T Nation

5/3/1, So Simple, It Just Might Work

So… Month one of 5/3/1 has come to an end.

A very interesting and structured training program. Enough structure to keep me on track, enough flexibility to keep me from being bored. In fact, the way assisstance work is structured is real selling point to this training program! I may have under estimated my initial numbers, especially on the Military Press and Deadlift, but that’s okay! I completed the target lifts and reps, didn’t suffer any injuries and managed to drop a couple of pounds… didn’t expect that!

Did I get stronger? Probably… I say probably cuz, hey, this was only one month, what can I expect in one month? Even the tabloids and TV infomercials say it takes a minimum of Six Weeks! I did hit some new PBs, but they were more of the, I’ve never tried this before, so it must be a PB!

So, what is the real goal? To get back into IPF competition… Time frame? Next Spring. Will I keep on the program? Of course… it works! In fact, I run in to several other trainers that are trying 5/3/1, and all agree. Good training system, hating on the deload week, but sticking with it. Cuz, it works. If it keeps working, this is gonna get good!

Next Month, the working weights will progress:

Military - 185 -> 195, underestimated this for month one
Dead - 425 -> 440, target numbers came too easy, time for a challenge
Bench - 280 -> 285
Squat - 370 -> 380

Like I said… this is gonna get good!

Sunday, Nov 7/2010 - Month Two, Day One, Deadlifts

I like Deadlifts, so for the beginning of Month Two, this is where I start.

Warmup - stationary bike foam rolling and stretching

Deadlift
135 x 12
225 x 8
290 x 5
330 x 5
375 x 6
225 x 12 drop set

Assistance Work
Hack Squat Sled, 5 x 10, 225 lbs
GHRs, 5 x 12
Hanging Leg Raise, 4 x 12
Crunches/Sit-ups, 75 reps

Lots of power and energy. Maybe its starting the new program, maybe its the extra shuteye over the weekend, including the Daylight Savings time! The 375 on the bar for my top DL was a little intimidating, after only lifting 255 last week. But once I set up and started pulling, hey, no problem!

Tuesday, Nov 9/2010 - Month Two, Day Two, Bench

Interested to see what happens with the bench after the deload week

Warmup - stationary bike, foam rolling and stretching…

Bench
135 x 15
190 x 5
215 x 5
245 x 6
185 x 10 drop set

Might have gotten more on the heaviest set, but on rep 6 my butt started to hover off the bench. Not the full hip buck/thrust, but enough to call it a break in my form.

Assistance Work
DB Rows, 5 x 12, pyramid 70 to 105
Inclne DB Press, 5 x 12, 65 up to 75 lbs, total fail on my last set
Tricep Press-down, 3 x 20, went light - my elbows were starting to pinch

Nice, journeyman style workout. Just grinding out the reps, the sets and the poundages. You gotta be happy with that. Bit of concern with the elbows. It seems everytime my bench weight and volume of work increases, I get some real joint soreness… Nothing that glucosamine can’t fix. At least it has in the past!

Thursday, Nov 11/2010 - Month Two, Day Three, Squats

Everything just goes away when you step under the bar and temp your fate… and gravity!

Warmup - stationary bike and foam rolling.

Squat
135 x 12
205 x 8
250 x 5
285 x 5
325 x 6
225 x 10 - drop set

Real good feel on these tonight! I had a couple of workout partners/competitors checking my form and depth. Got some real useful feedback

Assistance Work
Reverse Hypers, 4 x 12, Still hate this movement… which is why I keep doing it! Has really helped with the transfer of power from lower to upper body.
Leg Press, 5 x 12, several hundred pounds. It’s legpress, it’s easy
Hanging Leg Raises, 4 x 15
Situps and Crunches, 50 reps, more old school

Solid, workman style training. No surprises, just get it done. The GF says I was making some awful racket on my heaviest squats… but I think she liked it!

Friday, Nov 12/2010 - Month Two, Day Four, Military Press

Warmup - stationary bike, stretches and foam rolling… Foam Roling is awesome. Especially after the previous squat night!

Presses
MT bar x 12
135 x 5 - was supposed to be 130, but I didn’t wanna bugger around with all the “change”
150 x 5
170 x 8

They say certain lifts favour certain body types. I’ve heard that tall guys have a hard time with standing overhead presses… I’m 6’4, so while I underestimated it, for some reason it just comes easy for me.

Assistance Work
Pull ups - various hand positions 40 reps total
DB Rows 5 x 12, pyramid up to 105 lbs
Incline DB press 5 x 12, 75 lbs, failed the last set at rep 6!

With the odd ball number that this program generates, I end ups using the 2.5 alot more than I’m used to… Then again, maybe that’s the point. Make lotsa small jumps as I go along to end up with a real big jump in the long run!

Sunday, Nov 14/2010 - Month Two, Day Five, Deadlifts

I still like Deadlifts, there’s something primal and honest about hoisting heavy weight off the ground.

Warmup - stationary bike, foam rolling and stretching

Deadlift
135 x 12
225 x 8
315 x 3
355 x 3
400 x 6
225 x 10 drop set

Assistance Work
Leg Curls, 5 x 12, pyramid up to 160
Hack Squat Sled, 5 x 10, 225 lbs
Hanging Leg Raise, 2 x 12
Ab Wheel Roll-outs, 2 x 8, this was an SOB!
Crunches/Sit-ups, 75 reps

Again with the oddball numbers! I don’t think I’ve ever lifted exactly 400 lbs… but, I managed to tear it off the ground for twice as many reps as I has planned, so it’s all good.

Tuesday, Nov 16/2010 - Month Two, Day Six, Bench

Warmup - stationary bike, foam rolling and stretching…

Bench
135 x 15
200 x 3
230 x 3
260 x 5
225 x 10 drop set

Seems like way too little volume, but I’m sticking with the formula. “Seems” just isn’t a good enough reason to start getting creative!

Assistance Work
Chins/Pull-ups, 5 x 6, very weak on this movement… sometimes the bear gets you!
Inclne DB Press, 5 x 10-12, pyramid 65 to 80 lbs
Tricep Press-down, 5 x 15-20

Good, solid workout… except for chins. Kinda caught off guard, just couldn’t manage to maintain form for any decent rep numbers! I actually managed more reps than I recorded, but I don’t count the reps that were all crossfit/kips…

Thursday, Nov 18/2010 - Month Two, Day Seven, Squat

Warmup - stationary bike, foam rolling and stretching…

Squat
135 x 12
225 x 8
275 x 3
305 x 3
345 x 4
225 x 10 drop set

Real smooth and powerful workout… my training partner tried to tell me I cut my depth on reps 2 and 3 of my heaviest set. I hate it when I do that, so I added rep four very deep. Analysis after the set confirmed that my stance was too narrow, probably limited my mobility. Going to have to keep that in mind

Assistance Work
GHRs, 5 x 12, still not enjoying this movement! But it does seem to work
Leg Press, 5 x lotsa reps with lotsa weight, it’s legpress so, who cares about the details, just get it done!
Ab Work, hanging leg raises, roll-outs and crunches, lots of reps and lots of variety

Nice, solid work. Hit my targets, felt really strong… it’s all good

Saturday, Nov 20/2010 - Month Two, Day Eight, Military Press

Warmup - stationary bike, foam rolling and stretching… spwent the day at a conference, so warm up was very important

Military
MT bax x 12
140 x 3
160 x 3
180 x 5
135 x 10 drop set

Still seems like way too little volume…

Assistance Work
DB Rows, 5 x 12, worked up to 110s, started to heave the weight, rather than row
Dips, 4 x 10
Tricep Pressdowns, 5 x 15 to 20

Spent the previous night volunteering at Ski-Swap and the day sitting in conference sessions. Kinda drained energy-wise. But that just isn’t a good excuse, so training was a real grind… but grind on it did!

Sunday, Nov 21/2010 - Month Two, Day Nine, Deadlifts

Had our first cold snap of the season. Which for my location is about six weeks early! Has a way of draining the energy right out of you… that sounds a bit like an excuse, time to pull

Warmup - stationary bike, foam rolling and stretching

Deadlift
135 x 12
225 x 8
335 x 5
375 x 3
420 x 2
225 x 10 drop set

Assistance Work
GHRs, 5 x 10
Lunges, 3 x 10, MT bar
Hanging Leg Raise, 2 x 12
Crunches/Sit-ups, 75 reps

Oh… that was not so good. Started out fine with the DLs and just ran out of steam… Still, I made my target and pushed through as best I could. Had a bit of a fuzzy/gonna hurl/might fall over kind of feeling by the end of it. Temporary… followed by a severe headache! It happens. This is the workout I compare to so I can recognize a good workout!

Tuesday, Nov 23/2010 - Month Two, Day Ten, Bench

I didn’t grow up on the coast, so I am used to cold weather… but cold in a coastal region, with all the dampness, just cuts right through a guy! Maybe I’m just getting old…

Warmup - stationary bike, foam rolling and stretching

Bench
MT bar x 15
135 x 12
215 x 5
245 x 3
275 x 2.5
225 x 10 drop set

My spotter got a little excited and helped a little too much on rep 2 of my heavy set! So I gritted out #3 after telling him to let me fight with it, for a total of 2 1/2 reps! Still, way better than a spotter that ain’t paying attention!

Assistance Work
DB Rows, 5 x 10, worked up to 120s for 10, good fun!
Incline DB Press, 5 x 10 with 70s, total grind
Tricep Pressdowns, 3 x 15
DB Tricep OH Extensions, 3 x 12

Satisfying workout! Hit the target and pushed through the Assistance work. The gym was pretty busy… kinda weird, that. Cold weather usually means the gym is less busy. Cold weather also means that ski season is right around the corner! Whoop!

Sunday, Nov 28/2010 - Month Two, Day Something, Update

Well, sometimes you get hit with the perfect storm. There was an early winter storm last Thursday. Not really that bad, maybe four or five inches of wet snow followed by some -10 to -12 C temperatures. Still, it was enough to paralyse my city. Lots of folks still driving bald summer tires!

But worse, was the “Hell’s Bells” head cold I caught. Came outta no where! Mid afternoon, I’m fine… and hour later, my sinuses are draining out of my eyes and nose! Sorry, that’s a pretty wretched visual. I ended up missing two heavy workouts, Squat and Military and just don’t have the oompf to get back to them. So I moved directly into deload week, try to give my body a chance to get over the virus

Warmup - stationary bike, foam rolling and stretching

Chins - 25 reps, helped to clear my head and stretch out the aches and pains

Deadlifts
135 x 12
185 x 5
225 x 5
275 x 10

Assistance Work
GHRs, 4 x 10
Various AB work and further stretching

And that was about all I could muster! Left the gym feeling light headed and just plain gross. I very rarely get sick enough to take me out of the game. I’m not bullet proof, I get stuffed up, sore throats and other minor crap, but this was different… I even took a half day off the jobsite, really don’t think I was even safe to be driving!

Still, if I can get it out of the way and get back in the game by the end of the week, it’s all good!

Tuesday, Nov 30/2010 - Month Two, Day 12, Bench De-load

Warmup - stationary bike, foam rolling and stretching

Bench
MT bar x 15
115 x 5
145 x 5
185 x 10

Assistance Work
DB Incline Presses, 5 x 10, 75 lbs
DB Rows, 5 x 10, 110 lbs
Tricep Pushdowns, 2 x 20
OH Tricep DB Press, 2 x 12, 80 lbs

That was a lot harder than it really should have been! Still clearing the cobwebs outta my system after the headcold… And with the coming of ski-season, I really need to be better than 90% by the weekend! Anyone can do it whne it’s easy, doing it when it’s hard makes all the difference.

Thursday, Dec 2/2010 - Month Two, Day 13, Squat De-load

Warmup - stationary bike, foam rolling and stretching

Squat
MT bar x 15, hard to maintain balance and actually “sit”
135 x 8
145 x 5
190 x 5
230 x 12, might have got more, but my form starting getting too loose

Assistance Work
GHRs, 5 x 12
Hack Squat, 5 x 10
Hanging Leg Raise, 2 x 12
Crunches and Sit ups, 100 reps

Deload workouts definitely have that marathon/just get through feel! But, great things come from the grind… so I grind on! Looking forward to the opening of ski season this weekend. Even if it means Month 3 has to stretch for a few extra weeks…

Tuesday, Dec 7/2010 - Month Three, Day 1, Deadlift

And so begins my third month of 5/3/1 training. Note, the beginning of ski season, or in my case, Ski Patrol season. Hauling kiddies and newbies outta the snow when they hurt themselves. Ski Patrol is a very large commitment of time. Might/Will cut into and slow my progress. Big deal, so what if Month 3 happens to take a little longer than 4 weeks? The point is to be flexible and keep on progressing.

With that in mind, these are the targets I’m working from for Month 3:

Military - 200
Deadlift - 450
Bench - 285
Squat - 380

And now, to make it happen, starting with Deadlift…

Warmup - stationary bike, foam rolling and stretching

Deadlift
135 x 12
225 x 8
295 x 5
340 x 5
385 x 5
225 x 8, down set

Assistance Work
GHRs, 5 x 12
Hack Squat, 5 x 10
Hanging Leg Raise, 3 x 12
Ab Roll-outs, 3 x 10

I spent the weekend at the ski resort for on-hill orientation. No biggie, lotsa running around in the snow, sunshine and mountain air. Rope work and lift evacualtion drills, that sort of thing. Identified that my wind seems a little weak… bummer, have to find a way to fit in cardio training sessions. I hate cardio, but it must be done. It is going to be a challenge to maintain/gain strength while meeting my commitments… No biggie, just put my head down and make it happen

Friday, Dec 10/2010 - Month Three, Day 2, Bench

Something about the month of December. It just seems to take alot longer to get things done, and yet we all seem to have more things to do!

Warmup - stationary bike, foam rolling and stretching

Bench
MT bar x 15
135 x 12
190 x 5
215 x 5
245 x 6
185 x 10, down set

Assistance Work
Chins, 4 x 6 - I really gotta bring this one up
DB Rows, 3 x 12
DB Incline Press, 5 x 10
Tricep DB Presses, 3 x 15

Good effort, journeyman style workout… nothing special, nothing bad! Spending the entire weekend on the snow… opening day/weekend! Should be good fun!

Tuesday, Dec 14/2010 - Month Three, Day 3, Squat

This past weekend was my first of this season on Ski Patrol. Maybe 12 hours on my skis spread over the two days. Heavy powder on the first day, unending rain on the second… Too say the least, my legs we trashed by the time it was finished! No matter, time to cowboy up…

Warmup - stationary bike, foam rolling and stretching - good googly-moogly! This kinda hurt…

Squat
MT bar x 15, just to check my balance and my range of motion… pretty ugly!
135 x 10
225 x 8
250 x 5
285 x 5
325 x 5
225 x 10, down set

Assistance Work
GHRs, 5 x 12
Hack Squat, 5 x 10, worked up to 2 1/2 PPS
Leg Raise, 3 x 12

I had to really focus to maintain depth and form. Just a little too beat up from the weekend fun! I managed to get myself some sorely strained/bruised ribs on one of my more interesting tumbles. Very tender, which made me very careful in the gym! It is going to be interesting trying to keep up with training volume and patrol commitments. Challenging, but then anything worth doing, should be!

Thursday, Dec 16/2010 - Month Three, Day 4, Military

Warmup - stationary bike, foam rolling and stretching - Oh dear, this still kinda hurts…

Squat
MT bar x 12
135 x 5
155 x 5
175 x 6

Assistance Work
Chins, 1 x 3, 1 x 1
DB Shoulder Press, 5 x 12
Tricep Press, 3 x 15

Oh dear… that just sucked. Apparantly, I have yet to recover from my ski adventures! Things just hurt, performance was piss-poor. All I really managed to accomplish was getting my numbers on the Military Press. Sometimes it’s a victory to just crawl out of the gym without any new injuries…

Friday, Dec 17/2010 - Month Three, Day 5, Deadlift

Warmup - stationary bike, foam rolling and stretching

Deads
135 x 12
225 x 8
315 x 3
365 x 3
405 x4

Assistance Work
GHRs, 5 x 12
Leg Press, 5 x 12, worked up to 6 pps
Ab Rollouts, 5 x 10

Much better than the previous workout! Still nursing the aches and pains, but I am able to push through the training. I really need to focus on recovery if I plan to keep training during ski season… Recovery is not my strong suit! All these years in the gym and I’m still learning…

Monday, Dec 20/2010 - Month Three, Day 6, Bench

Warmup - stationary bike, foam rolling and stretching

Bench
MT bar x 15
135 x 12
200 x 3
230 x 3
260 x 3

Assistance Work
Incline DB Press, 4 x 10
Lat Pulldowns, 4 x 10 - still nursing the rib injury from 8 days ago, Pullups just weren’t gonna happen!

Extra long day on the jobsite, with a side order of extra stress from my bosses… when the hell did boss become bosses? I managed to get my numbers on the main lift, but cut short my assistance work. Sometimes the bear gets you…