T Nation

Dips and Pull-Ups with 5/3/1 Parameters


Hi all,

Wanted to start doing dips and pull-ups as 5/3/1 movements.
Don't worry about programming them in, I can think of how to do that.
But does anyone have anything to say about doing heavy, low-rep work with these two? I have done 5x5 before with them with no trouble, but thats a little less hard on the joints than let's say the third set of the third week (given a weight to hit for at least 1 and managing around 3+)

Im really talking about this from a wear and tear point of view, I would really not like to be nursing shoulder/elbow injuries 6 months from now.
I weigh 145 pounds at 19 years old.
I can do a max pull up, wide grip with 66 pounds.
I can do a max dip with 70 pounds.
Those numbers are to show that it would be possible to use percentages, rather than let's say someone with a 10-pound max!

Thank you in advance for your input


I would say to just do them, not use the 531 percentages.


Yeh if the general consensus is a no then I will be using 5x5 or 5x10, thanks!


What I do, is i just do sets of 5 different grip pull ups between all of my big lifts. Adds no extra time, and gets the work in.
And I can get more reps doing many sets of 5 as opposed to a few sets of 10.


I don’t see a problem with training those movements heavy, but it’s a bit hard to quantify progression on bodyweight movements. There are more variables that can come into play as opposed to straight barbell movements. I wouldn’t bother with percentages. Treat them as support exercises.


Do you want to use them to build some muscle or just get stronger at them?

I would rather set goals with 'em like, in 15-12-2014 I want to be able to do 2x20reps and build up to that just by using your head. You can learn a lot from your body if you’ll be able to make these goals happen.


No, I wouldn’t suggest using 5/3/1 loading with chins/dips as your bodyweight can fluctuate even just a couple pounds. Let’s say you can do a max of 10 good reps with 45lbs. Try starting with 5 sets of 5 @ 45lbs for one week and then next week add either one set of five or another rep and continue that until you hit 5 x 10.


Three parameters that have been written many times before. Please read books and website!

  1. Weighted work. Do 5-10 sets of 3-10 reps
  2. 3 AMRAP sets, with 20% drop off
  3. Total reps - for example, do 100 reps total in a session. Sets don’t matter, only total reps.

Combine all 3 of these in any way you see fit. Also, be sure to to do a lot of work with ropes/towels and softballs. Anyone can do a chin up with a bar. Few can do rope chins with 100lbs strapped to waist and bench 400 and squat 600. Raise your level.


OK everyone, it’s settled! Thank you.
Jim, I did know those 3 parameters but didn’t see much mention of very low rep work for dips and pull-ups, just the high volume stuff you have written about before. Thought I’d gather some feedback, but it seems as if they would be risky judging from the general avoidance of them by most serious lifters, and by those who commented.
Thanks again everyone


It’s not risky or dangerous; the reason people don’t do them is because they don’t care about their dip/chin 1RM.

If you view these movements as assistance work, then the advice given already is solid. If you want to get stronger, using the 5/3/1 scheme with your bodyweight included into the equation can help. The volume is pretty low to be worrying about aches and injuries. I went from +145 to 165 weighted chin and +155 to +185 weighted dip in ~6 cycles pain free. Best of luck.


Going with 5x5, straight sets, for simplicity’s sake and to er on the side of caution. i got strong on it before and will again!