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How to Improve Back with 5/3/1?


Hi Jim and others,

I’m following old 5/3/1 since 3 months (completed 3 cycles now), my goal is to improve strength but my back and forearms are lagging too much. Here is the template I’m following:

Split: 4 days / week

Press: 5/3/1
Incline bench press: 5 set x 10 reps
BB shrugs: 5 sets x 10 reps
Pull ups: 10 sets x 6 reps (supersetted with press and incline bench press)

Deadlift: 5/3/1
Hanging leg raise 5 sets x 10 reps (supersetted with deadlift)
Good morning: 5 sets x 10 reps
some calf drills

Bench press: 5/3/1
Closed grip bench press: 5 sets x 10 reps
Chin ups: 10 x 6 reps (supersetted with bench press sets)
Kroc row: 5 sets x 10 reps

Squat: 5/3/1
Front squat: 5 sets x 10 reps
RDL: 5 sets x 10 reps
some calf drills

10 minutes conditioning (Farmer’s walk, loaded stairs, jumping ropes, etc.)

I do also abs workout between assistance sets, mostly hanging knee raises, hip raises, loaded sit ups, etc.

Now I want to put more focus on back, what are suitable exercises and how to fit them into the program? what exercises should I replace, or omit?



Do rows on bench and press day. Do chins between squats and deadlifts.

5/3/1 is not a program based on building “back” or “arms” - we are building much more. And 100% of the time, when you train for something bigger and better than “pipes”, you end up getting pretty big muscles too. And if you really internalize what the program is about then you CAN become a stronger person. And this CAN make you a better person.

So while there is nothing wrong with wanting big “wings” or whatever, you are shortchanging yourself, as a person and a lifter.


Thanks Mr. Jim for the advice. I’m sure that 5/3/1 is mainly for strength and I do good success with it. I will do as you mentioned to improve back strength.