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Routine Critique, Based on 531 for Hardgainers

Hey all,

After reading through the 531 books, and looking at some articles Jim has published on this site, I have made a training plan mainly based on his principles that I would like to try and would like your thoughts on it. The main inspiration for this routine was Jim’s article, 531 for Hardgainers. I made some changes to it that I feel will benefit me. Before you all attack me for breaking from the plan or something I would like to point out that it is merely an idea.

The base progression of this plan is 531 5’s Progression. You use 85% of your actual max as a training max to base the following percentages off of. Basically, it works like this:

Week 1: 65%x5 75%x5 85%x5 65% 5x5+
Week 2: 70%x5 80%x5 90%x5 70% 5x5+
Week 3: 75%x5 85%x5 95%x5 75% 5x5+

The assistance work that follows the main work is:
Push Movement (50-100 total reps)
Pull Movement (50-100 total reps)
Abdominal/Leg Movement (50-100 total reps)

Here is the main routine: It is 6 days a week, the days repeat themselves after day 3

Day 1

  • Bench Press 5PRO + Pullups
  • OHP 5PRO + Pullups
  • DB Bench/Close-Grip Bench/Dips 50-100 total reps
  • Barbell Row/Barbell Curl/DB Curl 50-100 total reps
  • Abdominal Movement 50-100 reps

Day 2

  • Squat 5PRO + Pullups
  • Front Squat 5x10 + Pullups
  • DB Bench/Close-Grip Bench/Dips 50-100 total reps
  • Barbell Row/Barbell Curl/DB Curl 50-100 total reps
  • Abdominal Movement 50-100 reps

Day 3

  • Deadlift 5PRO + Pullups
  • RDL 5x10 + Pullups
  • DB Bench/Close-Grip Bench/Dips 50-100 total reps
  • Barbell Row/Barbell Curl/DB Curl 50-100 total reps
  • Abdominal Movement 50-100 reps

Let me know your thoughts! Also, if this is appropriate to be posted in 5/3/1 forums let me know

Side notes about the program

50-100 total reps means a rep scheme like 5x10-20, or 10x10, or however many sets/reps is appropriate, just to clear that up

Also, I haven’t outlined delt work in the program (side delts/rear delts) but I will probably superset that between the assistance movements

I don’t imagine you will get much benefit from front squatting 5x10 unless you employ a front squat harness or SSB turned backwards. Your limitations will be upper body musculature in maintaining the rack position rather than the lower body.

It appears you have removed all of the conditioning work. Put it back in. The prowler goes a long way.

Same with the jumps and throws.

I do 30 minutes of cardio every morning, brisk walking on an incline…is that enough?

Also I get your point about the prowler unfortunately I homegym and dont have access to a prowler…Im too young to drive to a gym lol.

What do you suggest for front squats?

Not for hardgainers, no. Prowler is a BIG part of the program.

I have a homegym and a prowler. I don’t see the limiting factor there. DIY a sled if you need to.

I would squat instead of front squat.

If you’re too young to drive and looking at the hardgainer template, are you about 15-16 years old and very skinny? I’m not attacking you - that’s fine if you are, but you should lay off the improv here and just follow a template to the T. Your diet and discipline is what will help you now, not tweaking already tested programs.


Have you actually tried 5/3/1 as per Jim’s recommendations? If yes how did you go?
6 days a week is too much for most naturals.

A few thoughts.

  1. You should probably just pick a template and follow it as written.
  2. If you dont have a prowler just rig a tire with a ratchet strap and throw plates on top. Drag it. Or use light barbell/kettlebell complexes.That said in my opinion you can get away without it if you play a sport or have a physically demanding job.
  3. 6 days a week is more than needed by far. 3-4 is plenty.
  4. Why is bench and press on the same day. Put press on it’s own day or with deadlift.
  5. As said above front squats for 5x10 is rough. High bar squats Or your regular stance would be a far better option.
  6. Close grip bench is redundant. Use pushdowns or tri extensions. Curls are redundant, use db rows and face pulls, rear felt raises Or band pull aparts instead. Your biceps will grow from rows.

That’s a lot of weekly volume. Are you sure you can recover from all of that?

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There is on plus sets on first set last as you have listed. On your other thread you implied you had a copy of Forever. If that’s the case reread it.
Why no actual over head pressing?
Also your way too focused on the secondary stuff it seems .

OHP is overhead press
The secondary stuff is just 5 sets most of the time…rarely 10 its just what Jim has written down
The reason why I added 5x5+ instead of 5x5 was reading this thread here which Paul Carter gives his input. Why end a set at 5 reps if you have more left?

Im pretty young diet is good sleep is good. Some on other parts of the internet would call this low volume…isn’t volume what drives hypertrophy?

Isn’t press an assistance for bench? In most of Jim’s templates he has Press and Bench on the same day. For example, in his BBB 3 month challenge he has them on the same day

No. It’s a main lift in its own right. It’s that way in the challenge bc one day is heavy bench/volume press. The other is heavy press/volume bench. One should not be prioritized over the other with 531.

No it’s not in most of his templates. A few maybe. But usually it’s on it’s own day or paired with deadlift.

I honestly don’t care do what you want. Just don’t be one of those guys down the road who complains that 531 doesn’t work at all. Especially after they have tweaked it to death.


It’s a factor in hypertrophy, yes. Not the only one.

All of your days look fine (ish) in isolation, however string six of them back to back and I see problems.

You are free to train however you want, however this is not 5/3/1 as written, and tested by Jim Wendler and you haven’t found anyone on this thread who thinks it’s a good idea.


NO. tough love time: you’re 130lbs = you’re tiny and dont need to be customising jack shit.

I personally think no prowler is ok in your case just do something like hill sprints/gassers etc. Once a week is fine even as you struggle to gain weight.

You will need to eat big just to recover from the 4 day program if you are pushing hard, especially on the PR sets. so 6 days you would need to consume monster calories which doesnt sound like you are prepared to do at the moment.

If reeealy want to do 6 day look up something like Dan John’s one lift a day


I initially thought this looked fine, then read you would to this routine twice-through each week.

This is a classic newbie mistake (many of us have been there, so I don’t mean to imply this is unique). “I’ll make it twice as good by doubling the workout”. No, no, no. Don’t do this. You will be so much happier if you stick to a proven template if you want to do a 531 template. Don’t change a thing.

This is also an option. I find that if you like 531 you will probably like Dan John’s style and his workouts. He has some that are nearly daily, and have the volume and smarts to match the high frequency.

All that said, it’s likely that you will do it anyway.

Exactly. And some parts of the internet would call the earth flat. Someone that would call your plan “low volume” is likely very weak and small, so they can easily recover from half-assed, low intensity workouts.


Most of the programs are 6 days a week if you include conditioning, which as @T3hPwnisher mentioned you should. As well as the mobility. As well as the jumps. You don’t want to let athleticism slip too far away as it’s tough to reclaim.

I doubt he was referring to beginners here. But JW doesn’t like the form breakdown he sees in novices for the big lifts. He has is athletes instead push the assistance work for higher reps.

As far as the sled I can’t go calling the kettle black. I ran hill sprints, and did strongman carries to include tire flips.