3 Day A-B Split with 2 Main Lifts per Workout

Hi all,

I was humouring trying a 3 day A-B split with 2 main lifts per workout and would very much welcome your thoughts. Gym time is a bit limited but I would like to see if there is room to increase the rate of strength development by slightly increasing the frequency at which I go heavy on the main lifts. Would very much welcome your thoughts.

Workout A:
A1) 5/3/1 Squat
A2) Jump work and shoulder prehab
B1) 5/3/1 Bench
B2) Bent over row*

Workout B:
A1) 5/3/1 Deadlift
A2) Jump work and shoulder prehab
B1) 5/3/1 Overhead press
B2) Weighted pullups*

*unsure on sets/reps but focus would be on strength/functional hypertrophy, might just go for a rep goal.

A fortnight would look like the following:

Mon: A
Tue: Running
Wed: B
Thu: Running
Fri: A
Sat: Running
Sun: Off
Mon: B
Tue: Running
Wed: A
Thu: Running
Fri: B
Sat: Running
Sun: Off

I would say do your Jump work (I assume this means box jumps, long jumps, etc.) and prehab stuff first. Jumping is a good primer before lifting. May not be a huge deal, but for me personally I would rather do box jumps before I squat rather than try them in a fatigued state after a lower body movement.

When it comes to the pulling movements, if you don’t have a good idea where your strength level lies with them I say just do a basic 5x5 linear progression until you are familiar where your strength level lies, or you could program with the Simplest Strength Template. Rep goals are great too, sounds like you got it covered in any case.

What is your overall training goal? Are you training for a marathon or anything like that, or do you just enjoy running?

That’s basically the same setup as 5/3/1 for beginners on Jim’s blog here:

It will probably work fine and the best way to know is trying it yourself. But this part here:

" I would like to see if there is room to increase the rate of strength development by slightly increasing the frequency at which I go heavy on the main lifts"

Don’t get too caught up in more frequency = more/faster strength gains. Getting stronger is a SLOW process. And even doing each lift once per week like a regular 5/3/1 setup will work great. It’s worked for plenty of people, if you’re smart with your supplemental and assistance work you’ll see plenty of progress over time.

Just be realistic with what you can/can’t reocover from and you’ll be fine. If you add something to a program, it needs to come out from somewhere else.

Thanks for taking the time to reply. Your response gave me some confidence that I wasn’t picking an entirely ridiculous split.

I do indeed mean jump work - box jumps, long jumps, lateral single leg jumps etc.

I’ll try doing the jumps beforehand like you suggest. I think this is in line with Wendlers advise also but I was looking for opportunities to reduce workout time and have been reading up on the French Contrast method.

Thank you for the suggestions regarding pulling movements. I hadn’t considered the Simplest Strength Template and will look into it.

As for overall goal? I’ve been bitten by the OCR bug and would love to pursue that over the next couple of years. In addition to this I could do with dropping a bunch of fat and strengthening myself. The running helps a lot with the OCR training and genuinely makes me feel fantastic (although I appreciate it’s not ideal from a strength/size perspective). It’s not all that far - 30-60 mins at moderate intensity.

Absolute fantastic article, thank you! Did not consider 5x5 FSL on the main lifts - I was wondering if I had enough volume.

Would there be anything to be said for pushing the rate of strength development hard for a short stint (2-3 months or so?) before moving back towards a more traditional 5/3/1 3 day split?

Personally I don’t think so. I went straight to a regular 5/3/1 Triumvirate setup, with one lift and one PR set each workout. I set a new PR every single time for 6 months - if you’re pushing the PR set you’re going to be making good progress no matter what.

It’s only a short part of your training in the end if you want to experiment - you could run the beginners setup for 2-3 cycles, then a more traditional one for another 2-3 and see how it goes for you. I don’t believe one is going to get you stronger any faster. The beginners setup just helps newer lifters get a bit more practice with bench and squats (more practice does not mean more strength), but once you know the movements that’s not a huge deal.

Thank’s all for the above - I’ve settled on the following:

Workout A:
A1) Squat 5/3/1, FSL 5x5
A2) Assorted prehab
B1) Bench 5/3/1, FSL, 5x5
B2) Barbell row 1xwarmup, 10x3-5
C) Vanity/core/conditioning (optional, various sets/reps)

Workout B:
A1) Deadlift 5/3/1, FSL 5x5
A2) Assorted prehab
B1) Overhead press 5/3/1, FSL, 5x5
B2) Weighted pullup 1xwarmup, 10x3-5
C) Vanity/core/conditioning (optional, various sets/reps)

Performed as a 6 week cycle as per Beyond 5/3/1 in a A/run/B/run/A/run/off/B/run/A/run/B/run/off fashion.

Dropped jumps for now but may bring back in after a couple of cycles.

Will likely run this through till end of winter before swapping one workout a week out for OCR/strongman inspired GPP circuits (maybe even OCR SPP).

You may wanna run a little lower TM with this. It looks good but in forever Jim has different TM set ups based on volume. So starting a little lower may be intelligent if you’re running this for a while. I don’t know your maxes (if you posted them I didn’t see them sorry) but being stronger does effect recovery. In any case this looks good and I believe forever has a 5/3/1 original challenge set up very similar to this. Where you actually go through a cycle every 2 weeks.

Good luck in any case post result and thoughts!!