Dave's Talk on Accessories and 5/3/1

Don’t worry dude, I’m with you that neither material contradicts the other.

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Interesting video though. Nothing groundbreaking, I don’t think, but interesting enough.

whoa whoa…
have you ever read any of the books from 1st page to the last?
Wendler clearly says that supplemental work is or is NOT the main movement.

These are always barbell lifts and closely resemble the main lifts. In the 5/3/1 program some popular
supplemental programs are Boring But Big, First Set Last, Second Set Last and Boring But Strong. All
of these supplemental programs can be done with one of the main lifts, and they can also be done
with an alternate lift. If you use a supplemental lift you must find the correct training max. The only
downside to using an alternate lift is some people are horribly impatient and don’t want to spend 20
minutes and test that lift and find a training max. "

You can do you FSL and BBB with a box squat, good morning and whatever, there even is a list of supplemental exercise variations in Forever.

I, however, just do an “alternative” main exercise as an assistance, not supplemental.
So we do Amrap or 5s pro and then we do supplemental work - lets say 5x5 FSL. After that you still have some 50-100 reps of push/pull you can do… i dont do as much, but for example - after deadlifts 5s pro and 5x5 i would do 3x10-12 of box squats which is assistance exercise but its also kind of related to one of the main lifts.
But you definetly CAN just check your TMs and calculate your 5x5 or 5x10 or 10x5 or whatever supplemental plan you have, and do, lets say - deadlift 5s pro and sumo deadlift 5x5, or squat 5s pro and box squat 5x5.

There are lots of people who critique Wendlers stuff(not saying you did it) but they have missed a lot of whats written in the book.

But i understand that 531 is kind of like a Bible. Those who study it have found descriptions about aliens and dinosaurs in it, while others only know the main idea, and critique it alot, hah.

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I remember there being a thread where you talked about how floored you can get from a training session. This might be why.


I believe that was a bad mix of deadlifting too heavy and also my work and conditioning. I did a stress test for my heart - passed perfect but what i noticed was that at the maximum intensity of the test, my bp was around 180 but my HR was only 130. When i do cardio, i often do 40mins straight with a HR of 160, so i imagine what my BP is that whole time.
That + me wanting to push some deadlift amraps a bit too far here and there and that was the result.

Nowdays i watch the amount of time i do my high intensity stuff + i reseted lots of TMs and now i even moved to 5s pro, instead of amrap sets.
I havent been tired after a workout for months.
For example, after my Squats 5s pro and FSL 5x5, i do “alternative exercise” for deadlifts which is goodmornings 3x10-12.
I use less weight for boxsquats than i do for my goodmornings, but i also set the box pretty low - my legs are pumped but im using around 220lbs only, since its the last exercise. Doing lunges takes a lot more out of me, than box squats, for example.

It all might not even be a lifting problem as much as my overall mentality of doing everything to the maximum. If i pick up running, in a month i will either be doing a half marathon every other day(i used to do this when covid shut down gyms) or sprint till i puke for intervals for a whole hour, haha.

I try to limit my HIT to no more than 20mins a day, and do the rest of the cardio medium intenstity, and im also looking to drop all my TMs as soon as my 5s pro last weeks feels like i did a 5 rep max, instead of having smth left inside.
I also noticed that Deadlifts take a lot out of me, while squats dont, so i decided to not be so passionate about deadlifts anymore, and just focus on squats as i feel like i am better at those, and just do deadlifts with the lowest TM of all lifts.
So far im feeling very good and if my slow-mini cut at the moment wont shoot me in the leg i might be able to do my own 5 rep PR on squats after 2 weeks.

I’m glad for you that you are trending towards something that seems to be working for you. But, I’m fairly certain you understand that if you are trying to train according to the principles laid out in Forever that daily 20 minute HIT sessions would be akin to coloring outside the lines.

You might want to be open for considering that your conclusion,

“Can’t handle any volume with heavy weights” deserves the asterisk “Can’t handle any volume with heavy weights when I do HIT 20 minutes per day, my LISS is MISS, and I do compound lifts as assistance”.

Not that there is any reason you have to do heavy volume with heavy weights if what you are doing works for you, I’m just trying to highlight that you might be walking around with a belief about your own capabilities that might be “wrong” if the context within which you experience that inability changes.

Yes, i came to that conclusion already. As i mentioned here before - i think that was either a mix of both or just because of the cardio.
Sadly, i cant NOT do that cardio as i need it for work, so i did reduce the weight training, yes.

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I have read the books from cover to cover. I also know Jim lists supplemental lifts in his books but most of the templates he lays out he wants you to run as is and there is no clarity that you can throw in supplemental lift after your work set.

When I started using 5/3/1 I was a beginner in the gym and wasn’t smart enough to read the books and just followed something I found online. I did a BBB program and didn’t understand it or be able to run it properly. I gave up and program jumped like crazy until probably a year ago and have been dedicated to 5/3/1. The first thing I had to get down was the assistance work which most say is to add volume to the program. Until you said it I wouldn’t have thought to use a supplemental lift for the extra 5x5 work. Most of the time you read a question about a template the answer is always the same, do the program as written. There’s a lot of information in the books and the way I viewed the information on the templates and how they are laid out the 5x5 was always the same lift that you started with not a variation of it. That could just be me and the way I took in the information.

There’s been a lot of good information on here in this thread, which is why I asked the question, to get some conversations started to see others takes on things. I think some of the way I put things might have been taken out of context or something but that’s going to happen at times.

Have you got what you wanted out of the thread?

I believe its “you” and how you view the information. Im not saying you are wrong but i ALWAYS understood it like that you can do supplemental stuff with main lift or any alternative lift that is simmilar to main lift if you test and pick a correct training max for it. Every time i read “bench 531, bench 5x5 FSL” i always see it as “bench 531 and bench or any alternative for bench 5x5”. I always tought its what he ment and he just didnt want to write all that in every variation of a program. But yea, its just the way our brain works i guess. Some people read assistance “push 100 reps” and think 1 exercise for 100 reps. I think 3 exercises for 3 sets of 10-12…

Anyways, i am pretty sure you can do your fsl/bbb/bbs or whatever with an alternative exercise.

There’s that, but also the fact that many lifters don’t have the experience to know what supplemental lifts build their main lifts and it’s an unnecessary complication.

I, for one, have tried many different supplemental exercises and found practically none of them were actually improvements on the main lift (for me).

Can experience be supplanted by the following tables do you reckon?

(source: site:thibarmy.com “The Main Purpose Of Client Assessment: Exercise Selection”)

It is not a personal belief of mine that it is inherently better to have a supplemental lift that is different from the main lift. I just prefer it, as otherwise I become bored/disenchanted/unmotivated or whatever else you want to call it. Thus, having a different supplemental lift is for me a tool to keep my engagement level high throughout the session.

Another way to assess potential weaknesses could be looking at ratios between lifts. Charles Poliquin established some ratios that might help in highlight a weakness. With the back squat I believe Charles suggested that a proportional front squat would be 85% of the back squat. I don’t think the ratios took leverages into account, and obviously there is the element of technical proficiency. But, if someone has stalled out their back squat and decides to test their front squat and finds it to be severely lacking from 85% I certainly don’t think they’ll regress by putting some efforts into bringing their front squat up.

The short answer: I don’t know.

Long answer: Dave Tate states it isn’t in the video linked above, because the issue could be technical, mental or simply misdiagnosed. Jim is also not a fan of “weak point” training. My thoughts are that I’ve tried many different supplemental lifts over the years and very few pay dividends. Maybe the table might be a pointer in the right direction, but only experience trying them appropriately will give you the answers.

We have fallen so far from Jim’s grace it’s little wonder why he has forsaken us.


Fair enough. I know he doesn’t believe in that. If the problem is being weak all-over I don’t see it as a deal breaker if the supplemental is different from the main lift. I just understand it not to be a necessity. Carries over better to my sport needs so for me it’s not a question I have to spend any time thinking about personally.

Maybe OP understands from our discourse that he can, of he wants to, follow what Dave said and still operate within the confines of 531.

I’m not sure I got what I was looking for but I have gotten some great ideas how I could change how I have been looking at the templates and possibly enhance my training. For example, I have been thinking inside the box. Squat the 3 sets of 5 then squat with the supplemental (FSL,bbb, ect) and then assistance of push, pull, core/single leg work. All assistance work was one exercise so I would do sets of tri push downs till I reached the 25-100 reps. Now though I’m going to try to do a supplemental lift other than the main movement and different lifts for the assistance like suggested.

What’s funny is that’s actually what CTs neurotype thing kind of was. Basically a “do the type of training that you like/are geared for instead of the ‘best’ program”

I think he gummed it up too much with the neurotransmitter talk and now his forum is an unreadable wasteland to me.


This scheme looks like extreme over complication that only the top 0.1% athletes need to worry about

Just remember that just because you could do something, doesn’t mean you should. You would need a good reason to use a different lift for supplemental, like a proven history that that lift did more for your main move than just doing the main move.

Yes that makes sense but there have been a few key points that have been made that reflect what my training has been missing. When it comes to the 5x5 work using a supplemental lift I think would be worth trying as one it keeps things different and interesting and two it’s going to be hard. I hate front squats but maybe it’s time to do them, see if they help build my squat. If you don’t experiment how will you ever know. Another point that was hit home was assistance work can be many different things not just one. I’ve been trying to switch things up but when it comes to assistance I do banded tri push downs for example and try to get at least 50. I’ve had to get a stronger band and all that but maybe I need to do other things. I know there are times when I finished one assistance exercise and finished the workout because I couldn’t do that assistance exercise anymore and not hit my rep number. Yes I know I can have off days and not hit the number but I also know I could have done another exercise and hot that total reps with ease. Most assistance work is in the 50-100 reps in many of the templates I do and I try to just hit 50. Part of that is time but another part is by the time I finish an exercise I’m done. A good example would be chin ups. With a band I can get 5-8 reps but that only lasts so long before I’m sore and can’t continue. I might be able to get 25 if I pace myself and limit the reps to 5 reps. Normally I would just say ok pull assistance is done but now I don’t have to worry about that and I can focus on day three exercises with three sets of 8-12 reps. If I try it and I find it doesn’t work I at least know that’s not it.

Another part of this is in the past I’ve done different programs. I started with starting strength got burnt out and found barbell medicine. I had an bench that was stalled and I used one of there templates that had some fun programming in it. The thing that I found was for whatever reason that template pushed my bench up. Was it the added curls or the banded overload work that did it or was it just the extra benching in the program, I don’t know but maybe that’s part of the key to using supplemental lifts with the 5x5 for me.

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