T Nation

5/3/1 for MMA and Boxing


Who here fights or trains boxing or MMA and uses this program? How's it worked for you?

I've got to keep at least two days a week just for boxing skillwork, and this program, the three day version, seems like a good fit.


IIRC, there was a recent article by Jim Wendler on the site where he talks about compressing it down to 2 days. I remember being really interested in that, because I have a hard time recovering from my martial arts training when I train weights.


Maybe that is of interest to you? Sorry to derail.


I do, works great.
I do MMA 5-6, boxing at least 2 out of those days, lift 4. Takes about one mesocycle to get used to it. Just trust in the program.


That's actually a great article, thank you for that.


Irish, I'm doing 5/3/1 on a 2 day split while training.

It's very similar to the powerlifing workouts I used to do, so I immediately liked it. Like the man says, it's not a miracle formula for instant strength, but the slow steady gains add up.

Even when cutting weight, I've been able to improve my numbers a little. I imagine that my gains would have been better if I was eating to gain weight instead of cut it.

Of the supporting exercises, I make sure they always include pullups, and I treat it almost like another of the major lifts. I just feel like it's too big and important a motion to relegate to occasional work.


Devil- I was actually thinking about doing that myself. I can't barbell bench anymore because of long standing shoulder issues, but I was contemplating just using weighted pullups as a substitute for the bench day.

I think Wendler said something like that in the article posted- you can use barbell rows, so pullups would work as well I figure since we're staying submaximal there.


Read that whole thing though, he advises against dropping any of the major lifts and just dropping support work for the problem joint. I think the only exception would be if you absolutely couldn't do the lift, at which point I'd try to find a substitute upper body pressing exercise.

Depriving yourself of an upper body press is pretty huge, how bad is the shoulder?


It is very bad. Bench pressing with a barbell is literally not an option, it is not worth the problems it causes especially because I am not a powerlifter.

Overhead pressing works fine for me, as does dumbbell benching, but I've read that he said DB bench can't replicate barbell (which I understand.)


And also- I get a shitload of "pressing" movements in hitting the bag, pads, etc. so I'm especially wary of overloading it.


I train BJJ 3-4 days per week and have had a lot of success with running a 2 day 5/3/1 template. I use the following: Day-1: Squat and Bench Press with limited assistance work; Day-2: Deadlift and Military Press with limited assistance work.

I found the above version in his E-Book, and favor it over the other 2 day option.


I did 531 for a number of cycles and have mixed feelings on the program.

When i started i was still rolling or coaching and doing a good amount of conditioning work
Logged it all in over 35

It works
It makes it very simple it can cut your gym time down and still make progress
It is easy to follow if you find the combination of which version and which accessory work suits you best
Allows your training to progress year round or lifelong in that the volume is low enough to keep you relatively injury free

But you have to absolutely commit to working with reasonable training maxes
And you need to set those maxes low
It is about lifting long term so it is slow moving and very boring progress is very slow
But it's year round or lifelong tons of the over 35 litters are having great success here using it.

That being said it wasn't the best for Me here is why
The money sets on the lower body days became to much for me to recover from
The lower body days became to much I found squatting or pulling anything over 85 or 90 percent for anything more then say 5's
The BBB template was too much for me a better choice was the template with
A main lift and two accessory lifts worked the best
So did reducing the number of reps on the money sets to just 2 sets or one set of 5 instead of trying to get
As many reps as possible at a high weight

I also had too much joint stress once I got into heavier cycles

Reading the ebook is also a must
How he breaks down the lifts, and explains how to set up support lifts is smart
This is a solid program if you want to keep it on auto pilot


I use it. It rocks. Skills training = hill sprints and other HIIT stuffs.

EDIT: With the exception of cardio, do the program as written and it will get you strong.


I'm very conservative with my maxes and try to use bodyweight exercises for my assistance work (whenever possible). Also, training this way keeps me strong and healthy AND in my weight class.

I totally agree with kmcnyc; this program is kind to the over 35 lifters (i'll be 38 next month).


This might sounds stupid but I've been using the HP mass program. Mostly because I didn't think I could get back to jits and muay thai. I have found a few days a week and have been training and lifting. The training has been light and informal (we've a lot of guys with upcoming or recent fights or grappling tournaments) and I've been fine. Honestly I feel far more explosive, and my joints feel much better, than when I lifted heavy and trained. I know I'm probably not the strongest I could be, but I'll take that over lessened recovery, sore joints, and less explosiveness. It's working so far for me, and it's helping me put on positive mass.


Have you looked into rehabbing the shoulder? Also, a lot of people find benching with a close grip easier on the shoulders. Make sure to balance your pressing with lots of pulling and upper back work- that is vital to shoulder health. If I remember correcty, Jim suggests a 2:1 ratio of pulling to pressing. Do pull-ups in between your other sets. For instance, do 5 pull-ups after every set you do - thats a good way to increase pulling volume, and its easy to recover from.

Anyway, if you were to substitute bench for another lift, make it another upper body press. Can you do dips without pain? Weighted dips are a great upper body press.

531 is pretty much idiot proof and ensures long term progress. However, if you find it difficult to recover from both fighting and lifting it might sometimes be wise not to go balls-out on your money set.

Good luck.


How bad is the shoulder? Injury, when, where, diagnosis? Also, are you averse to gaining weight or do you need to stay in a specific weight class?


Multiple dislocations over the past three years. Haven't got the MRI on it, though I was supposed to, because I am very averse to surgery. Have tried physical therapy... didn't really work.

And I'm not against gaining weight. Not competing so weight classes don't concern me.

I'm thinking about mixing in weighted dips in place of bench. Don't ask me why, but they don't give my shoulders any problem.


I do a large amount of upper back work. They're some of my better lifts... can do pullups for reps with a 45 on me, and I'm very consistent with that because of the reasons you've cited.

I was considering doing close grip bench as an alternative. I believe Jim Wendler said this in his book, and I was thinking of giving it a shot. I haven't done close grip in a long ass time so I'm not sure how it affects my shoulder really.

Well, I'm only doing two days of skillwork, so I'm thinking that if I use a three day a week template, the low volume of the program will give me more time to recover.


My joints are pretty beat up, even though I'm not 35. So the lack of ME lifts kind of attracts me hahha.


Multiple dislocations, if they were the typical anterior dislocations I would be very careful about dips, flat benching of any kind, really any exercise that subjects your shoulder to alot of extension. To be fair, partial ROM like board presses or rack pressouts may not aggravate it. If you don't mind me asking what did you do for PT and for how long?