Sunday, June 5, 2016


Dear Beginner Lifter,

Have you been following a trendy beginner routine where you're doing 5x5?  Have you started to stall?  Are you considering following the conventional "wisdom" of dropping down to 3x5, and eventually 1x5 or 3x3 to continue progressing?


Image result for dethklok drink the bleach
Oh yeah, and if you were drinking bleach, stop doing that too

You are falling for a trick!  What is being proposed to you is NOT a way to continue progressing, but simply a way to create the ILLUSION of progress.

Let's review; you were doing 5x5 with straight weight across each set (for some reason, but we'll discuss why this was a silly choice another time).  One day, you were no longer able to complete the 5x5.  You attempted multiple times and were unsuccessful, managing the first 3 sets of 5 but failing to complete the last 2 (most likely).

Is eliminating those last 2 sets progressing?  NO!  It is in fact hiding from and ignoring your weakness.  Cutting out the hard part is the sort of answer that a small and weak person would come up with.  Yes, this will allow you to continue to train and add weight to the bar, but it's simply prolonging the inevitable.  You've exhausted your potential, and it's time to do MORE, not less, to get bigger and stronger.

Image result for South park warcraft
Keep in mind, this is typically the physique you develop from doing less

Want to have some fun with math?  Let me show you how this magic trick works.  Let's say you were doing 5x5 with 135lbs of weight on the bar.  That's 25 reps, meaning you moved 3,375lbs in a workout.  You then decide to cut it down to 3x5, meaning that, even if you increase the weight to 140, you're only moving 2100lbs in a workout.  Yeah, of course you're going to be able to keep training with linear progression; you're lifting LESS weight now.  Wanna guess what's going to happen when you put 225 on the bar for 3x5?  Meanwhile, did you get any stronger during that whole process, or did you just find a new way to reset that creates the illusion of improvement?

To BE more, one must DO more.  Beginners are absolutely terrified of some overtraining boogieman, when really it is the fear of UNDERTRAINING that should be keeping them up at night.  If you're only doing 5x5 for 1 lift in a workout and zero outside work, you're not creating a whole lot of opportunities for success.  If your solution to the weight being heavy is resting 10 minutes between sets, you're not addressing your actual problems.  You need to force your body to grow through stress.

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Fun fact; the anabolism from the effort exerted counteracts the catabolism from the vomiting

If you stall, start using some assistance work to get MORE volume in on top of your main training sets.  That's the point of assistance work; a way to strengthen weaknesses and cause growth.  If you aren't recovering well between sets, perform conditioning work so that you can improve your ability to recover.  Recovering IS a trainable quality, and ignoring it is why beginners never get anywhere.  The people that claim that cardio kills gains tend to be small, weak and fat.  It's the damndest thing really.

You don't need to cross some sort of arbitrary threshold and win the "intermediate lifter" crown before you're granted some sort of permission to use assistance work and reps over 5.  Prior to the internet, this was the NORM for getting bigger and stronger.  Read through "The Complete Keys of Progress" and notice how not a single article mentioned that some programs were for beginners while others were for advanced guys.  Reg Park's exact program was recommended for a new lifter, because it WORKED.  This idea of various levels of programs for various levels of lifters is internet nerdism and product of gurus trying to sell you something.  Train like someone that actually IS big and strong, because that's how you get that way.

PUSH YOURSELF!  You can recover from way more than you give yourself credit for.  Find out what your limits are; don't let some author or internet flunkie tell you otherwise.  Amass a ridiculous amount of volume to the point that your body has no choice BUT to grow.  Become a workhorse.  If everyone else is stalling at 3x5, what have you got to lose by actually putting in some effort and getting some work done?

Image result for Starting Strength Zach
Aside from the fact you might not becoming a meme

This isn't about following a formula and a blueprint.  These people trying to tell you that first you do Starting Strength and then you are given permission to do Ice Cream Fitness 5x5 and then you progress to the Texas Method and then etc etc are unaccomplished, weak, and trying to recruit you into their cult.  The blueprint successful lifters followed is that they trained their ass off with skullsplitting intensity and dedication and ignored anyone trying to Jedi-mind trick them into believing that the secret to progress was working LESS.

I assure you, it is a rare individual who discovers that the reason they aren't progressing is because they've been working too hard.  In all cases, assume you aren't working hard enough, and you will get MUCH further than the people who think they've already got everything figured out, dialed in, squared away and that it's simply science that's holding them back.


That guy with the blog.


  1. LOL couldn't have said it better myself!

    1. Thanks man. These things can build up after a while, haha.

  2. If I could get your feedback from an earlier question about GRID training I had for you I'd appreciate it. Sorry for my late reply, I didn't bookmark your blog and also didn't get notified of your reply. Here is a link of the training template I'm wanting to pull from. This one is written for a generalist. The position I want to compete in is called a barbell/strength specialist. I would not need to do muscle ups and handstand pushups but would need to do heavy farmers walks and some atlas stone training. Plus be able to do heavy power cleans/snatches in a ladder getting heavier in a timed event. Thanks for any tips!

    1. I appreciate you seeking my opinion on this dude, but I'm gonna have to admit; this is out of my element. I don't know anything about training olympic lifts, and trying to work them into a program would be a big wrench for me. My philosophy is that if you bust your ass and remain consistent, just about anything will work, so I'm sure you could make this approach work for you. Another option to consider might be the Cube Method for Strongman.

    2. Thanks man. I appreciate the input.