All Main Lifts Each Workout, 3 Days/Week?

I realize this wouldn’t be considered 5/3/1, but I just started it and was wondering since I’m not strong: Bench- 315, Deadlift- 385, Squat- 315, at BW of 220… (I’m 43 and have just started back lifting for last 8 months after about a 20 year layoff, by the way.) I was wondering if anyone thought that until I get to 500lb DL and 400 Squat, if there would be any benefit to using 5/3/1 for a “total body” workout 3 days per week. In other words, instead of doing 1 main lift each of the 3/4 days, just do all of them on 3 days/week. I would think my current 1RMs aren’t high enough to hurt me doing this. I’d appreciate your thoughts…

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You’re not strong? Lol. I dream of a 300+ bench…

I dunno, 5/3/1 (mixing Volume & Intensity) seems to be a good program for where you are at. But I’m no expert.

I don’t think doing “531” for all three lifts you mention each workout is the way to go (it sounds like you’re omitting OHP). On each day, you’d have to try to hit a max PR at whatever your percentage was for that day on the 531 continuum, and you’d have diminishing returns, IMO. Also, my lift numbers and age are almost the same as yours, although I weigh 170, and what you’re proposing would be too much for me.

Try the Beyond 531 (1.1-1.4), as this prescribes that you to do two big lifts each work out. For example, you might do squat 531, then do 5x5@75% for bench. This allows you to hit each lift more often, but only have one big “531” for each workout. Also, you can then do assistance work.

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There was a full body-full boring template in Beyond where you did actually do all 3 each workout if I remember right, but it was not really advised.

If you want full body work there has been a lot of success reported with:
-Full body template, (3 days, Original 5/3/1 book or Beyond book)
-1000% awesome (3 days, New 5/3/1 Forever book)
-Krypteia sort of seems like full body with the assistance work, (4 days 2 cycles, then shifts to 3 days)

If your body can take the full body stuff it’s great, but for some people not really giving certain parts a breather can really catch up with their joints.

Having a 315 bench/squat is kind of funny, (jealous of the bench for sure!) I would think if you gave any of the above a shot your squat would shoot up.

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I’m actually not… I would either alternate between OHP and Bench or could do it 4 days…

I could actually probably squat more, just don’t know for sure. I “shorted” a 315 squat for 2 reps the other day, and may be able to do around 350/375ish. I think my hips are tight/weak.

@dungeondweller Well, I’m not embarrassed about my bench, but hips and back could be stronger for sure. For example, I can legit bench 315 but can not do more than 1 strict pull up. I suck at dips also. I’m not strong in what I would consider to be the true definition of real strength.

It might be fun to focus on the big three, three days a week for 2-3 months (Hey, a 3-3-3 training plan!), but I think it would neglect other muscle groups. I’d suggest not going all out intensity-wise, especially with the dead lift, so the muscles will be able to recover with the limited rest between them. There’s an article up just today about how to dead lift more often by going with volume instead of weight.

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Full body, full boring - template would be a good place to start. Jim has put out many other full body programs/templates too.


If the big three isn’t what you comsider true strength, then why focus on it? Why not try and lose weight and get stronger on pull ups and dips?

I think this is true. I have seen too many overweight guys that can move good weight on bench, squat, and deadlift but can’t do pull ups, dips, or run a mile. At the age of the OP (43), your quality of life will be much better if you focus on getting better at bodyweight exercises, your mile time, and jumps/throws while dropping fat. You can always come back to focus on barbell lifts.

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@oldbeancam @antiquity I like both of your suggestions. I don’t know if I’m focusing on those, but I do like them. I’m using them to get stronger while trying to lose BW at the same time and hoping the pull ups and dips will come. Seems hard to improve on them when you can’t do many. I can run a mile in 7:30 with my eyes closed. I can also move well and don’t consider myself to be overweight. I’m also not looking to be 5% body fat. Pullups and dips have just never been a real strength of mine. Don’t mind working on them, it just is what it is at this point.

Look at a 3 day Sheiko template for how to order the lifts. I think those are basically Bench all 3 days, squat 2 and DL 1. You can sub OHP for 1 bench day too. I think you would be better off just doing something like this though