (“Build Anaconda Strength”) really intrigued me BUT there weren’t specific recommendations about the rack work, i.e., I guess it’s supposed to be made at the end of the workout, but should it be done to failure? Or set a timer? I’ve never done it so I don’t really have a clue about how heavy it is on the body.
I’d really want to give rack work a try but at the same time I don’t want to miss out on loaded carries, not sure how to fit both properly in the routine

-About the extra day: as above, it’s mostly to keep the arms proportional to the rest of the body and give them some more strength that really helped me with pressing so far. Also, still due to the messed up shoulder, the right trap (same as scapula) it’s not 100% on par with the left so the extra work on face pulls and bat wings helps me balance them out.
I’ve been doing this extra day for the last 3 months and didn’t notice any issue with recovery (as I said, it’s relatively light as a workout). The routine I’ve used in these 3 months has been similar to the new one I’ve posted here in terms of volume, sets and reps, but the main lifts were benche press, overhead press and romanian DLs (that I did twice a week).

As for the progression plan… good question, I don’t aspire to have incredible strength levels, main goal for now is to reach 1xBW on overhead press 1RM and 2xBW on DLs 1RM, then bring that amount to a 3RM and then to a 5RM - all of that while also getting a better aesthetic look. But nothing out of this world, to be 100% honest I workout because I really like to workout.
Not sure about deloads either, I’ve been lifting the last 3 months without deloading and all main lifts increased, mass increased, body fat decreased a bit, could be some leftovers of beginners gains tho. This week I have a deload week, I want to try this new workout plan (with fixes suggested here) with 50% of the loads to test it, and the following week I plan to start it with full loads based on the 1RM I’ve tested the previous week.
After that, no clue, I could go with the usual 3 weeks workout/1 week deload cycle or I might be able to deload less frequently.
I work at home (meaning, my job is working at home, I workout in a gym, a commercial one tho) so I can have plenty of sleep and at evening I usually do static stretches for the whole body and some mobility work (mainly for shoulders, like dislocators and bands pull apart). Not every single day but I’d say a solid 5 days a week

You’re so eager to train! It’s great to see enthusiasm but the truth is that a beginner can see improvement IN SPITE of their training. How do you progress with such high volume? Are you adding weight, reps, sets from week to week?

I’ve been lifting for about 15 years in a serious manner. I just started Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1. You know why? Because it’s simple, moves slow, has progression, and offers solutions when you stall. I suggest you read his first book.

5/3/1 will provide you a plan for your main lifts and gives programs for assistance (bringing up a lagging muscle) or you can add your own stuff. The program keeps evolving and continues to offer new ways to improve weaknesses. There’s no reason to ever stop the program; it literally gives you years of training. It will still allow you to add your face pulls and such (which I do as well).

I’ve kept (more or less) a log of my previous routine, as I said it’s similar to this one in structure, it just had different main lifts (bench press - overhead press - romanian DLs 3x8 - romanian DLs 4x5).
I’ve done it for exactly three months, these have been the progresses:

-bench press: was giving me hell. At August I stalled at 155lbs (70kg) in 5x5 with poor form and poor control, so I took it down to 132lbs (60kg) and started from scratch focusing on technique. Quickly added 4lbs each week up until 159lbs (72kg) in 5x5 with good form, then progress slowed down, I’d started to need 2-3 weeks for every additional 4lbs to complete the whole 5x5 sets. I’ve now reached 172lbs (78kg) in 5x5, which was roughly my goal. Total poundage increased every week tho, even when progress slowed down I’d maybe do 5-5-4-4-3 the first time I added 4lbs, then 5-5-5-4-4 the following week and then a full 5x5 the week after

-overhead press: i’ve done it with dumbbells for months, but just in the last month or so I started doing it with barbell. Mechanics feel entirely different than with dumbbells, including the 1RM test I’ve probably done barbell OHP a total of 5 times I think. Started with 88lbs (40kg), which is half my bodyweight, and quickly worked up to 105lbs (58kg) in these few times, so progress has been linear so far

-front squats: same as bench press, they were giving me a hard time. I could do about my bodyweight (177lbs) in 5x5, but with poor form, so during these 3 months I went back and started doing paused front squats with about 50% of that load, working on hips and thoracic mobility. So, no full heavy front squats for 3 months, I tried them last week and managed to up the load a tad above my bodyweight (182lbs) in 5x5 with much cleaner technique. They still need a lot of work, thoracic mobility improved drastically, hips mobility still needs improvement

-deadlifts: I was doing them with 265lbs 3x3 but I had two major issues. One was grip strength, at the end of the second set my grip would start to fail and pull my back down with it. The other was that I was weak on the very initial push from the ground. So I took them off in these three months and i did romanian DLs, leg press (focused on hamstring pushes and in a starting stance similar to the one of DLs) and paused deadpulls.
Romanian DLs went from 155lbs (70kg) in 3x8 to 207lbs (94kg) in 3x8 and 220lbs in 4x5.
I’ve tried again full deadlifts from the ground last week with the same weight that was giving me trouble before (265lbs x3), grip strength improved dramatically using the double overhand and became a non-issue by trying the mixed grip, push from the ground felt much easier and spinal alignment improved too. I’m fairly confident I can now use that weight for 3x5 with a solid technique.

As for the secondary exercises, they increased too, but slowly. Most of them are done with dumbbells and in my gym we only have fixed-weight dumbbells that increase 4lbs at a time. So progress has been mixed depending on the main lifts, i.e. on a day where I managed to do a whole 5x5 bench press with an increased weight, I could maybe crank 1-2 more reps than previously with the dumbbells shoulder press (doing maybe an 8-7-6 pr 8-7-7), but at that point there would be no way for me to increase weight or reps on the following dumbbells bench press.
On secondary/assistence stuff with dumbbells I usually prefer to have a double confirmation before increasing the weight, that is, if I have to do a 3x8 shoulder press, I’d try to hit the full 3x8 mark, then the following week hit it again and only if I manage to do the full 3x8 again I’d try to move up the weight.
This is highly dependent on the main lift, for example if one week I do full 5x5 bench press and full 3x8 shoulder press, it could happen that the following week with the increased weight on bench press I’d do a partial 5x5 on bench press and ALSO a partial 3x8 on shoulder press.
So it could easily take a whole 3-4 weeks before I could up the weight on dumbbells stuff, with the exception of rows that I did right after the main pushing lift, so I managed to up them at a quicker rate.

As for the 5/3/1, I’ve eyed that program since the beginning, it looks awesome.
My main issue is that the author was very specific about customization and I didn’t want to disrespect him trying to adapt his program to my needs. These are the things that I’m not sure if I can change/adapt without Jim Wendler killing me in my sleep:

-no bench pressing, just overhead pressing: as I said, when I started off I was told that my right shoulder is slightly rolled forward, which caused also a reduced scapular activation and underdeveloped right trap. Not sure if this is common or even normal, but I’ve noticed that horizontal pressing is much more problematic to me than vertical pressing, might have something to do with the way the shoulder is angled. At the beginning I could barely bench press 66lbs for reps, every rep would give a striking pain that started from the front delt and went all the way back through the lats and towards the scapula.
Even now, after working a lot on bench press technique and doing it pain free, I feel that I spend a ton of focus on keeping the scapulae retracted and the shoulders back, which really hinders my focus on moving the weight. Instead, when I do dips, I only need to control the descent to feel my scapulae retracting and shoulders sliding back, and when I come back up I only need to squeeze my armpits and try to push the handles down to the ground to end with shoulders back and down - it’s ingrained in the movement pattern, so it doesn’t really shift my focus at all.
And another article on T Nation recommended the push press (which I really like btw) as a complementary lift to avoid plateaus on the overhead press, so I’d really like to fit the push press as a main lift in 5/3/1

-front squats instead of squats: I’m hellbent on doing front squats. It’s a more athletic movement overall and I like that it has more core involvement. Other than that, it requires a higher degree of thoracic and hips mobility, so by doing them I’m forced to keep those two factors in check because they tie up with my shoulder mobility too

I’m totally interested into reading the 5/3/1 program btw, if I can fit in these differences here it would be golden (i’ve just re-read the 5/3/1 article on T Nation and he mentions that one of the routines has more bodybuilding-style accessory work which would be ideal for my goals)

EDIT: apologies for the long posts but english is not my first language and synthesis is not easy

Thanks a lot for the input, reading the 5/3/1 PDF right now, will try to put down a routine later today when I’m free. Am I supposed to update this thread here, or would it be better to open a new one specifically in the 5/3/1 area?

Also, I see that in 5/3/1 he puts dumbbell rows right the day before deadlifts, and he suggests to do them in Kroc Rows style - just 1-2 big sets of 20-30 reps, which is the way I’m doing them now. But I thought that heavy rowing on a day would make DLs tougher the day after? I know I can recover a lot quicker than chinups&co. than heavy rowing

If you just downloaded a pdf rather than bought the book, I wouldn’t post in the 5/3/1 forums. Jim gets somewhat upset in those situations.

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The book is so damn expensive you have to resort to pirate it???

Go work at MacDonald’s for a couple days.

Well,at the end of the day,it’s your training we’re talking about,so if you enjoy something give it a try

Also keeping a detailed training log made worders for me,as it kept me consistant and allowed me to go through old training sessions and see what I did right/wrong,so you may wanna think about that as well

…I bought the Beyond 5/3/1 as soon as I got back home, it’s evening here. Just needed to start reading the basics while I was away during the afternoon (I don’t use Paypal on mobile) so I could start thinking how to adapt the workout routine.

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No worries dude. The chain of dialogue made it seem like it was just one of the many pirated PDFs out there.

Training logs would be a great place to post your training, and 5/3/1 a good place for questions about the program.

hash tag dick move.

Jim’s a working man just life the rest of us, and he gives out a shitload for free on this forum. Do the guy a favour, eh?

Don’t shoot the messenger. Stating a fact. I didn’t upload it. I’ve searched for his 5/3/1 books and I’ve seen it pop up (original, not 2nd edition).

The OP bought the book, didn’t he?

Your only comment in this whole thread is an insult towards me?? Really? You can insult me; that’s fine but at least offer something for the OP.

It could’ve been as simple as this:

Hey, atlas, glad you bought the book! By the way, JMaier, you’re a dick.

if you really don’t see how it was a dick move, then add “moron” to the list of insults that describe you.

Browse through the current/old 5/3/1 threads before starting something new. It seems that every week someone starts a new “Critique my 5/3/1”. You might find answers before asking your questions in a new thread.

If you want to start a program and log your training then start something under Training Logs.