T Nation

5/3/1 Variation


Big fan and a long time 5/3/1’er with great results. Thank you for the program. Awhile back I found a variation on your website that I’ve been itching to try. You may recall it’s an FSL variation that goes heavy, medium, heavy, light and the first week looks like this:

  • 75×5, 85×5, 95×5, 100×1-3 (not a PR), 75 for 5 sets of 5

I’m doing this this month with squat only. I’d had it in mind to do this variation for each lift, one at a time, over the course of a year. Is three cycles per lift (back to back to back), again individually while following a more standardized 5/3/1 for the other three lifts, too much?

If it helps to formulate an answer, I Train a four-day split and keep my assistance work efficient, but minimal.



Anything can be done provided you follow the basic principles AND follow the Leader/Anchor format of total programming. I don’t remember the set/rep combo you have above but sets/reps don’t matter as much as principles. I actually saw an article detailing what/how many reps you should do but NOTHING on principles - and they said 10 reps were for endurance/size. Unbelievable amount of dumbness in this business.

The point is - do you understand the principles? It sounds like you do. So you will be fine doing just about anything you want.

I just saw you answered another question regarding the TM, etc. Dude, you are on your own. You know how to do shit and are one of the half-dozen people here that get it.

Come back when you have a question or need to be kicked in the ass/reminded. But you understand the training- so go forth and get stronger.


I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but it’s the internet Man. The internet has given voice, reach and influence to every nitwit with a laptop and six months hardcore Planet Fitness time. Couple that with a culture that expects immediate results with minimal effort and you’ve got a tough road countering the disinformation. Hell, there’s an idiot “Doctor” on the radio where I live that advertises that diet and exercise is a lie and doesn’t work; you’re fat because of your hormones and it ain’t yer fault…

Anyway, heartfelt thanks Jim, not just for the program but for the philosophy and principles behind it. I was sincere in the other thread when I said they’ve had positive carry-over into other aspects of my life, and not just in the weight room.