T Nation

Training with 5/3/1 In-Season


Cheers folks, hope you're all doing well and feeling good!

So I decided to use the original 5/3/1 template as my strength routine for this amateur football season. Lifting in our league is totally up to the athletes, it's real amateur stuff, not like what you may be accustomed to in the US.

I decided from reading the manual and from various Q&A's that it would be best for me to lift 2 times per week, using the second template which is one week squat and bench, one week deadlift and MP. This is simply because of all the volume I have from conditioning work I just figured it would be best not to have 2 heavy lower body days. Assistance would be 2-3 exercises per body part, 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps.

My question and what I seek to hear from folks who have done this is regarding the last set. I know that in these cases Wendler recommends doing the prescribed press and not to push it past that. I know I should do this according to feeling, but I was just thinking, seeing as how at the first cycle the weights are low as it is, to push them all to 5 reps, including the 5/3/1 week.

And since I train every lift once in two weeks, like Jim says, I don't think deloading would be neccesary. I remember reading a template of his of deloading without deloading which calls for a last set of 85% x 3 reps. I thought of just doing that.

Anyone here had a similiar experience to my own and tried something like this? I would love to hear your comments. This feels pretty solid to me, but I am in no way an expert on the subject.

Thanks in advance and all the best!


Explain what you mean by this. The last set in your main lift is "as many as possible", with the prescribed number being a MINIMUM (meaning if you can't hit that number, lower your working max).

For example, first week is:

65% x 5
75% x 5
85% x 5+ (as many reps as possible, should get no less than 5).

Last set is a burnout set.


Follow program. Listen to your body. Make a decision.

Stop over thinking.


I can hit all the prescribed reps with all the weights as I have calculated them according to manual. But I am starting an american football season at the end of the month (amateur, but still), plus I have a very high volume of conditioning and speed training over the week. What I was talking about is that going all out on my last sets would be counterproductive to what I am currently doing.

Jim's writings seem to support this. I guess if I have a week where the load is a little lighter with the team I could push it but that is the general attitude. I was just thinking of having 5 reps as my max reps always, as in also on the 3+ and 1+ weeks. I won't be going on an all-out-burn but I'd still always be pushing it to 5 reps no matter what.


I haven't played football, but you aren't gonna gain strength if you don't strain a bit. Maybe stop 2ish reps short of failure instead of 1.

And eat A LOT to promote recovery.


That sounds reasonable. Worst case if I feel it's causing me to burn-out I'll just go for the 5-rep thing. Thanks mate!


Also my thinking was coming from the 5/3/1 for football manual in which they write not to train with rep maxes in-season. Same goes for pre-meet training on 5/3/1 for powerlifters. I'll just roll with it and see how it goes...


I didn't realize there was one specifically for football.

No need to know the "perfect" way to do it before you start. Start out doing it the way it's written, if you find you can't recover then back off a bit.


Right on. I appreciate the candid advice and opinion, mate.


Athletes cycle their workouts. Being 4 weeks out, I would train you more for power after coming off a 12 weeks strength program. Also the reason JW says that about in season training. You want to keep something in the tank for the game, not the gym.

Good luck.


Cheers mate, thank you.