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5/3/1 Assistance Work


Hey everyone whats up? So this week i started 5/3/1, switching over from Starting Strength. I made good progress, stuck with it for 7 months and gained about 20 pounds.(i dont think thats very much but im pretty broke and eating that much isnt always an option)

Anyway i like 5/3/1 and the workouts are great,and always make me sore. i was just wondering, what is the maximum amount of assistance work any of you would reccomend? the main reason i ask is because id like to try and workout some of the muscles that might not get worked very well with the main exercises. For example for my first military press workout i did 5 sets of dips and four sets of pullups and that was it and it was a great workout. But what if i also wanted to add some lateral raises and face pulls to make sure my shoulders got evenly worked? or another example: For the deadlift workout i followed up deads with ab raises and dumbell side raises which was great, but would it be too much to do some shrugs too?

Is it counterproductive to do more than two assistance exercises? yesterday i did that after squatting, however i kept it down to 11 sets total. So i guess im also asking that when it comes to limiting your assistance work, whats more important to limit? sets or exercises?

another thing i thought of is this: if i wanna do too much assistance work, would it just be best to change up the assistance exercises each cycle?

If any of this is just straight up overthought and stupid pleae let me know. i have a tendency to over think shit and usually i need someone else to tell me for me to realize it.

also let me know if theres any other info you need like my diet or anything


Re-read the book. The answer is there.



Also, use the search function and type 5/3/1.

There is over 100 articles that include the 5/3/1

Good luck


Having ran about 10 waves in the past year and a bit, I've found the most effective/efficient structure is the main exercise with 2 to 3 assistance exercises. I have gone the route of 5 total exercises for each workout but found unless the final one is an isolation movement, my joints and CNS don't appreciate me all that much and the training catches up to me.

Area's like your rear delts, for example, will get worked plenty utilising just the pull ups so you will find you really don't have to incorporate all those minor exercises all the time to work on every area that gets neglected. Which is the beauty of switching assistance exercises monthly as it allows you to work on very specific weak areas every now and again.

Lateral raises I have used for 2 waves total as I noticed DB shrugs covers this plenty while also working on your grip and trap strength which is enough for me to decide to limit my use of SLR. Fundamentally it comes down to what you want out of your training.

You could always leave this minor stuff as prehab/rehab work for your joints at the end of a session some time during the week - where you go pretty damn light but still stimulate these areas. The key is to keep your ego in check.

As for volume, I personally find reducing volume as the 5/3/1 percentages go up through the wave best. I.e. a trade off between intensity and volume. Higher intensity = less volume done and vice versa. If you haven't got the book, get it. Just got the book the other week and read the whole thing in one sitting (90 pages or so) but it covers this stuff pretty raw and basic.


Periodization bible template and Boring But Big are both great


thanks for your input guys. i think ill just stay with the triumvarite for a while. i already realized doing too much assistance can detract from the training. on friday i did my squats, followed by leg press, a whole buncha leg extensions and incline situps with a plate behind my head like jim wendler says to in the book. and shit my legs and abs are still pretty fuckin sore. at this point i feel like i just kinda over did it.


I do a few extra exercises on 5/3/1 and I sleep a shit load, do some mobility and flexibilty work with each workout, keep my food intake up and don't find I get sore for long periods of time.

This is with 2-3 PT sessions with work as well.

Double check your sleep (are you getting enough and is it good sleep?) and how much/what/when are you eating. Good luck.


enough to improve the main lifts, not so much as to detract from them


Well i know i get enough sleep for sure. i sleep 7 or 8 hours a night during the week and often take a 1 or 2 hour nap when i get home from school, plus i sleep about 11 hours a day on the weekends. i pretty much hibernate lol. but i dont always have a whole lotta food. as is ive been gaining weight though so i dont think its really necessary to add more exercises which will burn more calories and make it harder to add overall mass. but i do need to stretch more so thanks for reminding me of that lol.


Exactly. Some people can handle ridiculous volume some can't. Just experiment to find the perfect balance.


In regards to how you eat, MY PERSONAL preference, is to eat better foods, rather than eat a heap of 'poorer' foods. My job requires me to be physically fit and healthy. Im not saying other peoples jobs don't, but having DOMS for days is not do-able.

If you're trying to gain weight, unless your a stick, IN REAL LIFE TERMS NOT T-Nation TERMS (Read: Less than 160lbs at 5'10 (arbitrary numbers)), I'd eat maintenance but keep it to higher quality foods. Might help out with DOMS, if not, go nuts and eat poorly again to gain.

My 2c.


lol thanks for your $0.02. I honestly would love to eat higher quality food just because i feel a bit better when i do. But since im still living at home with my dad i only have a small amount of flexibility as far as my diet goes. and as for the doms i never really have a problem with it unless i have a workout where i do a very unusually large amount of work with one muscle group. on friday when i did my squat workout for 531 and added leg press and leg extensions which i never do. im coming straight from starting strength so im used to squatting and then moving straight to bench, deads or presses without anything else for my legs.

so i just decided im going to keep eating as clean and as much as i can (as far as those dont cancel eachother out lol) and stick with the triumvirate. i may add more volume to my assistance work with time but i'll ease into it so i know how much i can do before i start to take away from the main training.


after squats, do 5x10 squats, or front squats and good mornings