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It's a Good Day to... Start 5/3/1 SST


Or if it doesn’t fit in, enjoy the time with your family and pick up where you left off when ya get back :+1:


Not sure my OCD will allow that!..


After complaining that I program-hop too much I’m about to stop the high volume program I made up and hop onto another program…5/3/1. There are people that swear by it and people that don’t rate it, but here’s my reasoning for deciding to commit the foreseeable future to it:

  1. Jim Wendler is pretty highly rated. And Dan John (who’s T-Nation articles I enjoy not just for the training knowledge but his other sagely advice) also says its one of the best strength training systems.
  2. Progression is planned out - I sometimes struggle with either trying to up everything at once or just coasting along. Having a set plan for the main lifts will help me set and reach long term goals.
  3. But I still get to choose the assistance exercises I want to do
  4. 5/3/1 will allow me to build up a good strength base from which I can do a high-volume typical bodybuilding type routine later. Lets face it, there’s bugger-all point in me doing sets of bench press for 12 reps when its only 60kg!
  5. I like that Jim Wendler advocates doing cardio even though he knows people doing his programs want to be strong and big. I don’t want to have to sacrifice fitness for being big. I am of Indian descent so I’m going to get diabetes and high cholesterol at some point so I want to do what I can to keep it away for as long as possible. Cardio will help there

So that is a stream of my thoughts justifying to myself why I am attempting 5/3/1.

The exact program I am following is the Simplest Strength Template (SST) from the ‘5/3/1 2nd Edition’ book. Its not one of the main hypertrophy focused routines but I thought its an interesting looking routine that I can add more volume to if I can recover from it. I think because of my fitness level, my work capacity and recoverability is decent (also recoverability is aided by the weak-as-piss weights I use)…

The exact routine will look like this:

Deadlift @ 5/3/1 sets/reps
Front squat @ 10/10/10 week 1, 8/8/6 week 2, 5/5/5 week 3
Seated hamstring curls 3x10-20
Glute thrust 3x10-20
Abs work and back raises superset in with front squat, ham curls and thrusts

OHP @ 5/3/1 sets/reps
Close grip bench press @ 10/10/10 week 1, 8/8/6 week 2, 5/5/5 week 3
Superset with Lat pulldown 3x10-20
Rear delt raise 3x10-20
Superset with Lat raise 3x10-20
Tricep rope extensions 3x10-20
EZ bar curl 3x10-20

Squat @ 5/3/1 sets/reps
SLDL @ 10/10/10 week 1, 8/8/6 week 2, 5/5/5 week 3
Lying ham curls 3x10-20
Calf raises 3x10-20
Abs work and back raises superset in with SLDL, ham curls and calf raises

Bench @ 5/3/1 sets/reps
Incline bench @ 10/10/10 week 1, 8/8/6 week 2, 5/5/5 week 3
Superset with Rear delt raise 3x10-20
DB row 3x10-20
Superset with EZ bar skullcrusher 3x10-20
Upright row 3x10-20
DB curl 3x10-20

The layout for the week is:
Mon: deadlift day
Tue: OHP day
Wed: football (soccer) 60 minutes
Thu: rest, yoga
Fri: squat day
Sat: bench day + prowler OR farmers walks
Sun: rest, yoga


Looks like a solid plan!


Thanks Steve. And thanks for popping by.


Give it a try. As long as you are confident on your form with front squats and SLDL you’ve got it.
If not then I think using the same exercice for 5x5@FSL will be just as good.

Focus on getting quality work and don’t kill yourself each session. If you don’t feel great, do the minimum reps, otherwise go for a PR set. Keep track of them!

Try two cycles of this, deload, and then do one cycle of PR set with the Periodization Bible (assistance template 4). I think that’s how I would set it up.

After three cycles you’ll have a better understanding of the system and you’ll know what to do from there. Enjoy!


Hey gsg202 great log.
I’m in.
Some program hopping at the start, then perhaps settling with Jims work. Quality.
Looks like a good template and probably how I would run it. Solid.

If your goal is size more than strength, which I suspect it is.
Then I would do the supplemental work in the same plane as the main work.
after squat use front squat, after bench CGBP and so on.
That gives more of a bodybuilding breakdown of the muscles.
Jim has been asked about it numerous times and he says to do the supplemental as the main. I know he says it doesn’t matter in the books, but on his private forum he has said it many times.

Whichever way you do it, good luck.
(I like the way you’ve set it up, but I’ve been looking into BB work the past couple of weeks, and it appears for building muscles, the other way around would be how to do it).


Welcome Mort. Thanks for the comments.

And thanks for the feedback / heads up on the order of the 2nd lifts. That makes sense - you’d break down the muscles in the same plane/movement more - for strength I guess you’d want to keep them more fresh so separate movements would be better.

In that case, what does Jim say about the other exercises? i.e. is it then better to do:

Deadlift day:

  1. deadlift
  2. SLDL
  3. ham curls or some more quad dominant like hack squat / split squat / goblet squat?

Squat day

  1. Squat
  2. Front squat
  3. ham curls or a quad dominant exercise?

I can see arguments for either option.

I think I will keep it as it is for now - I haven’t deadlifted properly in probably 12 months so I don’t want to overload my lower back doing deadlifts and SLDL on the same day just yet.

I’d like to find a way to incorporate behind the neck presses too - I started doing them this year and I think they are a great exercise. Any suggestions? Not heavy, just as one of the follow on assistance exercises.


Hey man.

I’ve been doing front squat recently anyway as they felt better on my groin so it shouldn’t be an issue. When I chose SST it was a tight call between doing that or the pyramid or FSL schemes from Beyond 531. If this is going well I may try adding in pyramid or FSL down-sets after a couple of cycles.


With my current 5/3/1 variation, I’m doing front squats for accessory on deadlift day, and Zercher squats for accessory on squat day. I squat fairly wide so I work my hamstrings and glutes a lot more with back squats, so I need something that hits the quads. It’s all about what you need to work your weaknesses, but what you’re doing is a great place to start. Give it a few cycles, and adjust the accessory work if it’s not giving you what you need.


I haven’t been on his forum for more than a year.
But he generally likes to run 5’s pro and FSL 5x5 followed by assistance as 50-100 reps of push, pull, single leg or core work

That means
50-100 reps push: pushup, db bench, dips (he loves dips), db press, flyes, any pressing movement.
50-100 reps pull: chin up, pull up (he loves those), bb row, db row, cable row any pulling movement.
50 - 100 reps Single leg: lunges, split squats, one leg dl, you get it
50-100 reps core: hanging leg raise (he likes them) ab wheel, planks, crunches.

The assistance should be light and non taxing.
All effort in the main lift, some in the supplemental, little to assistance.

Do 2 cycles of 5’s pro fsl one week deload, one cycle of PR sets and 3 - 5 sets FSL, and assistance is down to 25 reps.
one week deload one week test.
The test is to try to reach a 5 reps with the next cycles TM, that way you know your TM is correct.

I just happen to love the original way with pr sets I’ve tried the 5’s pro and pr cycle and test week. I didn’t like it. BUT a lot of peeps have had great success with it.
Sorry for the rant, I love 531 and think I know it quite well.

I think doing the opposite lift for supplemental would be good.
Assistance is really not that important.
You could focus on delts on the press day, quads on squat, you get it, or just do the push/pull/single leg or core thing.

I really would try to go with the template you put up, I like it a lot.
You’re working the opposite lift hard on supplemental and focus is on weakness on the main lift. Quality.


Following along. Keep it up


Thanks Mort. I will go with this template. It’s got stuff I need to do plus stuff I like to do. So it should keep me honest.


Hey dpeels. Welcome. Hopefully there’ll be something worth following!..


Thanks Steve. Good point about doing the things that build up the weaknesses / missed areas


5/3/1 SST; Cycle 1; Week 1; Deadlift day

Only listing the work sets. Warm ups were done in 10kg increments and I did sets of 15 reps of band pull aparts between each warm up set

My own stretching routine which lasts about 8-10 minutes.

75kg x5
87.5kg x5
100kg x9
Superset with Band pull aparts

30kg x10
37.5kg x10
42.5kg x10
Superset with
BW x15
BW x13
BW x12

SEATED HAM CURLS (5 second negative):
45kg x15
40kg x15
35kg x15
Superset with
BW x12
BW x12
BW x12

GLUTE THRUST (3 second negative):
55kg x12
55kg x12
55kg x12

10kg x14 each side
10kg x12 each side
10kg x10 each side

30s on / 60s off for 5 rounds

First day of 5/3/1 done and it was a good session. Everything above was done in 75 minutes (including the stretching routine, warm up sets and post-workout foam rolling).

I liked it. The PR set on deadlifts was good - going for max reps was fun. I probably could’ve got another 1 or 2 but form would have definitely gone by then.

The assistance work was easy, wasn’t taxing at all especially after the bigger lifts.

Conditioning was meant to be prowler but there was some strange cardio circuit thing going on on the turfed area.

I was half hour later starting than I wanted to be as the 6 year old decided to vomit at 4am. When I left at 5am for the gym the 6 year old, 3 year old and my wife were all awake. My wife, to her credit, knew I was starting a new routine today and told me to carry on when I offered to stay so she could go back to bed.

Rest between deadlifts was around 2 minutes, front squats was around 90s and the rest was around 60s.


I have completed my spreadsheet with the template workouts through to the end of the year. If I keep progressing in each cycle then in the week commencing 29 Dec 2019 (cycle 12) I will be attempting the following lifts in the 5/3/1 week:

Deadlift 162.5kg (not done over 145kg for 3 years, 160kg was probably 7 years ago!)
OHP: 77.5kg (boggles my mind - I’ve never done over 60kg)
Squat: 115kg (not squatted over 100kg since 2008)
Bench: 97.50kg (do you think I could round up to 100kg?..)

I get those weights are relatively unimpressive compared to what a lot of people in these forums do, but by Jesus, I’d be ecstatic if I get to that! Realistically I’ll probably need to reset along the way - unlikely I’ll progress continuously for 12 cycles. But this has got me psyched up for the year now.


Nice workout. I’m in week 3 of my 5/3/1 cycle and can definitely feel myself getting stronger. Do you condition every day?


Hey @dpeels
I don’t do conditioning every day - I did it today as I still had something in the tank and time on the clock. I play football (soccerball) once a week for 60 minutes and then I try to do about another 20 mins of complexes or something each week. If the workouts continue to be the same length as today then I could add 10 mins on a day. I don’t think that goes against Jim’s principles and in my mind it allows me to eat more as I’ve earned it.

I suppose the conditioning will just have to be something that doesn’t interfere with the lifts, i.e. prowler the day before squats, farmers walks the day before deadlifts or KB swings the day before deadlifts probably isn’t a good idea.


Today’s calorie intake has been:

Carbs 301g
Protein 217g
Fat 59g
Total cals 2603