Could Someone Please Check My 5/3/1 Setup (Edited)

Further from my last post I’ve recovered from my injury and I’m ready to start my 1st cycle of 5/3/1.

I’ve dropped my TM back by what would be 2 cycles to factor in any loss of strength from not training for 3 weeks, they were already quite conservative so I’m hoping I’ll be ok.

I’ve bought and read both the 2nd edition and beyond and read lots of threads on this forum so have tried to set it up following the latest advice posted by Jim.

I’m 34 and in the novice category on the strength level website for all my main lifts and plan to train 4 days a week.

Conditioning / mobility work -

4x easy conditioning -airdyne
Agile 8 / simple 6 / limber 11

Warm-up 15 total box jumps / medicine ball throws (lower / upper body respectively)

NB* I’ve done some further reading and made the following tweaks to my plan.


Squat 5/3/1 - 5s pro, 5x5 FSL w/ face pulls 50 reps

Push – Press-up 5x12
Pull – Chin ups 10x 5 reps,
Single Leg / Core – KB swing 4x12 & Back extension 4x12


Press 5/3/1 – 5s pro, 5x5 FSL – Band pull aparts 50 reps

Push – DB Press 5x12
Pull – DB Row 5x12
Single Leg / Core – weighted sit-ups 2x20, side bends 2x20


Deadlift 5/3/1 – 5s pro, 5x5 FSL w/ face pulls 50 reps

Push – Dips 5x12
Pull – Chin-ups 10x5
Single Leg / Core - KB Swing 4x12 & Back extension 4x12


Bench 5/3/1 – 5s pro, 5x5 FSL w/band pull aparts 50 reps

Push – incline bench press 5x12
Pull – DB Row 5x12
Single Leg / Core – weighted sit-ups 2x20, side bends 2x20

If anyone with a bit of experience could please check this over and let me know if I could make any tweaks I’d be very grateful, thanks

What’s your rationale for doing incline bench with a rep scheme of 5x12?

You are coming off an injury correct? If so, why not ease back into things with lower over volume for the first week or two at least to see how you respond. Seems you have selected the higher end

No real reason except for I’ve read push assistance should be 50-100 reps so I went for the lower-ish end of that.

I did the 5 sets of 12 incline bench on Monday and it felt fine, I used light weights and was nowhere near failure at the end of each set. I tweaked my elbow doing squats but it feels good to go now.

I’m planning on doing a leader / anchor so 3 cycles of the above and then 2 cycles of 5/3/1 with rep PRs and 3x5 FSL as assistance. Do you need lower volume on the leader or anchor part? I’ve read through some threads but im still not 100% on what to do.

You already have 5x5 FSL that is your supplemental work, incline barbell bench doesn’t fall into the “assistance work” category in 5/3/1.

Typically you don’t do that type of volume or should I say high reps with the barbell for any assistance, I’d do pushups or use DBs as both are gonna be easier on the joints.

I’d also do the KB swings OR back extensions not both on the same day, so I’d pick one or alternate between the two.

Your back is getting a good amount of work, I think you could substitute one of your DB row days for curls as your “pull”

What are your goals, it seems like you want hypertrophy?

Typically you will push volume in the leader part and push intensity in the anchor.

Ah sorry I did actually mean incline dumbbell bench press! I realise the barbells are main and supplemental work not assistance - my bad

My main goal is definitely strength, but obviously hypertrophy is a by-product of that too.


Direct from the second edition:

‘The barbell incline press is another great assistance exercise for the bench press and the military press’

Have either of you received a blow to the head recently? Or are you both well meaning but inexperienced?

How exactly can a barbell exercise be considered not assistance if that’s how you use it? Exercises are tools, just because you use a particular tool doesn’t define the purpose.

Sorry, probably coming across as a dick.

@keirmc your setup looks fine to me. Run it for a cycle or two. If it needs tweaking, tweak it. If it doesn’t, don’t. If you get a bit bored but it works switch out assistance exercises.

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What would you consider inexperienced?

Yes a barbell incline can be used for assistance, lots of tools to select from ones toolbox, and assistance as defined in context of the program and big picture. He already had supplemental covered with FSL, why not use DB to take stress off his shoulders???

I mean you can use DBs as main movement but it’s not how It works with Jims program.

How often in any recent recommendations by Jim have you seen a barbell push movement after supplemental work on this forum?

Under three years of consistent, intelligent training as a general rule of thumb:

One year to learn you’re not special and the basics work
One year to learn that there is no best training method
One year to begin learning what works better for you

Not trying to get up in your tree @mcghee just haven’t much to do with you on here so I’m not sure.

Absolutely. I was just surprised by the statement that BB isn’t for assistance. I took that too literally, it seems. My bad.

I honestly couldn’t say. I’ve been using them quite happily for a while though (bench after press FSL mostly).

Not ideally, no. Although if push comes to shove I’d take DBs with the 531 principles over nothing. I’m doing that for bench for a couple of cycles while I let my bicep recover (TL;DR weak rotator cuff overloaded bicep making lockout painful AF. DBs let me activate the RC better while I bring it up).

Thanks for the input guys, seems to be going ok so far, I’ve reduced the sets of back extensions to 2x20 and KB Swings to 3x15 and the pull-ups to 5x5 rather than 10x5. Will aim to increase pull-up reps by one each cycle until I get to 5x10. With face pulls I’m still in the 50-100 range so that should be ok.

My illness seems to have wrecked my conditioning but hopefully it’ll come back over the next few weeks, I think I will build up my conditioning sessions from 2x a week to 4 days over the next 3 cycles.

I worked out my assistance template from this section on Jim’s blog:

Assistance Work

Each day perform ONE exercise from each category. Perform 50-100 total reps (do whatever sets you want to perform - that doesn’t matter) of each exercise. If you are too weak to get all the reps (chin-ups/pull-ups for example) then simply choose a SECOND movement to complete the total reps. This is incredibly simple to do.

The three categories to choose from are: push, pull and single leg/core.

Push: dips, push-ups, DB bench/incline/press, triceps extensions/pushdowns

Pull: chin-ups/pull-ups, inverted rows, rows (DB/machine/BB), face pulls, band pull-aparts, lat pulldown, curls

Single Leg/Core: any abdominal work, back raises, reverse hyperextensions, lunges, step-ups, Bulgarian one-leg squats, KB snatches, swings

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