T Nation

Alternating Between Main Lifts


#1

Hello everyone, I just want to pick your brains again :slightly_smiling:

I have been following 5 3 1 for a little over a year now. I have been making steady progress throughout this time. I have stalled once on the bench, quite early on, and since doing a deload on my TM, I have made steady progress since. I have made steady, uninterrupted progress on the other three lifts. I have reached the point now where almost every lift is slowing down, and I might only hit 2 or 3 reps on the final set of the 5 3 1 week.

I have upped my cardio recently as during the summer I like to do a few 10k races. I know that this will have an impact on my lifts, and I am considering an across the board deload of all the main lifts, resetting the TM to 90% of what it is now. I will do this with the squat at the very least. I am also looking for ways to ensure a steady progress in the future, and I have been considering the 5 forward, 3 back idea. I think I will begin to implement this.

What I wanted to ask was about alternating main lifts as well as a way of maintaining a steady progress. I saw a mention of it in Jim's FAQ about the 5 3 1 programme. I was considering combining this idea with the 5 forward, 3 back idea to work like this -
I start with the bench (for example), and I work through 5 cycles, upping the TM after each one in the normal fashion.

When the 5 cycles are in the bag, I alternate the main lift to, lets say, the close grip bench. I now advance 5 cycles on this. At the end of this, I revert back to the ordinary bench, taking my TM as 3 steps back from the TM I reached at the end of the initial 5 cycles. I then repeat the process. I usually use a similar movement to the main lift as the main accessory, so I would probably use the close grip as the main accessory for the bench cycles, then the bench as the main accessory for the close grip.

What do you guys think of this sort of an idea? The pro's in my head include variety to help motivation, an increased chance of maintaining steady progress without stalling, and perhaps a cycled focus on different muscles or movements to encourage a broader strength base.

Just to give some background on what I do - My goals are basically to continue to improve my strength and general performance, I am not a powerlifter. I am not in a hurry to gain strength, I am more than happy to continue on a gradual advance, but I would like to work optimally, or at least sensibly. I do serve two masters during the running season. I do attempt to improve my running fitness and my strength at the same time, which I do know is not optimal, but I enjoy both equally, so I live with the consequences.

Thanks for any help or advice any of ye might have!


#2

Shane, keep the main lifts the same. If you change main movements every 5 cycles, it would be difficult to know if you are truly progressing, or just becoming better at the “new” lift each time you change it.

Just alternate your accessory movements to stay motivated. For example, maybe your squat accessory is front squat for one 5-cycle period, then it becomes the box squat for the next 5-cycle period. Whatever, as long as it works for your needs and doesn’t detract from the 4 main lifts.