T Nation

What Is Wrong With My Program?


I have been getting a lot of suggestions here to follow some template like 5/3/1 or some beginner program but I think I have a pretty good program that hits my body in all ways I want it to with enough volume and intensity.

Progression protocol:
Everything is 3 sets reverse pyramid protocol outlined below with the exception of shoulder and tricep isolation exercises.

Starting at one top set which is 85-90% my max where I plan to hit 6 reps.

The next set, the load is reduced 10% with the aim of hitting 8 reps.

The final set is a further 10% reduction with the aim of hitting 10 reps and failure.

Main goal is to increase the top set weigh weekly when I hit 6 reps. Subsequent sets are increased when they hit the top part of the rep range also (8,10)

Split is PPL/Rest/Repeat.

Bench Press
Incline DB Press

Military Press
Lateral Raise

Rope Pushdown
Tricep Extension

Pull Up
Barbell Row

Rear Delt Fly

Hammer Curl


Leg Extension
Leg Curl
Calf Raise

Can some expert poke holes in this routine other than the fact that it has no deadlifts.


This is not a suitable program for a beginner. Too much of trying to do everything at once.

Please go try a beginner program. It will serve you better in the long run. They are developed by the EXPERTS that you are looking for.

Side note: if many people have told you the same answer in the past, there may just be something to it.


If it works, it's great.


Your routine is fine, providing you attack it with sufficient intensity and eat properly


I am not a beginner I have been lifting in the gym consistently since September 2013 its just I have a poor bench which makes people think I am weak overall and they keep referring me to beginner programs.

I just added another 2.5lb to my weighted pull ups for a total of 95lbx4 and I doubt many beginners or even intermediates can do over half their bodyweight attached for 4 reps.


You're still a beginner bud and people have told you in your last three threads you need to eat more and learn the recovery side of the equation


What is the reason for eating more if I am able to progress on my lifts and gain 1-2lb per month without getting noticeable fatter on 3500 calories ?


@ChaseLA, you may not want to read what follows, because I'm going to post a reality check. By no means is this intended to be malicious. On the contrary, I am hoping that you take what I say to heart, and use it to better yourself in the gym and beyond it.

I did some snooping around, and I can tell that you are a classic young adult male: great at asking questions, horrendous at listening to the answer. Listen the the folks such as @dredka, the amount of time you have spent in the gym does not determine your placement on the Beginner-Advanced spectrum. In fact, your numbers do not even determine this. If you do some hardcore research into this, your ability to progress on a legitimate and proper program will give you an honest indication of your standing.

Lets take Lifter X as an example. Lifter X has been in the gym for a few years now. He has done the classic Bodybuilding.com workouts, maybe even followed a poorly programmed regimen, and has experienced his beginner gains. However, because he has never done a true program and actually trained, he mistakenly believes he has become "intermediate" because he no longer progresses every week as he once did in the first 6-8 months of lifting. Lifter X decides that he must work harder and with more volume to compensate.

If we turn to Lifter Z, who started with The Candito Linear Program,has now been running it for over a year. Lifter Z continues to make progress on this program. Once he has hit a span of a month of not making progress within the program, he switches over to the 5/3/1. With this method, Lifter Z continues to make increases within 3 week blocks. Lifter Z does not necessarily begin to "work harder", but does begin to work smarter.

We can see from this comparison - assuming that diet, genetics, and environmental factors are controlled - that Lifter X has not truly become an intermediate. In fact, he is making less progress as a beginner lifter as Lifter Z is as a true intermediate lifter.

This is the reality of weight training. It is not about how hard you train, though this is a factor. It ultimately comes down the the intellectual decisions that you make about your training. This encompasses and mobility, conditioning, weight training, recovery, and even stressors in your life outside of the gym. If you take this information to heart, you will find yourself making significant progress in the gym.

I want to leave you with one last thing, and I want that to be about looking for answers.

When you ask a question such as this, and you get responses consistently that do not tell you what you want to hear, it is not a license to go out and find the answer you are looking for. If you do that, what was the point of asking in the first place? The reality of training, hell, the reality of life, is that it is full of things that we don't want to hear. But when we ignore these responses, that is when we allow ignorance to prevail.

Everyone as more to learn. From the truest beginner to the most elite expert, there is always more knowledge to be gained. Never stop in "The Intelligent and Relentless Pursuit of Muscle".

I truly hope that is helps not just you, but anyone who comes across this.


This is so absurd it defies all standards of common sense unless one is a beginner himself.

An intermediate will generally take longer to progress. Lack of progress does not make one an intermediate.


@dt79, I am unsure if this is a criticism or an affirmation.

Anyway, yes, the absurdity is the point of the statement. He believes that he is an intermediate. This does not make him one based on his lack of programming. This is why when people switch from plain workout out to actually training, it is advised that they start on a beginner program no matter what. If they find they make no progress there, great, move on up to intermediate work.

A great explanation on what makes you a beginner/intermediate/advanced lifter is on powerliftingtowin's free ebook. It parallels and expands upon Mark Rippetoe's writings.

The degree to which individuals can improve on beginner programming is going to vary greatly, which is why it is irresponsible to base it solely on the number you put on the bar.


Lol I'm agreeing with your post. Sorry if it seemed like I was criticizing it.


No worries.

Unfortunately, this is the common reasoning for over 95% of people who pick up a loaded barbell.


With the surgery of "rate my program" posts recently, I am honestly just baffled. It's really hard to not get bigger and stronger if you train stupid hard and eat well. Hell, I put on 10lbs while recovering from ACL surgery by pushing the volume stupid high and eating more meat.

People overcomplicate this stuff.


Rip uses your ability to progress. Izzy pads it out a bit and says you're no longer a beginner when you can no longer improve size, strength and technique at the same time - the longer you need to focus on each particular quality the more advanced you are - but uses the same triggers as Rip (failure to progress each session/week/block). I'm not sure how this lines up with your earlier post?


Edit: This is not my thread therefore I do not think it would be appropriate to answer any other questions if they are not from @ChaseLA or do not lend themselves to fortify the answer I have already given.


yeah the longer I train the less I think the actual routine itself matters. If you're busting your hump training any exercises in any rep range then you'll get bigger and stronger, provided your diet is adequate (doesn't even really have to be good).

It's like the minute someone's progress stalls they shit their pants and go looking for this holy grail routine that'll add 5lbs to their bench every workout.

Sometimes, progress is just slow. If it weren't, we'd all have 2000lb squats.


I feel you were arguing against the OP calling himself am intermediate when he kinda fit the criteria you set out.

My personal stance is the beginner/intermediate/advanced phrasing is just a common language when talking about Rip's (and his disciples') set of programs and should probably left to that space. I'm not entirely sure why people get so worked up about it.


Sure. I could see how this might cause some confusion if each post is not read fluidly.

OP contends that he is not a beginner lifter based on two facts: 1.) he has been lifting since 2013 & 2.) he is able to do 95x4 pull ups. As I have already stated, neither length of time in the gym, nor the amount you can lift determines your place on the aforementioned spectrum.

Further inference from the OP post, which he states he is constantly being referred to a beginner program, tells us that he has not followed proper programming in the past such as SS, SL, GreySkull, Candito or any other program that has been professionally developed. With this in mind, we can relate him closer to previously introduced Lifter X than Lifter Z.

Could he really be an intermediate lifter? It is impossible to tell with the information provided. However, the evidence points us to the answer being beginner.

I hope this answers your question. Let me know if there is anything else you feel I need to cover to improve my answer to OP.


This progression scheme just seems mentally lazy. Is hitting a six rep max and pyramidding down for two sets really an optimal scheme for training rear delts? Calves?


I get why everyone is reluctant to take this thread seriously, but I'll give it a go. The routine presented here really isn't too bad, besides the fact that the exercise selection seems a bit generic and the overall volume/intensity might prove to be too much. Otherwise, if the OP can handle the workload and find the sweet spot between adherence and flexibility, it might work out well.

A few things I'll suggest, though:

I like the set/rep scheme, but you'll likely burn out on it rather quickly if you start too heavy, going with the maximum weight for each rep range right out of the gate. Therefore, I would definitely recommend cycling the intensity, using weights that are heavy but not overly taxing in week one (you should comfortably hit each rep goal here), then upping them slightly each week so that you reach your maximum around week four or five. Deload soon thereafter. This first time through, it's fine to let the cycle run a bit longer in order to build some momentum, but future cycles will likely be shorter. You'll have to figure out for yourself when to deload, how to deload, and how far back the intensity needs to be scaled through experience.

If you can handle six days a week of this, great. More power to you. If not, the volume isn't so great that you couldn't condense this into a four-day-a-week program, going "push" one day and "pull/legs" the next, or something like that. You could also keep the 3-way split, but run it over four days. You could even cycle the overall volume, doing six days the first two weeks, four days the next two, essentially trading overall volume for intensity as the cycle progresses. You should try the six-day version first, however, just to see how you like/handle it.

While the set/rep scheme is good, don't be married to the percentages or rep goals. Dropping 10% each set may work for some exercises but not for others. Adjust your drops according to the logbook. The same goes for the rep goals. Don't be afraid to go with a greater overall range (e.g. 6/12/20) if it helps your progress, however you define that. Also, this rep scheme may not even work for some of the lighter isolation exercises. For them, you might end up going with straight sets, drop sets, whatever. The point here is to not insist that all of this be perfectly uniform.

As I already noted, the choice of lifts seems rather generic. Some of them may work for you, some may not. As soon as possible, figure out what lifts best suit your goals/mechanics and swap them in accordingly.

Finally, in order to keep up with this overall volume/intensity, I would recommend some sort of change throughout the week. At the very least, I would suggest using different exercises for the second session for a given body part each week, but it might be even better to go with some variation of the heavy/light setup. This could mean using more isolation exercises later in the week, shooting for higher rep ranges, or even using the same exercises and rep goals but lowering the weight, slowing down the rep tempo, and really working on "feel." There are so many other ways to set this up, so find one that works for you.

Anyway, good luck with all of this.