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531 Variations and Why They Work

Many of us have run countless 531 templates, and have the experience to make some changes that have worked well for a variety of reasons. I wanted to put some my favorite personal versions up in the event they would be useful to others. I’ll start with a standard and add more if there is any interest.

My favorite: 3 times a week. Also, I’m 47 and like to do other activities, with my goals being strength, performance, and sustainability.

Day 1. Squat day.
4x5 Power cleans (at SSL weight) with jumps/throws between sets

531 5’s PRO with Zercher squats.
3x10 FSL with back squats (using FSL weight from zerchers, so this isn’t too heavy)

Supersets with all squats work: Ring dips and Ring rows (or normal versions) at 5x10-15 for each.

Day 2. BP day:
(Jumps/throws prior to your first BP)
531 5’s PRO (+ 3 plyo push ups immediately after each BP set during warm up and main work)
5x10 at FSL (BBB)

Superset all BP work: with Ab wheel and pull ups both at 5x10-15 reps.

3-5 airdyne sprints

Day 3. OHP/DL day

5x2 DL’s (start with 135, and keep going with big weight jumps up to a heavy double). Do jumps/ throws between sets.

OHP 531 (with PR set)
OHP 5x10 at FSL

Superset all OHP press work with: SLDL with shrugs 5x10-15, pull ups or rows 5 x10-15

"Assistance" day: (optional)

Fat gripz reverse grip curls (3x15)
Hammer curls (3x15)

Plate raises 3x10
Rear delt raises 3x10
Lat raises 3x10

Everyday: 100 band pull aparts, Agile 8

2x a week: 30 min airdyne, jog, sports, weight-vest work, or equivalent.

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Have you been able to progress deadlift just doing a ramping 5x2? I’m 44, and considering adding power cleans and dropping some of the supplemental deadlift volume.

Not the OP, but my deadlift progresses with heavy doubles and singles. No supplemental volume at all. I squat heavy and hard once a week then push SSB or front squats on DL day as well. I only DL to keep form or handle something heavy in my hands. I’m almost 40 and my back won’t tolerate large volume pulling.

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I would say yes I have. I just pulled a PR in the summer, doing 5x2 as my main DL volume. That said, I may have lost some endurance compared to running 5x10 on DL’s (but the pay off isn’t worth it for me).

Also, doing the tried and true 5x5 FSL for DL’s is also a good option. If I do this, I like to throw some olympic lift variation at the front of the workout (like I do for squats).

Here’s a 4-day a week variation with main lifts each day that I like to do. Again, it drops the lower body work a bit for recovery needs (due to other activities or just age). I really like the 5x5 FSL for lower body, which allows you to put some explosive work at the outset of the workout. I was reading how we lose the following was we age:

  1. Explosive/speed goes first.
  2. Then strength
  3. Last endurance

This makes perfect sense and is observable. It’s relatively easy to stay in reasonable conditioning even as we age, but harder to maintain explosive speed and strength. That’s why I like to have at last two sessions a week that has some faster lifts.

Day 1. Squat day.
4x5 Power cleans (at SSL weight) with jumps/throws between sets

531 5’s PRO with Zercher squats.
5x5 FSL with back squats (using FSL weight from zerchers, so this isn’t too heavy)

Supersets with all squats work: Ring dips and Ring rows (or normal versions) at 5x10-15 for each.

Day 2. BP day:
(Jumps/throws prior to your first BP)
531 5’s PRO (+ 3 plyo push ups immediately after each BP set during warm up and main work)
5x10 at FSL (BBB)

Superset all BP work: with Ab wheel and pull ups both at 5x10-15 reps.

3-5 airdyne sprints

Day 3. DL day

1 arm DB Clean and snatch. 5x3e arm. Superset with 5x3 Med Ball throws.

Trap bar deads (if possible) 5’s PRO
TBDL’s 5x5 at FSL

Superset all DL press work with dips and pull ups (5x10-15 each)

OHP Day:

(Jumps/throws prior to your first OHP)
OHP 5’s PRO
5x10 at FSL (BBB)

Superset all BP work: with Ab wheels and rows (again, 5x10-15 each)

3-5 airdyne sprints


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