T Nation

Too Much Volume in My 5/3/1?


I'm finishing up the 5th cycle of my 5/3/1 this week and I've noticed how worn down I've become. I've gone back and reread the manual on resets and evaluating how your body feels but it didn't quite answer my question. All of my weights are continuing to go up without any stalls yet but my energy levels outside of lift time are falling. Do I need a reset or am I just doing way too much volume for my recovery?

Here's the breakdown for this week which is the 5/3/1 week:
Overhead Press 1RM: 205
Squat 1RM: 305
Bench 1RM: 315
Deadlift 1RM: 355

10-20min warmup + soft tissue work
Overhead 5/3/1
DB Incline - 5x5-10 @ 65lbs
Pullups - 50 bodyweight reps in as many sets as needed, shoulder width grip
Lat Pulldown - 3x10 @ 145lbs, post-fatigue and really trying to hit the upper lats and middle of the back, widest grip the bar allows.
Skull Crusher - 5x10 @ 75lbs
10-20min bodyweight rehab exercises + stretching

10-20min warmup + soft tissue work
Squat 5/3/1
Deadlift - DE work @ 50% of my 1RM, 5x3
Barbell Glute Bridge - 3x10 @ 245lbs
Barbell Hip Thrusts - 3x10 @ 245lbs
Hanging Leg Raises - 5x20 w/ 10lb dumbbell in my feet
45degree Back Raises - 3x10 w/ 20lb dumbbell behind my neck
10-20min bodyweight rehab exercises + stretching

Day Off

10-20min warmup + soft tissue work
Bench Press 5/3/1
Floor Press - 3x5 @ 235
DB Row - 85x5, 95x5, 3x10 @ 100lbs which is the heaviest the gym has
Pullups - 25 bodyweight reps in as many sets as needed
Dips - 5x10 with 25lbs on a belt
10-20min bodyweight rehab exercises + stretching

10-20min warmup + soft tissue work
Deadlift 5/3/1
Squat - DE work at 50% of my 1RM, 5x3
Barbell Glute Bridge - 3x10 @ 245lbs
Barbell Hip Thrusts - 3x10 @ 245lbs
Hanging Leg Raises - 5x20 w/ 10lb dumbbell in my feet
45degree Back Raises - 3x10 w/ 20lb dumbbell behind my neck
10-20min bodyweight rehab exercises + stretching

I've considered doing Jack Shit or maybe limited to just 5/3/1 + one antagonist exercise for the next cycle to see if that fixes the issue but other opinions are welcome. I tore my hamstring in December so excuse the bench to dead/squat ratios.


My Opinion is Yes,that is alot of assistance but im by far an expert. Hell i dont have time to do everything u do.


yes that is too much. I mean, if you're progressing in the main lifts thats fine, but I highly doubt you will for long.

Give the Triumvirate a try, or simply just the periodization bible which is my favorite.


it's been a while since I read the manual , but I dont recall a template with 5 accessoey movements . which accessory template is that OP ?


I started out with 4 accessory exercises, but found that I was in there too long. I now do the main lift and 3 accessory movements. If your goal is strictly powerlifting, definitely just stick to one of the great templates in the manual.

How long are you in there with 5 accessory movements?


The weightlifting portion runs about an hour, not counting the warmup/rehab. I mix in antagonist or accessory movements so I'll do something like Incline DB Press - Pullup Set - 60" rest and repeat. This really helps cut down on the time. The only exercise I don't stack with is the main one because I find it detracts from my focus/energy for the target of the day.

I started using the Periodization Bible template for my upper body days. If you take out the lat pulldown from the MP day and pullups from the bench day you have the Periodization Bible. I added those because I was really weak in my vertical pulling.

The lower body days are my own concoction that was based more on trying to work out my hamstring tear than any of the templates. These have actually been really successful. I went from barely being able to walk/pick things up from the floor in January to pretty much where I was pre-tear in about 5 months.

The main strategy I applied to all my choices was what the book says when picking supplementary exercises. Make sure you have a good reason for choosing them and they strengthen your weaknesses. It was only recently that I started feeling drained and hence asking if it was too much and where I could use a spot reduction.


If you have the time, you are getting stronger, and you dont feel like shit all the time, then this is fine. How many calories do you eat a day? because if it isnt a shit load then you might burn out pretty quick with all this stuff.


Like he said. For me I couldn't do it all due to time constraints, working out first thing in the morning. But if it is all working for you, you are getting bigger and stronger (assuming that's your goal), then why mess with it?

I am doing a similar thing in that I underestimated my 1RM by quite a bit, and as a result I am hitting between 15-25 reps right now on my main lift. Some have suggested recalculating my max. This is probably good advice. But the fact is, I am growing and doing more reps, therefore reaching my goals... so why change?


I'm not a 5/3/1 expert but one thing that's repeated a number of times in the book is focusing on training efficiency. I might suggest taking your assistance work down to two or three lifts like Jim suggests and really take the time to justify their place in your program.


OP stated that despite quality workouts he feels worn down outside of the gym; people advising him to keep at it based on gym performance seem to have missed this crucial point, i.e., OP wants his workouts to complement his daily life, not diminish it.

OP: We know your workouts, but nothing about your nutrition and rest. Lax habits in these categories might play a significant role in the worn out feeling you describe, which frankly sounds like central nervous system fatigue. Make sure you're consuming enough quality macro and micro nutrients and sleeping enough to recover. If not, your lift numbers might be increasing now, but you risk stalling and CNS burnout in the near term.

Too, you've tinkered with 5/3/1, adding volume to its most volume intensive template, something Wendler pointedly addresses and advises against. Assuming your food and sleep aren't shit, you're now experiencing precisely the negative outcomes you were told to expect if you were to do what you have done. There's a direct equation here.

My advice: eat and sleep in the proper amounts (if you're not), drop the program you're doing and give 5/3/1 a try.

EDIT: Are you doing proper deload weeks? Deloading is an important part of this or any program, and a contributing factor to long term improvement. A lot of people blow it off; if you are, that might be contributing to the problem.

Also, your squats are way out of line with the numbers on the other lifts. Any reason?


Sleep is a quality 7-8 hours every night so I have that under control. I eat 3 main meals with 3 other snack meals throughout the day. A snack is usually on the order of a pint of yogurt/cottage cheese with some fruit, nuts + dried fruit or pbj + sliced vegetables. The main meals are all from Gourmet Nutrition by John Berardi and should be good there too. I have started this last week carrying a Nalgene of protein shake or milk with me at work and just sipping throughout the day to see if that helped. Ends up being ~45-60oz of the beverage of the day.

For my deload week I drop all the accessory except one movement:
MP - Chins
Squat - Dead(DE)
Bench - DB Row
Dead - Squat(DE)
The weights are light so not much strain here.

I'm not sure if you are saying my squats are high or low for the other weights but a brief history is I had a 250-300ish bench for about 5 years while I just did the "do what I feel like" routine which never included any of the other 3 lifts. About 2 years ago I started to get serious and worked with a trainer but I still didn't do any deadlifting. It was mainly crossfit style complexes with some squatting and overhead pressing. Almost a year ago I started doing some deadlifting and then in December I tore my left hamstring almost completely through at the hip joint which reset both my squats and deadlifts. And now here I am.

I appreciate the input, I guess the consensus is to follow the periodization bible/triumvirate exactly for the next cycle and see if the problem goes away.


Drop all accesory work in the deload week-extra deadlifting is an especially big no-no


The one common mistake guys make a lot, is that in the beginning of a cycle they always feel good, and want to do a lot of "stuff". What happens is, as you get stronger it becomes harder to recover, yet guys don't manage the workload properly. They keep trying to progress on every exercise they were doing from the start. This is why you have to resist temptation in the early stages of a program and stick with a select number of movements.

I have a golden rule of 3 working exercises per session. Abs and calves don't count. So for back and biceps it's a row, a chin or pulldown, and a curl. That's it. On bench day it's bench and incline and maybe some cable movement. On the other day it's squats, deads, and hacks or leg press. that's it. In the early phases I myself feel great and want to do more, but when I gave in to that and I got higher up on the strength curve the workouts started to become a chore. I learned that it's better to leave a hell of a lot in the tank early on because when you start squatting and pulling over 600 every week and benching over 400 you don't always feel like doing much after that.

Be smart with your assistance work. Cover it, don't smother it.


The Boring But Big has worked the best for me....progressing in the main lifts is the goal....base your accessory work on that.

Oh and maybe up the protein a bit.


The most assistance lifts I do are 3, and that's for everyday of the program. 3 assistance lifts that will help with my bench, squat, deadlift and overhead press is all you need. Me, personally, I don't care about lookin' pretty as much as crankin' out a new PR or puttin' up massive weight while the other kids in my school are stuck doin' the same shit for 6 months. So, in a nutshell, just stick to 3 assistance lifts or less. The number of sets is completely up to you, but 3-5 sets of 6-12 reps is what will give you the results that you want.


I would echo what many are saying here. I would suggest the triumverate assistance work template, since it will force you to choose the assistance exercises that really carry over to the main lifts. I'm with RealPC on three working exercises plus abs or calves if desired.

I've gone through stages where I thought I needed to do a million different assistance exercises to cover every weakness or angle. It never really yielded great results for me. I would have been better off with fewer exercises and focusing on the main lifts more.


Yes you are doing too much.

Here's a quote from the book...

"The biggest problem Iâ??ve seen with this is people doing way too much. They do too many sets, or too many exercises. These lifts should compliment the training, not detract from it. People choose exercises for every body part, train them excessively, then wonder why theyâ??re overtrained and not making any progress. When youâ??re choosing your assistance exercises, do yourself a favor and justify why youâ??re doing them. Donâ??t bullshit yourself. You must have a very strong reason for doing an exercise. If you donâ??t, scrap it and move on. Sometimes, instead of what you do in the weight room, itâ??s what you donâ??t do that will lead to success."

"Iâ??m not in the weight room to jerk off to a bunch of different exercises and go nowhere."


Im not sure what you look like but if you insist on that high of a workload i would increase your calories. I am not that big by any means and my workouts arent as extensive as yours but i eat about 7-8 times a day and every meal has at least 25g of protein if not more. I also refer to them as meals and not snacks because they arent a snack they are what normal people would eat for a meal. I would try deloading for a week and increasing the calories significantly that week then after your body has had a chance to recoup and replenish, resume on week1. Good luck !

Breakfast 1
Post Workout Shake
Mid morning meal
Afternoon Meal
Protein Shake w/Milk b4 Bed (closest thing to a snack)


looks like you are doing a 4 day a week template so you are deadlifting and squating 2 days a week. I would think from what I have read that will kill your cns. I think you may be better served going to a 3 day a week program and dropping the extra deadlift and squat workout for a few cycles and seeing how your progress sometimes less is more.


i would drop the 2 dynamic effort days. you don't really need dynamic effort at this stage of your lifting.

i would also add a day of rest between one of your two back to back workout days.

i.e. mon, tues, off, thurs, off, sat, off

leave everything else the same