T Nation

Another Routine Check Please


Hi all. I recently (finally) got my hands on 5/3/1 Forever and benefited greatly from it and would like some feedback on my routine.

In short something like 2/2/2 fits my needs best but my limitation is more about how many days I can exercise vs. how much time I have in a day. So essentially I went with 2 days per week, (minimal) assistance on lifting days. On off days I’ll do mobility as needed, in addition to the jumps/throws/stretches on lifting days. My conditioning sucks so I mainly just walk after lifting while I my fat ass gets comfortable with my jump/throw/lifting volume. In addition I work 3 x 12hr shifts in the ER which keep me on my feet. So essentially it’s 3 days work, 2 days lifting+conditioning/cardio, and 2 days mobility/rest.

Leader A:
Squat 3/5/1 + FSL 5x3
Bench 3/5/1 + FSL 5x5
Face Pulls 5x5
Curls 3x10
Triceps 3x10

Leader B:
Deadlift 3/5/1 + FSL 5x3
OHP 3/5/1 + FSL 5x5
Pulldown 5x5
Upright rows (cable) 3x10
Triceps 3x10

Anchors are 3/5/1 without FSL (and max 5 reps on PR set), and as a result conditioning after lifting is either 2000m row, 5x250m row, or 3x1000m row, etc. My conditioning goal is to get get my 2000m row under 8min and my 500m row down to 1:45 (I have a long way to go).
I’ve been doing 2 Leader, 1 Anchor, but maybe for the sake of the above goal I may start doing 1 Leader 1 Anchor, etc.


I have yet to read the book so I will let others more experienced than I give the best answers but real quick:

You said “on off days” - by off do you mean off from work? Just checking. Cause lifting on off days from lifting doesn’t make sense.

I’d probably do pulldowns (lat pulldowns, correct?) for something more like 3-5 x 8-20, and I’d definitely do face pulls for something more like 3-5 x 20-50. I consider both of those (especially face pulls) more “pump” work, and should be done with a focus on feeling the correct muscles work, and less on getting strong with such low reps or a focus on increasing weight.

And I’m not a huge fan of any upright rows. I think cables usually tend to be easier on the shoulders than barbells are, but I still think there are better options for shoulder/trap work. Do more face pulls, add in some rear delt/lateral/front raises with some dumbbells (do those three movements, in that order, for 25/20/15 reps, or 15/10/5 reps, for a few sets. Use the same weight for all three). You can do shrugs, if you actually do them with weight you can handle without looking like you’re having a seizure, or you can do some type of loaded carry, which will strengthen your legs, back, grip and be a form of conditioning,or if you know how, you can do cleans or some type of high pull. Snatch grip high pulls are amazing for the traps. Christian Thibaudeau’s got some great stuff about those.

Anyway, sorry I probably didn’t address what you really wanted to know about, but there’s my two cents.


Thanks for the helpful advice.

I meant I do mobility on days off from lifting, and I do mobility before my lifts as well. Hope that makes sense.

My reasoning for doing these 5x5 is to get strong with those muscle groups, specifically to balance out from all the pressing I’m doing and have done for years. Something to keep in mind from the book is that I’m shooting for 50 reps per workout of “pull” assistance (that’s my pulldowns, upright rows, face pulls, and curls) and 25-50 reps of “push” assistance (that’s my triceps). That’s where my set/rep selection came from.

As for the delt/trap stuff, thanks. I’m doing the cable rope upright rows based on a T Nation article about it, and the reason was that you can give your side delts more load with those than with dumbell raises. I’m a huge fan of the snatch grip high pulls (thanks to coach Thib) but 5/3/1 and this template are already pretty compound heavy (thanks to FSL) so I didn’t want to overdo it especially as I transition into this new template. Maybe I can work those into my anchor weeks, idk. But I’m just following the mindset of “when you put something in, you have to take something out”.

Thanks again for the insight.


Sure man no problem.

I see what you mean with the 50 reps of pull assistance, and the 25-50 reps of push assistance, but here’s my reasoning:

You’re benching and pressing. Those are very heavy, strenuous movements. Face pulls, upright rows, lat pulldowns, and curls, even all combined, don’t add up to the amount of stress than those two barbell presses put on your body. Curls, obviously, work your biceps, and strong biceps, while important, do nothing for shoulder health and posture. In fact, overworked biceps means your are further “tightening” the bicep/shoulder/chest area, which tends to be quite tight due to our posture and pulls your shoulders forward.

Then, lat pulldowns work primarily your lats and biceps. Again, all good to stengthen those muscles. That’s not wrong. But the lats are used to internally rotate the shoulders, just like all pressing movements and most bicep movements. So when you work the lats often (and don’t stretch them), they get tight. And pull the shoulders forward. Which now is contributing to bad posture and potential shoulder issues.

So, what you really want to do is work the upper back. The entire traps, not just the upper part worked from shrugs. The rhomboids, rear delts, and all those little muscles making up your upper back. Those are what’s really gonna keep your shoulder healthy.

Now side note real quick - you may spend an hour in the gym twice a week working your upper back, but then it leaves another 23-24 hours in your day every day of the week where you might not be doing great things for your shoulders. Your posture may get worse throughout the day, you might be bent over a phone or computer, or spend time driving or biking (hunched over), and the countless other movements where your shoulders are internally rotated (rolled forward).

So my reasoning here is this: 5x5 of face pulls once a week may balance out the exact pulling reps needed to equal or be slightly greater than pressing reps, but it is probably not enough to balance out a 24/7 life of doing activites that promote bad posture and to balance out making your primary upper body lifts that you give the most attention to pressing movements.

So that’s why I’d do more. I do 100 reps of face pulls or pull aparts daily, when I wake up, and if I’m pressing/benching, I do 20-40 reps between every set. And my shoulder issues haven’t gone away, but have improved. If I’d been doing stuff like this when I first started, I believe I wouldn’t be dealing with these issues.

Sorry for the length of that, haha. I’m sure if Jim reads this he’ll have a heart attack from this “majoring in the minors” that I’m doing, but I’m pretty passionate in staying injury free when possible and I was just trying to explain this particular issue to you.

Good luck with your training though brother!


That’s a lot of useful stuff to keep in mind. Thanks!


@epinephrine, this is gold. Plus, these don’t in any way take away from your lifts. They add to them by providing you with a more stable shoulder girdle. Train them every day until it becomes routine.


Rear delts respond to high reps and high volume. If you do face pulls for 5x5, the rear delts won’t even be doing the work. It’ll be the traps and upper back.