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Underground Strength Coach Takes on 5/3/1 German Volume Training


What's going on brothas and sistas, here's a little background on me. Been lifting a little over 2 years and have ran 5/3/1 for the majority of that time. I train out of my garage but since August I've been able to train at Zach Even-Esh's Underground Strength Gym in NJ. I also happen to be one of the coaches there, so that's always my favorite part of the day, training athletes.

Did my first PL meet Dec. 6 and my numbers look something like this:
Squat: 365
Bench: 225 (Piss poor, I know)
Deadlift: 500
And for 5/3/1's sake my Overhead Press: 160
My BW currently fluctuates between 192-197. I started this workout today at 197 on the dot.

Basically my idea here is to keep the 5/3/1 strength portion and go German Volume Training on the assistance. So the focus is hypertrophy the the hope of maintaining or maybe even gaining a little strength. I guess we'll see what happens.

1) Bench
185x5,x5 (Following the rule of 10 here. Get 10 total reps with the top weight of the day in however many sets that takes)
Next I threw on Mark Bell's slingshot

All benching was supersetted with 1-Arm DB rows between 6-10 reps (mostly 10)Worked up to 95's for a couple of sets

2)Incline DB Bench
50's for 10 sets of 10 with 1 minute rest. Crazy pump from this.

3) Chest-Supported KB Rows
44's for 10 sets of 10

4a) Band DB Chest Fly's
25's with a purple band around my upper back x12,x12,x12,x12,x12
4b) Explosive KB shrugs
70's x12,x12,x12,x12,x12

5a) Zottman Curls
25's x12,x12,x12,x12
5b) 1-Arm DB French Press
25's x12,x12,x12,x12

Lotta volume. Skwaats tomorrow.


1/6/15 Skwaaat

I deloaded going into this week because the week prior I tweaked my lower back, so this is my first time squatting in about 9-10 days. I hammered DeFranco’s Limber 11 1-2 times a day during the deload so squatting felt pretty good today.

  1. Squats (all beltless. The only thing I wear is wrist wraps)
    265x5,x5 (Still following that rule of 10)

  2. High Bar Olympic Squats
    155 x10 sets of 10 1 minute rest in between. This was absolutely brutal even though it was 210 pounds less than my max. Holy shit.

3a) Glute Ham Raises
10 sets of 5; Just started doing these so ramping up the volume slowly
3b) Ab Wheel
10 sets of 10 reps

4a) KB Bulgarian Split Squats (reps for each leg)
26’s x6,x6,x6,x6,x6
4b) Back Extension (Holding D-Ball to chest)
20 x12,x12,x12,x12,x12

Definitely had me walking funny afterwards. Nothing to write home about weight wise but the volume is killer. Went home and immediately ate a half cup of white rice and a pound of ground beef.


1/8/15 Overhead Press

Pressing is a huge weakness of mine so these numbers will not be impressive at all haha.

1a) Overhead Press
130x4,x3,x2,x1 – I realize I should have hit 5, but I didn’t want to grind any out. During the set I didn’t realize it was 5’s week.

1b) Neutral Grip Chin-Ups
9 sets of 6 reps --> 54 total reps

  1. DB Shoulder Presses
    35’s for 10 sets of 10

  2. T-Bar Prison Rows
    3 plates for 10 sets of 10

4a) DB front raises (alternating, so 20 total reps each set)
20’s x10, x10, x10, x10, x10
4b) Band Face Pulls
x15, x15, x15, x15, x15

5a) Kettlebell Side Raises
15’s x10, x10, x10, x10, x10
5b) Band Pull Aparts
Green EliteFTS band x20, x20, x20, x20, x20

6a) Swiss Bar Hammer Curls
45 x15, x15, x15, x15, x15
6b) Barbell JM Press
65 x12, x12, x12, x12, x12

Again, a ton of volume, but that’s the point of these next 6 weeks.


1/9/15 Deadlifts

  1. Deadlifts

  2. Deadlifts
    10 sets of 10 220. This was absolutely brutal. One of the toughest things I’ve done lifting wise, ever. Especially adhering to the minute rest periods. I’ll admit the last 3 sets I took between 70-90 seconds.

3a) Glute Ham Raises
BW x5x5x5x5x5
3b) Glute Ham Raise Crunches
25 Pound plate x10x10x10x10x10
BW x10x10x10x10x10

4a) Bulgarian Split Squats (KB) (Ea leg)
26s x6x6x6x6x6
4b) KB Swing
62 x10x10x10x10x10

Definitely going to be feeling this. I’ve never deadlifted for that high of a volume, holy shit.


howdy dude i’m definitely in to follow your log and severely green with envy over the fact you train with Zach Evan-Esh!


Yeah man, Zach’s been a great friend and mentor to me. It took me like a month to not be star-struck anymore with him as my boss haha.

1/12/15 Bench

  1. Bench/ all sets supersetted with 3-6 neutral grip pull ups
    Threw on the slingshot

  2. DB Incline Bench
    50’s for 11 sets of 10, decided to add another set as opposed to adding weight. Again, crazy pump with the short rest periods.

  3. 1-Arm DB Rows (reps for each arm)
    90’s for 10 sets of 10. As I write this my lats/upper back are still stupid pumped 3 hours later.

4a) Banded Flat Chest Flys
25’s with a green elitefts band x12,x12,x12,x12,x12
4b) 10-10-10 Shrugs
45 pounds plates for 5 rounds

This workout was after a full day of substitute teaching 4th grade (rather draining) and than coaching two hours at the Underground, so I was by no means fresh, but the work got done and at the end of the day thats all that matters.

Skwaats tomorrow.


1/13/15 Squats

  1. Squats

  2. High Bar Olympic Squats
    160 for 10 sets of 10. I chose to add 5 more pounds instead of another set. Again, with the minute rest periods, this sucked.

3a)Glute Ham Raises
10 sets of 6 (added another rep to each set from last week)
3b) Ab Wheel
10 sets of 11 (same deal, added another rep)

4a) BSS (KBs)
26’s x7,x7,x7,x7,x7 (added another rep from last week)
4b) Back Extensions
20LB D-Ball x12,x12,x12,x12,x12



My press day is usually Thursday, but my mother’s retirement party is tomorrow so I skipped the rest day and just hit this workout.

1)Press/ each set ss with 3 neutral grip pull ups

  1. DB Shoulder Press
    35’s for 11 sets of 10. Decided to add another set as opposed to upping the weight.

  2. Chest Supported KB Rows
    44’s for 11 sets of 10

4a) KB alternating front raises
15’s for 5 sets of 20
4b) Band Face Pulls
Purple Band for 5 sets of 15

5a) DB Lateral Raises
20’s for 5 sets of 10
5b) Band Pull Aparts
Green EFTs band for 5 sets of 20


1/16/15 Deadlifts

  1. Deathlifts

  2. More Deathlifts
    225 for 10 sets of 10. Talk about suck. Even though it was only 5 pounds more than last week, the level of suck was still exponential. Destroys your back, forearms, neck, dignity, everything.

3a) GHR
10 sets of 6
3b) Dip Bar Leg Raises for Abs
10 sets of 10

4a) Bulgarian Split Squats (KBs)
26’s x7,x7,x7,x7,x7
4b) KB Swings
62 x10,x10,x10,x10,x10

Fried. Also, 2 pounds heavier then when I start two weeks ago but noticeably leaner. Let’s see if I can stay strong another 4 weeks.


1/19/15 Bench

Today was just one of those days. Awful lifting day.

  1. Bench/supersetted with 3 pullups
    205x2,x2,x2,x1,x1,x1,x1 (Expected to hit this for like x5,x3,x2; obviously didnt go as planned.
    Threw on the Slingshot

  2. DB Incline Bench
    50’s x10,x10,x10,x10,x10,x10
    x10, x10,x10,x9,x9,x8,x4 (Want to hit 12 sets of 10 but did what was necessary to get the 120 reps)

  3. 1-Arm DB Row
    105’s x10,x10,x10,x10,x10
    85’s x12,x12,x12,x12,x12

4a) Banded Chest Flys (Green Elite band)
25’s x12,x12,x12,x12,x12
4b) 10-10-10 KB Shrugs
53’s, 44’s, 44’s, 44’s, 44’s

Hoping to come back strong tomorrow on skwaats


1/20/15 Squats

Felt a heck of a lot better today. Also saw American Sniper last night, so I might have still been pumped up from that.

  1. Squats
    295x5,x2,x2,x1 (295x5 was a beltless PR, especially at 194LBs this morning; probably had one or two left in the tank)

  2. High Bar Squats
    165 for 10 sets of 10. Sucked a little less this week, but definitely still sucked.

3a) GHR
10 sets of 7. These are getting easier and easier.
3b) Ab Wheel
10 sets of 12. These still suck lol

4a) Bulgarian Split Squats KBs
26’s x8,x8,x8,x8,x8
4b) Back Raises with a glute emphasis
30LB D Ball x12,x10,x10,x10,x10

Overall a tough one, but all this volume is getting a bit more bearable.


1/22/15 Press

This was done after a full day subbing and 4 hours coaching athletes in the gym, so needless to say I might have been a little gassed. Most of the time however, watching the guys train really pumps me up so fatigue wasn’t a huge issue.

Press/ss with 3 rope pull ups
145 x5,x3,x2 (Decided to go all push presses, I know I fucked the program up but I’m already 3 weeks in and I’m sticking out the 6 weeks total lol)

2a) DB Shoulder Press
35’s for 12 sets of 10
2b) Chest Supported KB Row
44’s for 12 sets of 10
**I would do a set of presses, then immediately hit rows, then rest a minute. I supersetted this because it was getting late and I’m subbing again tomorrow so I have to be up early.

3a) Alternating DB Front Raises
20’s x10,x10,x10,x10,x10
3b) Band Face Pulls
Purple band x15,x15,x15,x15,x15

4a) Alternating DB Side Laterals
15’s x10,x10,x10,x10,x10
4b) Band Pull Aparts
Green x20,x20,x20,x20,x20


1/24/15 Deadlift

  1. Deadlifts
    415x3,x2,x2,x2,x1 (This was a pretty big beltless PR for me. Fastest I’ve moved anything over 400 ever beltless)

  2. Deathlifts
    230 for 10 sets of 10. THis isn’t getting any easier lol, as you could imagine. My grip strength, however, is improving tremendously.

3a) GHR
10 sets of 7
3b) Leg Raises on Dip Bar
10 sets of 10

4a) BSS (KBs)
26 x8,x8,x8,x8,x8
4b KB Swings
62 x10,x10,x10,x10,x10

This marks me as officially halfway done with this insanity. Feeling good. Optimistic about the next 3 weeks.


1/26/15 Bench

  1. Bench/ supersetted with 3 neutral grip pull ups
    190x3,x3,x2,x2 (Was suppossed to get 5 this week, so next cycle I’m definitely dropping my training max)
    Slingshot: 200x3
    Dropped it to 145 and did 3x3 for speed

  2. Incline DB Press
    55 x10,x10,x10,x10,x10
    x 10, x10, x10,x8, x8, x4

  3. DB Rows
    100 x10 sets of 10

4a) DB Chest Flys
25 x12,x12,x12,x12,x12
4b) DB High Pulls
25’s x12,x12,x12,x12,x12

5a) Hammer Curls
25’s x20,x20,x20,x20,x20
5b) Tricep Pushdowns
35 x10,x10,x10,x10,x10
5c) 10-10-10 Shrugs
45 x10,x10,x10,x10,x10


1/27/15 Squats

  1. Squats

  2. High Bar Squats
    170 for 10 sets of 10. This literally had my legs buckling and shaking

I didn’t have access to a Glute Ham Raise because of the snow so I had to stick to barbell movements

3a) Barbell RDLs
Conventional 135 x10,x10,x10,x10,x10
Sumo 135 x10,x10,x10,x10,x10
3b) Ab circle on Rings
10 sets of 10

Had to shovel snow so I cut the workout there.



This was finishing up with my accessories this day

Glute Ham Raises
10 sets of 8

Bulgarian Split Squats (Kettlebells)
35’s x6,x6,x6,x6,x6

Lat Pulldowns
53 x15,x15,x15,x15,x15

2a) Curls of all sorts
10 sets of 10
2b) Tricep Pressdown
44 for 10 sets of 10


1/29/15 Overhead Press

  1. Press/ each set supersetted with 3 rope pullups

  2. DB Shoulder Press
    40’s x10,x10,x10,x10,x10,x8,x8,x8,x7,x7,x6,x6 (The goal’s going to be to get to 10 sets of 10. I will get the 100 total reps though.)

  3. Chest Supported KB Rows
    53’s for 10 sets of 10

4a) DB Front Raises
20’s for 10 sets of 10
4b) Side Raises
15’s for 10 sets of 10
4c) Face Pulls
35 for 10 sets of 10


1/31/15 Deadlifts

  1. Deadlifts with 40 pounds of chains. Never used chains before and since my lockout is trash I figured why not

  2. Deadlifts
    235 for 10 sets of 10. Still sucks.

3a) GHR
10 sets of 8
3b) Russian Hockey Deadlifts (Side Bend Variation)
70LB KB for 10 sets of 12 (6 each side)

Had to cut the session due to work.


2/1/15 Accessory stuff

1a) Bulgarian Split Squats
35 x6,x6,x6,x6,x6 (Each leg)
1b) KB Swing
70 x10,x10,x10,x10,x10

3 sets of curls and triceps. Some jump rope and then I got the heck outta there.


2/2/15 Bench

  1. Bench/ supersetted with 3 pullups each set
    200x2,x1,x1,x1,x1,x1,x1,x1,x1 (definitely looking forward to a deload lol)

  2. Incline DB Bench
    55 x10,x10,x10,x10,x10

  3. DB Rows
    100 for 8 sets of 11
    130 x8,x5 (I’ll be honest I went heavier here to put up a cool instagram video)

4a) DB Flys
30 x12,x12,x12,x12,x12,x12
4b) Sledghammer Swings for moblity (Like Chris Duffins shoulder rock)
10 lb sledgehammer x10 each way, 5 rounds

5a) Biceps
10 sets, all varied
5b) Triceps
10 sets, all varied
5c) Band Pull-Aparts
Green EliteFTS Band for 10 sets of 15

Cardio afterwards was shoveling snow