T Nation

Critique My 5/3/1 Workout Scheme


#1

Hi everyone,

I've been doing crossfit for the last 3-4 months and I can see it doesn't have a long term strategy regarding strength training, so I'm applying the great 5/3/1 on my own to counteract this. I've done SS before with great results until stalling several times, then Bill Starr's 5x5 but was boring as hell, and researching for strength training I've discovered Jim Wendler's awesome book.

I'm currently in my 2nd cycle of doing 5/3/1 and only 1 big assistance, and crossfit 2-3 times a week.

I'm about to finish this cycle (today starts week 3) and since I wanted to know more about Jim's philosophy I got a copy of the 2nd edition of 5/3/1, and read the book to get the best of his training method.

Since I like what Jim proposes regarding assistance and conditioning better than crossfit and its randomness, I've tried to put together a 5/3/1 program to attack everything: strength, speed/power, assistance and conditioning. My intention is to train 4x a week, being monday-tuesday-thursday-friday, and the rest of the week rest. Crossfit will be over since I'm covering oly and conditioning with this.

Anyways, this is what reading the book and planning my training from next cycle to next december got me:

MONDAY:
CLEAN & JERK 5X3
SQUAT 5/3/1
SNATCH GRIP DEADLIFT big assistance rep scheme
GOOD MORNINGS 3x10-20
Conditioning: 3-5 rounds:
HANG POWER SNATCH 7 reps
KB SWING 20 reps
BOX JUMP 10 reps
BURPEES 10 reps
BALL SITUPS 30 reps

TUESDAY:
OVERHEAD SQUAT 3X5 - 5X5
BENCH PRESS 5/3/1
INCLINE BENCH big assistance rep scheme
ARNOLD PRESS 3x10-20
Conditioning: 3-5 rounds:
WALL BALL 10 reps
CHINUPS 10/MAX
SINGLE/DOUBLE UNDERS 50/15-25 reps (singles or doubles, not both)
PUSH PRESS 10 reps
HANGING LEG RAISES 5 reps

THURSDAY:
SNATCH 3X3 - 5X3
DEADLIFT 5/3/1
FRONT SQUAT big assistance rep scheme
BULGARIAN SQUAT 3x10-20
Conditioning: 3-5 rounds:
HANG POWER CLEAN 7 reps
PISTOL SQUAT 10 reps
MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS 20 reps
CHINUPS 10/MAX
BALL SITUPS 30 reps

FRIDAY:
SNATCH BALANCE 5X3
PRESS 5/3/1
CLOSE GRIP BENCH big assistance rep scheme
DB BENCH 3x10-20
Conditioning: 3-5 rounds:
JUMPING LUNGES 20 reps
RING DIPS 10 reps
BURPEE PULLUPS 6 reps
RING PUSHUPS 10 reps
HANGING LEG RAISES 5 reps

Some clarifications regarding all of this:

1) Oly lifts: they'd go from heavier to lighter according the cycle's week. In week 1 I'd handle more weight than in week 3 for example. Anyways, those excercises are there because I enjoy training them, I find C&J and snatches to be fun stuff so I want them in my workouts. The idea is to practice and master their mechanics, not to lift hundreds of kg. They won't be heavy, and if they interfere with the main lifts they will be out of the program but for the hang power versions for conditioning. OH squats and snatch balance will be only for practicing balance and how to handle the bar at the bottom of the lift. They won't be heavy enough to kill my shoulders previous to the big lift. If they turn into a problem I'll remove them from the scheme.

2) Regarding conditioning, I put 3-5 rounds because since this will be new to me, I'm not sure how gassed I'll be. I'll do my best for 3 rounds, and if they were easy I'll go for a fourth, and if they were easy enough I'll do the fifth. If that doesn't work I'll lower the rounds to 3 and increase the reps/weight and try again the following week. The number of reps are estimated on how I think I'll be capable of doing during the rounds.

3) I've put 2 assistance lifts for every big lift, one big assistance as Jim calls them, with the corresponding set/rep programming, and another assistance with 3 sets of 10-20 reps with moderate weight. If that kills me then I'll remove the 2nd assistance lift.

To sum up, my idea is to follow and don't screw up the 5/3/1 since I really like to train strength, and use in the program what I like outside the big lifts: oly lifts and conditioning.

I would really like your opinion in this matter, since I've been learning how to program my own workouts with the book's help of course, but I'm still a newbie and all help is more than welcome.

Thanks a lot.


#2

I do applaud your general idea - including olympic lifts, doing the big basic stuff, and doing finishers at the end. However, the way you program things has some major flaws:

  • doing good morning for sets of twenty is a bit questionable, unless your form on them is 100% dialed in.
  • zero rows or chin ups in your strength part. your lats and rhomboids need work or you may end up with shoulder issues.

Here’s my main gripe, and it is subjective to some extent:

Your circuit training is very much crossfit inspired, in a bad way. Things like pistol squats and olympic lifts require a lot of balance to execute correctly, which suffers as you fatigue. Box jumps for conditioning is the worst, most joint-damaging fitness fad of the past decade. What’s more, do you really think you’ll be able to go crazy on a full body circuit and then hit a main lift hard 24 hours later? Think again. Finishing a lifting session with conditioning is a fine idea - but please, please do something that has been established as a workable option in this context. Push a prowler, run up a hill, skip rope, do basic kettlebell stuff. The main lifts are the main component of 5/3/1. If you add stuff that hinders your progress on these, you screwed up.

end of rant


#3

This is a lot of work. And really not that well planned. If you think this will work, by all means. But there are MUCH better ways of training for strength, speed, size, etc.

The problem is that you think or want or somehow have been told you need to do EVERTHING AT ALL TIMES, RIGHT NOW, TODAY.
This is the problem with popular workout programs that are developed by incompetent, let’s just call it stupid, programmers/ coaches/ people who paid for seminars as though it somehow qualifies them and think they have “it”. These pencil dicks are selling you a false truth that you can do it all and have it all and in just 8 weeks. They cripple you with confusing, complicated, shit programming that will have you crawling back when you fail. And when you fail, they will say it’s because you’re not tough enough or strong enough and they’ll sell you the next program.

Block your training. Be smart.


#4

Thank you both for helping me out. Thanks a lot Jim, I really appreciate your input since you are the awesome author of the awesome book.

Today the “this is a lot of work” hit me, so I want to do it the smart way. So, what do you think about the following?

  1. Remove the 2nd assistance lift or keeping it in the 10 rep range if it’s necessary to have a 2nd accesory lift.
  2. Changing the close grip bench for something back oriented (db rows, barbell rows, something that can follow a rep/set scheme. I can’t do that with chins/pullups nowadays).
  3. Shorten conditioning to less excercises (removing oly lifts and crossfit stuff) and doing it 2 times a week, I’m thinking tuesdays and fridays so next day is rest day.

I’ve never included the prowler and the hill sprints for several reasons: I live in a city where there are no hills at all. I live in an apartment. There isn’t gym I’ve tried (and I went to several) that has a prowler.

I know the circuits are crossfit oriented, and that’s related to doing crossfit several months. I need a refresh regarding conditioning, and both excercises Jim recommends most I can’t do. So I wanted to do something in the gym with the stuff I have access to: barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, jump rope, and else.

The thing is, I want to do this the right way. Do you think cutting the original scheme to what I’ve written in points 1, 2 and 3 will become a good workout idea?

Thank a lot guys. Seriously.


#5

you said you live in an apartment ,doesn’t it have stairs? there is your conditioning


#6

[quote]gsalyer wrote:
you said you live in an apartment ,doesn’t it have stairs? there is your conditioning
[/quote]

Great idea! How would you program it? I’ll try to find something on the web. Thanks!


#7

[quote]Rambo3 wrote:

[quote]gsalyer wrote:
you said you live in an apartment ,doesn’t it have stairs? there is your conditioning
[/quote]

Great idea! How would you program it? I’ll try to find something on the web. Thanks![/quote]

Sprint up the stairs 10-15 times, walk down. That’s as specific as it has to be.


#8

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:

[quote]Rambo3 wrote:

[quote]gsalyer wrote:
you said you live in an apartment ,doesn’t it have stairs? there is your conditioning
[/quote]

Great idea! How would you program it? I’ll try to find something on the web. Thanks![/quote]

Sprint up the stairs 10-15 times, walk down. That’s as specific as it has to be.
[/quote]

Ok! How many steps/floors should I do it? I know it’s gonna kill me, I live in the 6th floor and lots of times I’ve walked the whole way from the street. I’m thinking reaching the 2nd and see what happens, then the 3rd and such?

Doing this I’d ditch the conditioning I’ve programmed. What about the rest? I mean, I thought it as: oly - big lift - big assistance - assistance 3x10. Does that sounds right?

Thanks a lot, you are really helping me out!


#9

Go as far up as you can. Don’t overthink this, the goal is just to get your heartrate way up, not to train for a stair runner championship. And yes, oly - big lift - big assistance - assistance 3x10 sounds fine as long as you include pull ups and rows somewhere.


#10

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
Go as far up as you can. Don’t overthink this, the goal is just to get your heartrate way up, not to train for a stair runner championship. And yes, oly - big lift - big assistance - assistance 3x10 sounds fine as long as you include pull ups and rows somewhere.[/quote]

I know I have to get used to this way of thinking, I mean, no over thinking stuff haha. Thanks for being patient!

Anyways, regarding back work I was thinking doing rows (barbell or dumbbell if there is a really heavy one) as 2nd assistance for lots of reps both upper body days, so with the big assistance lifts I’d be covering chest and shoulders, and leave the rest of the work for the back. That, or using barbell rows as big assistance in any of those days. I can also superset any big assistance lift with sets of 10 chins so there’s plenty of back work.

It seems everything is in the right place now, I can’t wait to get started!

Thank you, to all of you for helping me out. As you may see I’ve been lifting for a couple of years but I’m a newbie regarding programming, and to see that you take your time to help an iron brother out to prevent him from doing stupid stuff in the weight room makes me really happy.

Now, to crank up some heavy metal and set records! Today is Motorhead and week 3 squats!


#11

Just to give my 2 cents on this. Something I’ve done before that worked quite well for me.

A) Plyo work: 5x3 jumps (broad, vertical or box) or plyo push ups/med ball throws
B) Version of Oly lift 3x3 (I like the hang clean on deadlift day, hang snatch on squat day and jerks on upper body days) don’t overthink the weight you’re using just do what feels good.
C) 5/3/1 sets
D) Big assistance 5x10
E) Prowler/battle ropes/barbell complex

Did this for 2 cycles and hit some awesome gains. It’s tough and alot of colume (for me anyway) but I finished the 2 cycles faster, more powerful and stronger. I did this in my rugby offseason and pre season felt like a breeze despite not doing any running in the off season.


#12

[quote]Rambo3 wrote:

[quote]gsalyer wrote:
you said you live in an apartment ,doesn’t it have stairs? there is your conditioning
[/quote]

Great idea! How would you program it? I’ll try to find something on the web. Thanks![/quote]
you could treat it like prowler work walk one flight,run one 60-90second rest between flights


#13

Yesterday after the big lifts (squat/bench), I’ve tried good mornings 3x10 really focusing on technique, targeting the hamstrings as much as I could and going light (40kg), and it was awesome. For the bench, I’ve discovered a hidden set of dumbbells (yes, they were hidden, dunno why) which go up to 50kg, so I’ve tried doing kroc rows with a 30kg dumbbell for 3 sets of 20 reps. Man that was hard, I liked it a lot.

Finally, I didn’t want to wait getting home to try the stairs conditioning thing and I’ve pulled 3 rounds of rope jumps, like 200-150-120 jumps each jump, with both feet, 10 rights and 10 lefts and so, and it was awesome. I’ll do that twice a day for starters and see how it goes.

Thanks a lot to all of you for your ideas and support.


#14

[quote]Rambo3 wrote:
I’ll do that twice a day for starters and see how it goes.
[/quote]

Why twice a day? Dude, more isn’t always better.


#15

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:

[quote]Rambo3 wrote:
I’ll do that twice a day for starters and see how it goes.
[/quote]

Why twice a day? Dude, more isn’t always better.

[/quote]
HAHA because I’m an idiot. I meant twice a WEEK, doing it after TUE-FRI.

Soooo, after my initial post and everything you guys taught me, this would be the schedule to go until December, or maybe more:

MON:
Snatch drop 5x3 lightweight, focus on form and catch
OH Press 5/3/1
Big assistance: Close grip bench press
assistance #2 DB bench press 3x10

TUE:
Snatch 3x3 - 5x3 depending how it feels
Deadlift 5/3/1
Big assistance: Front Squat
Assistance #2: Bulgarian Squat 3x10
Conditioning: jump rope

THU:
OH Squat 3x5 - 5x5 lightweight, focus on form
Bench Press 5/3/1
Big Assistance: Incline Bench Press
Assistance #2: Kroc Rows 3x20-25

FRI:
C&J 5x3 nothing too heavy
Squat 5/3/1
Big Assistance: Snatch grip Deadlift
Assistance #2: Good Mornings
Conditioning: jump rope

4 days a week, 4 excercises a day. That’s the way I’ve been doing the 5/3/1 for 2 cycles, but it was 2 times a week, doing 2 big lifts and 2 assistances a day. It always felt good and since I’ve logged every training day on a notebook I bring to the gym, it reads in 8-10 reps on week 1, 5-7 reps on week 2 and 4 to 7 reps on week 3.

This sounds better than my original post, It was way too much. This one seems more like the 2 cycles I’ve just finished with good results.


#16

Consider trying this:


#17

Awesome! Thanks a lot.