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WS4SB vs. 5/3/1 vs. JM vs. U/L

Hello all!

Today some of my classmates got into an interesting discussion about training methods. We started talking about some of the more popular methods out there such as Joe Defranco’s Westside for Skinny Bastards, Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1, Juggernaut Strenght Training’s method, and some common upper lower splits such as Layne Norton’s PHAT, PHUL, and others in the context of bulking, cutting and athleticism for each program. What are you guys opinions in each of those categories for these programs? What are the benefits and drawbacks for each program in those three areas? I just thought this would be an interesting discussion for the minds on here!

I used to worry about this kind of stuff 10 years ago, now I just train. If you are pushing yourself and training “hard” the results will come no matter what program you are on.

I think you find as you go through all these types of programs that the differences are VERY minimal. Anyone pushing themselves on any of those programs will likely get bigger, stronger, and more athletic.

And just to illustrate how things arent so black and white, something like 5/3/1 can be made into 500 different programs if you wanted to. Full body, upper lower, body part split, high frequency… 5/3/1 is literally the loading scheme for a single lift per day on the program, then the assistance and accessory stuff is added on which can literally be infinite in nature.


Just to muddy thing up even more with 5/3/1, there’s something around a zillion different ways that even the main work is set up like first set last set, or 5/3/1 for powerlifting, or whatever else there is out there.

Personally, I like something with variety with the movements because it allows me to train with a lot of effort and intensity without getting overuse injuries.

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The only program with which I’m familiar is 5/3/1 and I just finally decided to try it in December. I’ve been lifting seriously for about 15 years now. I’ve done CT’s Complete Power Look a couple times and a couple other things but for the most part I do my own thing. My own thing consists of trying those things and keeping the aspects I like and adding that to my toolbox.

The science really hasn’t changed much. Lift heavy with long rest periods for strength. Hypertrophy training seems to be all about volume and time under tension these days.

The reason these programs exist is that we like to copy successful people. The reality is that most of us are doing very similar things; we just don’t know it and we’re not famous enough to sell our stuff.

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Instead of the differences, look at the similarities. Those are the principles of successful training.


That’s a quote for the books right there!

I think the most important thing about choosing a program is something that works for you, you may need to try several to see what fits your style of training the best. For some simply the number of days per week is the deciding factor or how long you have at the gym. Right now I’ve pretty much decided the only programs I’ll do for the rest of my training career is 5/3/1 (doing currently) or conjugate which I still have yet to try. If I was younger I would try something like Sheiko which just doesn’t sound fun the older I get and I don’t have time for longer workouts.

It seems like more experienced lifters pretty much stick to the same program for years on end. Or if they do change 1 year of training looks like the previous, so they might do a 3 month block of something different every year but its always planned, not “I’m not making any progress so I’m going to try this random program for 3 months and see if it works”.

I’m beginning to feel this way as well. It’s just too simple to ignore. I think I’ll keep the 5/3/1 reps in place for my 5 main lifts (added power cleans) and play with the assistance work. I’m even considering doing a phase of Metcon training but I’ll still start the session with 5/3/1 strength work.

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What about looking specifically at WS4SB vs. 5/3/1 NOV for leaning out while maintaining or gaining strength?

Don’t. Just don’t.

This is not one is better and the other shit.

You do what you enjoy and what us complementary to your goals.


I have personally done WS4SB, 5/3/1, and the Juggernaut Method. I saw good results from both the Juggernaut and 5/3/1. During Juggernaut my work capacity and rep maxes with lighter weights went up. I also saw good things in regards to hypertrophy.

5/3/1 helped me more with my overall strength and I got my work capacity mainly from increasing the volume on my assistance work.

Its been so long I don’t remember my results from WS4SB but I did feel more explosive and athletic during the workouts.

My best results came when I did the 10s and 8s phases of Juggernaut and then ran 2-3 months of 5/3/1. My work capacity was at a good level, my tendons and ligaments were prepared for 5/3/1, I got the benefits of the size gains that come early in the program, and when it came time to test I had enough work with heavy weight to feel very comfortable under the weight.

Just my 2 cents from my experience.

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What’s the progression of the WS4SB? What I mean, is that on any of the descriptions I’ve read for the workout it doesn’t say what you should try and shoot for for increases. If you work up to a 3-5 rep max at 225 on bench, do you do that for a week then shoot for 235? What’s the rate that your weight is supposed to increase?

Additionally, how long can you do one of these programs before switching things up?

If you reach the max rep and set, move on.

I think for that program, you shoot for a 5 rep maximum. I wouldn’t get bent out of shape if you do 6 or 4 instead.

You pick a few big movements that you know work for you. You then rotate through these movements.

Let’s say you have close grip bench, medium grip incline bench, standing press, and medium grip bench.

You get 300lb on your closegrip for a record. Next time you do that exercise, shoot for a little more. Sometimes that won’t be possible. If you know it’s not going to happen, just go for weight that will really make you strain and be a maximum effort for that day.

If the overall trend is that your movements keep going up then great! Keep at it!

If not, then try some changes. Start with subtle changes and analyze your lifts to see where and why form is breaking down.

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The ME work isn’t what progresses on WS4SB; everything ELSE is building your strength. The purpose of ME work is to learn how to strain. You’re trying to generate maximal strain for that movement and learn how to recruit all your available strength at once. It’s a skill that requires practice.

Stick with an ME movement for 1-3 weeks and then rotate it to something else. If you can beat a previous PR, go for it. If not, go for maximal strain.

You could run a program like WS4SB for the rest of your life.