Allow me some narcissism as I talk about myself and how 5/3/1 helped my life.
I'm more interested in athletics than strength. At least, I was. Back in college, I may never have been THE fastest or strongest, but I worked myself on being able to hang with the linemen on lifts and with the corners in speed.
Then, my playing days ended. I didn't know how to compete any more. It's dumb, but true. I still worked out, but only to workout. Six days a week. I had an arm day for crying out loud. I knew the principles. The same ones that made me a passable local athlete. Jump, throw, pull, clean, squat, press, sprint. But those days were over. I was mid-20s. I worked out to feel the burn, blast my lats, swell my quads, and high five whoever was around. If I had a time machine I'd punch myself face.
Sure, I was as handsome as James Garner in Maverick and filled out my 2003 3-on-3 Corporate Drone Basketball Classic shirts, but I felt the athleticism fading. It was for show, and it was hollow.
I got fatter. And slower. And weaker. And I was like 30. I was ready to pack it up and see which preventable obesity-related disease would claim me first. I couldn't just sprint with my toddler (who was damn fast at 2).
That was kind of the straw that broke my bony blubbery back. I needed to compete. I started running. I was Forest freaking Gump. Miles after miles, the weight dropped off. I went from 245 (at 6'), down to 210. I ran marathons. I looked up celebrity times in marathons then tried to beat them. (Take that Rachel Ray!)
Alas, like Forest Gump, I tired of running. My toenails were black and and my hamstrings hurt. I wanted to lift again, and finishing marathons a short year after fatassery reignited a little hope.
5/3/1 poured gasoline on it.
I discovered it a couple months after I started lifting again. Mind you, at the time I was relatively smart, in as much as I wasn't a complete dumbass. Upper/Lower. 4 days a week. Squat, Bench, Deadlift, Press. I got stronger.
5/3/1 though. Damn. I followed it almost exactly. Now that I have done it for a year, I can say that if you do it as planned, if you listen to the man, you will benefit in so many ways.
I can dunk again. At 40 and 6-0.
I run the pacer with my students. The 20m shuttle run for public school PE testing. As a marathon runner, I ran 85 laps. As a lifter that never runs more than a mile, I ran 107.
Oh yeah, mile time as a "runner": 7:53. Mile time as a 5/3/1 athlete: 6:58.
Deadlift went from 245 to 395. (I could've done 400, but why show off?)
Overhead Press went from 115 to 185...which incidentally is my weight now.
I'm more agile, I'm faster, I'm stronger, and frankly, think I'm better. I'm competing in Masters Decathalons now, and love it.
I know I'm preaching to the choir and this was way too long. I can't say enough for this program. Follow it. The whole thing. Follow the principles. Don't just lift, train.