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Afraid of Losing Progress If I Switch to 5/3/1

Just to prelude, I am yet to purchase the book (which I plan to). Would 531 Forever be the best one for me to buy? I have done a lot of reading online about 531 the past few weeks though.

After my first year of training building off of a 5x3, 3x8-10 alternating heavy and light days for each main lift type of program. When I stalled I started incorporating things I’d learned from research, observing other programs, and listening to podcasts. I continued to make great progress and to be fair, I still am (albeit obviously a little slower). I put a lot of thought into what I do each week and sometimes my results aren’t fully as expected so I feel it’s probably time for me to be a little smarter with my training and follow something tried and true.

Please don’t castrate me but in the last month leading up to Christmas, I did my own haphazard version of BBB. Keeping my probably bullshit progression and rep schemes of the main lifts but then doing the 5x10 for the second session of the lift (squat/bench and deadlift/ohp rotating). With the 5x10s at 50% feeling so easy I was adding 10% a week and once I got to around 70%ish x 10 on bench, for example, I was then adding a kilo each week. The highest bench I’ve pushed is 105kg and my 5x10s worked up to 77kg. Even though I managed it I’m sure it’s not sustainable. A week off over Christmas gave me the patience and fortitude to realign my goals and hopefully be more methodic.

My biggest qualm with 5/3/1 (which i’m sure is heard all the time, and I apologize) is the whole training max thing. I’ve gone through phases where i’ve done 3-4x8-10 @ 80+%, And for my heavy days the 5x3 I was on has lead me to rotate rep ranges between 2-5. Usually doing 4 or 5 sets of 90%+. Maybe my intensity has been too high for too long? I’m just fearful of going backwards. I understand the concept of joker sets but most people recommend not to do them every session so i’m still a little confused. After someone confirms the book I should buy maybe I’ll understand things a little clearer but mostly I’m just thinking that going from 4-5 sets of 90% and 3-5 sets of 75-80%+ that the basic alternatives I’ve read might not be for me (or maybe it’s exactly what i need). I know there are solutions to this with all the different templates so i’m still into 5/3/1, I just need to be pushed in the right direction really.

Thanks to anyone who took the time to read this…

You will be a VERY unique human if, while engaging in resistance training, jumps, throws and conditioning, you somehow become weaker rather than stronger.


Honestly I’d just start with the 1st 5/3/1 book and run a few cycles. Think you really need to understand the concept and philosophy of 5/3/1 before worrying about jokers etc. Trust me you won’t go backwards. My only regret with 5/3/1 is not doing it earlier in my training career.


This, 2x.

Edit: Actually, everthing @aholding88 said, 2x.


Fair enough. I guess I need to get certain philosophies out of my head. Going from doing 4x8-10sets of 80+% on my lighter days to only doing 1 set of that on my heavierdays in the first week just seems like absolute madness right now.

If you’re only doing so much main work, it means you have MUCH more room for supplemental, assistance, conditioning, etc. It’s about balance.

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Are you talking without any extra work so just each main lift 1x a week? I’ll purchase the book tonight hopefully to arrive for tomorrow or get the ebook. I guess the second updated edition, yeah?

As I mentioned above. It just seems like absolute madness to turn one of my lighter x8-10 sets into my one final set on a heavy day.

Thanks for the awesomely quick reply dude. I’ll get some more reading done :slight_smile:

I’m sure lots will emphasize with my concerns on doing so much less in terms of the actual main lifts (volume+intensity) but it’s tried and true so what the hell do i know? :zipper_mouth_face: Is diet talked about much in the book?

5/3/1 Forever gives a bare bones but effective approach to nutrition. Much like training, Jim keeps nutrition simple. Is there anything in particular you are curious about regarding diet?

There are loads of options, you already know about BBB, there are so many acronyms but basically there’s loads of varieties to encompass extra work. There’s also the “I Ain’t doing Jack Shit” for when life gets in the way. You can also format accessory work as your needs fit.

I got two of the ebooks on kindle for about £5 a pop, best training books I’ve ever bought. If you’re after nutrition info/plans as I can see you’ve mentioned in previous reply to pwn look somewhere else for that. 5/3/1 is unashamedly a training book

Not majorly, I just know that I’ve read about some people progressing their lifts on 5/3/1 whilst being on a cut, but also see Wendler say for some programs it’s important that you need to eat BIG.

Both are true statements. Jim has said many times he’s against cutting, and that the simplest way to lose fat is to not get fat in the first place. However, he also has a program called “Fat Loss and Prep” in 5/3/1 Forever, and many of his programs will work just fine during periods of calorie restriction. That’s less about diet, though, and more, once again, about balance of training demands. If you don’t have the calories to support recovery of hard training: don’t do hard training.

So he’s a “slow bulk forever” kind of guy? I have no real interest right now in being lean. I spent my entire adult life being only around 125lbs and have worked myself up to 200lbs. Yes I’m carrying some extra timber and there are a lot of people that would say I should cut (i’m over 20%) but I don’t mind being at this bodyfat. I still feel small and I still want to get stronger. I still eat big but I should probably slow down. Only eating at maintenance or not eating enough could leave me with a skewed view of the program if i don’t make progress so i guess i’ll have to continue trying to slow bulk for now even though I probably don’t want any more fat.

Negative. He’s an “eat for performance” kind of guy.

It’s worth appreciating that 5/3/1 isn’t a lifting program: it’s a program for athletes. Lifting is just a part of it. It’s not going to be “bulking and cutting”.


I like that idea. I also like the idea of getting fitter all round (even though it’s not 100% my goal, of course it sounds good)… It is changing many of the views I’ve had around gaining muscle and getting stronger though. Must eat in a surplus etc. I wonder if it’s 100% the right program for me but i’ve ordered the book anyway and still look forward to it.


What are your goals?

Bah. I know what i’ve set myself up for here lol. My number one goal is more muscle and to continue to get stronger. I’d like to be at my current weight with a little less fat on me and stronger. I’ve also recently become a coach for an under 11s girls soccer team so a bit of fitness wouldn’t go a miss! I also walk my dog for around 3-4 miles every other day which up to now I’ve considered as my conditioning.

Before Christmas my goals were just keep eating and keep adding more weight to the bar. I don’t want to leave the latter part behind.

Even if 5/3/1 isn’t the perfect program for you, you could still learn a lot from it. How much load to use, how to progress your weights, how to adjust your training over weeks and months, and how to rotate though phases of volume and intensity.

Wendler is really experienced and educated about training. You already said your intensity is too high and your workload is unsustainable. Let someone who knows about this stuff guide you through the process.

You will probably find that lots of the cool stuff and fancy things you’ve read and heard about are worked into 5/3/1 in a real straight forward, easy to use way.


Wicked. Yeah I think my 5x3 training has messed up my perception a bit and made me think I should be doing lots of stuff 90%+. I’m still a little nervous about reducing my volume and intensity but I won’t be able to experience the potential benefits unless I give it a proper go and get invested. Mr Wendler and you guys clearly know a lot more than me. I hope I can get enough reading done tonight to be able to start tomorrow (even though I did a couple of pretty intense sessions on Sunday and Tuesday). The big decrease in intensity and volume should still feel super easy so i don’t think i should hesitate in starting as soon as i can.

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I’ve lifted for 9 years, using 5/3/1 for the last 7, and am real pissed I didn’t start using it earlier. I’ve used 5/3/1 completely exclusively for the last 2 years (no cycles of other programs) and have made some real good progress on health, fitness, strength, and physique since fully committing. It takes some time to understand the program and Jim’s philosophy, but when you do you can pretty much use the program to achieve any lifting related goal you have.

Best bet is to start with OG 5/3/1 while reading and digesting the non-lifting portion of either the original 5/3/1 book or 5/3/1 Forever. After a few cycles you should have a decent enough understanding to be able to pick a program that matches your goals and your lifestyle. It’s hard not to progress as long as you really buy into the philosophy behind the program and follow the food/conditioning recommendation too.