T Nation

New to 5/3/1, How Many Sets?


Hi T Nation!
i just discovered the 5/3/1 method and i am gonna do this for quite some time.
How ever a got this question:
(lets say you are gonna do shoulder press at 1. week)

Are you then suposed to do:
1) 3 sets, 5 reps with 65%
2) 3 sets, 5 reps with 75 %
3) 3 sets, 5 reps 85%

thereby doing a total of 9 sets?
that would at least make sense.
And then for the following week 3 reps for a total 9 sets..

Thomas, DK :slightly_smiling:


Which template are you referring to? The base program?

If you’re talking about the base program, it runs

5 reps x 65% of TM
5 reps x 75% of TM
5 reps x 85% of TM

Three sets total.

After that, you choose the work you want to do or follow one of the ten thousand templates. For example, you might use First-Set-Last and Joker Sets. It depends on your goals and what you need to achieve those goals. I don’t recall a template in which I have seen 9 sets of the primary exercise structured the way you presented it, but I haven’t seen everything Jim has put out on the internet.


In the original version you push the last set to amrap (leaving 1-2 reps in the tank). So the 3’s week could go something like this:

Warm up:
Work sets:

Learn about the TM, use FSL (first set last), pick 1-2 assistance exercises and you’ll be good.

I recommend you to read beyond 3/5/1 - good stuff in there.