T Nation

5/3/1 - Goal of Strength and Size

So, I guess it makes sense to talk about my training history.

I’ve always been athletic, just not always into lifting weights. I lifted in highschool, then focused on boxing and grappling, then MMA, very short stint in endurance stuff until I realized I am more explosive and not so great with endurance. So, now I am looking to gain weight and get stronger.

I keep a written log, but I think I’ll start posting on here just in case I get some valuable feedback out of it.

I’ve been doing 5/3/1 for a bit, starting my 3rd cycle now. I have made great progress.

I am 5’9, 25 years old. On April 16 2010 I was 151lbs, I am now 164lbs first thing in the morning. I am sure I have gained some fat but it isn’t noticeable… can still see abs just fine.

I’ll provide information about my lifts when I get home and have my written log infront of me. Off the top of my head I know I benched 155lbs for 7 reps 3 weeks ago, and did it for 17 reps yesterday… that is definitely an improvement! Thank you Jim.

I’ll get into more specifics about my eating, routine, weights/reps when I have the info in front of me.

Start of 5/3/1 - April 1st, 2010

Height: 5’9
Weight: 149lbs

First Squat Day: 145lbs x 6

First Bench Day: 150lbs x 8

First Deadlift Day: 170lbs x 15

First Military Press Day: 80lbs x 10

NOW: June 3rd, 2010

Height: 5’9
Weight: 164lbs

In the middle of first week of cycle, have done Squat and Bench so far.

New Squat: 150lbs x 23. I think I still had a few in the tank.

New Bench Press: 155lbs x 17

Recent Deadlift: 210lbs x 15 (May 20th)

Recent Military Press: 100lbs x 11 (May 21st)

5/3/1 Set up:

Tuesday = Squat

-5/3/1 Squat

  • Bulgarian Split Squat (4x8-12)
  • Lying Leg Curl (4x8-12)
    -Ab wheel (3-4 sets)

Wednesday = Bench

-5/3/1 BB Bench Press
-Incline DB Bench Press (4x-12)
-Dips (4x8-12)
-Skull Crushers (4x-12)

Friday = Deadlift

-5/3/1 Deadlift
-Pull ups (4x-12)
-DB Rows (4x-12)

  • DB Shrugs (4x-12)

Saturday = Military Press

-5/3/1 Military Press
-Seated Shoulder Press (4x-12)
-Lateral Raises (4x-12)
-BB Curls (4x-12)

*For variety and curiosity, I’m going to try doing 2 cycles with accessory work in 10-15 rep range, followed by two cycles in the 8-12 rep range, followed by 2 cycles in the 6-10 rep range. I don’t think this is in the book, so I know that this could cost me gains. I figure it’s a good way to see what I respond to best, and to keep the body guessing/give the joints a break.

*I workout in the morning before work and sometimes fall short on time. As per Jim, I bust my ass on the main lift, and get as much done on the accessory as possible but don’t obsess over it.


June 1st 2010:

  • 5/3/1 Squat: 135lbs x5, 140lbs x5, 150lbs x23
  • DB BSQ: 20lbs x12, 30lbs x8, 35lbs x8x8
  • Lying Leg Curl: 70lbs x12, 80lbs x9x8
  • Ab Wheel: x20 x20 x20

June 2nd 2010:

  • 5/3/1 Bench Press: 140lbs x5, 150lbs x5, 155lbs x 17
  • Incline DB Bench: 50lbs x9, 55lbs x8 x8 x8
  • Wide grip Dips: BW x12 x10 x9 x9
  • Skull Crushers: 50lbs x10 x8 x8

Tomorrow June 4th:

  • 5/3/1 Deadlift
  • Pullups
  • DB Rows
  • DB Shrugs


I just try to eat a lot. I have found that working out in the morning gives me that appetite that I need. I am not counting calories. I try to eat relatively healthy. Until I see too much chub piling on, and the scale keeps climbing, I’m not going to sweat it.

Staples of my diet:

-Chicken breasts
-salad with veggies, feta cheese, hardboiled eggs, and olive oil
-fruit/protein smoothies
-peanut butter and jam sandwiches
-Big shake with cottage cheese, 2% milk, yogurt, Fruit, Peanut butter, and protein powder
-Whatever else I can get my hands on!


-Metabolic Drive Complete
-Surge Workout Recovery
-German Creatine
-Fishoil Caps
-Vitamin D

Good start. Those reps are seriously high on every lift. Have you considered resetting your training max based on your recent performance for the next cycle?

[quote]JLD2k3 wrote:
Good start. Those reps are seriously high on every lift. Have you considered resetting your training max based on your recent performance for the next cycle?[/quote]

I have, but most people seem to recommend just sticking with it, knowing that the reps will eventually get to where they should.

I haven’t posted today’s workout yet, but 195lbs was my deadlift for 5 today, and I hit 20 with some left in the tank.

Anyone have advice on whether or not to recalculate training maxes? I mean I’d like to train heavier… but on the flip side I’ve gained weight (165.5lbs this morning) and gotten stronger. Thoughts?

I’d say recalculate. Use 90% of your estimated 1RM based on your best sets for your “training max” and base the main lifts off of that. You’re blowing the targets completely away, so I’d say it’s appropriate. If you were getting 5 on the 1+ set or 8 on the 5+ set, I would say stick with the progression, but you’re on a completely different level. If you don’t want to advance too quickly, use 80% instead of 90%, but with the numbers you’re putting up, you should be fine.

June 4th, 2010.

-5/3/1 Deadlift: 175lbsx5, 185lbsx5, 195lbsx20

-WG Cable Pulldown: 75lbsx12, 90lbsx12, 105lbsx10, 120lbsx8
*Was really focusing on getting my lats involved.

-DB Rows: 45lbsx12, 55lbsx10, 60lbsx10, 65lbsx8

-DB Shrugs: 50lbsx12, 60lbsx10, 70lbsx8, 80lbsx8

*Just bought 5/3/1 ebook today. Regardless of what I read I’ll finish this cycle as I have it programmed, next cycle might change based on what I read. Until now, I’ve just pieced it together by reading different forum posts.

June 5th, 2010

  • 5/3/1 Military Press: 75lbsx5, 85lbsx5, 95lbsx12

  • Seated Shoulder Press: 35lbsx10, 40lbsx8, 50lbsx8x8

  • DB Lateral Raises: 10lbsx12, 15lbsx10, 17.5lbsx8x8

  • EZ BB Curls: 30lbsx12, 50lbsx10, 60lbsx10x8

*- Seated Calf Raises: 4 sets. 5 second hold at top and bottom.

*My calves are small compared to the rest of my body, always have been. I am going to throw some calves in whenever I get the chance from now on until that changes.

June 6th, 2010.


Dynamic/static stretching for an hour.

June 8th, 2010

  • 5/3/1 Squat: 140x3, 150x3, 160x15
  • DB Bulgarian Split Squat: 10x12, 20x10, 30x8, 40x9
  • Lying Leg Curl: 60x12, 70x10, 80x8, 90x9
  • Ab Wheel: x30, x20

June 9th, 2010

  • 5/3/1 BB Bench: 150x3, 155x3, *165x15
  • Slight Incline DB BP: 35x12, 45x10, 55x8, 65x10
  • BW Dips: x15x10x10x10x11x4 = 60 total
  • Skull Crushers: 30x12, 40x10, 50x10, 60x8
  • **Standing Calf Raises: 3 sets

*I didn’t have a spotter today, so I stopped a little short, and also wasn’t as steady because my scapulas weren’t fully retracted due to having to lift the bar out myself

**I am sticking some sets of calf work wherever I can because they have always been weak and small compared to the rest of my body, and I want to change that.

***For week 3 of this cycle, I think I am going to work up to a 3-5RM for each exercise, calculate my 1RM using the formula in the manual, and take 90% from that. I know you aren’t supposed to, but when I started I didn’t read the manual, took a rough estimate of my 1RM while trying to be conservative, and it looks like I was too conservative. I may even see what 85% of my 1RM looks like and use that to make up for my recalculating.

Another reason is I do not plan on doing 5/3/1 forever. I just want to work towards a solid strength foundation before I move into a more traditional bodybuilding split.

You might want to try Starting Strength by Rippetoe or Strong Lifts 5x5. To me it just looks like 5-3-1 is a natural step to take after you run the course of these foundational programs.

[quote]JLD2k3 wrote:
You might want to try Starting Strength by Rippetoe or Strong Lifts 5x5. To me it just looks like 5-3-1 is a natural step to take after you run the course of these foundational programs.[/quote]

Although I do agree, I think I’ll be okay on this only because I have lifted before and got decently strong. I just never focused on getting bigger. I did WS4SB, and got up to a 385 DL, 250lb BP, 135x2 MP, and can’t remember squat but I am sure it sucked. This was at around 163ish lbs. Not great numbers, but decent. I think that has something to do with my quick increases in strength, although this occurred like 2 or so years ago.

June 10, 2010

Rest. Not doing anything physical today. Tomorrow is 5/3/1 Deadlift.

June 11, 2010

  • 5/3/1 Deadlift: 315x1 *Worked up to 1RM to recalculate %'s. I think I could have done a bit more, but I’m not really supposed to recalculate maxes so this will still be conservative, but not as conservative as the max I am working off of now.
  • Chins: 50 reps

**Out of time

June 12, 2010

  • 5/3/1 Military Press: 90x3, 95x3, 100x12
  • Seated DB Shoulder Press: 40x8, 50x8, 55x7
  • DB Lateral Raises: 10x12, 15x12
  • DB Curls: 20x12, 25x10

*Was hung over. I don’t drink often, but when I do, my promise to myself is that I will suffer the consequence by having to go into the gym the next day anyway.

**Ran out of time hence the reduced sets. I didn’t realize my gym closes at 6PM on Saturday. I had a little under 30 minutes.

***I won’t be recalculating my MP weight. I am fine with doing higher reps on this exercise for as long as it lasts. It is my Bench, DL, and Squat that I need to make a better estimate on.