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Intermediate strength training program? Wendler 531?

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Hi guys,


I’m having a hard time figuring which intermediate strength training program I should follow now… From what I read, either Madcow 5x5, Texas Method or Westside for Skinny Bastards #1 would work for me but before picking one randomly (and being stuck with it for months) I thought I should first ask for some advises…


BTW English is not my everyday language so sorry if I sound weird.





32 year old.


Between 163/164lbs.

More or less 12% of body fat.





Weight: 150lbs (more or less 16% of body fat).

2013 (autumn) - Crossfit (2 workout a week).

2014 (all year) - Crossfit (between 3 to 4 workout a week).

2015 (winter+spring) - Crossfit (between 3 to 4 workout a week).


And then (drum roll)… I get injured…

I had to take a break (6 weeks) so I used this time to think about what I did wrong. In a few words I came to the conclusion that Crossfit was not what I needed and wanted anymore. So I started looking into strength training method like Stronglift 5x5 and Starting Strength…


2015 (summer) - Starting strength - I started with light weights (see below) but I quickly stalled on the squat and the press and I found that the workout where just too long for me. Moreover squatting “heavy” 3 times a week was too much for my knees (I fixed a few thing since that time so I guess I would be ok to do so now)…


Deadlift - Started with 5x190lbs ended with 5x240lbs.

Squat - Started with 5x150lbs ended with 5x195lbs (I had to deload twice).

Bench - Started with 5x125lbs ended with 5x150lbs.

Press - Started with 5x125lbs ended with 5x95lbs (I had to deload twice).

Clean - Started with 3x125lbs ended with 3x150lbs.


Weight: 156lbs (more or less 14% of body fat).

2015 (autumn) - Wendell 531 + BBB (60%) - I chose Wendler because it seemed more manageable over time (increasing weights each workout was definitively too much for me). Another reason was that Starting Strength workout were too long (1.25h for SS vs 45mn for 531 + warmup + stretching).


Here is what I’m doing for the moment (I'm in the middle of my third cycle)…

Monday - Deadlift 531 + Squat BBB + 5x10 Shrugs + 5x10 GHR

Tuesday - Press 532 + Bench BBB + 5x10 Shrugs + 10x5 Pull-up + 10x5 push-up

Thursday - Squat 531 + Deadlift BBB + 5x10 Shrugs + 5x10 Abs

Friday - Bench 531 + Press BBB + 5x10 Shrugs + 10x5 Pull-up + 10x5 push-up


Estimated 1RM:

Deadlift - 315lbs (12x225lbs)

Squat - 246lbs (11x180lbs)

Bench - 198lbs (11x145lbs)

Press - 123lbs (9x95lbs)





I have the impression that Wendler 531 might not be the best program for my level and that It could be more interesting for me to follow a program that has faster weight progression pace (in SS you have to add weight each workout and in 531 it's each month). Maybe the stretch between theses programs was too big...


I came to that conclusion because...

- I barely get sore (even with the BBB).

- To really push myself I have to go over 10 reps on the 531 AMRAP (except for the press).

- I spend only 30% of my workout (45mn) on the 531 lift (the rest is dedicated to BBB and assistance work).

- I have the impression that working hard each of the 4 big lifts only once a week is not enough.


And also, 4 workout a week is sometimes too much for my schedule, I would prefer to go back with 3 longer workout...





- Should I keep Wendler 531 like that and just be patient...

- Should I keep Wendler 531 and just adjust the weight to make the 531 lift more challenging?

- Should I move to another program that has more volume, a quicker weight progression and 3 workout a week (Madcow 5x5, Texas Method or Westside for Skinny Bastards #1)?


Thanks for your help!

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  • 2 months later...

If you asked this on the Starting Strength forums, I'm confident they would tell you that you don't need an intermediate program—you need to run the Starting Strength novice program correctly.


Only 45lb increase on your squats? For a male aged 18-35, something more like 100-200lb is the norm.

Only 6lbs gain in body weight, to 14% body fat? Again, an underweight male aged 18-35 is expected to end the program around or above 200lbs with around 20% body fat.

(If you're a woman, the expectations are different, but your problem is the same.)


Your numbers, along with stalling so quickly, suggest a few common problems: you're not eating enough, not sleeping enough, or not resting enough between sets. Check out this article:


If you have the Starting Strength book, I'd suggest reading the section on Nutrition and Bodyweight over again. (Also, I have to mention that Rippetoe and his associates insist that veganism will greatly limit progress in strength training. Whether or not that's true...)

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