Routine Advice/Where to Go from Here?


Haven’t been here for long, obviously, but have seen a lot of good stuff from this site quoted on other sites (like and, after browsing for a couple days, decided to stop lurking and get into the discussions because I currently have zero people in my life who are interested in powerlifting. Hopefully that will change soon, after I move to MD at the end of the month.

A little background on my lifting experience: I started lifting around six years ago, after I joined the military. I wasted about four of those years bullshitting around in the gym with no real program or goal other than “stronger, bigger”. Took me three plus years to realize the importance of nutrition, but my diet still isn’t completely dialed in.

I got into powerlifting (finally!) while I was in Afghanistan this past year; had a really cool roommate (tentmate? chewmate?) who has a relatively solid total at 165-170 lbs. (1300+).

Long story short, I’ve gone from 161 pounds unable to bench more than 135 pounds for a couple reps to 210 pounds with the following PRs established over the past four months, all raw:

Squat: 380
DL: 455
Bench: 245 (weak, but I hit 300 in a slingshot like a rocket)
OHP: 150 (also weak)

My “programming” currently looks like this, and is not set in stone:

Day 1:

Warm-up w/ bodyweight, dynamic stretching, foam rolling
Squat (as many warm-up sets as needed to get up to a heavy single, double, or triple depending on what I did last week; every three to four weeks I rep out 225 AMAP after a heavy single. Haven’t hit more than 345 for two.)
Good Mornings 3X6-8
Leg Extensions 3X10-12
Seated Calf Raises 3X12-20

Day 2:

Warm-up, same as above
Incline Bench Press 3X8 (have weak shoulders/tris, been doing incline only for a couple months and FINALLY made progress, hit 225X4 on flat bench this past week)
Close Grip Bench OR Dumbbell Triceps Press 3X8-15 (depending on how my shoulders/elbows feel)
Single-Arm Lateral Dumbbell Shoulder Raise 3X8-10
Triceps Pulldowns 3X10-12
Rear Delt Fly 3X12

Day 3:

Deadlift/Stiff Leg Deadlift/Romanian Deadlift (I go by feel; if on Deadlift, I work up to a heavy single, double, or triple)
Bent Over Row/Pendlay Row 3-4X5-8
Pull-ups if a bar is available 3XAMAP OR DB Rows/Kroc Rows depending on how I feel
Close Grip Cable Row Pyramid Up and Down (80-160 lbs, AMAP at every 20 lb. increment, no rest between sets)

Day 4:

Accessory Work (usually biceps to prevent tears, power cleans, front squats, more shoulder/back work, etc.)

I know this is a messy format. I lift 4-5 days a week usually; I do not schedule rest days, as I rest as needed. If I feel too beat up, I won’t go to the gym - I’ll foam roll, eat more, and take more fish oil.

Within the last year I have been in Texas, North Carolina, Afghanistan, Hawaii, California, and Michigan for varying lengths of time. I have had to adapt to the equipment available, and haven’t been able to run a program, so I have been lifting largely by feel, which brings me to the next portion of my post.

I am building a gym in my house within the next few months. I have the equipment picked out, and will have access to a power rack with all the bells and whistles (including high/low cable attachment), GHD, reverse hyper, some dumbbells, and an oly platform. Though I have been making steady gains with my current “program”, I would like to actually commit to a program soon.

The only real program I’ve run in the past has been 5/3/1 for several cycles, with great gains (at least, I thought so). I don’t think I;m strong enough to get too crazy with my program, so the simpler the better. My GPP has been shit lately, but that’ll get sorted out soon.

What do ya’ll think? Based on my strengths (DL) and weaknesses (pressing movements), what program should I look into? What exercises am I overlooking?

Also, if anyone wants an excel programming sheet for 5/3/1 with automatic percentages, PM me.

Thanks ya’ll, I hope this hasn’t been too brutal a post to get through.

If you made great gains and are familiar with 5/3/1, I would run that as far as it takes you.

I would drop those leg extensions for lunges of some form or front squats for reps, never got much out of leg extensions.

[quote]BacktotheBar wrote:
If you made great gains and are familiar with 5/3/1, I would run that as far as it takes you.

I would drop those leg extensions for lunges of some form or front squats for reps, never got much out of leg extensions.[/quote]

One of the reasons I stopped with 5/3/1 is because I stopped progressing as much after a period of time. After adding more volume on the main lifts, I continued progressing, and have been since. I know there are ways to add more volume to 5/3/1, and I have tried doing so a couple times, but it just didn’t feel the same.

yeah man you just gotta figure out what works for you. If you’ve done 5/3/1 for a while then i trust that you at least have a pretty good idea of what you need to do. Program looks fine to me.