Jim, first off thanks for Beyond 5/3/1. I was at a point of major frustration with my upper body training. I'm not sure why my lower body seemed to respond well to other methods but my upper body strength digressed. Anyway, I've regained everything I lost in a short time with 5/3/1 and even surpassed that in some regards.
I am a little concerned that maybe I'm trying to do too much with my main work sets. I've been combining the Strength Phase (Page 15) along with Pyramids, Joker Sets, and First Set Last as Paused Reps. Recently, I read your article about the letter to yourself and the combining of two 5/3/1 main lifts into a session was very interesting to me because there are certain things I like to do as well as the bread and butter lifts.
Example Squat Day 3/3/3 day
A)5/3/1 Olympic Squat: 3 @ 70% / 3@80% / 3@90% / 1@TM / *** / 3+@90% / 3+@80% / 3+@70% or 3-5 Paused either way this last set is paused. The *** represents that I may do something different depending on how I feel. Some days I may just do the 1 @ TM, some days I will AMRAP the TM, or I will go for a Joker Set(s) and then Pyramid down.
Assistance: Depending on how I feel when I get back to 70% I may either do 3+ paused reps and then move on to assistance work, or do 3-5 paused sets @ 70% and superset with SLDL's. So it could be something like...
B1) Leg Press 5 x 10 / B2) SLDL's 5x10 or...
B1) Paused squats @ 70% 3-5 x 3-5 / B2 SLDL's 5x10
Ab work, something for about 50+ reps
Bench Day has become something like this...
A1)5/3/1 Bench Press 3@70% / 3@80% / 3@90% / 1@TM / *** / 3+@90% / 3+@80% / 3+@70% or 3-5sets Paused
A2) 5/3/1 Barbell Row (same as above)
B) Incline Bench 2 x 15+ -minimum of 15 reps on the first set
C1) Chin-ups 3-5 sets x max
C2) Dips 3-5 x 10
Lat Raises 5 x 6-12 reps
A)5/3/1 Deadlift 3@70% / 3@80% / 3@90% / 1@TM / *** / 3+@90%
B)5/3/1 Power Cleans 3@70% / 3@80% / 3@90% / 1@TM / *** / 3+@90%
C1) Hip Bridges 5 x 10 (I wanted to try a posterior chain exercise that appears to put less stress on the lower back; as compared to GM's for instance).
C2) Shrugs (DB or BB) 5 x 10
A) 5/3/1 OHP 3@70% / 3@80% / 3@90% / 1@TM / *** / 3+@90% / 3+@80% / 3+@70% or 3-5sets Paused
B) Neutral DB OHP 2 x 15+
C1) Chin-ups 5 x max
C2) Dips 5 x 10
D) Tricep Pressdowns 5 x 6-12
I'm not sure if I'm setting myself up for failure here or not. So far so good and I've been tolerating the volume but I'm definitely beat when I leave the gym. Not that I care so much about that, just concerned about what this looks like long-term. I go in with a plan but I definitely adjust the main-set work depending on how I feel. Do I go for Joker sets, a single with just the TM, rep-out the TM, or what; it's often a game-time decision.
Also, I switched to a narrower squat stance because my hip flexors are just screaming for days after a regular squat session. I've hurt the right one a couple times and no matter how much rest I've take, foam rolled, stretched, and used a lacrosse ball it doesn't seem to matter. My Oly Squat is about 40lbs less than my regular squat but I'm not competing and don't plan on competing. I do this because I love it and I just want to get stronger and I feel like this will allow me to squat for a longer time, I'm currently 36 years old.
Part of me thinks that your SVR section might be better for me, but not sure. I've been doing well with this in the short-term. Sorry for the wall of text, thanks Jim. - Jason