T Nation

5/3/1 Periodization Question

Hi guys,

Someone else asked this question, but no one has answered it yet, so I would really like to understand this better. So, can 5/3/1 be considered an accumulation and intensification cycle, as in weeks 1 and 2 are accumulation, and week 3 is intensification.

Is this not just an accumulation intensification cycle that lasts 3 weeks instead of say 6-12.
If so, are there any advantages/disadvantages between the two? I am a semi-pro cricket player, fast bowler, looking to up strength(GPP) along with other qualities, I can >1.5bw squat, >2bw deadlift.

Thanks for the help,


no it is not. 5/3/1 IMO is more of a step ladder progression that you commonly see in endurance athletic training. where you increase the intensity & volume each week for 3 weeks then back off. the next cycle then starts above the previous first week but below the first cycles second week.

accumulation cycles can run as short as 2 weeks but usually go 4-6 weeks and have far more volume IMO. intensification, again my opinion, are to go longer and use higher intensity and less volume.

I have never run 5/3/1 but I would think that you can follow something along the lines of this type of periodization. I think it really comes down to the assistance and knowing yourself.

The accumulation block could be say 8 weeks or 2 cycles. Starting with a lower training max (obviously) thus makes it so that weights are lighter and you get more volume in even on the core lifts. Perhaps during this time you wouldn’t absolutely murder yourself on the top set. Then you would do lots of assistance. Do whatever you think is most productive for yourself. BBB, speed work, rep work or whatever! just a lot of volume focused at correcting weaknesses. Again all of this is speculation and you need to decide for yourself as to what is best for you: all out on core lift, extra core lift work, lots of upper back or whatever! just be smart and fix your weaknesses. Do what you hate to do!

Then the intensification block could be 4 or 8 weeks and during this period your training maxes will be higher than the accumulation block thus decrease volume on cores and increasing intensity. During this period volume of asistance would decrease in favour of some movements more related to the core work. This is obisouly up to the lifters discression.

I think this would work quite well. Unfortunately everyone is unique and experience is the only way to figure out what will work best for you!

If anything, 5/3/1 would be loosely considered undulating periodization, due to the cycle starting over every four weeks. However, it’s not really anything…it’s just 5/3/1. Run the program as it’s meant to be ran. If you want to take concepts from it and put it into your own training, go right ahead, but at that point you’re not doing 5/3/1.

Why does it matter?


GAH!!! WHY!!! Seriously? 5/3/1 is ONLY 5/3/1. It’s a program in and of itself. If you want to run block periodization, then run that.

I just tell people I follow a top secret training regimen I got from my time in Rome. Gladiator top-secret shit. Why the hell not, right??

Advantages of 5/3/1:


The whole plan is laid out for you, step by step.

You can do ANY accessory work you want/need.


Don’t confuse yourself trying to make it something it isn’t. Read the books if you haven’t already. If you want to know exactly what it is, then just get it directly from the source. It will also give you a clue as to what Jim’s mentality is and how this question basically goes against all 5/3/1’s philosophies and intentions.