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Critique My 5/3/1 Routine


Please could your critique my workout routine. I am pairing this up badminton twice a week. The aim is to gain weight and lose fat or atleast not gain fat. For my sets of 20 - I aim to get 12 reps minimum and if I hit 20 reps I will increase the weight.

Workout 1
Squat 531 + one set of 20
Over Head Press + 531 + one set of 20
Hang Clean 531 + one set of 20
Complex 1 & 2 - Repeat each x3

Workout 2
Bench 531 + one set of 20
Incline Press 531 + one set of 20
Complex 1 & 2 - Repeat each x3

Workout 3
Deadlift 531 + one set of 20
Powercleans 531 + one set of 20
Bent over row 531 + one set of 20
Complex 1 & 2 - Repeat each x3

Complex 1
Barbell Row, Power Cleans, Front Squat, deadlift & Hang Cleans

Complex 2 - all with sandbag (12 reps each)
Sandbag over the shoulder throw, split cleans, rotational lunge, twist and toss

Youtube videos of some sandbag exercises

shoulder throw

split cleans

Twist and toss

Any tips to improve my workouts?

Follow one of Jim’s templates.


I didn’t see any complexes in his books. Unless I missed it?

Plenty of circuits though, could easily swap one for the other.

Widowmaker circuits for example.

Flat out, if you can DO these workouts, your TM is going to have to be REALLY low, AND you’re going to have to leave about 4 reps in the tank for all your PR sets.


This is a very challenging workout and as @T3hPwnisher said you will need to reduce your TM if your planning to do all of that in one workout. I also think you risk getting injured. I don’t like the idea if a 20set deadlift either.

People seem to forget lifting heavy weights even for low reps still makes you big - you may not be ripped or defined as a bodybuilder who does 100s of sets, but you will be built like a bull. 531 with heavy weights is sufficient for most people. For example this weekend I did deadlift 531 at 305Kg. Trust me the tank was empty at the end - I couldn’t bring myself todo anything else.

If your planning on doing it, I would suggest the following:
a) Above workouts without the complexes.
b) Above workouts but with a fourth workout as a complex workout. So no complexes in the three 531 workouts.
c) I don’t think you should do the sets of twenty for deadlift. Why not consider 531 BBB - this will give you both strength and hypertrophy.

PS @dagill2 The widowmaker circuit program is the most challenging 531 program I have ever attempted. It broke me.

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Never done it, and honestly may not be remembering it correctly.

@ali1980s my recommendation then is to pick one of Jim’s templates (none of them include 3 main lifts per day with plus sets and widowmakers, because that’s insane), and use the complexes as your assistance. And cut the hang Cleans from complex 1, because they’re redundant at best.

Yup. Hell, just take the press weights off the floor and kill 2 birds with one stone.

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I’m confused if you mean to cut the hang Cleans from workout 1 and just take the OHP weights for the floor or to cut the second clean variation from the end of the first complex, but I agree in both cases.

Ah, didn’t notice you were talking about the complex. Yeah, I was meaning from the main work.

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I’ve never tried 531 for Cleans and presses, but it sounds like a pretty cool idea. I bet you could get some crazy growth there.

My recent run through with them has featured it. On the heavier workouts, I only clean the first rep, and on the lighter ones I clean every rep. And I set the clean down gently, which REALLY torches things in the back.

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Sneaky extra back work is definitely a good thing for me. Definitely an idea for my next block.

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Much too much work at once. You probably will shit the bed on this one.
Just do something that is already in the books and proven to work.
Maybe i am an epic wuss but the amount of work you have squeezed in this is just 3 weeks worth imo.


or this…

or this (if really want t go hardcore)…

Do you ever drop the bar after the clean?

Nope. I train at home, often at 0300. It would be a bad idea

Cool.Just wanted to find out. Everybody seems to have a different opinion on this.

I think the N.O.V. Challenge - The Widowmaker is the one I did - is it the one your thinking off:

It was the squats after the farmers walk. I was disabled after each workout.

I think dropping cleans is awesome. Having a concentric only movement is baller. It’s why I like the prowler so much