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Too Early for a 5/3/1 Program?

Hi guys / Jim

I’ve been lifting on and off for 10 years but my numbers are pathetically weak. I’m 147lbs and 34 years old so no young buck. My numbers for 5 reps are:

Bench 75kg
OHP 52.5kg
Deadlift 120kg
Squat 75kg (groin injury so I haven’t tried squatting properly for a long time)

Would the 5/3/1 programs be too advanced for these stats? Would something like bill starr’s 5x5 be better? I like the 5/3/1 boring but big because it’s essentially upper / lower which would fit well into my week rather than 3 full body workouts (I have football on Wednesdays which kind of messes with the week).

Humblest apologies if this question has been asked to death already - I couldn’t see it in the forum. Also humblest apologies if this isn’t the right forum for this question.


Jim trains high school kids. You’re almost 2 decades older than those kids. No way the program is too advanced for you. Give it a run.

Don’t do BBB. Not to start out with. Try 5x5 FSL with 5s progression for the main work and assistance work. Do that for 2-5 cycles and see how things are going.


Could you please elaborate as to what you mean when applying 5x5 FSL + 5’s progression for assistance work? Would that mean say after back squats doing the same “work” but with another squat variation such as the front squat?

If it matters, I’ve been thinking about running 5x5 FSL and 5’s progression for my main work and for assistance shooting for reps in push/pull/single-leg/core as per 531 Forever. So I’m just trying to understand what you mean here.

I don’t. Read it as “Try 5x5 FSL with 5s progression for the main work and [also do] assistance work”

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Ah, alright. Cheers! Makes sense!

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I second the 5s PRO with 5x5 FSL. If you go watch some of his more recent seminar videos and give a read to some of his newer set ups, he really likes programming these nowadays. And with good reason, because it works. Like Pwn said, try it out for a few cycles and see what happens. Use what you learn and do the things that work and stop the things that don’t.

Thanks for the replies fellas. I bought the 5/3/1 2nd edition and beyond 5/3/1 books yesterday. About 3/4s of the way through 5/3/1 2nd edition and I can already see how it’s a good program to follow even in beginner stages because it has extra volume depending which assistance method you choose.

Honestly I should’ve bought the books and got a better understanding of it 5 years ago when I first came across 5/3/1. At the time I dismissed it thinking it was some powerlifting thing. Oh well, best time to start was 5 years ago. The next best time to start is now…

No. My first advice is to stop reading/listending to unqualified opinions on training via internet or public gyms. You are better off learning training from a pack of wolves.

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Thanks for the reply Jim. I’m certainly going to run 5/3/1.

I learned to stop listening to hyperbolic idiots on the internet (and most forums in life) a while ago.

Hi Jim,
I´m almost in the same situation like gsg202 but I´m a lot weaker than him. I got sick over the last few years, lost 76 pounds and therefore all my muscles and I´m weak as fuck but I also trained about 10 years on and off like gsg202. I did several 531 templates in the past and I´m familiar with the technique in all lifts but I never run a pure beginner template or a template after a layoff.

My current weights for maybe 5 reps are:

squat 30-60kg
deadlift 40-60kg
bench 30kg
press with the bar

I´m starting from scratch.

At first I also thougt about a 5x5 program or starting strength or stronglifts 5x5 etc. until I read this thread.

What 531 template would you recommend to start new/again after my layoff. Like I said, I have all your books so you dont have to go in detail. Something with bodyweight stuff would be cool but I follow your advice because you are the one with experience

thank you very much!!!