I'm a 23 year old male. 6'1" @ 84kg.

I started strength training in October 2014 and embarked on Wendler's 5/3/1+ BBB.

First off, I am aware that I may have got off on wrong foot going with that training program in the first place but the 4 day split worked for me and as I was training with 2 other guys, it just worked.

As for my lifts, from starting to now:-

  • Squat: 65kg - 115kg
  • Bench: 35kg - 65kg (unfortunately had a massive stall because of over training which put my bench comparatively behind.)
  • Deadlift: 65kg - 115kg (now starting to experience problems with my grip.)
  • OHP: 27.5kg - 55kg

In the past month I have started to incorporate Tabata-style HIIT into my training which is done 3 times per week; both leg days and 1 rest day. I opted to reduce the volume sets on leg day to compensate for the extra strain.

I will be returning to the gym, after a holiday, in mid-September which is when I'm looking to start a new program. I'd like to see this through for 7/8 months in the run up to a wedding at the beginning of May 2016.

In terms of goals I am looking for size and strength - I am happy with the slow and steady weight progression of 5/3/1 and I am mostly happy with my current achievements but I can't help thinking that I can be doing more with my time to yield bigger changes.

So, I've got the time frame and the drive, now I need the program. As for one which would be suitable it would be great if it could work with the following:-

  • I enjoy being able to have my workout finished in around 1 hour, 1.5 hours on HIIT days. As it stands I have short evenings, not including gym, so shorter the better...
  • Must be able to fit in HIIT for cardio purposes. I currently cycle on a stationary bike.
  • If possible, a program which is safe to run without a spotter: I have a home gym, all free weights, which consists of a power rack, 20kg olympic bar, plenty of weights and a bench. I have no safety stops.
  • I enjoy all 4 main lifts so preferably non which ommit OHP for example (which I've seen in a couple of routines - madness!)
  • No cable exercises - I'm in a home gym. For the same reason, the number of exercises should be kept to a minimum - rolling weights round and unscrewing dumbbells is tedious.
  • I am very open to going onto a more aggressive program that's more linear than 5/3/1 - I don't think I am all that near to running out of 'noob'-gain capabilities just yet.
  • Lastly, maybe a bit of wishful thinking here but as I have a set time, it would be great if the program which will (hopefully) be recommended to me usually yields significant changes in 3/4 months. This is to give me time to try a new program for a further 3/4 months before the big day.

I've been looking at just running Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 for beginners to increase the lift exposure to more than 1 x per week but I haven't seen many reviews/case studies on it to convince me to change. Also, from the brief read I've done so far, it seems like the total number of reps is actually lower than the normal program but just spread over 2 days...

Other Programs I've browsed:-

  • GZCL
  • PHUL

Any advice welcome. Thanks!

  • 3
    Great question, thanks for putting so much information forward and welcome to fitness.stackexchange.com
    – Eric
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 14:14
  • 1
    I'd also recommend using these numbers ( exrx.net/Testing/WeightLifting/StrengthStandards.htm ) to get a realistic idea of where you are on the novice<->elite spectrum. That will help you navigate between which programs are most beneficial to you.
    – Eric
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 0:01

1 Answer 1


First off, congratulations to your progress!

With those numbers though, just like you say, I believe you still have some to gain from a foundational (linear progression) strength program. My personal favorite is StrongLifts but others swear by Starting Strength. Either would work for you.

StrongLifts took my squat from 90 kg to 125 kg (5RM) in two months. I tried to combine it with CrossFit metcons but in the end felt I couldn't really recover properly between the sessions with that kind of volume. Maybe you can though!

The added aerob training would be great as your lifts get heavier.

  • Hi Tobias, thanks for your comments! I've been looking at SS/SL. I think I'm going to give SS a go - doing 5x5 3 times per week seems like it could be very taxing, particularly on the legs as I'm doing Tabata too! Looks like I'll have to swap the power cleans for BB rows because of lack of space in my gym but I'm pretty happy about that! I love rows. Wish me luck :)
    – Phizzy
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 9:04
  • Both programs have a ramp-up to your 5RM but once you get there and start pushing your limits – expect some pain! ;) Though with that comes good results too. Hope you'll like it and good luck with the program! Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 9:29
  • @Phizzy: if you're worried about recovery, you can try the advanced novice program of SS
    – Alex L
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 15:40
  • Hi all. After further research I've put together a program based on Greyskull LP. There's provisions for incorporating HIIT and I really like the attitude towards failure in this program. Nice progression too. Thank for your help and advice.
    – Phizzy
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 9:52

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