I'm a 21 year old natural female powerlifter. I just competed in my first meet a couple weeks ago. I had been using stronglifts 5x5 to train for the meet, but my squats had stalled, so I figured I would try a new program. I'd been curious about 5/3/1 for a while.

I looked at the program and did my calculations. For bench, squat, and deadlift, I based my calculations off my numbers from the meet, since they were recent. For overhead press, I worked up to a hard 6rm, then plugged that into a 1rm calculator, then multiplied by 0.9.

Not sure about assistance exercises. I have been doing different set/rep schemes for the assistance exercises for each lift, and trying not to do too much, but I'm not sure if that's good, or I should be doing a consistent set/rep scheme for the assistance exercises on each lift. Here's how the first week went (all weights are in pounds):

Day 1: squats

I based my calculations off the 1rm 225

Warm up: 135 x 5

Set 1: 145 x 5

Set 2: 170 x 5

Set 3: 190 x 5 or more (I got 8 reps)

Squats 5 x 10 at 135 lbs

Calf raises (5 x 20 at 135 lbs)

Day 2: Overhead press

I didn't know my 1 rm before I started for this one. I am just learning how to overhead press, as I don't normally do it as part of my training.

Warm up: 20 x 5

Set 1: 45 x 5

Set 2: 55 x 5

Set 3: 65 x 5 or more (I got 6)

I plugged 65 x 6 into a 1rm calculator and got 75. I multiplied 75 by 0.9 to get 67.5. I'll base future calculations off the 1rm 67.5

Overhead press: 5 x 10 @ 25 lbs

Pull ups: 4 x 8 (bodyweight)

Day 3: rest

Day 4: Deadlifts

Basing my calculations off the 1 rm 325

Warm up: 135 x 5

Set 1: 210 x 5

Set 2: 245 x 5

Set 3: 275 x 5 or more (I got 7)

Run for 20 minutes

Pull ups: 4 x 8 (bodyweight)

Day 5: Bench press

Basing my calculations off the 1rm 145

Warm up: 75 x 5

Set 1: 95 x 5

Set 2: 110 x 5

Set 3: 125 x 5 or more (I got 9)

100 push ups (in 4 sets of 25)

Today is day 6. I think I'll do cardio today and tomorrow.

Questions:

Assistance exercises...is it okay to do different set/rep schemes on assistance work for each day? For instance, to do big but boring as assistance for one lift and bodyweight exercises for others? I like pull ups, so I want to keep the 4x8 pull ups at least one day. Is that good or bad?

If I get more than 8 reps on my 5+ set (like I did with bench press), does that mean I am not using enough weight? Should I up the weight I use for my calculations in that case or just keep with what I am at?

Is my split good? This is the split I was trying:

Day 1: squat

Day 2: overhead press

Day 3: rest/cardio

Day 4: deadlift

Day 5: bench

Day 6: rest/cardio

Day 7: rest/cardio

I like that split because it allows me to do cardio when my legs are most rested. However, I wonder if it would be better for me to rest in between each lifting day, rather than putting upper body work the day after lower body work. If so, what days should I do cardio?

- Just...does this work for women? Does anyone know any women who have tried this? What results did they get? And can women stay natural and use this program?