T Nation

5/3/1 Once Per Week


Hi all,

I have done a lot of search prior opening this thread, since plenty has been written and discussed regarding 531.
I didn't find any other place where to post that seemed pertinent, so excuse me if I am repeating something that has already been written.

It might be possible that due to work/family I will be able to hit the gym only once a week.
In that day I would be able even to spend a lot of time there.. say even 3-4 hours if necessary..

I was thinking that 531 would be a good program in this situation.

Wendler recommends splitting it like that:
531 squat
531 bench
531 deadlift
531 press

I was thinking what if I did something like that:
All in one workout:
531 squat
531 bench
531 deadlift
531 press

workout would be very long and heavy, but I still would have a week to recover from one workout to another, since there I would have 6days of rest from one to another..

Has anyone tried something like that?
Any advice/idea?

Thanks in advance for inputs/opinions


Hey Gavrillo , R u sure you cant make it to the gym for 2 days a week ? That would be much better than once a week. Jim has a program for once a week in the 531 first edition. If I were you I would do it like this

Press and deadlift 531
front squat/ push press
rehab prehab

Then do little workouts with bands an pull up bars at home 2 times a week
100 rep face pulls
100 rep band pull aparts
tricep pushdowns wth bands

Week 2
Squat and bench 531
snatch grip dead/ Close grip bench

same extra workouts on both weeks, the extra workouts take 10-15 min which you could just wake up earlier or go to sleep later for


I guarantee you would miss the prescribed reps a lot if you do it this way, especially during the 3rd week. Invest in a home gym and just work out at home, that should save enough time that you can split things up into the twice per week program


What Navid said will work great - been there done that for around a year. Sometimes I think I would benefit from doing it voluntarily again. The only thing I did different though was I did Sq/Dl on the same day - not always rep-maxing on both mind you- and then I would do all of my assistance for my bench and mp - so it was still a full body w/o. Then reverse it the next week.

I am 45 yrs old and have been at this awhile and one thing I have noticed about myself is that when squatting and pulling heavy - and I mean honestly w/in 90-100% and/or going for pr's, 10-14 days b/w heavy workouts works great for me - so the assistance 1 week and then heavy again is just fine. It takes a little longer to get through cycles but...I never did deloads because I didn't need them.


Thanks everyone for the replies..

for the week1: front squat and push press and week2: snatch grip dead/close grip bench,
what sets/reps scheme should I use?


What is your height , weight size , and strength in the lifts ?


I am 178 cm per 93-95 kg.
Lifts are
Squat(Oly style) 140kg
Bench 125kg
Deadlift 170kg
Press 70kg
Front Squat 120kg
Pull ups(strict,no kipping)23

I know they are rather low right now.I have had a very annoying back pain(just muscular, not discogenic) and couldn't train for about 2 months; I couldn't even do one leg squats(I only did bodyweight pull, dip, etc..)
Prior having back pain my best were
Squat 165kg
Bench 135kg
Deadlift 210kg
Press 85kg
Front squat 150kg


Ok what I think would work well for the second exercises would be for cg bench/snatch grip deads/front squat/ push press
5x10 65% 1st tiime doing the exercise
5x8 70% 2nd time doing th exercise
5x6 75 % 3rd time doing the exercise
5x3 80% 4 times doing the exercise

So that would be for one 531 cycle or about 6 weeks in your case since you train 2 lifts per week but don't deload because you are training 1x week.
Make sure to hit the extra band work and pull-ups I prescribed those are a big part of the program .


thanks for the good advice! will be very useful!


I would keep to Wendlers recommendations however you could very easily incorporate some short workouts/conditioning sessions during the week.

Bodyweight workouts using exercises such as pullups/pushups/dips/handstand pushups/inverted rows/ab work/single leg squat progressions/jump work (and all of their progressions with or without any extra load you can find to add) could be performed 1-3 times a week at home.

If you can find somewhere to get in some hill sprints - that can only help also!

On the gym days I would perform the required sets/reps for the main lifts and put some careful consideration into my accessory work - in particular I would focus on lifts that I can't do at home in my supplemental workouts.


Ben, Jim has talked about Extra band workouts and approved of them. Plus he is only training once per week so he can afford to push t.


How about you forget 531 and try working to a different lift's 3RM:
Week 1 -
Squat - Build to 3RM
Bench - 5x3 with 95% of previous 3RM
Deadlift - 5x3 with 95% of previous 3RM
+ accessory work of your choice
Week 2 -
Squat - 5x3 with 95% of previous 3RM
Bench - Build to 3RM
Deadlift - 5x3 with 95% of previous 3RM
+ accessory work of your choice
Week 3 -
Squat - 5x3 with 95% of previous 3RM
Bench - 5x3 with 95% of previous 3RM
Deadlift - Build to 3RM
+ accessory work of your choice

Then during the rest of the week focus on plyometrics and sprints, along with, perhaps, some bodyweight circuits. These should complement your training for strength/power/physique instead of working against it as long-distance running would.
Also, I'd really try to make time for more gym sessions, as it will be very hard to progress with such low training frequency.
Good luck.


Whatever you decide, you should really push the intensity in that one session (assuming that you absolutely can't add any more).


thanks everyone for the advice/input.

I am sure that i will be able to implement bodyweight exercise/ running(pull,chin,dip,pushup,hill sprint, some one leg squat, stuff like that..) during the week, and that should help big time..