T Nation

2 Days - Which Template?


Hi, I wanted to ask some advice in what 2-days-template is the best for me.
I have 2 little kids, a busy job and I do martial arts 3 times a week, so I am only able to train 2 times a week.

I recently started the 2-days-template (option 1) of the original 5/3/1-book:

Day 1:

  • Squat - 5/3/1
  • Bench - 5/3/1
  • chin-ups - 3*10
  • Back Raises - 3*15
  • DB Bench Presses - 3*10
  • Rear Laterals - 3*20

Day 2:

  • Deadlift - 5/3/1
  • Press - 5/3/1
  • DB Rows - 3*10
  • Dips - 3*10-15
  • Good Mornings - 3*10
  • Curls - 3*10

I’m in the 2nd cycle with these training maxes:

  • Squat: 115 kg
  • Bench Press: 77,5 kg
  • Deadlift: 152,5 kg
  • 52,5 kg

I was reading on this forum and apperently there are much more possible templates.
I read about assistance vs supplemental work, FSL, BBB, only bodyweight-assistance…
It’s a little confusing to me.

I read Jim Wendler’s article ‘Help a friend get stronger’ on his website.
There he recommends a 2-3 days 5/3/1 program with only bodyweight oriented assistance work.

Wich template can anybody advice me to use and wich book do I need to buy if nescessary.
Or should I just stick to the template I am following?


How new are you to 531? you may just want to do a few cycles of that before changing.
I don’t know if you’d want to add volume like BBB or FSL if you are doing martial arts 3x per week, that may lead to recovery issues.
Body-weight exercises always fit well with martial arts, but weights are a lot more fun lol

How intense is the martial art you do?Are you able to change your training or is it at classes?
Personally I train at home so I have the luxury of programming, I found following 531 intensity a good fit.
5’s Week - skill/ technique
3’s week - adding in speed
1’s week - adding in power

Something to ask yourself tho,and is something I could never decide on until my shoulder chose for me; Do you want to get as strong as you can be or do you want to get as good at your martial art as you can? This will impact how you train and what you exercises/routines choose. (although since your plan is 3-2 days in favor of martial arts you may have already decided…)


Hi John,

First of all thank you for your respons.

I am very new to 531, this is the first time I started a 531 program.
I have done Starting Strenght a couple of times over the past years.

I find the idea of extra volume interesting because I can only train for strenght 2 times a week.
I also have the idea that in the template I am doing now, there is still some room for the main lifts, although this can maybe change when the weights go up…

My week looks like this:

  • Mondag: strenght
  • Thuesday: rest
  • Wednesday: jiu-jitsu
  • Thursday: strenght
  • Friday: thai-boxing
  • Saterday: jiu-jitsu
  • Sunday: Rest

The jiu-jitsu training is very technical and not very intensive.
Only the warm-up can be intensive sometimes, but that depends from training to training (who teaches that day). A typical warm-up consists out of running circles, a little bit of sprinting, jumping, stretching, mobility and bodyweight excersices. Often we also have a very intense (high heart rate) warm-up consisting out of bodyweight excercises, running, punching and kicking…
After the warm-up (approximately 1/2 hour) we work on the techniques. This is not intensive.

The tai-boxing training is always very intensive. Our warming up usually consists out of circuits of robe skipping, alternated with bodyweight exercises. Or circuits of 1 minute per exercise (push-ups, squatting, sit-ups, kicking, punching…). After the warm-up, we train punching, kicking and sparring, so this is quite intensive during the whole training (1 hour).

But according to the first 5/3/1-book you can do whatever conditioning you want and when you want to do it. And I think these trainings can be seen as condtioning, so this shouldn’t be a problem for recovery. Or do I see this wrong?

For your last question, I see it this way:
I don’t do competition in martial arts and don’t have the ambition to do this either.
The jiu-jitsu training has to be seen as a lifetime of learning where technique is the most important thing. Strength and speed are very helpfull in a fight and with 531-training this can only become better.
So to give an answer to your question: the goal for the 531 is to become as strong as possible.
But I want everything kept in balans (overall fitness, body composition…).


Hi Panda,
I’m 43 and apply 531 principes for almost 16 months now, 2 days / week.
I’ve read many possibilities, like you write, to run this programm 2 days / week. The temptation to switch from one to the other is high, it’s probably normal, I don’t know. I try to keep myself away from such temptation and I run a template for a minimum of 6 weeks, more if I like it.

The most important, as the author wrote, is to apply the principles of 531. This is more important as the template itself.


Yes I’d say you’re on the right track and counting your martial arts as your conditioning is perfect! Jiu Jitsu should help you stay limber also, especially in the hips so that’s a plus! Two days may be the way to go but I don’t see any harm with playing around with the 3 and 4 day templates for a cycle here and there. Jim has a good plan with doing 6 week cycles, lets you try stuff without being stuck on one thing too long. It will give you a chance to see what your options are, if you try 4 days and that combined with your MA trashes you, then you know it doesn’t work and can check it off the list.

And if you are overworked remember you can just do the main lift at times and skip the assistance.

I am still trying to find a nice balance between the two. Good luck!


I don’t have enough time to put an extra workout. Maybe I can throw in one once in awhile, but not every week, so it’s not possible to put it in the template.

If I keep on this template and I have the time to do an extra one, should I train the two most important lifts (squat and deadlift) or all four (squat, deadlift, bench press and press) with less weight and more reps? That way I put in some more volume, but can keep my template on monday and thursday.