531 for Hardgainers

Hey guys just throwing up my current template, been on it for a couple months and it’s going pretty well.

I actually just found an old journal from 2012 where I first tried 531 in it’s first form!

Made some poor progress since then, not due to program but my diet and training. I always seem to peak then will drop off massively and have to spend a good 6-8 months to get back to where my peak was, I am close to my all time PRs and I am hoping to add a few kilos on to each this time around!

DEADLIFT - 85% TM. Jokers if the day is right.
Squat - I use the same numbers in the 3s week for accessory, usually 2 sets of each for 3.
Back movement 50 reps
Chest movement 50 reps
1 leg hamstring movement - 50 reps

OHP - 85% TM. Jokers if day is right.
Bench - use 3s week for numbers 2 sets of each or build to 3 sets of the heaviest %.
Back movement 50 reps
Chest movement 100 reps.
Fluff stuff, laterals, facepulls, curls.

SQUAT - 85% TM. Widowmakers at end
I don’t do deadlifts as it takes too much out of me.
1 leg quad work 50 reps
Chest movement 50 reps
Back movement 50 reps

BENCH - 85% tm. jokers or sometimes pause sets if i didn’t do pause work on bench on ohp day
OHP - again use 3s week numbers sets/reps dependant.
Back movement 50-100 reps
Chest movement 50-100 reps

why are you doing chest and back movements 4 days a week? I see you doing 200-300 reps of “chest movements” and 200-300 reps of “back movements” each week on top of your OHP and BENCH main work, and adding “fluff stuff” on overhead press day - which tells me you don’t need it, otherwise it wouldn’t be called “fluff.” On top of all that, you’re doing additional “main” exercises each workout using 3s week numbers - where did you get this idea from? Your program doesn’t look like 5/3/1 at all.

Now, let’s assume you’re training only 2 days a week with your above template - which would make a bit more sense, however, your volume looks like a bodybuilder template, and you’re just throwing in 5/3/1 for strength gains, with no 5/3/1 included anywhere in your program.

I think if you use your template, but train only 2 days a week and cut out the chest and back movements on Squat and Dead day, you’re closer to some reasonable volume - but I’d also lower the overall volume on bench and OHP days as well.

I copied/pasted your template below and made some changes:

DEADLIFT - 5/3/1 + joker sets
Squat - FSL 5x5
Upper Back movement 50 reps (shrugs, band pull aparts, rear delts)
1 leg hamstring movement - 50 reps

OHP - 5/3/1 + Joker Sets
Bench - FSL 5x5
Chins 50 reps
Chest movement 50 reps.

Stiff Leg or Romanian Deadlift or squat variation (simple strength template)
1 leg quad work 50 reps
Back extensions 50 reps

BENCH - 5/3/1 + Joker sets (you should be doing paused reps on all your leading sets up to your PR and joker sets)
OHP - FSL 5x5
Dumbbell Rows 50-100 reps
Shoulders/Upper Back 50-100 reps

See I thought it was odd too that the program recommened this. I’ve never done nor thought about doing a chest movement on a “leg/squat day” But it’s what it says here.

The template you’ve provided is exactly how I would be doing it if the program on tnation didn’t say to do those movements on those days.

I did have worries about being sore but I’ve done just stuff like weighted push ups/pulls which is easy for me and seem to not get sore at all the following day?

I’ve done the mirror lifts of each main lift for almost a year now and I get better gains doing those movements twice a week rather than one.

but yeah this is a 4 day week template.

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I see what you mean - but you didn’t copy that template as the article suggests. You included heavy squats (3s week) on deadlift day, and heavy press on bench day. If you’re going to do the hard gainer template, do the hard gainer template. Don’t add anything to it. Perhaps I shouldn’t comment on the hard gainers as I’m not one of them and have no experience having a hard time gaining weight - I’ve gained 14 pounds in 4 months (208 to 222) and about 1-2% body fat at age 38; but I know how to eat and can handle/afford large amounts of clean food. If I hit chest/shoulders 4x per week I’d have rotator cuff surgery after 1 cycle. If you’re healthy and young and need the volume to compliment your ferocious eating, have at it; just drop the added strength work after the main work - that’s not in the template.

Yeah I get that dude, only reason I do it that was is I tried it after seeing it somewhere nearly a year ago or so and ever since doing so it just seems to work. I don’t do the second lift to failure or with tons of intensity but I feel just doing the movement twice a week really helps with actually getting better at the movements!

I don’t think I could drop it now!

Could perhaps drop the %s you mentioned FSL 5x5 might be a better alternative for me.

Just do either - do either the Hard gainers template, or do one like what I posted, don’t do both; but maybe you eat 5000 calories a day, get stronger every week and have 5% body fat? If it’s working for you, what’s the question?

The reason I say pick one or the other is because of your quote:

Why do you think this happens? Doing too much, perhaps? Hardgainers, jokers, and I guess what you’d call 3s progression assistance all at the same time at least for me seems like a recipe for overtraining/burning out.

Well this is the first time in doing this template so I am yet to find out! I have however done the big lifts back to back for a year and have had a burn out period, but that’s more likely down to be skipping deloads because I am an idiot.

It’s not 531 that’s for sure, but I like the full body approach personally. I don’t understand working up to your threes week weight for the opposite movement, though. It seems like you’re training two primary lifts. I believe JW would have a coronary if he saw this!!! :slight_smile:

I’m so confused.

Your original template did not even come close to the program you linked.

There are no joker sets.

And, why don’t you want to follow the template given in the article?

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I had to go back to the original article and check if there was a misprint.

There wasn’t.

Looks to me that you did a bad job of copy/paste. Might want to get that checked out.


Back in the day- a “hardgainer” routine was for people that had, well, a hard time “gaining,” usually weight/muscle, but strength too.

Therefore, they discovered that doing full body workouts frequently, along with
an “eating to gain” diet, did the trick- thus for the “hardgainer.”
For instance, one would squat, pull, and press, usually in a heavy/light/medium pattern, every day- three/ four days per week.

This program is a variation of that- except that Jim is giving you options each day- thus because of the assistance categories he’s laid out- your essentially doing a full body every workout. That’s why you are benching on squat day.

I know I’m not explaining it as well as the man might- but I believe that’s the thought process behind the variation.

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If people would just stick to the template for 6 months or so- all of these mysteries reveal themselves


I’m currently into my 3rd week of the 5/3/1 hardgainer template. I really enjoy switching from workouts decided by looking in a mirror, or chasing the pump, ego lifting etc…To calculating and planning my lifts in advance, then executing them. If I was impatient on rest days before I’m even more anxious now, as I always have the next workout written down all the way to exactly which size plates I will be putting on the bar for each lift.
I do have a couple of questions though…
1)How should the accessory work be patterned? Spread all the accessories you have listed during the 3 weeks. OR, focus on 1 or 2 from each category for a 3 or 4 week cycle, then switch them for the next cycle?
2)5/3/1 includes triples, doubles, and singles, and calls for a deload week during the 4th week. 5/3/1 for hardgainers, however, does not include these. I was wondering if there was a connection with maxing out and having to deload? Is it not necessary in the hardgainer template because of x5 reps= less stress on the body, CNS, etc?
Not trying to argue with the program just trying to comprehend the whys and hows of why it works.

Also running hardgainers at the minute so I’ll give you my two cents.

  1. Not sure what Jim’s proper answer would be for this. Personally I am doing a different assistance exercise on each day, excluding chins, but repeating each week, I can’t imagine it’d be easy keeping track of all the different lifts changing every week. Also worth noting is that I’m only on my first week so I may find this approach unsuitable and use less exercises.

  2. I think this is just a progression of Jim’s ideas about training, the 5s is something called 5s progression which is 5/3/1 percentages but 5 reps for each set and no plus set. He also came up with a seventh week deload instead for those that didn’t need to deload so often. It’s all explained clearly in beyond 5/3/1 which I would strongly recommend.

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This answer made me laugh so damn hard - I actually shared it with my wife and my mom/dad. We all laughed like idiots. Thank you!