T Nation

5/3/1 and Recovery?


I am 38. I have been training for 20 years...PL, strongman, heavy kettlebells, grip stuff, with a 5 years drift into stand up paddling doing 20 mile runs. Never great, but somewhere on the radar at times. My interest in weights is tied to my career in psychiatric/corrections in which I am constantly sized up, often challenged and involved in struggles with my family of coworkers. I have always studied what type of lifting "put the rubber to the road" in the world of 300lb aggrivated patients etc.

I always lifted all out, looking for another lb or another rep, and doing so I made some lifts I never dreamed up and got bigger and bigger and bigger. I never feel "satisfied" or "accomplished" without pushing really hard, but getting older I just cannot recover and feelings of depression, chronic fatigue have crept in. I have been having chronic insomnia, and when I try to fall asleep I jump/twitch several times before my body finally relaxes...

I might say I am addicted to training hard and now that is not working for me and I wonder if anyone gets what I am saying.

I just read Jim W's newest artical and it threw me for a loop. It does not take long for the slack to come out of the 5/3/1 and it is hard hard work...he is talking about being able to do 5 and then only doing 3....with the low vol of this program I dont see how it can work without pushing...so if anyone as read that and can comment it.

I almost feel like I am not training so much to get better, but to push out that last rep is a high and accomplishment for me even if it is couterproductive I need that PR to feel accomplishment for the day, anyone relate to that? So the idea of cruzing is like drinking in moderation for an alcoholic maybe. I dont know. Just throwing this out for any comment.


Good post and question. And hopefully you get some good advise.

I have been doing 5/3/1 for a little over a year now, and I will keep it as the base program for many years to come. I am 37 and have many injuries mostly from improper form early on. I was and still battle with the all or nothing personality. If I am going to drink then I will drink till falling, going to lift, lift till falling, going to watch football, watch for 14 hours straight. I have been told things I am passionate about I do 100% if I dont care then its 0%.

My wife has been beating it into me that long term I cannot keep this up. Drinking like that leads to social issues, like hitting on other woman getting in fights etc. So now I have taught myself to drink in moderation. I had to take the same approach to lifting. 3 herniated discs in lower back, bulging in neck, two rotator cuff tears in shoulders, losing meniscal tissue in knees.

I just cant do the constant heavy poundage and hope to be doing that at 50. So to me 5/3/1 is the moderation, the long haul, the big picture. NOT to be crippled at 50 and acting like Al Bundy talking about when I DL 700 or Squated 700.

Just my .02

Do you have a log on here?


welcome to the old folks home.

with 5/3/1 you can adjust the volume through the accessory work. I have been doing 5/3/1 with the boring but big template for over a year, and I've see good gains. It doesn't feel like a low volume template. and if you keep your training maxes low, and let the reps make you strong, you won't have anywhere near as many joint problems.

the Old Lardass $0.02


agree with all above. i like the leeway that 5/3/1 allows. go big when u feel good. chill out when u dont. i listen to my body more now. injury = zero volume. better to take a day off or maybe reduce intensity and lift tomorrow.


Thats why I keep a log on here and always say "Its not a race". Cause first one to the end means your dead.


Thanks. All my buddies have hung up the heavy lifting. I look at my dad who is 80 and still lifts/yoga/ocean swimming, soloing his airplane and I notice that if you do not push back your comfort zone shrinks down...

I have been blessed not to have any serious lifting injuries...I have had quadratus lumborum spasms where I was laid out on the floor but the A.R.T. guy always fixed me up. My ulnar nerve/shoulder/knee are motorcycle/football related.

The fear I deal with at work keeps me lifting.

I was originally a bench press/deadlift guy. The first time I went to a gym I saw some Samoan guys who would bench 405 and thought that was just amazing...so I did that and the 500lb deadlift but was dismayed to find that taking people down at work I did not feel I was strong like I should be, so I have been observing what type of stuff (besides grappling itself) makes you strong is awkward positions and the answer to that for me is strongman stuff. If you can flip tires, lift atlas stones, drag/push heavy sled and and C&P a strongman log you are going to be in a good place to be strong in the "real" world

My "old man" plan for lifting is kettlebells. I think they are very theraputic on the body and a lot of PL guys who cant do barbell stuff seem to do well with them....I have some custom made lead filled bells and they are brutal. But for me, I seem to fry my nervous/endocrine system way before my muscles and going to work like a zombie can occassionally be dangerous for me and my staff .

So basically 5/3/1 with my new 10inch sorinex log and some squats/stones mon/fri. I follow this up with 1000ft on the Versaclimber so I can survive hiking in the altitude if I need to. Wed is TGU's with the 121lb kettlebell and rowing a loaded sled with some thick rope. (without strong hands for wrist control to hook up your strength to the subject it is kind of a loss.) When I have some extra energy I will do pullups on the thick rope too. I gave up my passion, standup paddling to keep my 2 year old away for the TV and at the park where he loves to be. So I have come here to figure try to keep up what I am doing as long as I can and try and see if these suppliments can help me get through better.