T Nation

WS4SB After 5/3/1? "Work Up to a Max Set of 3-5 Reps"?

Hey guys! I just finished my fourth cycle of 5/3/1 Triumvirate that was recommended in this very forum and I loved it! So thankful for the recommendation. My deadlift went from 385 to 425 and my OHP went from 150 to 170, my BW of 175 stayed the same. After four cycles, I’m bored of it and I haven’t put on much muscle, if any. Thinking about switching to Westside for Skinny Bastards, would this be a good follow-up? Would you suggest something else instead?

My only concern in Westside is, for the max lift it just says “Work up to a max set of 3-5 reps.” So, what does this mean? Do 2x10 before my max set? 3x8? 1x20?! Other than this confusing bit it looks like a fun program. Thanks in advance for the responses!

Use whatever rep and set combination allows you to work up to a max set of 3-5 reps. The goal is to generate maximal strain on that set, so prep yourself to be able to do that.

WS4SB is a solid program. However, if you have experience with 5/3/1 and want to gain muscle, do 5/3/1 Building the Monolith or 5/3/1 BBB Beefcake. If you want a program where things are really spelled out and it’ll get you big, do Jon Andersen’s Deep Water program.


need to eat more and ws4sb more volume so will def need to eat more

Defranco usually advocates ramp up in weight over 5-8 ish sets
so for deads say
425xmax for the day
rest about 30-60 secs between most sets

1 Like

Have you actually read any of the 531 books?

I have not

Can someone find me a facepalm gif please?

I just echo what others have said: WS4SB is solid choice, but it won’t help you gain mass. Most likely you’ll need even more calories to grow with that program.

So - eat more. Start with adding one extra meal with high protein content and see what happens.

1 Like

Chill out weeb

It would not be Westside for skinny bastards, or 531. But if you wanted to do something along these lines, work up to a 3 to 5 rep max, then take that weight and use it as your daily max to calculate down-set percentages for the day, using 531 percentages.

Work up to 225x5, then
65% (of 225) x5, 75%x5, 85%x5+
Assistance work

1 Like

Yeah, you’re right. This Friday is my last day of 5/3/1 so I still have some time to decide on what to do. I didn’t realize how much volume and cardio was structured in for WS4SB. Currently I’m taking a look at Viking Bare Bones (full body) and Guaranteed Muscle Mass by Paul Carter. I’d like to hop back on the Fierce 5 novice routine but think it might be below my level. Do any of these sound good / do you have a program recommendation?

Yeah fine to go with this/anything by Paul Carter

Just remember - choosing Carters program, or 5/3/1, or WS4SB wont make the difference. Pick one and commit to it. And eat.

I’m sure you’re very informed but I have hard time believing this because the programs are so different, doing so much AMRAP is a big time fundamental difference. I feel like one of them has to be better than the other in some aspects and worse in others

All 3 programs will make you big and strong. Nothing really significant beyond that.

Sure, they are different and will cause different short term gains in different people on different circumstances. That is why nobody can say which one works best for you now. Only things is sure that they all work if you dedicate to eating,training and sleeping.

Training is just basic principles, and cumulative work that one needs to do years. Thats why days/sets/reps/excersise selection (to a point) or even progression model wont matter so much people think it will. So when you pick a program, think:

  • is the program right for my goals
  • is the program done by somebody who knows something/is respected (more experienced may program for themselves)
  • does the program give me a “training boner”/do I like the program
  • can I commit to the program (this is often overlooked)
  • can I recover from the program/am I ready to the work (ibid.)

Remember that you can always try new program/things, you might learn something. But don’t be an ADD with them.


I guess the big question on my mind is, with no dead-lift in GMM will running this program cause my dead-lift max to drop?

Your proficiency will drop, which will result in an initial decline, but assuming you get all the muscles involved stronger, it should increase once you practice it again.

Not sure if anyone else has said this already, but I believe that switching programs after only 4 cycles of 5/3/1 is definitely too early. I’m in my fourth cycle of the program myself and I feel like I’ve really just gotten started.

Besides, you said you want to build muscle yet your bw has stayed the same over 4 months. That is definitely a diet issue, so look into eating more if muscle mass is the goal.


Not as big a difference as you seem to think. All 3 programs will work if you commit to them. That being said, if 5/3/1 doesn’t excite you to train, one of the others will serve you just as well. Just don’t get training ADD, like someone else said, and just keep jumping from program to program. Any (non-stupid) program that you commit to and work hard at will get you stronger.

Eating more will get you bigger. I’ve done 5/3/1 while gaining 20 lb over 6 months. I’ve also done 5/3/1 while losing 18 lb over the last 3 months. The program won’t get you bigger, it’ll just help determine where the weight goes. Only what you put in you will get you bigger.


Just use this and run with it OP. You can get strong on literally any program with effort. I remember in the OG 5/3/1 book, Jim spoke about one of his friends who would squat, bench or ohp, and deadlift 3 days a week up to 405-495 for 5. He claimed he was one of the biggest dudes he knew and all his sets were fast and strong. Would that work for you? Maybe, but it worked for him because he chose to make it work for him. Once you decide what you’ll get out of something, you’ll make it work.