T Nation

Is 5/3/1 Right for Me? Need Some Guidance

I’ve been lifting for about a year and a half straight. I’ve had some on and off periods before that though. For most of my time lifting I’ve done a 4-day split of muscle groups changing exercises every so often. I just completed my first week on 5/3/1.

I’m 22, and 180lbs. pic: imgur[dot]com/3EwWK

These are the stats I used to calculate my 1RM for 5/3/1

Benchpress 3 reps at 225
Squat 10 reps at 135
Deadlift 4 reps at 245
Overhead Press 4 reps at 105

Note: my squat is low because I wanted to essentially restart my squat on the 5/3/1 program. I can/could do more though.

I’ve been reading more into 5/3/1 and it seems that its better for advanced lifters that no longer can progress. So what I’m asking is, should I switch to a different program? Possibly HST? Or is it legit to stay on 5/3/1?

Oh, and my goal is to gain more mass. My diet is in check, I just want to make sure the routine is too.

I don’t think that 5/3/1 is just for advanced guys.

People mistake the weight you use for the gains you are making. Adding 5 or 10 pounds a month to the weight used absolutely does not mean that you are adding 5 to 10 pounds a month on your strength.

5/3/1 is designed to be a sub maximal training system. You are repping weights below your max and increasing reps. If you do 205 for 5 one month, then the next month you hit 215 for 6, you have added far more than 10 pounds to your max. EVEN if you didn’t add reps, your max probably went up more than 10 pounds. A 10 pound increase in your 5 rep max is more like a 12 or 13 pound increase in your max.

As a beginner on 5/3/1 you can and should be able to make strength gains MUCH larger than 5 to 10 pounds a month.

great program for anybody in my opinion, as double duce said, especially as a beginner you can make huge gains with this. keeps you focused on the important stuff and less worried about stuff that beginners might otherwise get lost in/waste time with

I still consider myself a beginner, and I am doing 5/3/1 to gain overall mass. I used slightly lighter weights to keep the form good and the reps high. Ive been on it for a month and 2 weeks (boring but big) and not only have I set new records in the 10 rep range, but I have gained 5 lbs in the last month. I hope to be 210-215 by the end of the summer. (I started at 165-170 on Jan 1st, and just kinda did my own thing for a while. I decided I was still way too small and that I wanted to do a specific program that would make me bigger/stronger. I picked one that I felt did not neglect anything and that I felt wouldn’t build serious imbalances. For the record, I haven’t used any supplements other than a multivitamin the entire time.)

Remember to pick what you feel is going to work best for you based on your goals and knowledge, and once you do, be consistent. Good luck on your decision.

-Zep

I just don’t understand why so many people seem to think that you cannot progress quickly on 5/3/1. Is 120 pounds a year to your squat really not fast enough? If it was so slow then everyone would squat 700 pounds in 5 years.

5/3/1 or 5x5 are the two things I wished I knew when I started out. Another thing I wish I knew was how CONSISTENCY is a huge key to whether or not you succeed.

5x10 squats will definitely do wonders to any beginners in form, mass, and strength.

If I had started 5/3/1 3 years ago when I first set foot in the gym…
At least I was squatting and deadlifting from day one

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:
As a beginner on 5/3/1 you can and should be able to make strength gains MUCH larger than 5 to 10 pounds a month.
[/quote]

Wendler says to never increase more than 5lbs/week right? But thats also more of a rule for lifters benching in the 500s rather than 200s like me. Do you think I should move up a bit faster for the first cycle of 5/3/1? Or just keep it slow and steady as perscribed?

I honestly just don’t want to be doing too little work for what my body can handle (since I’m 22 I’m assuming this might be more than what a 40 year old can) and the amount I’m eating.

[quote]Jurp wrote:

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:
As a beginner on 5/3/1 you can and should be able to make strength gains MUCH larger than 5 to 10 pounds a month.
[/quote]

Wendler says to never increase more than 5lbs/week right? But thats also more of a rule for lifters benching in the 500s rather than 200s like me. Do you think I should move up a bit faster for the first cycle of 5/3/1? Or just keep it slow and steady as perscribed?

I honestly just don’t want to be doing too little work for what my body can handle (since I’m 22 I’m assuming this might be more than what a 40 year old can) and the amount I’m eating.[/quote]

Duce really summed it all up, but the point is even if you don’t increase more than 5lbs/week, you’re progressing much faster than that. For instance let’s say you do 6 reps at 200 for month one and then 8 reps for 205 for month two. Now that indicates a MUCH greater increase than 5 lbs per month. At the end, when you’ll be able to bench 225 for 8 or so, you’ll have gained a LOT more strength than you think.

[quote]Jurp wrote:

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:
As a beginner on 5/3/1 you can and should be able to make strength gains MUCH larger than 5 to 10 pounds a month.
[/quote]

Wendler says to never increase more than 5lbs/week right? But thats also more of a rule for lifters benching in the 500s rather than 200s like me. Do you think I should move up a bit faster for the first cycle of 5/3/1? Or just keep it slow and steady as perscribed?

I honestly just don’t want to be doing too little work for what my body can handle (since I’m 22 I’m assuming this might be more than what a 40 year old can) and the amount I’m eating.[/quote]

i wouldn’t, have faith in the program. Wendler’s a pro he knows what hes talking about, i tried going up to fast ended up overextending myself and paid dearly. do the program as prescribed, plus by going up at that rate will stave off plateauing for longer. honestly if you do the program right and you eat right, theres no reason you should hit a bad plateau, atleast not for a long time seeing as your a beginner

Don’t think in terms of adding to your actual max. Get your proper training numbers, go light on the the upper body pressing. Follow the program, get in and get the work done.

All of this has been really helpful. So thanks for all the replies. I think I’ll stick with this program because I really do like the thinking behind it. I forget if I mentioned that I was doing the Triumvate variation of the program. Do you think using the bodybuilding one would work better for size gains? I sometimes feel like I didn’t work hard enough after a session. Although this could be because previously I would be at the gym for and hour and half and leave with zero energy. Something that Wendler doesn’t seem to advocate.

[quote]Jurp wrote:
I sometimes feel like I didn’t work hard enough after a session. Although this could be because previously I would be at the gym for and hour and half and leave with zero energy. Something that Wendler doesn’t seem to advocate.[/quote]

Believe me I used to share the same feeling. If I don’t walk out the gym half dead, then I feel like I didn’t have a proper workout. Trouble is, can I ever recover in time from this for next workout? And the answer is usually no and my gains stall or strength diminishes. Do what you gotta do, get out, eat/rest, repeat! GL!

Stop thinking about weights. Just start light and focus on the max rep sets. Hitting PR’s = Getting Stronger

That’s all I have to say.

[quote]Jurp wrote:
All of this has been really helpful. So thanks for all the replies. I think I’ll stick with this program because I really do like the thinking behind it. I forget if I mentioned that I was doing the Triumvate variation of the program. Do you think using the bodybuilding one would work better for size gains? I sometimes feel like I didn’t work hard enough after a session. Although this could be because previously I would be at the gym for and hour and half and leave with zero energy. Something that Wendler doesn’t seem to advocate.[/quote]

i know how you feel, but in reality its not always the best for gains. Wendler himself said he always made the most improvement when he “left a bit in the tank”

[quote]Jurp wrote:
Wendler says to never increase more than 5lbs/week right? [/quote]

No, he doesnt say that.
5lb for upper body (MP & BP) 10lb for lower (SQ & DL) are his maximum reccomendation.
Personally because I started very light I upped the DL Training max by 5kg each cycle:
cycle 1 DL Tmax =145kg (5+ =127.5kg x14reps) September 2009
cycle 2 DL Tmax =150kg
cycle 3 DL Tmax =155kg
cycle 4 DL Tmax =160kg
and so on until cycle 10 Tmax =190kg (5+ =167.5kg x7reps)
Repeated this for 2 weeks (cycle ‘11’)then reset
cycle ‘12’ Tmax =180kg (5+ = 152.5kg x 8)
THEN upped Tmax by 2.5kg per cycle
Point is you up the Tmax (or weights used, they work out similar once rounded to suit available plates) by a suitable amount. My BP & MP started off adding 2.5kg but soon got to using fractional plates (2x 0.625kg) to go up by 1.25kg (2.75lb) per cycle.

531 is a great program for me, unfortunatel lately injuries and heart problems have slowed me down somewhat (not squatting / deadlifting at the moment)