T Nation

5/3/1 Question


So, I've been away from the weights for some time now... long enough to lose most of what I had (which wasn't a lot by the standards set by this forum). I had been doing mostly running/body weight work preparing for bootcamp this summer which is no longer happening. I want to get back to the weights, get stronger and bigger. I am thinking 5/3/1, and something resembling the bodybuilding accessory work. I figure this might help me get stronger, and provide the volume to get bigger assuming proper nutrition.

However, I am 5'9, 150lbs now, and my lifts all suck now. I am weak. I am curious if 5/3/1 is best, or if I'd be better off putting in some time with a program that is a 3-4 full body workouts a week. Something like Madcow's 5x5 I think it's called. I believe it's workout A and B, 3x a week, Squat, Bench, DL, on one day, Squat, power clean, military press on the other. Then you can add a little accessory work.

What's everyone's thoughts? Too soon for 5/3/1? Or is it okay to jump right into it?

Thanks guys.


IMO if you can recover enough to gain on a 5x5, you can stay on that as long as you want. i did 5x5 till i could squat 300lb, than i changed to 5/3/1 and now i can squat 400lb.
either doing 5/3/1 with the BBB template or a 5x5 would be good for you i think


So what about something like this...

Squat Day:

BB Squat 5/3/1
Good-mornings (4x10-15)
Bulgarian Split Squat (4x10-15)
Leg Curls (4x15-20)
Weighted Ab movement (4x10-12)

Bench Day:

BB Bench Press 5/3/1
Close Grip BB Bench (4x10-15)
Incline DB Bench (4x10-15)
DB Flies (4x10-15)
Tricep Rope Pressdowns (4x15-20)

Deadlift Day:

DL 5/3/1
BB Shrugs (4x10-15)
Chins (4x10-15)
DB Rows (4x10-15)
Hanging Leg Raises (4x15)

Military Press Day:

BB MP 5/3/1
DB MP (4x10-15)
Upright Rows (4x10-15)
Rear Delt Flies (4x12-20)
Curls (4x10-15)

I am guessing that I do this 3x per week? Is cardio usually fit in after a workout session or on off days?


You'll probably progress faster with 5x5 or 3x5.


I'd like to know how you come to this conclusion?

OP, 5/3/1 is set up (with proper eating habits) to smash PR's every cycle. It has done wonders for me.

"Proper eating habits" means eating enough to grow and recover consistently, in my mind.

EDIT : I'm getting ready for bootcamp so, I usually do running on a day off or after the workouts and I'm still growing. Just like Wendler said, you don't need to go balls out on the accessory work.


Okay. So just give the 5/3/1 everything I've got, and then just make myself work on the accessory, but not reach failure on my sets. This way I'll have something left in the tank and be able to put some miles in.

And I agree that eating enough to grow and recover is extremely important. That won't be a problem.

My exercise set up look good? I've heard people say 4 workouts a week is best... where I thought the original design is 3x a week? Any advice on this people?


4 is good because you can then have a shoulder day. You already have the big three lifts and now you have a shoulder day, which is usually what most people I've seen do.

Your accessory lifts look good too.


Alright, so something like Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday. Change up accessory work when I stall? I plan on buying the book if after doing this for a couple of months I like the way it's going. I just want to get the basics down.


Beginners can normally add 5/10 pounds every week to the big basic lifts while 5/3/1 is built for only adding 5/10 pounds per cycle (a month). That's a 4-fold increase in poundages. This will last for a number of months (6 or more) until stalling becomes regular. Then a beginner should start on a more advanced program like 5/3/1.


I really wish people that didn't know a god damned thing about 5-3-1 would stop trying to give others advice on what 5-3-1 actually does.


Well, though my size and lifts are crap right now, I won't progress every week for 6 months straight like a typical beginner. I have been lifting on and off for 6 years. The reason I am small and weak now is that I dropped the weights for body weight exercises and running in preparation for the possibility of getting into the infantry reserves this summer and for a change of pace. My local unit isn't taking people this time around though, so I want to get back to the weights while still doing some running. I know from previous experience that I will reach my former weight/lifts much quicker this time around than I did the first time. I am also not learning the movements for the first time or anything, so I will miss those gains that come just from performing the movement better.


True dat, in reality it simply provides a quick estimate to properly file your quarterly income tax when self-employed.


Also, in terms of supplementation, I'm thinking Biotest creatine, Surge Recovery, the zinc/magnesium, and Metabolic Drive complete? I think that's good enough for this stage of the game? Along with my usual vitamin D, fish oil and multi.


only if you wear All Stars and knee wraps though.


Stop thinking.


Your best friend will be food. Actual food.

You want your lifts and size to go up? Eat more. Protein shakes are good to bump up the protein intake but the key is food. Lots of it.

You will make good gains with 5/3/1 with no doubt as long as you eat enough, which you said you would so it's a done deal! Lift big!