T Nation

5/4/3/2/1 Rep Scheme


#1

Coach Thibs,

I am entirely infatuated with the 5/4/3/2/1 Rep Scheme.

Wondering if the goal is indeed strength and size, and being equipped now with patience for gains and accompanying solid nutrition, could modifying said scheme slightly to reflect a Wendleresque training routine be considered useful for the goal indicated?

Example:

Week 1: (DL, squat, OHP, bench) once/week: 5/4/3/2/1+ reps for 65%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85% of 1RM
Week 2: 5/4/3/2/1+ reps for 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90% of 1RM
Week 3: 5/4/3/2/1 reps for 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95% of 1RM
Week 4 Deload: 3 x 5 for 40%, 50%, 60%

Start cycle over with 5 lb and 10 lb increases on Upper Body and Lower Body lifts, respectively.

When you get a free moment...your thoughts are greatly appreciated, per usual.

JJ


#2

From the article: “To achieve the added effect of maximum muscle growth, without limiting strength gains, simply add two sets of 4-5 reps using 80-82.5 percent of 1RM.”


#3

[quote]jjcrugby wrote:
Coach Thibs,

I am entirely infatuated with the 5/4/3/2/1 Rep Scheme.

Wondering if the goal is indeed strength and size, and being equipped now with patience for gains and accompanying solid nutrition, could modifying said scheme slightly to reflect a Wendleresque training routine be considered useful for the goal indicated?

Example:

Week 1: (DL, squat, OHP, bench) once/week: 5/4/3/2/1+ reps for 65%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85% of 1RM
Week 2: 5/4/3/2/1+ reps for 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90% of 1RM
Week 3: 5/4/3/2/1 reps for 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95% of 1RM
Week 4 Deload: 3 x 5 for 40%, 50%, 60%

Start cycle over with 5 lb and 10 lb increases on Upper Body and Lower Body lifts, respectively.

When you get a free moment…your thoughts are greatly appreciated, per usual.

JJ[/quote]

I’m all for slower progress and mastering technique and not draining your CNS. But I feel that your week 1 and week 4 will be ineffective.

Week 1 is too light. The only sets that will somewhat contribute to stimulating strength gains are the last two, and that will mostly be due to motor learning. There wont be much muscle growth stimulated.

Week 4 is a deload were you don’t really need one. Let’s face it. Week 1 is super easy, you could do that first thing getting out of bet with hardly a warm-up. Week 2 is still fairly easy being about 10% under what you can handle for all the sets. The only demanding aspect will be the set with 90% and we are talking about only 1 repetition at or above 90% which is hardly a significant stress on the CNS. Week 3 is demanding but only the last set will be somewhat of a challenge/stress. Most people can do 5 reps with 85% if they are on a good day, so 75% for 5 and 80% for 4 aren’t that demanding. IMHO there is no need for a deload after essentially 1 fairly demanding week and 2 easy ones.

And I feel like going down that low to deload isn’t super effective. There is no need to drop below 60% to deload.


#4

Understood. Will make the necessary tweaks to make this an effective routine. Again, a tremendous thanks to you for this advice.


#5

Here are a couple loading schemes from Rugby Strength and Conditioning coach Ashley Jones. They are kinda like what you have in mind.

Progression 1
week 1: 5x5 (step load)
week 2: 2x5, 3x3 (step load)
week 3: 5,4,3,2,1 (step load to new max)

Progression 2
week 1: 4x6 straight sets at 75%
week 2: 4x3-3 with a 20 sec break mid set at 85-90%
week 3: 4x(3,2,1) at 85%/90%/95%+

Progression 3
week 1: 2x(6/5/4) at 75%/80%/85%
week 2: 2x(5/4/3) at 80%/85%/90%
week 3: 2x(4/3/2) at 85%/90%/95%

I haven’t tried them yet, but they looked so different from what I’ve always done I had to copy them down.


#6

Thanks, Flats.


#7

I have bugga all equipment at home just a bench,squat racks barbell and dumbells.I really want to try this rep scheme but only having 1 barbell I cant see how I can do a circut,was wondering if I did these excersises front squat,bench,high pull,bent over row,millitary press doing the 54321 daily be any good or not? Thanks to anyone that helps


#8

[quote]boppa818 wrote:
I have bugga all equipment at home just a bench,squat racks barbell and dumbells.I really want to try this rep scheme but only having 1 barbell I cant see how I can do a circut,was wondering if I did these excersises front squat,bench,high pull,bent over row,millitary press doing the 54321 daily be any good or not? Thanks to anyone that helps[/quote]

Yes, its an excellent choice of exercises. Doing them as a circuit makes it more time efficient and gives you great metabolic boost asnd conditioning effect. But as far as strength and muscle goes it’s fine to do the exercises separately.

But you can also do it like this:

A1. Front squat
A2. Military press
(go back and forth between squats and press… taking about 60 seconds between both exercises)

B1. High pull
B2. Row
(go back and forth between the two with 60 sec of rest)

C. Bench presss


#9

Hi CT, in this setup would it be:

5/4/3/2/1 alternating squat and military press.

Then 5/4/3/2/1 alternating high pull and row.

And finally straight sets of 5/4/3/2/1 bench press?

This is very do-able in a commercial gym. Can built for bad be “modified” to this style and still produce great gains?

Only effect that’s different would be the feel of hitting a heavy 1 RM then switching to a lighter 5 rep on different exercise again…


#10

[quote]-Sigil- wrote:
Hi CT, in this setup would it be:

5/4/3/2/1 alternating squat and military press.

Then 5/4/3/2/1 alternating high pull and row.

And finally straight sets of 5/4/3/2/1 bench press?

This is very do-able in a commercial gym. Can built for bad be “modified” to this style and still produce great gains?

Only effect that’s different would be the feel of hitting a heavy 1 RM then switching to a lighter 5 rep on different exercise again…[/quote]

It will work just as well to build strength & size. Might not give you the same conditioning effect, but that isn’t really the goal of the original plan anyway.


#11

That’s great to hear. I started doing BfB last week with Back squat -> push press -> SGHP -> weighted ring chins -> weighted bar dips

I only need two bars but even then sometimes get interrupted and totally screws with concentration/performance. So I end up doing a butchered 5/5/3/3 or just 5/4/3 and never actually hit those doubles/singles.

Doing them separately would help focus. After I finish the first pair, ok to do 3x3 progressivly heavier sets to prepare for the second pair (vs. warming up all 5 movements at start of workout)?

And ok to start each day’s workout with some ring work (pull up -> into inverted hang -> front lever -> back lever, handstands) and jumps ?


#12

Thanks Coach thats the news I was hoping for,now into it :slight_smile:


#13

Hi CT lee’s article today about exercise supersets… Do you think that applies to built for bad circuits? I’m actually literally doing back squat/ OHP combo which he said is bad, but 5/4/3/2/1 should be manageble?


#14

UI think it’s a solid article and really like Lee. I do not agree 100% with all his points though and this isn’t really a superset in its purest sense since you are taking 45-60 seconds between exercises.


#15

Is there any chance you can do another video of you or one of your pupils doing this routine? would be great


#16

love this routine,was wondering tho coach have you done this routine with higher reps soley for size like e.g 8/7/6/5/4/ or if you havnt do you think it would work?


#17

[quote]boppa818 wrote:
love this routine,was wondering tho coach have you done this routine with higher reps soley for size like e.g 8/7/6/5/4/ or if you havnt do you think it would work?[/quote]

With higher reps initially the drop has to be more than 1 rep. There isn’t really much difference between what you can lift 8 or 7 times, especially since with higher reps you accumulate fatigue from set to set., The 5/4/3/2/1 scheme works because you do not build-up a lot of fatigue from set to set. I personally wouldn’t use that approach with higher reps, it basically turns into a pyramid scheme (e.g. 12/10/8/6/4) which really isn’t that effective.


#18

Ok thanks again for the reply,i guees im still getting my head around low rep training its all new to me.Thanks again


#19

Hey i am thinking of using this rep scheme and curious what you decided to and how effective it was. After reading coach thibs response made me think you could take week 3 weight and start there but then try to add a rep to each set each week so after a few weeks you would be doing 87654.