T Nation

5/3/1 Help for Military Schedule


Hell there everyone, I am brand new to the forums and need some help. I am a military cop and I work an odd schedule with long hours. I am trying to start a 5/3/1 setup but my work schedule makes it difficult.

I work whats called a "panama 12" schedule, which means I work 3days, off for 2, On for 2, Off for 3 and then it starts over. All shifts are 12+ hrs. I have had a hard time trying to work the 5/3/1 in efficiently. Any ideas/ suggestions out there?


As AD, I will tell you that there is no efficient way to do it. Just put it in whenever you feel you can.


^This. Or do the 3 day split.


Are you on days or nights? And yes, I know a 12 hour shift is usually more like 13-14 when all is said and done. I work panama nights and I do the three day a week program when I'm stateside. I just go before work one or two days during the week and get the other work during my off days. You're honestly off what amounts to every other day (15 out of 30, essentially). With that in mind, you'd probably end up going to the gym on different days of the week depending on which ones are your off days, but as long as you're flexible and understand you can still get strong lifting on a monday one week and a tuesday the next week, etc., etc., you'll be fine. Just make it happen and you'll be good. If that makes sense. If you have to do PT, just adjust your assitance volume a little until your body adapts. No use looking like a fag at PT just because you have to squat. As an NCO, I understand we all have our personal goals, but I know in my case, my ass is on the line if my junior enlisted don't pass their PFT's. Just play the game with PT and get your 5/3/1 on.

Honestly, all these 5/3/1 questions can all be answered with, "Quit being a pussy and just use some common fucking sense."

Oh, and you may have to give up some partying. What a shame, huh??


^thanks, that helps. I will give it a try and work with what I've got.


Just workout on your days off and it should work fine. On the times you have 2 days in a row off really get the most of those workouts, maybe even hit the gym twice in 1 day. For 3 days in a row just do 3 workouts as written. Here is how a twice a day might go.

Pressing 5/3/1 either bench or OHP
Some more pressing assistance lifts
Isolation type lifts, flys, triceps, etc

Pulling movements like rows or pullups that hit the back, 1 of each type maybe
Shrugs/upright row type stuff
Bicep isolation so any type of curls

Or you could just do all the compound lifts in the morning and isolation later in the day, after typing the above I actually think that might be a better idea anyway.


I work the same schedule in the civilian world. It was easier when I worked nights... just get up at 1400, hit the gym and plenty of time left to eat and shower to be at work by 1800. Now that I am on days it is a little more difficult. On some days I get up at 0330 to go train. I think that rotating your gym schedule based on whether it is your short week or long week will help. On my short week I try to pack in more training sessions and then limit my 0330 mornings to once maybe twice in my long week.


2 days a week template


I am in law enforcement as well and I am doing 5/3/1. I work the same schedule as you. I know it's a pain, but you just have to hit it on every day off. I really have not had much of a problem.