Over the past couple years I have gotten back into weight lifting. It has been great, I’m stronger than I was when I was in the Marines 20 years ago. I’m nowhere near as fast though, maybe we’ll work on that in the future.


When I first got back into lifting I picked up the kettlebell at the recommendation of Bryan Noll. This was a good place to start. If I was stranded on a desert island and could only have one piece of equipment it would be a 53 pound kettlebell. The simplicity of the device makes it easy to get going.

I read Enter the Kettlebell, it’s a great resource to start. It’s probably enough just to buy yourself a kettlebell and watch some YouTub videos.


Eventually I wanted more body composition changes so I put together a 5x5 program for myself. I was inspired by the Stong Lifts e-book but didn’t use his program. He lays out a full-body system where every day you work all muscle groups using old-school multi-joint barbell lifts.
I think my body doesn’t recover quickly enough to lift a few times in a week. I have always been that way even though I respond well to lifting weights.

I created a split routine that was push, pull and legs. With a handful of exercises that were all 5 sets of 5 reps. I got great results with this.


In the fall of 2011 I started Jim Wendlers 5/3/1 program. 5/3/1 is an undulating progression routine where you increase weights for 3 weeks then take a week to do light work. The 4 weeks you do the same gradual progression but with 5-10 more pounds. A program like 5/3/1 makes sense when you are no longer able to make linear progression of 5 pounds for a lift between workouts.

I can’t hold a candle to the time under the bar and intelligence that Jim Wendler has but after a couple cycles I quit doing 5/3/1 strictly.

There are a couple reasons I didn’t like 5/3/1 strictly:

  • my military press or overhead press is already in great shape and I don’t need an entire day for shoulder work.
  • I didn’t like the abscence of a day spent on back and pulling. Although the 5/3/1 deadlift day would probably be seen as a back day also. 5/3/1 also suggests doing pull-ups between all push movements, that would get you lots of time pulling.

I’ll probably give strict 5/3/1 another chance but for now this is what I’m doing.

Modified 5/3/1


  • 5/3/1 squat
  • 3x10 leg curl
  • 3x10 leg extension
  • 3x20 weighted hyper-extension
  • 3x10 squat


  • 5/3/1 bench
  • 3x10 military press
  • 3x10 dumbell press
  • 3x10 arnold press
  • 3x10 tricep press


  • 3 sets of pull ups, assisted
  • 3x10 bent row
  • 3x10 upright row
  • 3x10 db row
  • 3x10 curl machine
  • 3x10 hang clean