T Nation

5/3/1 Long Term Success

in the past i’ve run some variations on the Wendler 5/3/1 theme, enjoyed it, and made progress.

unfortunately i would get impatient with the perceived rate of progress and program hop, kicking myself later for not sticking with it.


2021 i want to stick with it for the entire year.

give me your long term success stories to keep me on track!


I would say 531 is “an adult program”. It’s for the long haul, where you aren’t constantly distracted by the “Oh, I need to add reverse incline hip thrusts to maximize hypertrophy” nonsense. It’s knowing the difference between training and testing. It’s learning that strong, clean reps and leaving something in the tank are better than grinding, slow reps and finishers until you collapse. It’s also for those that know how to stay within a program, and not add this and that. And, after keeping your head down and working for months, you suddenly are able to easily pull your max DL after never coming close to using that weight in training.


@samul’s got my favorite 5/3/1 success story. Ran it for a year and got awesome results. His log is a great example of the power of persistence, worth a read anytime. Don’t forget that despite avoiding failure on the big movements and avoiding burning yourself out in general, you’re still gonna have to work your ass off to get the results you want.


Me too. Feel free to start a log for accountability and feedback. Almost everyone who’s log I follow has run 531 previously, so plenty of feedback and guidance available.

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Do these work? Can you recommend sets and reps?

Do them with a barbell and hands behind the neck for 1 set 1 rep.

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Do a 14 second eccentric, then hold the contraction for 7.5 seconds, then explode up. Do that three times. Now, that’s one rep. Do 5 reps then one burn out set. That’s one cycle. Do four cycles every third workout.

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You forgot to add that you’ll put on 20 pounds of lean muscle before the workout even starts.

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I’ve been running it for the majority of the last 6 years and have run it exclusively for the last 3 years. Check my log out. If you’re gonna do it you should get at least Beyond 5/3/1 and 5/3/1 Forever. Between those two you’ll never get bored.

Edit: quick summary

Before 5/3/1
Weight: 165 lbs
Squat: 325
Bench: 195
Deadlift: 385
Press: 120

Weight: 210 lbs
Squat: 460
Bench: 300
Deadlift: 515
Press: 175

It works. You gotta eat for it and be patient/willing to work really hard.


a little background:

m, 44, 6’1” 200#, weak as fuck

when i graduated college 20 years ago i was 135#, struggled with alcohol but sober 2 years now

started training in 2014 with ss, made decent progress (for me) over 8 months (sq:95-225, b:95-165, dl:95-285, p:45-105) but pretty much spinning wheels since then due to, well i won’t bore you with the myriad excuses; suffice to say it’s all on me

so for this next year look to eliminate program hopping as an excuse


Making the right choice dude. Congrats on sobriety, keep it up :metal:


thanks appreciate it!

This is awesome. Get after it man.

Although I am currently using another methodology better suited to my current goals, I think 5/3/1 is great. I ran it for 8 or so years. Got a 600lb deadlift using 5/3/1.

My advice is to purchase at least the original book, and don’t be afraid to keep things very simple. When in doubt run the original program with bodyweight movements for assistance.


i have 2nd ed and beyond, which i’ve read many times, as well as this forum. looking at santa for forever.

in 2nd week of first cycle, running 5s pro fsl leader and 3/5/1 pr fsl anchor, 4-day split

assistance from the following: ab wheel, hanging leg raise, push ups, dips, chins, lunges, single-leg squats

starting training maxes (sighs, kicks ego to curb):

sq - 140
bp - 130
dl - 240
op - 75

yes those are pounds. would be way cooler in kg, but they are pounds

now head down, cycle by cycle, rep by rep…

…for at least one year, that’s my only goal right now


You should have Chris move this to the Training Logs section and re-title it My 5/3/1 Long Term Success. Nothing like accountability to keep you moving. Your numbers are still better than mine when I started, it’s not like you’re totally starting from nothing. Eat and lift and sleep. Repeat.


Thats the way to look at it. I think everyone who has been lifting for a decent amount of time knows this is the main truth of training. Every once in a while I have to remind myself that all that matters is getting to the gym and getting the reps in.

This is a great goal. Remember, progress over perfection.


took a moment to review my 5/3/1 training logs from a few years ago. guess what i found?

low reps on pr sets because training max too high because chasing numbers.

so, for this go around, trust the built in auto-regulation, keep tm appropriate, and totally ignore 1rm…


If you stick to this, you really can’t fail unless you just stop eating.

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I made this same error years ago. I never really understood how to reset or test my TM.

A good rule of thumb is if you can’t get at least 5 reps on your 1+ set, your probably need to reset/test your TM.

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In forever Jim talks about having the results you want in 36 months kind of like sarcasm bc people want to just get strong in 8 weeks and that’s it, with the wendler programs you’ve really got no expectations if you set your TM correctly, like today I did 15 reps on my third week for my PR set, and I’m going to continue to increase my TM the regular amount, you follow it as its supposed to go you’ll be in for a treat. Also find a template that keeps up with the volume and intensity you want, if you’re getting bored just follow a different template. The long term success is there if willing.