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I'm Ripping Off 5/3/1 & Getting HYOOOGE


The story so far - this summer, I tried the 40 day workout, then as soon as I posted this thread, switched to a two-day split that incorporated the set-rep scheme from Wendler's 5/3/1 program. Now that school's back in session, I'm starting a three-day workout more like (but not quite) the original, unadulterated 5/3/1 (see page 2).

I read about Dan John's 40 Day workout here -- http://www.elitefts.com/documents/40-day_workout.htm - and decided to give it a shot while home for the summer. I have been doing it for about a month now, completing 20 of the 21 workouts. (See below for new program).

Starting numbers:
Age: 21
Training for: 1.5 years
Height: 5'8"
Weight: 153 lb
1RMs: squat 265, bench 185, deadlift 365

The workout:
Working sets only:
Snatch-grip deadlift 2x5
Bench press (1 sec pause) 2x5
DB bent row (each hand) 2x5

Since I'm trying to get bigger, I've been eating 3000-3500 cals on off days and 4000-4500 cals on training days. Staple foods are whole milk, beef, eggs, and chicken.

Day 1 workout: (1 month ago)
Weight: 153lb
Working sets:
Snatch grip DL 2x5x225
Bench press 2x5x135
DB Row 2x5x70s

Day 20 workout: (yesterday)
Weight: 156lb
Snatch grip DL 2x5x285
Bench press 2x5x165 (missed 2x5x175 by one rep the previous day)
DB Row 2x5x90s


Edited program below.

Well, now that I’ve finally posted a log, I’m thinking of switching up the program sooner. Today I did:

Day 21:
BW 156.5
SGDL 285x5, 285x1
Bench 2x5x165
Rows 2x5x90s

And I’m feeling like I might not be able to keep up my progress for two reasons:

  1. Pulling double overhand every workout is really trashing my hands. I rip calluses virtually every workout now, and with any weight over ~250
  2. I tweaked my shoulder a few days back. It’s gotten better, but I’m wary of doing flat bench every workout from here on out.

This is the program I will follow until the end of the summer.

Hack squat 3x5
DB bent row 3x5
Hammer curl 3x10

Deadlift according to 5/3/1 template
Bench press according to 5/3/1 template

With essentially the same goals for the end of the summer:
Bench 205x1 DONE 9/8
Row 3x5x105s (most weight I can fit on the DB handle for full ROM rows) DONE 7/24
DL 390x1 (all the weights I’ve got here) DONE 9/8


I too am a big fan of Dan’s program. For one thing, it’s easy to track progress. As I see in your first post, you’ve clearly made some. Congrats!

But as you’re finding, the daily angle to it can be tough on joints. Personally and FWIW, I find less shoulder stress with the dumbbell bench press rather than the barbell. The fact that one can twist the dumbbells into a neutral grip seems to help. Second, with heavy weights I too find my grip and hands take a beating on certain lifts. I’m now using Haulin’ Hooks for these lifts. A buddy of mine has found some pretty cool pad-type things that do much the same thing. Not sure what to call them. They’re oval-shaped, thin, neoprene pads that help his grip and prevent the callous ripping you describe.

As for sticking it out… I think Dan said he found the greatest gains in the first 20 days or so. As for me, I got bored after three+ weeks on the same lifts and changed out (and I’ll cycle it back in soon also). I do think that Dan’s original idea of the daily workout involving the same lifts more readily helps one see progress. This is important for new guys. But then again, so is switching things up on your body as you propose!


Thanks for the advice dr.mcmc. I was fired up for lifting today, but I knew I couldn’t handle more snatch grip deads and bench this soon, so I took my alternative routine for a test drive:

Jefferson squats, each side

These were hard, and not in a good way - I was feeling way too much twisting going on in my lower back. I skipped ahead to:

Hack squats

Not bad. Last time I did these was 2 months ago, and then all I managed was 2x5x155. I’ll be hitting these hard in the weeks to come. As hard as the last few reps were hitting my calves.

DB bent rows (each side)

I knew I had more reps in me with the 90s. Just a bit longer, and I’ll be handling the 100s on this lift.

EZ bar curls


This was definitely not a proud moment. I used to think it was cool not to train bis directly, so now they look about the same at 155 as they did when I weighed 120.

Overall, the workout felt pretty good. I’m taking a day off, and then trying pulling, benching, and hang cleans the next day as written up above.


My hands are healing faster than I anticipated, so I went ahead and did:


The last set was a rep PR at that weight, and with much better form than before I spent a month pulling with a snatch grip. Since benching was not in the cards for today, I did some YTWLs and then tried:

Bradford press

which felt pretty good, and then

Hang clean

which didn’t at all, even at such a light weight.


After a day off, I weighed in at 157 and did:

Hack squats

DB rows
60s x 5
80s x 5
3 x 5 x 95s

These felt nice and strong. 105 maxes out the DB weights I have here; hope to hit that soon.

Warming up for EZ bar curls bothered my wrist some, so I tried

Hammer curls
3 x 10 x 25s

which was way too easy.

I will also edit the posts above to better describe what I’ll be doing from now till the end of the summer.



BW 157


235x5 - too big of a jump, these should have been easier


Scap pushups

Since shoulders were feeling good and plenty warmed up, I tried:

Bench press (touch and go)

Bar warmup
185x1 (old 1RM)
195x1 PR
205 fail

OK, so maybe taking a 1RM on bench today was not the best of ideas, but I was anxious to see how much I gained from doing paused bench on the 40 day program. 195 went up with minimal hesitation, and I got 205 off my chest, but stalled about 3" up. In May, when I last tested my bench max, 195 just kind of sat on my chest until my spotter pulled it off.

I’m still not sure if I should train T&G bench this summer with 3x5 straight sets, or try the 5/3/1 template, which is what I’m doing for my pulls. Edit: I will start out by trying the 5/3/1 template for bench, too.


Weigh in: 158 lb, highest yet

Hack squats


I repeated the weights from last session. Last time, I felt these much more in my hips and lower back than in my quads. Today, instead of bouncing the weight every rep, I paused it on the floor for a second. This way, I felt my quads were getting hit more and my lower back was getting a break. I’ll be upping the weight next session.

DB row

60s x 5
80s x 5
3 x 5 x 100s PR

Hell yeah. The last set was brutal, but I pushed through for the full 5 reps.

Hammer curls

3 x 10 x 35s

These were hard as hell, even though the weight is still pathetic.


BW: 156.5

255x3 much better with the extra warm-up set
325x6 rep PR

Bench press
150x10 rep PR

So far, I’m liking the 5/3/1 template. (I realize I’m just cribbing one element of the program and not actually doing it as prescribed.) As the weights start getting bigger, I’ll consider splitting up this workout and adding assistance work for the DL and bench press. On another positive note, my shoulder is definitely on the mend.


BW 158.5

Hack squat
3x5x235 still easy

DB row
70s x 5
90s x 5
3 x 5 x 105s PR

Finally maxed the weight on these, at least for this summer. That can only mean one thing: adding more reps.

Hammer curls
3 x 10 x 35s I still hate curls

Tomorrow’s an off day, then the day after that I hit deadlifts and bench.


Last year’s workout

This is what I did one year ago to the day:

Weigh in: 131.5 lb

Warmup sets, then 4x185,205,225,235, failed 245.

Military press

Superset wrist curls and plate pinch
Superset hyperextensions and supermans

It’s cliche, but I do feel like I’d wasted a lot of gym time at this point. Deadlifts were always my standout lift, but pretty much up till now I’ve been training them like an idiot: either doing too many reps with too little weight, or trying to hit max triples every week or two, without any sort of deload. I also feel I’ve wasted a good chunk of time doing “little” exercises like those supersets with minimum intensity and no real results. What I like about my program now is that I can concentrate on just 5 exercises, and I don’t need to save energy for a bunch of accessory lifts. Now, one thing I think I did do well in that respect over the past year is my squat day: Squats 5x5, BB lunges 5x10, GHR 3x10. Those workouts were always simple, hard, and effective.


No rest for the weary:

Weigh in 156 lb (???)



Bench press

160x11 rep PR

Felt solid all around. Tomorrow’s a rest day I’m not skipping.



9/2: I’m revising my goals to include a deadline, higher BW, and what I think are more realistic #s for the big three lifts.

(Old goals:)
Other than a few short-term goals, I haven’t yet written down anything by way of a long-term goal. Right now, my combined gym 1RMs in the big three are 825 lb. I want to hit a 1000 lb gym total at or under 165 lb.

Most recent max: 265
Goal: 315 (was 325)
To do: increase explosiveness out of the hole, hit the right depth consistently (last 275 attempt went too deep).

Most recent max: 195
Goal: 225 (was 245)
To do: perfect my form and work on tricep strength, which is nonexistent at the moment.

Most recent max: 365
Goal: 425 (was 430)
To do: continue improving speed off the floor and maintain form on near-max lifts.

Body weight: 170 (was 165)

DEADLINE: Christmas '09 (was summer of 2010).

More about this on the next page.


Weight: 158 (that’s more like it)

Hack squats
3x5x245 tiring, but still easy.

DB row
70s x 5
90s x 5
105s x 6,5,5 - one more rep on each side.

Hammer curls
3x10x35s - the first two sets felt better than other days, but the last one was still hard.


Woke up today with a sore lat, so it was a good day for a deadlift deload.

Weight: 157.5


Bench press
165x10 rep PR

Next workout I’ll deload my DB rows to get a good fresh start on the next deadlift microcycle. I’ll also be including a second rest day after my A workout. That said, I’m glad that I’ve been able to do the workouts so far on a two days on/one day off schedule, since summer is drawing to a close sooner than I would like, and I’m trying to squeeze out as much improvement as I can on bench and deadlifts.

The 156 weigh-in this past weekend had me worried, so if I don’t see 158.5 on the scale by week’s end, I’ll start tracking my cals again. (I did it for a little over a week while doing Dan John’s 40 day workout earlier this summer.)


Weight: 159.5

Hack squat

Still feeling good on these, still able to add 10 lb, but dropping the first warmup set to 135 was a bad idea.

DB row
60s x 10
3 x 8 x 80s - rep PR

It may not be a “real” deload, but this felt easier and much stricter than my usual working sets. Like most of my lifts, I haven’t trained these above the 5 rep range in forever.

Hammer curls

3 x 10 x 35s

Might as well weld this weight onto the handles since I can’t imagine moving past it anytime soon.

I laid out my training for the rest of the summer. September 9 is when I am going to test deadlift and bench maxes. Until then, I have enough time to run two full microcycles of my B workout (DLs and bench press on the 5/3/1 plan). Then, I will perform the 5x5 and 3x3 days as scheduled, and substitute the test day for the 5/3/1 workout. At some point, I plan on laying off on hack squats for a couple of workouts, especially if they get in the way of deadlift training.

Since I surpassed 158.5 on the scale by a lot today, I will hold off on daily calorie tracking. If my weight starts stalling again, however, I will take up my food log again.


Weight: 158 lb

315x10 huge rep PR

155x12 rep PR, I don’t recall ever benching 12 reps of anything except maybe just the bar.

Upper back is pretty sore; glad tomorrow’s an off day.


Hi, my name is pkoad and I have training ADD.

Weight: 159

BB reverse lunges (instead of hack squats)
bar x 10
95 x 10
3 x 10 x 115

These were a nice change-up, felt it in my quads without feeling like I was putting my lower back in jeopardy

DB rows
70s x 6
3 x 6 x 90s

I’m thinking of working up to 3 x 6 x 105s, then dropping the weight and starting over till I get to 3 x 7 x 105s, etc.

Bradford press (new)
bar x 10
95 x 10
95 x 10
95 x 8 - humbling set, in the middle of my ninth rep my delts just gave up. I’ll try hitting 3x10x85 next time.

Hammer curls
3 x 10 x 35s

At least I got in my prescribed curls.


Weight: 160 lb


335x10 huger rep PR

How great did that last set feel? Sofa King great!

Bench press

165x11 just wanted to get that rep PR and be done.

Next A workout I’ll keep doing the reverse lunges instead of the hack squats. I don’t want anything to get in the way of pulling off another good deadlift PR on 5/3/1 day.


Sick day - something’s been messing with my sinuses again, so my head feels like an overinflated balloon.

Weight 159.5

BB reverse lunge

95 x 10
3 x 10 x 125

DB row

75s x 6
3 x 6 x 95s

Skipped the rest of it.


Felt much better this afternoon so I decided to finish today’s workout:

Bradford press

3 x 10 x 95 - good.

Hammer curls

3 x 10 x 35s - finally starting to feel easy. If these don’t give me trouble next session, I’ll make the jump to 41s.