T Nation

Starting 5/3/1


Hey everybody i just read the 5/3/1 manual and i decided that im going to start it January first (i would start it now but im busy with exams and want to put all my focus into the routine and not worry about screwing up school). But i was wondering if anybody has any tips or anything like that they have recommend from doing this routine.

I noticed in the manual that Jim recommends doing tons of chin ups, i was wondering if anybody has any advice on how to get better at them because in all honesty i blow at chin/pull ups.



The best advice I can give is follow the program to a tee. Whichever template you choose, do as Wendler says as he knows more than you, hence his ability to write a brilliant program that has brought success to many readers on this board.

As far as chin/pull up improvement, weighted negatives focusing on descending as slow as possible and neutral grip pulldowns are a good start. How many body weight chins can you do now?


Get better at them.


Please, for the love of good, just follow it EXACTLY as it is in the book. Pick a template, and don't change it. DON'T!

Oh yea, don't forget about conditioning. As for chins, do them between each set of pressing.


If you want to be better at chins you must offcourse do them( captain obvious I know ), but from there
its many routes to take.

Here are two ways of doing it:

Do a total of 30reps each session and try over time to get more reps and fewer sets, when you are able
to hit 3sett x 10reps x bw, you can start to add weight or you can do more total reps, lets say 40reps or 50reps.

You can also start with something like 3x5reps and add a rep pr set each cycle, I started at 3x5 when I started
5,3,1 in the beginning of the semester and last session I did 3setts x 8rep + 2sett x 3reps( a total of 30reps )

This is perhaps a modest method, but it adds up over time. Think of it as similar to starting light, but instead of starting at a lower weight you start at a lower volum instead because you cant offcourse take of some pounds of your bodyweight like it where a barbell, that takes some serious training and dieting to do. ( Again I am captain obvoius lol ).

Hope that was any help.


thanks guys(except JFG), the manual makes it pretty clear i think about following it perfectly

Chris87 what conditioning do you recommened doing? what he talks about doing in the manual?


anything in the manual is gold. I sprint 40's bc theres not a hill around me.


florelius i just saw your post thanks ill try that out


I`m happy if I where at any help :slight_smile:

Good luck with getting badass at chins :smiley:


Good choice with 5-3-1, stick with it at least for a few months, don't program jump or your just spinning your wheels!
With the chins either add them between pushes and just do 2 or 3 to start between each set, you will be amazed at the volume that adds up too.
Another thing you could try is jump pull ups, find a high bar and jump up grab the bar and finish the pull and let go, get as many you can for a set time. I have used this with athletes and seen pretty significant increases!
Best of luck!


I don't agree with "waiting till you can put all your focus into it"

Start it tomorrow. There will ALWAYS be something going on in your life. Are you going to quit in 3 months when you're studying for finals again? I mean, then it's the holidays and obviously you're at home relaxing with your family and can't lift. Then, you have to get used to your new classes and schedule, maybe move into a new place, so wait till you get settled in before you start lifting. Oh shit, you're behind in your classes, gotta spend more time studying, guess you have to push back lifting till the summer. But then you're home and don't have easy access to a gym.....

Do you REALLY not have 4 hours a week where you aren't studying?

It will not be any easier to start in a month than it will be tomorrow.


bacher: ill try that doing 2 or 3 at a time that sounds like it would be a good idea

scj119: i understand what your saying completly it makes sense, but im going on family vacation for a week and wont have a gym should i just pause the routine and then restart or soemthing like that you know?


Start it now. There will be times during training when you go on vacation and can't do it for a few days. It doesn't mean you stop training a month before, you know?

All I'm saying is there are a lot more people waiting for a certain date to start training than there are people who actually train consistently. Even if you don't have a perfect setup now - some work is ALWAYS better than no work.

No work<<<< some work < perfect work


with the chins - just do them, buy a pullup bar and do 1 or 2 everytime you walk past it, get the volume in.


I disagree. I'd say follow the progression on the main lifts TO A TEE...but Wendler does not know you better than yourself. The templates he has in there are merely suggestions and a great start if you don't know how to program accessory work for yourself. He has reexplained this countless times in his livespills and articles even even explains it in the 5/3/1 manual. You have the best chance of assessing where your weaknesses are and what you need to prioritize in your accessory work. Don't be lazy and just follow along...take the time to honestly evaluate where you are weak and need the most work.


You have to be advanced enough to know what your weaknesses are. Beginners should just choose one of the templates and hammer it away.

IMO the program is better for intermediates than beginners. It's designed for slow but steady progression. It's good for beginners, just better for more advanced people. My opinion.


I agree with everything you've written.