Posts Tagged ‘5/3/1’


It’s been a while since my last update. I have been on the 5/3/1 boring but big template for about 3 months now. And the good thing is that I am really getting big while getting stronger and leaner at the same time.

To put things in perspective, I have gained about 7-8 lbs in the last 2-3 months. So I am definitely getting bigger. As far as strength goes, I recently squatted 215 lbs for 4 reps which is a PR for both weight and reps. I also shoulder pressed 115 lbs for a single which is a PR again. In a couple weeks I plan to test my max on the deadlift and I hope it exceeds or at least equals my last PR. So I am definitely getting stronger. How do I say I am getting leaner at the same time? I look in the mirror everyday and the mirror doesn’t lie. Also none of my pants have gotten tighter even the slightest bit while I gained those 7-8 lbs so I can safely assume that I am maintaining my body fat percent if not getting leaner.

In the recent past, I wrote a post about fasting and how it helped me get leaner faster. And I am doing nothing different to be honest. My training routine (5/3/1 Boring but Big) has helped me gain size while getting stronger. At the same time Intermittent Fasting has enabled me to keep the fat away while gaining muscle. If there was truly a holy grail for being lean all year round and gain lean muscle and get stronger, you shouldn’t look any further than intermittent fasting.

If you don’t suffer from a sugar disease (diabetes) or a heart condition, and you’re not pregnant or nursing, you can safely follow intermittent fasting. I would recommend you read all the resources I mention at the bottom of this post before you start out. And always remember, there are really no shortcuts to anything. So if you are set out to achieve a certain physique, you will have to toil through a lot and face a lot of highs and lows.

I started training in September 2012. That was around the same time I started intermittent fasting. There have been really awesome days in the gym when I obliterated all previous personal records. And then there have been days where I questioned what I was doing and thought of giving up. But the key is to keep yourself motivated constantly and not look back. When you’re under the iron in the power cage, you get to know yourself better and it instills a new confidence. You develop new strengths and strengthen your character.

Even though intermittent fasting has worked for me, it might not work for you. Everyone is different and nothing comes in one size fits all. But if you think it might work for you, give it a shot and see how you feel. After 17 months of doing intermittent fasting, I feel great today. And when I look in the mirror, a sense of accomplishment hits me.

So yes, you can grow stronger, bigger and leaner at the same time. It just takes brutal determination, unbeatable consistency and a strong solid will.

Resources –


I’ve been away for quite sometime. The last time I wrote an update was when I was still having hip issues and I got them straightened out with the help of a chiropractor. I had given thought to switching my lifting routine from Stronglifts 5X5 to Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1. The idea behind this change was to increase recovery time and to be less beaten up (squatting 200lbs 3 times a week is no joke at my body weight). However, I stuck around with Stronglifts for the better part of last month.

It’s been a little more than a year that I have been on this program and saying that I am satisfied would be an understatement. The program is amazing for anyone who has never touched weights in their lives; split routine training doesn’t mean touching weights (no offence to the aesthetic chasers). If the program wasn’t as good as it is, I wouldn’t have been on it for a year. Mehdi has done a good job creating a routine which will work for anyone.

Now if you are subscribed to the Stronglifts newsletter which Mehdi sends out everyday, you should have a pretty good idea of what the title of the post means. There was a time when he used to post videos of himself lifting pretty heavy stuff, no more though. All that is left of Stronglifts is the Stronglifts inner circle. The bottom of every e-mail from Mehdi begs people to join his inner circle of members. He also gives freebies to people who join. However, I reckon that it is a little excessive on his part to write in every e-mail “Doors are closed now but you can go here and sign up for early bird registration for my Inner Circle.” Some way or the other he always manages to link his stories to the inner circle as if the inner circle is the solution to every problem.

When he posted his videos of him lifting in his home gym, that was inspirational stuff. When I saw him for the first time, I thought I wanted to be like him. I believe he made a big mistake in marketing himself by changing his focus from posting videos to sending crappy e-mails. To be honest, I am still subscribed to his newsletter because his e-mails make me chuckle first thing in the morning. He has also shown his complete rebuttal of steroids and steroid users. He has called them cheaters and has gone as far as to prove it by citing some research studies. He also says that, “If you’re using workout gloves and using a foam pad (for squats), you are not really doing stronglifts.” I think there is a better way to convince people not to use workout gloves or foam pads. I also think it is a personal preference and nobody gives a shit about you telling them that they’re not doing your program because you said so.

Coming to the program, I think it is a fairly balanced routine.

Day 1 – Squat, Bench, Pendlay Row

Day 2 – Squat, Overhead Press, Deadlift

Work out three times a week alternating between day 1 and day 2 workouts with 5 sets of 5 reps on each lift except the deadlift which is 1 set of 5 reps. There is push, pull movements for the shoulders – the bench and the pendlays. There is a push movement overhead but there isn’t a pull movement. I think if you’re doing stronglifts you should also do pull ups/ chin ups if you want to keep your shoulders balanced.

So much for the praise of the program. Even though the program is simple to follow, there is very little information about how to properly do the lifts without getting injured. Here is where the marketing gimmick called the Stronglifts Inner Circle comes into the picture. Mehdi says that if you join the Inner circle, you can post videos of your lifts and get instant feedback about your form from other members which will help you be injury free.

First of all Mehdi, there is only so much you can see in a video. Secondly, are those members of your inner circle all personal trainers? Are they certified to provide feedback? I don’t think providing feedback is wrong. But if you are selling the membership to your inner circle to people to help themselves, then you’re making money out of nothing. You have just created a forum for people to interact with each other. There are websites like Fitocracy which do the same thing and for free. One can also post videos on youtube and have someone on facebook look at them. Why would anyone in their right mind pay for membership of a forum in which you ask questions from people who aren’t even certified to answer them?

In any case, he has done a good job making the program from Bill Starr’s/ Reg Park’s 5X5 program. However, he has not marketed himself correctly. From a stronglifter he has become a gatekeeper who does nothing except opening and closing the gates of his Stronglifts Inner Circle. Good luck to you Mehdi. May you achieve what you set out to achieve.

So you joined a gym and had a PT design a training routine for you. You have no idea what the training routine is going to do for you, but you have trust in the PT’s abilities. Read on if you want to know how to question the PT’s routine and refine it to your needs.


The first thing that you need to do is to ask yourself about your fitness goals. Do you want to run faster, or lift heavy or play a sport better or run a marathon? One training routine cannot serve all purposes. All training regimens are different. Once you’ve narrowed down your goals, it is going to be a lot easier to decide what program to follow.

Strength – If you decided that you want to lift all those plates like Franco Columbu in the picture above, you have a very simple path defined. The easiest way to train for maximum strength is to lift the maximum weight you can for 1-5 reps. Usually this is the way power-lifters train and work up to a 1 rep max for their power-lifting meets. There are many beginner programs out there like Starting Strength, Stronglifts, Greyskull LP. If you are an intermediate or advanced lifter, you might want to try the Texas Method, Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 or The Cube Method. In an interview with Starting Strength coach Mark Rippetoe, Ed Coan admitted using 5 reps in his training. If you don’t know who Ed Coan is, go here.

Strength and Size – If you want to look big and gain strength at the same time, the ideal rep range to work with would be 6-12 reps. Although, strength gains might not be the same as with a lower rep range strength based training program, you will surely gain some strength along the way while getting big. Remember, more size doesn’t necessarily mean more strength.

Endurance – Anything greater than 12 reps is going to help you build endurance. Remember, the weights used in these rep ranges would be a fraction of those used for strength training else you’re lifting too heavy here.

If you want more info about rep ranges go here or here.

If you want the best of all the good things: strength, size and endurance, you will have to switch it up and work with different rep ranges. But if you’re just starting out, strength is the way to go. Everything else follows suit.