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5/3/1 3 Month Challenge or for Bodybuilders?

Currently trying to decide on a routine for when i comeback properly to training as i currently have a lower back injury. I have used up most of my noob gains, but i can still add weight to the bar quite fast if i train properly. In my last 2 month bulk i added about 15lbs to my 3RM bench. Stats: 6’1, 195lb, 16% BFish, 1RM roughly 175/310/250 bench/dead/squat. I feel that i need to build more of a foundation of strength before worrying about individual muscles, although I do need some volume work especially for arms as they dont seem to grow without it.

5/3/1 appeals as the progression is already laid out for you and you can get a spreadsheet to calculate it so its simple and harder to fuck things up when its written down and clear. Is the 3 month challenge or the “for bodybuilders” better for my goals? I also like a 4 day schedule so thats good. I have heard people say progress is slow on these programs, but i’m not sure if thats the program or they arent eating properly.

  1. You will gain mass on the three month challenge/boring but big (the actual assistance template), but it won’t be focused on specific parts. If you really want to bring up your arms/rear delts/whatever, use the bodybuilder template. There’s no better or worse, they’re different tools.
  2. Slow but steady progress trumps hitting the wall again and again. With 5/3/1 you can put 20lbs on your max squat and 10 lbs on your max bench within two months if you do it right - if you think you can do it faster/have noob/intermediate gains left, then try something else.

That being said, I’d spend a few weeks on some type of 5x5 or similar program to get back to your old numbers - don’t expect to see them again the moment you go back to the gym.

What are your goals? Honestly either template will work, but I doubt you need as much assistance work as you think you do, in general.

Right, good point on the 5x5 for a while. I`ll probably do something similar to starting strength for a few weeks. Thing is SS never worked for me in the upper body lifts really so im hoping 5/3/1 is more balanced. Today i just did 60% of my bench 1RM 5 x 10 with no heavy lifts before it, and it was quite hard so i can see how the challenge is going to be real tough. I just need to sort out my squatting technique so i dont get injured again (no glute activation, leaning too far forward = lower back problem.)


My goals? 200lb at 10% BF as fast as possible. My goals are not strength related, but i feel there are certain levels of strength i need to reach to hit those stats.

If i came up with something myself it would look similar to this, because i like the frequency of upper/lower. I dont really like doing OHP as a compound movement as i get shoulder impingement from incline or overhead work. I would add 2.5kg to all compound lifts every time the sets were completed with all 5 reps. This would hopefully allow faster progress than 5/3/1 to make the most of intermediate gains.

Deadlift 1 x 5
leg press 3 x 12-15
leg curl 2 x 10-15
leg extension 2 x 10-15
calf raises 3 x 20

Bench press 2 x 5
bent row 4 x 6-8
DB shoulder press 3 x 8-10
biceps 3 x 10-12
CG bench 3 x 10-12

Squat 2 x 5
leg press 3 x 12-15
RDL 3 x 10-12
calf raises 3 x 20

Bench press 2 x 5
bent row 4 x 6-8
power lateral raise 4 x 15 drop sets
biceps 2 x 10-12
pushdowns 2 x 12

bodybuilding template