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Thoughts on This 5/3/1 Variation


Jim wendler posted this routine on his site:

whats your opinion on it?

And would you choose this over Boring but big?


No calves?
No tricep extension movements?

But I have enjoyed 531 in the past and am sure following the above will do more good than harm for most, would I follow without tweaking? No.


How would you suggest tweaking the 5/3/1 assistance work to build more muscle?


There are triceps and it's just an example of a concept.


I didn't state there was no tricep work...
I stated no extension work, lack of lateral head stimulus will be an issue for a BB - this is the bodybuilding forum.

Didn't state it was not a concept - OP asked for opinions on the programmes - my comments still stand.


The above programme or the normal 531 programme? If the latter there are a few response from cathalic carnage on this topic, and am sure his response would be better than mine.


"Triceps Pushdowns â?? 5 x 20"?

My point is that what was posted isn't a program. It was the illustration of a point. For bodybuilding with 5/3/1 keep the main sets to about the minimum reps and go balls out on assistance while reducing conditioning work to something non-strenuous like walking.

Wendler often doesn't put in calf work because he's always had good calves (from football and such). He does however recommend calf work to people who donâ??t already have great calves.

It sounds like a pretty solid layout for BBing. Obviously you should choose your assistance exercise for your own strengths and weaknesses. But it looks like it would work well.


I didn't mean to imply the above would not build enough muscle, more that BB is about a physique - and I see issues with the plan you posted.

I guess easy answer is reduce volume from strongpoints first - i.e. you have big biceps, do less of these and add volume for weakpoints/calves/tricep lat head.

Perhaps you could add volume on top of the programme but I'm guessing Jim would say the programme has enough volume, add more and you will make less progress...

So bit of a cop-out but experiment, see how X works for you over weeks not days.


These are inadequate for the lateral head, long and medial will get plenty of stimulus from heavy pressing and pushdowns - I don't disagree.
But AGAIN the lateral head will not get adequate stimulation without extension movements.


I thought pushdowns were good for the lateral head and 5 sets of 20 seems like a good deal of volume. Guess I could learn somethin. What do you mean by extension movements that will stimulate the lateral head? I always considered push downs one of them. I certainly feel them there.


Sorry I FAIL!!!, long head is what I meant...

What I meant is you need an extension movement for BB triceps, something that doesn't mess up your elbows. For me the kindest to my elbows are PJR pullovers, rolling extensions and JM floor press (well non-floor version is probably fine)...

So do I make any more sense now...


So what Wendler wrote is more of a template that you can tweak than a program ment to be done as it's written?

So i'll just pick some exercises that'll cover it for biceps and shoulders on the shoulder press day, like this:

Shoulder press , 5/3/1
Shoulder press dumbbells
cable side lateral raises
Bent over raises
Bicep curls dumbells, doubt i need more when i got lats the next day.

And for deadlift day:
Deadlift, 5/3/1
chin ups
Bent over rows dumbbell
hyper extensions

bench day:
Benchpress, 5/3/1
Incline bench machine( can't do dips due to pain in my sternum)
Cable crossovers
tricep pushdowns, no way i am doing 20 reps each sett, can't imagine that would be effective.
Push downs

Squat day:
Squat, 5/3/1
leg press
standing leg curls
leg extensions
ab work

So yeah pretty alike what he outlined.

So this is something that would be effective for building size?

Currently i am doing fewer exercises and get each muscle trained 2 times per week, and have had amazing strength progress + i am loosing fat. also i do 30 min of stationary bike and maybe some boxing 3 times a week. im going to keep doing that atleast to after new year, but eventually i want to build mass.


  1. Minor tweaks are probably better than wholesale changes. But programme looks fine, do invest time, then appraise things. 531 works great over time, but you do need to be patient.

  2. Building size is as much diet as it is the programme, happy to offer advice, but do yourself a favour - create a (free) fitday account and log everything that touches your lips for a week or so.

  3. Well JW would tell you to get off your ass and run hills rather than the bike...

  4. What workouts are you doing on what days?

  5. What's your diet like now? Calories and macros? What's the bodyweight, rough idea of BF? How active are you? Do you struggle to loose weight or add weight?


All I would say is for me skullcrusher movements are needed for balanced arms, I'd swap them for pushdowns.

Personally I did years of standing, laying and seated leg curls and made little hamstring progress - maybe switch these for RDLs/SLDLs/GMs. Or maybe not as you're doing DLs and hypers.

This doesn't mean I hate leg curls or pushdowns just they are not the most effective exercises FOR ME.


Well currently this is what i am doing
shoulder press
Bench press dumbbells
chin ups

Leg press
hyper extensions

Bench press
cable crossovers
bent over rows
cable row
cable pushdowns


I used to do run in the woods as cardio, but it sucks because of all the rocks on the trail and whenever it rains its all muddy. i got the bike dirt cheap on some charity sale, and i can watch tv while using it so its awesome. i might start running hills once i find somewhere to do it and have improved my stamina.

Currently my diet is 2700 - 2800 calories a day, i try to atleast get above 155 protein. precentage wise i am going for 25% protein, 35% carbs and 40% fat.
Morning bodyweigth( i don't eat anything within 3 hours of bedtime) is 79 kg, probably 16 or 17% bodyfat.

Ignoring my workouts and my cardio, i don't do much else than sit in a chair either at home in front of the computer screen or at home. i do struggle with loosing weight, i have tried twice this year to loose the fat. First time lasted 4 months then i stopped to regain some of my strength again, so i found 5/3/1 and did that for 2 months, then i tried again this time lowering my calories to around 1800-2000, last time it was 2400-2500.

Didn't work, sometimes i lost a lot of weight fast, sometimes the scale didn't budge.

And of course i got weak again, so i stopped after 2 months and decided to screw dieting for a long time until i have built up a solid base. So i started with 5/3/1 again and have had great progress, scoring new PRs every workout. now i eat 2700 - 2800 and am actually loosing weight, haven't been more surprised. thx to jim wendler for getting my mind to the right place


Jim Wendler wrote that?

Didn't he create the BBB template for bodybuilders?


Whats your setup?


On what? My routine or the above exercises?


Your routine


Seemed a little strange to me TBH. Seems geared to major in the minors a lot more.