T Nation

Brock's 5-3-1


I need to start an online log as somewhere to get advice while I lift and to help tweak. Also I lost my paper log of 3.5 years and figured what better time to move online than now.

I am 6'2 190#, around 13% bf (a guess, I can see some ab definition...I have a viewable 4 pack. I am what is typically known as a hard gainer. My metabolism is pretty fast. It is hard for me to pack on the muscle and I weigh what I do now due to working out fairly regularly for a number of years. I would like to be a solid 200# with 10-11% bf.

I have lifted 'casually' for a while. All sorts of program from my own, to Crossfit for a few years (where I discovered oly lifts!), to a little bit of half hearted Rippetoe, to some Madcows 5x5. I change it up as my body adapts to routines pretty well and I find change helps. I tend to travel a lot which interrupts my routines significantly. I have responded well in the past to 3x5 1x25 type sets.

I like what I see from 5-3-1 and reading on various forums about people and their experiences with it. I particularly like that it lays everything out and you just follow. Going to start it. I am going to try to go hard and really try for consistency with this one. The log is to help that. I am horribly unbalanced as you will see from my max list below. So I am hoping this will balance me back out by being diligent and consistent.

I will be using a template spreadsheet I found (here I believe). Will probably pick up the book as well as I am all for supporting that sort of endeavour. The template I have is slightly different than other templates in that it starts me off first week of first cycle with 75% rather than 65% (of 90% of 1rm). I hope this is OK.

Basically it looks like this (all %s of the 90% max rep, which I am actually using about 85% to be conservative):

Wk 1: Set 1-65%, 2-75%, 3-85%
Wk 2: Set 1-70%, 2-75%, 3-80%
Wk 3: Set 1-75%, 2-85%, 3-95%
Wk 4: Set 1-60%, 2-65%, 3-70%

I am kicking around either going Mon-Wed-Fri on a 3 day cycle, or doing Sun-Mon-Wed-Fri as a 4 day cycle. Any opinions on that? I would like to add power cleans (or maybe hang cleans) but not sure which day to supplement. I feel like I am getting a lot less work in with 3 days a week but a lot of people seem to say it is enough.

I plan to go simple at first and do Big But Boring, 5x10 at 40-50% weight. I may throw in random accessory work like dips and the like, but will see how BBB goes for now. I will be interspersing a variety core work and cardio as I need to keep my endurance up for other activities that I do.

The first week is experimental and not part of the 4 week cycle. I am also screwing up the order first week in order to accommodate soreness from the weekend. I want to get some mojo back as I really have not been solid in the gym for 3-4 months due to a bad shoulder injury and a bad thumb injury. Both are good enough to start back but not 100%.

Personal 1rm:

Bench - 280#
I am very strong naturally at bench, so I have always trained it well...to my legs detriment.
I have always lifted wrong, elbows way out rather than out 30deg or so. No doubt some of my shoulder issues have their root here. Changing that effective now. Working on the subtle elbow turn before I lower.
This is probably more like a 1rm of 250 right now.

Squat - 230# (typical mass market gym squat almost to parallel)
200# (ass to grass squat which is what I want to do exclusively)

Deads - 300# (my form starts disintegrating above about 275# and really my 1rm now is probably more like 280#)

Push press - 145#

I am starting my 5-3-1 '90%' maxes at the following conservative-ish numbers to get a handle on the program and to get my body used to lifting like this again.

Bench - 225 - this is really conservative
Deads - 260 - edited down to 250
Squat - 175 - weak sauce
Military - 130 - edited down to 125 - Changed to strict military from push press

My medium term goals (roughly 2 years) are:

Bench - 315
Deads - 400
Squat - 300
Push Press - 185

I am expecting some significant gains in squats, medium gains in deads, and only small gains in bench. I expect push press to see some nice gains as well since I tend to underwork my shoulders.

Any thoughts or advice on this is appreciated.


Wed June 17th - Had a pretty good sleep last night so feeling pretty good today.

First experimental day with this type of workout

Warmup sets are assumed and I will not be recording them.


5x150 (forgot to rep it out, think I had 5-6 more in the tank)

Hanging knee raises
Foam roller on legs

Haven’t done squats in a long time. Feeling wobbly despite the relatively low weight.


Welcome aboard the 5/3/1 train…

i cant believe your squat number, something must be wrong or its a form issue but im sure something wrong.
Buy the book and maybe also starting strength by Mark Rippetoe it will help you with the foarm.
Also check on youtube, type squat and Mark Rippetoe!


Thanks for the welcome Crank.

I don’t know what is wrong with my squat, I think I am doing them OK. I have long legs which doesn’t help with leverage and I’m trying to go all the way down, as far as humanly possible. Maybe I’m just weak in that lower area. I can squat quite a bit more if I just go to parallel. My hamstrings are fine strength wise (RDL, etc)…my quads just don’t handle that very deep squat well.

I have Starting Strength. Got it to get my deads in proper form. I plan to watch the Squat Rx series on YouTube and tape myself to see if I can find myself doing anything wrong.

Maybe I should find a coach locally for a few sessions to help me out.

With a year best of 280# in bench and 300# in deads (which is low compared to bench, I know)…what would I expect my squat to be at? 300?



What sort of time should I be leaving in b/t the main sets? The BBB accessory sets?


Fri June 19th - Had a pretty crappy sleep last night, moderately tired and slightly hungover.

Still continuing my experimental ‘get back into working out’ phase. Was going to do deads today but combination too tired/legs too sore from squats means no deads. Push press instead. I may spend next week in experimental mode as well, we’ll see.

Push press

Few sets of outer delt raises thrown in as a finisher

side lifts (core)

Man I am weak right now. I expect some nice gains in most things right off the bat. Haven’t been in the gym in 3 months and it shows :frowning:

My push press falters off pretty quickly. I can probably do 25 of 100 yet only 9 of 110. Going to lower my max a little for the real weeks to 125.


[quote]BrockStone wrote:
What sort of time should I be leaving in b/t the main sets? The BBB accessory sets?

Wendler always talks about taking as much time as you need. This program is all about getting quality work in. I agree with him and think if your primary goal is to increase strength you should wait as long as you need to.

I run the BBB as the acc work on my squat, bench, and military days and near the end I will take up to 3-4 minutes between sets. I usually just listen to one whole song on my ipod.

Good luck with the program. I have been running it since January and love it!


So no set times, just ‘when I feel ready’.

Sounds good to me.

Thanks Apostate, appreciate the help.


Welcome to 5-3-1!

You can do power (or hang) cleans on DL day, as a warm-up. I only get the prescribed numbers of reps, to keep myself “fresh” for DL. I’m on my fourth wave of 5-3-1 and so far it’s working fine!


Is it frowned upon to do 4 days a week some weeks and 3 other weeks? I can’t see why it would be an issue as long as I am leaving sufficient rest time.

My time in the next few months is going to be at a premium so I’m going to have to workout when I am able, and some weeks 4 days/week might come in handy. So maybe mon/wed/fri/sat. The only issue I can see there is having push press the day after bench since they overlap regions a bit.

This program looks pretty amenable to sliding things around (sun/tues/thur/sat on one week then say mon/wed/fri the following week) as long as I keep doing the work, stay roughly within the week parameters, and deload when I am supposed to.

Thoughts? From reading logs it looks like others may do this as well.


Mon June 22nd - Took a while to fall asleep last night. Lower back slightly sore, must have slept funny.


Doing my first ‘morning’ workout in years. Took some caffeine with a protein shake and off to do squats.

I guess this is probably my first week of officially doing this. Not sure my maxes are right since it has been a few months since I was seriously in a gym, but I am being pretty conservative with them considering my 1rm in March.


No core today


Wed June 24th - Got lots of sleep last night. Still a little weary at the end of the day though. Tough day.

First serious deadlifts in 5 months. Wasn’t sure what to expect.

Standard warmup for the day + some sets of pullups


Interleaved sets of 10 pullups and 6-7 chinups with the BBB sets

Little bit of 25# Russian twists

Back really feeling it (in a good way). Since this is my first real back workout in a while I’m guessing soreness will ensue. Maybe I won’t be golfing this weekend after all :>


Thur June 25th - Wanted to sleep in because of deads the previous day. Up at 6AM, cannot fall back asleep.

My body really likes rebalancing itself so my average sleep is somewhere about 7hrs/night. The last two nights I slept well (9hrs) so now my body gets it’s revenge and only lets me sleep 6 :frowning: I wish I could figure out how to sleep longer when I really want to.


Fri June 26th - Slept ok last night

14x190 <-- I’ve gotten weak. 3 months ago this was 225-230. Maybe new form though.

1 x Body weight bench dips x 15
2 x Body + 45 x 15

Really need to get a dip station so I can belt on some weight. Balancing 45s on my legs sucks.

Lost a lot on bench, but some is probably due to my form change. Before I was all askew elbows out hurting the fuck out of my shoulders. Now I am tilting my elbows in while in top position, then aiming for about 40 degrees from body for my upper arm angle, bringing the bar to between sternum/nipple level. Sort of makes my left shoulder feel funny (my right one is my bad one) but I think that is just because I’m not used to this position. Going conservative for the first cycle or two is probably key to fixing this.


Doing military/push press today.

Not anticipating it going well since I hit the range for the first time this year last night. Right delt is quite sore :confused:

Luckily it is first week :slight_smile:


Sun June 28th - Slept well. Right outer and rear delts rather tender from golf yesterday.

Military press (I am going to try to strict military press rather than push press)

Misc planks. Will probably do some more core later after mowing the lawn.

Got the speakers and the sub for my gym finally. Even just sitting there not in place it sounds great. Looking forward to getting them all wall mounted and looking nice.

Pounding back lots of protein lately. Trying to get a good balance of enough calories to grow yet not enough such that I get tubby :slight_smile:


Mon June 29th - Woke up at 6. Wee 6 hours sleep. My body will NOT let me average more than 7 hours over a few days.



4x10x10 of woodchopper with a plate
10x25# of woodchopper with a plate


I love how the body adjusts. First week, sore for 4 days from the squats.

Second week…don’t feel a thing, just a tiny bit of fatigue.


Going to switch up my workout order a bit.

Was: Squat, Deads, Bench, Military
New: Squat, Bench, Deads, Military

This will give me a bit more recovery time between squat and deads, and between bench and military

It will typically look like:

Mon Squats
Wed Bench
Fri Deads
Sat or Sun Military…or if a busy week then Military on mondays and shift cycle


Wed July 1st - 7/10 for sleep

Went on a 4 hour scramble hike today (up a mountain). Bit tired from it and my shoulders were surprisingly sore during the warmup. I used poles on the hike and it shows in my tris and shoulders being a little fatigued. Not a good feeling bench day. Note for next time, no hikes on bench day with poles.

9x200 <-- Should have been 205. Should have really done way more than 9.
3x25 db fly

5x30 of deep intense crunches
2x10x25# plate woodchopper

This new better way of benching is definitely harder for me, hence lower numbers. Hopefully it will come at some point. My left shoulder tweaks a bit with it…hopefully that is just an imbalance that needs to work itself out.