T Nation

Would I Be Considered a Novice or an Intermediate Lifter?



Yeah - it’s just my opinion, but I see the 3848573726 variations of 5/3/1 floating around now and I don’t see the time-tested, not-Jim-Wendler’s-idea of 5 sets of 10 as something that a beginner can’t do. Beginners can also lift 4 days a week if they want. 5/3/1 is awesome, and will always be awesome, but part of Jim’s marketing strategy at this point is to sell it as a lifelong program. It can absolutely be run for life, with Forever especially, but do people really believe that doing 5x10 of a full body movement isn’t going to make you grow or get stronger, just because you’re a beginner? I’d argue it’d be doubly effective.


Just my uninformed opinion, and I think I read it somewhere so it must be right (joking), but I think you’re a novice until your LP stalls and then you need to go into intermediate programming. So, if you stall at a certain number, you need to change your program for that lift. It could be HLM or 5/3/1 or any other intermediate program, just different than LP.

Of course, we all stall for different reasons - too much conditioning, poor diet, lack of recovery, etc… You’re better off changing those things before changing your program. The longer you can milk your newbie gains, the better off you will be in the long run.

I’ve run SS and 5/3/1 and like them both. I had a SS coach and when I hit the end of my NLP on SS he recommended 5/3/1.

The key is to know what your goals are, keep adding reps or weight, and stick with a program for at least three months (arbitrary number).

Good luck.


Is this a template or something? Sorry, just didn’t quite get it.

After hearing your testimonial about BBB, mostly, where you were at when you did it, I think I’ve changed my mind about it. I did, at almost the same strength level you did (slightly lower on everything but the press), and felt it was simply too low to be doing much.

Like I said before, pressing the barbell for 5x10 just seemed like too little, and I should get my weight up before doing it. I think Jim may have even said in one of his books to use a weight that doesn’t “make you look like an asshole,” i.e. having a 2.5lb plate on each side for your press, or bench, or whatever.

I ran it for I think 3 cycles, and I don’t know, it may have just been my attitude and perspective of it that made it seem less effective to me. Probably that.

I am feeling compelled to try it again now!


I consider myself a beginner. Even though I’ve gotten much stronger, there is still so much I need to learn. I’ve gotten here with just basics and a program called “beat the log book and eat”.

To be a big and strong person, it’s actually very simple. If you are trying to be an advanced athlete or compete I think that’s the only time you need something more structured.

Here are my numbers:

Back squat - 405x10
Deadlift - 405x15
Bench Press - 255x10
OH Press - 185x10

@ 32, 5’7, 177lbs


There was this program I found that had a bunch of jokers and then triples.

I was about to get ready for a push/pull meet, but this workout fried me so early on.

If I ever got really busy and had to do my own stuff, I’d do 5/3/1BBB because it’s pretty good for time


With your numbers, you are the only person on earth who would call you a beginner.


As far as strength goes I might not be a beginner, but as far as training and all of that I am still a beginner! I still always have questions lol.


I’ve always seen novice and intermediate as the difference in ability to recover from frequent high intensity work outs.
“Novice” work outs are normally very high intensity, quite often. We’ll the ones I did were (SS & SL). But even though you’re working at your max, if you’re only squatting 80kg for 5 - you’re only squatting 80kg for 5. You will recover quickly enough to squat or deadlift heavy 2 days later.
But if your max is 160kg for 5 reps you just can do that and the deadlift or squat 2 days a part. That’s just a bit too much.
Well that’s my take anyway. I might be wrong.
But keep using “novice” work outs till the recovery is too hard. Then swap to an “intermediate” plan. Or a different “novice” plan. So long as you can recover.