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High Volume 5/3/1 for Powerlifting

Hey everyone

This is my first post here so a quick introduction before I get started on the topic. My experience in weight training is very limited (6 months or so) however I come from an extensive competitive background in various sports including boxing and triathlons etc.

Previously I had never even looked at a barbell let alone stepped into a weights room, however due to a wake boarding accident where I suffered an open compound fracture of my right ulna through the various rehab work I was doing my interests quickly turned to strength training and now powerlifting.

Due to the nature of sports I previously competed in over time I had developed a pretty high work capacity and before long I found myself training hard through 2-3hr powerlifting sessions 3-4 days a week. Suffice to say I am hooked, and I plan on competing as much as I can. My best lifts to date after half a year of weight training at a BW of 198 are:

350 squat
275 bench
455 deadlift

Now a friend has pointed me in the direction of sheiko training which obviously due to its specificity and high volume has already appealed to me. I did some homework and have no doubt the system works, and I understand guys train with it year round I just don’t feel like I have gotten everything out of my beginner gains just yet. This is when I checked out 5/3/1 for powerlifting.

Everything about it seems fantastic, slow and steady with plenty of chances to get under heavier weight, simple and smart wave loading and basic progression at varying intensities and volumes. Just one complaint… no volume or frequency haha.

So in my infinite wisdom and experience in powerlifting (insert sarcasm here) I have put together my own 5/3/1 for powerlifting template (3/5/1) blended with 5/3/1 but with sets across at the top weight for multiple exposures in the comp lifts on alternating days.

Sounds complicated I know, but its not I promise.

So here goes, it looks a little something like this

wk1 3s week
Squat (351 powerlifting)
70% x3
80% x3
90% x3
2-3 heavy singles
90% x3
80% x5
70% x8

Bench (Standard 531 w sets across)
85% 5x5

Safety bar squat
80% 3x3

Light RDLs 5x5
Weighted abs 3x10-20

70% x3
80% x3
90% x3
2-3 heavy singles

Military press (standard 531)

Deadlift from boxes work up to heavy 1x5

Bulgarians 5x5

Dips + chins 5x5

Bench (351 powerlifting)
70% x3
80% x3
90% x3
2-3 heavy singles
90% x3
80% x5
70% x8

Squat (standard 531 w sets across)
85% 5x5

2 board bench work up to heavy 1x5rm

Db flyes 5x10

Triceps 5x10

Basic fluff stuff, rehab, prehab, gpp, light conditioning etc.

Now to explain… that is the general layout from week to week. obviously second weeks primary exposure to each lift is 5s up to 85% and back down in the same ladder fashion (no singles) and a 5x3 @ 90% sets across as a second exposure for both squat and bench on alternating days (mon/fri) and the 3rd week (531 week) will have the usual primary 531 sets and reps but will include some front squatting and incline bench as the second exposure to mix things up.

I liked sheikos way of performing the lift twice one day a week and will use that opportunity to specifically target a particular weakness EG Safety bar squats help core strength and back and 2 board press is helping a sticking point I have mid way up on the bench, however those exercises are subject to change and will do so depending on what sucks in my lifts at that point. This includes deadlifts from boxes. Assistance work also may vary but is only there to prevent injury and keep my body healthy.

I know some may say stick to one or the other, so my answer to that is, I love the concept of specificity and gains made through volume and frequency but I am still a novice and linear progression can still benefit me.

So I used the concept of wave loading from 351 and 531 combined the two added some volume and turned all my assistance exercises into another form of movement specific to the competition lifts in an attempt to get the best of both worlds. I will increase percentages as per normal in 531 and until I am advanced enough to move to a block volume training style like real sheiko will make the most of LP gains as above.

Now after all of that writing and making it seem like im some smart ass and I have all the answers I wanted to share my template with those far more experienced than me incase I have missed something. Which I more than likely have!

So if anyone can see holes in the way I have set my bastardized 531/351 sheiko volume mongrel program please let me know. I am all ears, I have had a lot of experienced preparing and peaking for comps in everything but powerlifting so programming is already a big interest, so I know mistakes can easily be made, and initial principles and philosophies can be left out or lost, often at the detriment of the program.

Sorry this may have been long winded I hope if nothing else it made for an interesting read or inspired some ideas of your own.


looks good…i would throw an amrap on the set before the singles and lower the 85% to maybe 65-70% for the 5x5 and titrate it from there

Thanks for the reply mate! That was the idea. Although it is fun grinding out max rep attempts obviously that has little to do with single attempts in competitive powerlifting. That why I came up with the idea to superimpose the standard 531 with sets across as a second exposure to the lift for some added volume without deviating to much from the 531 principles.

If anyone else has some input I would be happy to hear it!

Thanks for the reply, yeah I agree, that was the general idea. As much fun as max reps are they can be pretty taxing and not really a top priority in competitive powerlifting. Might still rep a few out every now and then though just to put some hairs on my chest! haha

Do you think lowering the percentages is entirely necessary as 531 is all based on 90% of a training max anyway? meaning technically 5x5 at 85% is technically only at 75%?


[quote]VTBalla34 wrote:


You want to bench with a 5-3-1 template, but do it twice a week instead of once? Then do five more lifts at 90% or higher, and then a whole bunch of other work with moderate to high intensity, all on the bench? Or am I reading something wrong above here?

All I wanted to do is have 2 squat/bench sessions each week. Both with a chance to ladder up to some heavier weights before backing off and the other doing some sets across to get volume in. Other than singles nothing is at 90% because I based percentages on 90% of an already conservative training max (after taking in consideration of volume). So realistically it’s alot of volume from the 60-80% range for practice with an opportunity to handle some more serious weight every few weeks. Was just an idea thought it might be worth throwing it out there to see what some people with more experience than me thought. Incase I was missing something. Obviously I have… Ha!

Do your main sets under the 5-3-1 protocol. Do not fuck with it. Either go for the minimum reps on the top set, as many as possible on the top set, or a few heavy singles on the top set.

I like to add a few back off sets of the main lift for 2 sets of doubles, and one set of triples.

For your assistance work, he has plenty of templates, ranging from full body, to BBB (My favorite), or others. Pick one, follow the program for a good year and see results. No offense, but you could benefit from following a template instead of something of your own creation at this point.

Over time you will learn what your body responds best to for strength or hypertrophy. This is done by competing, measuring meticulously the progress you make over cycles, and the volume and set up of accessories, as well as trying different programs occasionally. Once you reach that stage, you will be able to feel yourself out enough to make your own program.