Great, great article. I’ve got a few questions, however. I’ve been lifting now for about 5 years, and really only a month or so have been SMART training (diet in check by tracking, progressive overloading in the 4-6 rep range, essentially following BLS) and have made substantial progress on cutting. Does this mean I’m technically a beginner by these terms, being that I’ve trained for years but only recently started becoming fully educated? Should I be cutting first? My plan was (starting at ~15% BF) to get down to about 8 or 9 (I am roughly 11-12% now). Should I be cutting that low, or bulk earlier to cash in on “genetic potential”?
As far as changes to the program, I found doing 5x5 deadlifts to be excessive in the novice version (completely drained me) and ramp-up 1x5 DLs worked better (a la Rippetoe/SS). If you still need more DL volume for whatever reason, I've lately tacked on 5x10 on the last day after the other exercises with 30-50% 1RM weight (a la Wendler/531's Boring But Big). Also needed to add extra arm work. Calves were a lagging issue for me BUT the sheer amount of squats made them come up naturally. Otherwise, this is perfect. Stick to this protocol with adequate rest, good form and a slight caloric surplus and you'll be somewhere strong in no time.