T Nation

5/3/1 and Martial Arts


I think I will try to incoperate 5/3/1 into my martial arts training but then the 2 times a week routine.
What would be better, to do one core exercise over 2 weeks (so for example on thuesday the bench, on thursday the squat, the next thuesday deadlfit and the next thursday the press) or to do two core exercises per day? So that you work all the 4 core exercises in one week?

And I like to do some supplementary exercises and I like the pull-ups and the dip.
Can someone give me advice on good combinations for the 5/3/1 espacialy for mma?


Have you bought the book? He answers these questions.

Also, put your questions in one thread instead of starting a new thread every time the light bulb goes off.

The only way to know what will be better for you is to give both of them a shot. It also depends on what kind of MA you're doing and what that physical workload is.... your twice a week karate class with a bunch of 50 years olds has different demands then being an amateur boxer.


buy the book.


Okay guys,

Yes I have the book but because its not special for mma or something like that I was wondering if some guys on this forum have advice for training in combination with mma


You don't need to do anything special because you also train MMA. The two-day a week template is outlined in the book and has been done to death here and elsewhere.

If you're legitimately training MMA and want to do 5/3/1 also it can be done but you have to pay serious attention to your recovery.

The only "special adaptation" i'd make for training MMA also (and it's not even that special) is to do all bodyweight assistance.


Okay, I nderstand. Thank you very much KRC


Sorry, I forgot one more thing. As I said I have the book and I like the 2 days a week, the version wereby you do one day the squat and the bench and the other day the deadlift and the military press (I think I will use the clean instead off the deadlift because I dont have that much weights yet).
As assistent lift Wendler says to use 3-4.
If I do the squat and he bench can I do then all the four assistent exercises as seen in the book (by the squat he says as asistent to do one legged squats and sit-ups and by the bench the chins and push-ups?
Las question, do I have to do the squat and the bench first and after that all the four assistent exercises?
Sorry for all these questions, as you can see I have the book but sometimes its hard to understand for me in a different language. Hope someone can help me with this and then I dont have any questions anymore :slightly_smiling:


Your first question - it depends if you can handle the recovery. I box and I can't handle that much volume- it leaves me feeling shot the rest of the week. Right now I do the two-day template that has one upper body movement and the assistance work on one day, and one lower body movement and the assistance work on another. Sometimes even this proves to be too much for me... the next day I feel like I'm punching underwater, or I can't move around the ring. So I've brought it down quite a bit.

As for the second question, if you were going to do two 5-3-1 exercises on the same day, my understanding is that you'd do the Bench, then that assistance work, and then the squat, and then the assistance work for that. Doing the major exercises back to work might either 1) exhaust you too much or 2) give the muscles needed for the assistance work a break before working them again, which defeats the purpose of the plan.

5/3/1 is not an easy program- it's a relatively low volume program compared with most bodybuilding or westside splits, and it works well in the three day mode, so it seems easier to those who lift alot.

But if you're truly training hard for a combat sport, two days of 5/3/1 taken too far can be enough to fuck your whole shit up. So, as a poster said before, be careful about recovery. You're in a different playing field then the dudes who just lift for an hour and then sit around all day.


Okay, thanks Fightinirish26,

yes you are completly right, we as martial artist have other things to worry about to. Thats why I asked if the 5/3/1 routnie would be a good choiche.

You have explained it very well. Now I know what to do.
Thanks again.


Hope it works out for you man.




I would echo the sentiment above. 5-3-1 is great for martial arts. I have used it since october. Up until recently I did 2 days a week ( I didnt even do the bench press), with very MINIMAL assistance work. I would do squats, and GHR's, I would Deadlift, and that was it, I would do militaries and some chins. I saw steadily decent, nothing drastic, improvements in strength.

That being said, I was doing a shit ton of cardio and sparring at the same time. I dont know if it was just the training or the combination of alot of stress at work but I really burnt out a few weeks ago and took some time off. So recovery is very important.

Currently, I upped the volume, but I am focusing on a powerlifting competition in the next few months as opposed to fights..


Excellent choice :slightly_smiling:

Raw/Geared? What Fed and weight class?

I'm currently focusing on powerlifting after doing a year and a half of BJJ. After a few PL comps I plan to integrate both again but now with a higher strength level.


Raw, I am not a fan of gear.

The Federation is ADAU, weight class is 148-165. It is memorial day weekend.

I am aiming for a 450 squat, 450 deadlift, and a 300 bench.


I'm gearing up for - hopefully - my first MMA fight in many years. I've always loved strength training but truth be told strength is probably third or fourth on the list of important things to train.

You want proof - Mariusz Pudzianofsk (sp?)

For my money you've got to get the skill set and the conditioning right before concentrating on 'strength' workouts unless you find that you are serious weaker physically than most others in your weight class. I'm pretty strong for an old timer but there are guys with better technique and more gas who will destroy me on the mat and in the ring.

As for 5/3/1 go twice a week, something like MP - Mondays + 2 Bodyweight Assists, DL - Thursday + 1/2 bW assists, BP - next monday....well, you get the picture. Like the others said keep an eye on your recovery & eat well. Back off the 5/3/1 if other more important things suffer.

Finally, remember to STRETCH & DO MOBILITY STUFF!


666 rich those are good goals

for the OP-

there is a great video- of Wendler at a strength coach symposium
its here somewhere, I want to say Dre.Cappa posted it,maybe Im mistaken.

where he answers a question about how people training for sports like wrestling etc
can make progress

he dismisses that they cant make progress,
basically he explains how for 99% Strength work is GPP

and how limiting assistance work is the key for athletes like us
for recovery and good progress who have a shit ton of other work
( sparring , practice conditioning etc)

I would use a two day lay out and only do minimal assistance.

5x10 is overkill and would leave me crippled for other work
rolling etc
but for someone trying to get bigger heavier its great.

I like the triumvirate- layout

one compound lift- be it bench OH press, Dead or squat
and 2 and only 2 other movements for assistance.

find the two that will give you, the best results.

for me the accessory work has usually been
upper- pullup and dip loaded or not.
lower unilateral work like reverse lunges, or bulgarian split squats
and ab lower back work rollouts & hanging leg raises or back raises
or just kroc rows.

but that is what I like and benefit the most from.

as for specifity for mma-
really shit you do in the weight room is GPP
not SPP

General Physical Preparedness
Specialized Physical Preparedness

weights etc
shit you do on the mat/ring/cage + conditioning

neck and grip work could be something specific to help
most new people with grappling

keep the weight room work as simple as possible you'll be fine.


I am learning the hard way right now that 5 x 10 is, in fact, too much volume for me with all my other bullshit



The 5,3,1 progression, 3x10 and 3x5 are really all I'm doing. High volume lifts are out for me. I do some high-volume body-weight stuff during some conditioning exercises with my coach (some of which I think may be counter productive, but I don't really want to argue/debate it with him), but that's it.


Yea... I'm not going to tell my coach that I can't do pushups cause I lifted yesterday. Wouldn't go over well.


I will second nearly all of what kmcnyc and Fighinirish wrote. I do however have an addendum. I need to add assistance/prehab to the template or I get way too banged up. If I do only the Triumvirate I have about a cycle and a half before I am suffering from old injuries. If I push through it I can make it about 2 more cycles before I suffer some strain or another that keeps me from lifting or training hard. The extra work is low intensity and only adds about 15 minutes to the workout.

So my template is Triumvirate plus:

-5/3/1 Military
-Pressing assistance
-Middle Deltoid work (machine or dumbbell)
-External rotation work- At least 5 sets of face pulls (15-25 reps) or work up to 2-3 heavy sets of seated DB power cleans If I do not do these my right shoulder goes to hell.

5/3/1 Squat
-Hip Extension (Good mornings, 45degree back raise, RDL)-This is supposed to be -Deadlift assistance, but honestly it is more for injury prevention. I cut it out and my Deadlifts donâ??t suffer, but my back and hips start to give me grief.
-Some kind of bicep work (may be vanity, but I am convinced that 2-3 working sets of curls has made a difference in how my shoulder feels)
-Ab work
-Direct calve work (donkey raise machine or seated)-This keeps my left ankle feeling tolerable so it does not act up during pad work or grappling.

5/3/1 Bench Press
-Pressing Assistance
-Rows (chest supported machine, Fat Boy Pullups, or Dumbell power rows seem to work best for me)
-Low intensity Triceps assistance (pushdowns usually)
-High volume of cable rows (3-5 sets of 10-15) I use straps to save my grip for Deadlifts and other training

5/3/1 Deadlift
-Quad Dominant/Squat assistance (Olympic Squats, Front Squats, Leg Press)
-Ab work
-maybe more curls, or some grip work, or some body weight only back raises, or nothing

I noticed that when I added the extra assistance/prehab all of a sudden even the Boring But Big 5 x 10 volume did not seem too excessive. Also, no matter how much I want to believe it will unilateral leg work does not help my big lifts at all and seems to just make me too sore to kick or change levels.


Robert A