T Nation

Would I Be Considered a Novice or an Intermediate Lifter?

Height: 6"
Age: 19
Bench: 195
Dead: 255
OHP: 115
Squat: 225
Edit: Weight 190 lbs
I’m thinking novice. I’ve heard people say that you stop being a novice once linear progression stops. Is this true? Would Boring But Big be good for linear progression, considering it revolves around the idea of progression. Or are there better choices out there. Thanks.

There’s a few folks that may or may not jump in here to say this:

If you have to ask if you’re a beginner or not, you’re still a beginner.


Novice. Dunno if that linear progress thing is true. Plenty of freaks on insta be making straight gains all the way to advanced

You are absolutely, positively, a novice/beginner lifter. BBB is just one variation of 5/3/1. It will work. In the meantime, put ideas of “novice” or “intermediate” out of your head. It doesn’t matter.


BBB is not for beginners. Check out 531 for Beginners (google it and go to Jim Wendler’s website)

Pretty much every program revolves around the idea of progression. That’s how people get stronger.

How much do you weight? And how long have you been lifting? Those aren’t particularly amazing weights to be lifting. No disrespect - just mean that yes, you are definitely a novice.

Like strongman said, 5/3/1 for Beginners is good, as is just normal 5/3/1. I think the Beginners has a little more frequency on each lift, which helps practice good form. Otherwise you can do the normal 5/3/1. I like the template listed in Letter to Young Jim (on this website).

I’d hold off on BBB until you’ve gotten stronger. You do 5x10 with 50% of your training max ™ on that program, and right now that means you’re basically just overhead pressing the barbell (technically 50lbs) for 5x10. Does that even seem worth it? I feel like it’d be incredibly easy. Or deadifting 115lbs for 5x10? You wouldn’t even be able to use a plate (45lb) for deadlifting for a couple cycles.

Get your lifts up before doing BBB. Once you’re ready, it’s a very good program. Try it out.


In his other thread he says he is 195 lbs I believe


In that case, @angomango , I’d follow forms of 5/3/1 until you are closer to a:

450-500 DL
350-400 BS (if you hit this, I think a 275-315 front squat would be appropriate)
250-300 BP (if you do power cleans, I’ve found that they usually are close to your bench)
150-200 OHP

These are standards that others may or may not agree with, and I sometimes don’t, but we are the same age, almost the same height (I’m 5’11"), and I believe I’m a little heavier than you. Anyway, point is, I’ve hit most of those numbers before (my upper body lifts were closer to the lower end of those ranges), and it didn’t take a ton of time. Just hard work. I’ve followed forms of 5/3/1 mostly.

1 Like

It’s 190, my scale was off.

Yeah, that’s fair. Thank you.

No offense taken. I accept any and all critiques on my stats. Thank you for the helpful reply.

I’ll check out 5/3/1 for beginners, since so many people have pointed towards that program.
Is 5/3/1 for beginners everyone’s favorite beginner program? Since that’s the only one people have been mentioning, not StrongLifts nor Starting Strength.

Each have their strengths and weaknesses but some consider SS a little superior to SL. I think 5/3/1 for beginners would be better to transition into regular 5/3/1 eventually because you would be used to it by then. Picking one you like will help you stick with it for longer.

1 Like

I think 5/3/1 BBB is great for novice lifters. That’s exactly how I personally got into 5/3/1.


I believe StrongLifts 5x5 is just a rip off of Starting Strength and other 5x5 programs, such as those from people like Bill Starr. His may have been the original, I’m not sure, but this article goes into detail about it (hopefully the link shows up).


And you can buy his book here - it’s not a necessity, but if you ever have the money, it’s a good read.

Anyway, so I’ve found SL 5x5 (which I once ran, for around 2 months, when I first started) to take too long (it was often hard to do it in less than an hour and 15 minutes, which may or may not be a problem for you, whereas 5/3/1 workouts can take more like 45 minutes), and get old very quickly.

Starting Strength is very similar, so it would get boring, but the plus was that it’s 3x5 (with the exceptions of deadlifts - 1x5, and power cleans - 5x3), so it didn’t take as long.

I prefered Starting Strength. A big reason why is that it’s also one of the “originals” or whatever you want to call it. It also includes power cleans, whereas SL 5x5 did barbell rows. Nothing wrong with rows, but it’s reasoning is that power cleans are too hard and dangerous to learn. This is false.

By watching a few YouTube videos, and already knowing how to deadlift and front squat, I was able to learn within a couple workouts. My form is not perfect, but then again, neither is anybody’s. I’m not trying to compete in the Olympics, just get stronger. I believe I just read somebody on this site saying if you can eventually pull 405lbs from the floor onto your shoulders, you will be strong no matter how you get the bar there.

The big problem with all linear progression programs like SS and SL 5x5 that I see, is that eventually, you do start to lose the ability to add 5lbs to your squat 3 times a week. At some point, when I was doing both of those programs, every session turned into a grind. Every single squat set, whether 3x5 or 5x5, was very hard. I moved very slowly, and never knew if I’d get it or not. I basically set a new 5RM every workout, which I guess is the point, but as Jim Wendler would say, I was testing myself, not training myself.

Grinding reps out and having hard workouts has it’s place sometimes, but as a beginner, I think a big part of your lifting should be bar speed. Having the barbell move crisply each and every rep, being confident in your ability to lift it, and having some power behind your lifts, has been very helpful to me, and others I’ve helped teach.

At some point, you need to learn to grind, but as a beginner, you need to learn good form, and confidence under a heavy bar. So my suggestion (this is simply what helped me), is if you choose to run SS or SL 5x5 (you don’t have to do either), don’t quit once you’ve been grinding for a month and can physically no longer progress in that fashion. Quit once the grinding starts (make sure it’s not just a bad workout, and that’s actually getting too heavy) and start doing 5/3/1 or something like it.

Again, this is just what has helped me. I’m no expert, or a particularly strong person, but I’ve found these things helpful.


How strong were you when you ran BBB? I also did it, as a kinda beginner, and it was ok, I just feel like for the upper body movements especially, I would’ve benefitted a lot more had I been able to lift more weight. Everyone is different though. @angomango - you may find that this is something good for you. Maybe you would enjoy BBB and would benefit from it. If that’s the case, you should try it, regardless of what some random people on the Internet say (including me).

This is very true ^^.


Fairly broad question, so a fairly broad answer…

I read somewhere (and clearly internalised it) that you’re a novice, powerlifting-wise until you’ve got:

Deadlift - 2.5 times BW
BS - 2 times BW
Bench 1.5 times BW

But every time I hit those numbers, I start thinking the benchmark could be set a little higher


Why do you care? I’m not meaning to be flippant, but seriously.

I’d personally say that a large part of the distinction that is overlooked is technical proficiency and knowledge. I’ve been around weight rooms and gyms going on 25 years and I would say I was a novice until about 4 years ago when I seriously started learning and working the technical aspects of the lift. This is, of course, just my opinion. I don’t know that I’d classify myself as beginner or intermediate. I just know I’m getting closer to where I want to be.

You have guys that can no longer hit big numbers but I would argue are still advanced lifters because of the knowledge they have and the technique they can execute with. Also… the ability to actually adapt their training effectively to what their body is telling them. Do you know how to listen to what your body is telling you? Do you know how to train around an injury? Do you know what it takes to recover and get the most out of a training session beyond what you do in the weight room?

If you want to go by just numbers, google USPA standards and that will give you an idea of where they think the boundary lines are on different classes of lifters.

My advice- don’t worry about it. Train hard, eat lots of good food, make sure you’re getting enough sleep, and learn. Work on executing each lift with a high degree of technical proficiency. That will mean much more in the long run than whether someone things you’re a beginner or an intermediate lifter.


Nice one! Also very valid in that context…


This is awesome advice, @angomango

@flappinit , said it first,

With the advice I gave, I did not mean to give the impression that being a novice, beginner, whatever, really mattered, I just meant to give the best route to improvement, whatever that term means to you. I hope that was clear.


This might the place for me to air this idea.

I think it’s like learning a trade. First three or four years you learn a lot and don’t know shit. You’re an apprentice. You can be told what to do and do it well, but take away the guidance and things go south real fast because you don’t know how much you don’t know. By the time you get signed off you’re just about competent with the basics and very aware of how much you don’t know and what your limits are. As time goes on you learn more and more. If you last past 10 years or so, you really start knowing a fair bit but you keep looking for ways to improve.

At no point is how much you can lift an indicator at all.


I like it because my poverty lifts don’t disqualify me. Aside from the humor, I think that’s a much larger indicator if we’re going to use terms like beginner, intermediate, and advanced than just numbers.


Can’t believe I missed that while scrolling, but I completely agree. I’m over-complicating things.

I was benching 185, squatting and deadlifting 275, and OHPing 115

I eventually did some 5/3/1 for powerlifting off powerlifting to win and it was too rough for me. I had to split my sessions in two. Really missed out on a lot of progress that I could have made with BBB

@angomango I definitely agree that you’re over thinking things, but that’s also because there’s so much noise.

I believe the “you’re intermediate when you stop making gains on linear prioritization” line was from AlphaDestiny. Pay no attention to it. He also said that it took a 225x5 Bench, 315x5 Squat, and 405x5 Deadlift for Intermediate, and I thought this was a better benchmark.

I’d even go as far as 315x5 Bench, 405x5 Squat, and 500x5 Deadlift is intermediate, but thats prolly because my standards are high