T Nation

Would Like Advice On My First 5/3/1 Plan

Hello, I’m transitioning from bodybuilding to powerlifting as I love the sport. This seems like an ideal programme to me. I’m just not too sure on the accessories.

Volume is a curiosity on this programme for me. After reading a fair bit, it seems swapping BBB for accessories seems like a smart idea. Please tell me if this is too much volume or if any of this is useless.

Squat day;
-Weighted Lunges
-Leg Press

Bench day;
-Incline Bench Press
-Dummbell bench Press
-Tricep Pushdowns

Deadlift day;
-Stiff Leg Deadlift
-Deficit Deadlift
-Dumbbell Rows
-Ab work

OHP day;
-Seated shoulder Press
-Chin Ups
-Lateral Raise

I thought 4 accessories (maybe 25 reps each one?) instead of BBB seems reasonable, right? I probably misread something and completely wrong. I would be very grateful for any advice as I feel serious about powerlifting.

Well from what I’ve seen you don’t understand 5/3/1. Once you read all the articles Jim wendler has written on this site you will be able to choose suitable accessories.

If you are just transitioning from bodybuilding to powerlifting, and especially to 5/3/1, I would think it wise to focus on the main lifts, and not so much on variations of them (like deficit deadlifts) or machine work for much the same areas (like leg press). I would think it best to go with one of the core, simple, programs, particularly doing it exactly as Wendler wrote it.

Here is what Wendler wrote on a different thread of this forum for someone and this seems to be his go-to recommendation, and it is a great place to start for transitioning to 5/3/1:

“5’s PRO” means just doing straight sets of 5 reps for all the work sets, no matter the week, not pushing for extra reps. “FSL” is first set last (i.e., using the first work set’s weight). The 3 categories are push (pushups, dips, db press, or tricep pressdowns, etc.), pull (chin-ups, facepulls, curls, etc.), and single leg or core (ab work, lower back work, lunges, etc.). In general, pick one exercise for each category to do 25-50 reps (number of sets for that will vary).

Or, since you seem to be familiar with BBB, you could just run that (probably adding chin-ups and ab work) for a few months. If you don’t like that, how about just do the Triumvirate from his early article? https://www.t-nation.com/workouts/531-how-to-build-pure-strength

By the way, in that article Wendler says:

Doing triumvirate exactly as written for 3-6 months with zero alteration for at least the first 2 of those is the best start for 90% of trainees


Hello all. Thanks for the replies.

I see 4 accessories was too much
I looked into Triumvirate and like it but changed a little bit for what I feel will be more beneficial for me? Should be better now, right?

Squat day;
-Weighted Lunges
-Leg Curl

Bench day;
-Dumbbell incline benchpress
-Tricep Pushdowns

Deadlift day;
-Stiff Leg Deadlift
-Hanging leg lift

OHP day;
-Seated Dumbbell Press
-Chin Ups
-Lat Raise

1 Like

Put the rows on bench or OHP day. Need to give upper body a break

Why do you think your version is better for you than the prescribed template? It looks like you’re trying to hybridize the 531 program with a bodybuilding program, rather than just going all in and putting everything you have into a 531 program. As an example, your “bench day” is all push, while nearly all 531 templates will have 50-100 reps of a pulling assistance and 50-100 reps of a lower/core exercise.

As revchad points out, you’re falling into the rookie mistake of trying to take an established program and customizing it.

Are you including many of the movements you are for bodybuilding purposes? Like, are you worried that without tricep pushdowns your triceps will shrink (despite use in bench, press, dips, etc.) or something? Or are some of the lifts included for rehab or prehab purposes?

Is there a reason to not try doing Triumvirate for a cycle (or two, or three), see how it goes and your results, then modify as needed (either by simply switching some movements or adding if needed)?

How about this?

Squat 5/3/1
-Lunges 50-100 reps
-Leg Curl 50-100 reps

Bench 5/3/1
-Dips 50-100 reps
-Rows 50-100 reps

Deadlift 5/3/1
-Stiff Leg Deadlift 50-100 reps
-Hanging leg lift 50-100 reps

OHP 5/3/1
-Seated Dumbbell Press 50-100 reps
-Chin Ups 50-100 reps

1 Like


1 Like

Hello, thanks for your reply.

This seems like a great set up for me. Thank you so much for your time and valuable feedback!

1 Like

Hello guys, I am into powerlifting and I am interested if the advice “don’t customize” is only for the core lifts is it ok, to do two assistance exercise heavy 3x5. Something like rack deadlift and hip thrusts on the deadlift day and front squat and box squat on squat day.

How long have you been doing the program?

If you think your proposed changes are better than what Jim Wendler wrote, go for it.

I think it is for the program as a whole. People often mess things up when they add in 500 dips 7 days/week or whatever.

I am not sure what exactly you are considering. Can you write out the details of the programming you are considering?

When I read the article in T- nation I thought that the thing you shouldn’t customize is the major core lifts their volume and percents form BMR. The reason I thought that is because author wrote down that there is a number of ways of doing the assistance work, and as I know diffrent lifter may have their diffrent weak points.I am not sure I get it right and that’s why I seek advice.My idea for routine is:
Deadlift day:

  1. Deadlift ( as it is prescribed)
  2. Hip thrus 3 x 5 or 4 reps
    3)Rack deadlift 3 x 5 or 4 reps

Bench press day

  1. Bench press ( as it is prescribed)
    2)Incline bench press 3 x 5 or 4 reps
    3)Narrow grip bench press 3 x 5 or 4 reps

Squat day
1)Sqaut ( as it is prescribed)
2)Front squat 3 x 5 or 4 reps
3)Box squat 3 x 5 or 4 reps

Standing Shoulder Press day
1)Standing Shoulder Press ( as it is prescribed)
2)Pull ups with weight 3 x 5 or 4 reps
3)Dumbbell rows 3 x 5 or 4 reps

That was a very helpful clarification. The rough answer is that in Wendler’s programs, at least in the new 5/3/1 Forever (pp. 15-6), he specifies that the supplemental work generally programmed with the main lift can be done with an alternative. Rack Pulls, Incline Press, standard bench with different grips, front squat, and box squat are all on the lists of options, so you are fine in that regard. Note that Wendler now differentiates supplemental from assistance lifts. See his recent books for details, but basically the supplemental lifts are still big barbell work, while the assistance work tends to be lighter and using bodyweight or dumbbells, particularly accounting for three categories (push, pull, and single leg or core).

Important note: if you are using an alternative lift, you need to calculate its own training max ™. So, if you are doing 5x5 at 70% for front squats, that should be 70% of the front squat TM, not 70% of your back squat TM.

Regarding the substance of your program, I think it would be better to stick to just one each day (noting that you might change which alternative you use after a few cycles, as by using front squats for 3 cycles, then box squats for 3 cycles). Best would be to pick an exact program you want to do and just change the supplemental work to the alternative lift.

It might look something like this:

Deadlift day:
Main: Deadlift 5/3/1
Supplemental: Rack deadlift 5x5
Assistance: Abs

Bench press day
Main: Bench press 5/3/1
Supplemental: Narrow grip bench press 5x5
Assistance: Dumbbell rows

Squat day
Main: Squat 5/3/1
Supplemental: Front squat 5x5
Assistance: abs

Press day
Main: Press 5/3/1
Supplemental: Incline bench press 5x5
Assistance: Pull ups


Thanks a lot for the advice.

1 Like

Your program seems a classic bodybuilding routine more than a wendler program. Drop the number of exercises, balance the muscle each day and concentrate on the main lift.

Hey, bumping old threads is my job! Jkjk

Time for an 8 month progress update @punkmilitia