5-3-1 template

Those who have experience with this template can post here. Curious as to what others have to say about it.

Good for gpp probably wouldn’t use for spp esp for the lower body. Don’t like the failure principle.

Sample Block:
Block 1:
wk1- 70xmax reps
wk2- 75xmax reps
wk3- 80xmax reps

I’ve never been a fan of 1 rep lifting. Its tough on you, really tough and may compete for a large portion of CNS resources when combined with speed training. Don’t get me wrong, its fantastic for training the neural component of strength, but it can be quite harsh when combined with max speed work.

The last time I did singles and speed work my CNS was completely trashed. For now, I’m sticking with +4 reps when doing Max V.

The 5-3-1 template is a fantastic program for strength oriented gains. But from my experience it is difficult to adapt to other forms of work when pushing this type of intensity in the weight room. So I guess it depends on what the goal is for the training.

The 5/3/1 Program

This is a very easy program to work with. The following is a general outline of the training I suggest. I’ll go into detail on each point in the chapters to follow.

• You will train 3-4 days per week (this will be up to you).

• One day will be devoted to the standing military press, one day to the parallel squat, one day to the deadlift and one day to the bench press.

• Each training cycle lasts 4 weeks.

• The first week you will do 3 sets of 5 reps (3x5).

• The second week you will do 3 sets of 3 reps (3x3).

• The third week you will do 1 set of 5 reps, 1 set of 3 reps and 1 set of 1 rep (5/3/1).

• The fourth week you will do 3 sets of 5 reps (3x5). This is an easy deload week.

• After the fourth week, you begin again with 3 sets of 5 reps.

• Each week and each set has a percentage to follow, so you won’t be guessing what to do anymore.

As you can see, there’s nothing fancy to this program. I believe in big compound lifts, keeping the set and rep schemes simple, and deloading every fourth week. These concepts are nothing new, and I admit that. The beauty of this program, however, is how you begin. If you begin correctly, you’ll end correctly.

Beginning the Program

First, know your maxes for the four lifts (squat, bench, deadlift and standing military press). These are not maxes you think you can do, maxes you’ve done, or maxes you think you might be able to do. These are maxes you can do RIGHT NOW. This is not the time to be a braggart lifter. If you overestimate your maxes, you’ll be in for a rude awakening. If you don’t know your maxes for any of the lifts, you can take a few days and see where you’re at, or you can take a rep max. This is a good way to get an idea of your strength without loading the bar for a maximal attempt. Here’s how to do it:

• Estimate your 1RM for the lift. If you can’t even do this, you probably shouldn’t be doing this program.

• Take 80% or 85% of your supposed max and perform as many reps as possible.

• Plug the reps and the weight into this formula to get your estimated 1RM:

Weight x Reps x .0333 + Weight = Estimated 1RM

Once you have your maxes for each lift (bench, squat, deadlift and standing military press), I want you to take 90% of this number and use this as your “max” for the first 4 weeks of the training cycle. The easiest way to do this is to take your max and multiply it by .9 (that’s “point” 9). For example, let’s say you have a 400 deadlift, 385 squat, 190 military press, and a 295 bench press.

How to Progress

Because I believe in starting too light and progressing slowly, this program has a very easy system for progressing from month to month. Remember, the first four weeks will start with a “max” that’s 10% less than your actual max. I’ve even had lifters use 15% less than their actual max and get great results. Also, you should make sure this number is based on a training max, not a competition max.

Stalling in 5/3/1

You’ll eventually come to a point where you can’t make any more progress on a lift. You won’t be able to hit the sets and reps you’re supposed to hit, and the weights will start to get too heavy. When this happens, I simply take 90% of my max (either a 1RM or a rep max) and start all over again.

For example, let’s say I did 205x4 on my military press when I first started the program. Using the rep-max calculator, my estimated max would be 230 pounds. Since I started with 10% less, my beginning max would be 210. Over the course of six months, I worked up to a rep max of 185x10. This puts my estimated max at 245. Now, I’ll take 10% of 245 (220), and begin to work my way up again. This is a matter of taking three steps forward and one step back. You may stall out with one lift before you do with the others. When this happens, you only need to decrease the one stalled lift. If you’re stalling out on multiple lifts, and you feel like everything is catching up with you, take a deload week and recalculate your maxes. If you’re really starting out with 10% less than your actual maxes, you can expect to go through 5-7 cycles at a minimum before you stall out. I’ve gone through 8 before having to back off.

Break Personal Records (PR’s)

This is where the fun of this – and any – program begins and ends. This program allows you to break a wide variety of rep records throughout the entire year. Most people live and die by their 1-rep max. To me, this is foolish and shortsighted. If your squat goes from 225x6 to 225x9, you’ve gotten stronger. If you keep setting and breaking rep records, you’ll get stronger. Don’t get stuck just trying to increase your one rep max. If you keep breaking your rep records, it’ll go up. There’s also a simple way of comparing rep maxes that I’ll explain later. Breaking personal records is a great motivator, and it’s also a great way to add some excitement into your training. When you do this, the sets and reps carry much more meaning. There’s something on the line. You’ll have greater focus and purpose in your training. You’ll no longer have to just do a set of 5 reps. You’ll focus on beating the number and beating the weight. All of the above concerns are addressed in this program. Even if you don’t follow this particular program, I believe these things should be emphasized no matter what you’re doing or why you’re training.

How to Warm-up

Warming up prior to training is important. I usually recommend the following:
• 1x5 @ 40%
• 1x5 @ 50%
• 1x3 @ 60%
• Work sets

The purpose of a warm-up is to prepare yourself for a great day of work sets – not an average one. You really shouldn’t need too many warm-up sets to prepare yourself for your work sets. For a more detailed full body warm-up, see the “Moving North of Vag” section later in this book.

Comparing Rep Maxes

How do you compare your 6-rep max to your 3-rep max? How do you know which one is better? Is your new 8-rep max better than your 2-rep max? I’ve used the following rep formula since high school. It’s allowed me to assess where I am and see how my training has progressed without always having to take a true 1RM. This formula is not necessarily an accurate predictor of your 1RM, but it affords you a good general way to gauge your progress.

Here it is:

Weight x Reps x .0333 + Weight = Estimated 1RM

The only constant in this formula is .0333. All the other numbers will be determined by your performance. We can try a comparison to illustrate this. Let’s say you deadlifted 550x9 in one workout, and in another, you managed 580x5.

550 x 9 x .0333 + 550 = 715

580 x 5 x .0333 + 580 = 675

From this, we can see that the 550x9 is a stronger rep max than the 580x5. This is best used for motivation, and for a way to mentally prepare for your workouts. Let’s say you bench pressed 255x8 in your last workout. The following week, your last prescribed set is 270x3, but you want to beat last week’s performance. How do you do this? First, you need to figure out what your perceived max is for 255x8. 255 x 8 x .0333 + 255 = 322

You want to beat this max, so the next thing to do is find out how many reps, according to the formula, this will take with 270. 270 x 6 x .0333 + 270 = 323

This isn’t a huge increase, but it’s an increase, and that’s the most important thing to remember. It’s going to take a couple of runs through to figure out what reps you’re going to need, but this will force you to really push on your last set. It’ll give you focus throughout your day and in your training.

Question: Do you always take the last set to absolute failure?

Answer: No. Sometimes it’s best to do the required reps and move on, but rarely is a set done to absolute failure. In most cases, the set should be done close to failure, but with perhaps a rep or half of a rep left before failing. This is something you’ll have to learn for yourself. -Jim Wendler-

The Last Set

Whichever option you choose, you’ll notice that the last set of the day reads, “or more reps.” This is where the fun begins. The last set of the day is the all-out set. You’ll be going for as many reps as possible. I hesitate to tell anyone to do anything to failure, because that’s not what I’m after. I wouldn’t prescribe this. This last set should be a ball buster, though, and it’s the one you really need to focus on. This is when you dig in and try to move the world. Because you’re working off a weight that’s 10% less than your actual max, you should be able to get the prescribed reps for the day fairly easily. This is a foregone conclusion. On the last set, however, you’ll have to reach further and grind it out – not to failure so you’re dead and can’t train the rest of the week, but it should take some life out of you. I highly recommend having a goal in mind for these last sets. Sit down the night before, or the week before, and think of the number of reps you’d like to hit. See yourself doing it. Write it down and visualize the bar in your hands or on your back. When it’s time, let yourself go and attack the weight. I’ve always thought of doing the prescribed reps as simply testing your strength. Anything over and above that builds strength, muscle and character. Doing the prescribed reps shows you and your body that you’re strong enough for the workout. The extra reps are your way of dominating the workout and getting better. One word of warning, however: don’t take the lighter sets for granted. These will set you up mentally for the big sets. If these sets are light and explosive, you’ll feel confident and strong for your last set. If you take these lightly, or you take a carefree attitude toward them, your mind will not be right for the last set. As you progress through this program, the weights will increase and getting more reps will get harder. If you progress slowly and start too light, you’ll continue to make progress over a longer period of time, and the last set will continue to be a motivating factor. Important note: in the 4th week (your deload week), you should NOT be going for max reps. This is a week to get some light work in and prime yourself for the next month of training.

Study the 5-3-1 method, you are only using 90-95% of your current one rep max for your %'s. Look at my example above.

I was speaking more in general about rep ranges rather than specifically the 5-3-1 program. But regardless, I’m always weary to go near a single in lifting when doing max speed work.

1 rep at 85% is easy.

Im like the rest of you guys. It is a good template for strength but I dont like the 1 rep in your lifting program. Granted it can be between 85-90% but still not a real huge fan of it.

James has success with the program but it is mod like the example I provided above.

You should actually never do a single rep set and actual % are

Week 1

58.5 x 5, 67.5 x 5, 76.5 x max

Week 2
63 x 3, 72 x 3, 81 x max

Week 3
67.5 x 5, 76.5 x 3, 85.5 x max

Week 4
36 x 5, 45 x 5, 54 x5

Still need to make changes, take James advice. 5 reps at 85.5% can cause problems in spp so reduce by 10%.

I have done this program. I say you MUST do a 6 week or so hypertrophy phase prior to it.

I set up my summer program like this: 4 weeks 4x10, 4 weeks 4x6, 4 weeks of 3x5 3x3 5-3-1… This is like the volume/intensity X shaped graph.

In my findings, 5-3-1 converts the strength you developed from previous weeks into maximal strength.

A coach of mine told me a cool story. It didn’t directly relate to strength or anything but it went like this: A bamboo tree takes 6 months to grow to a full height of 100 feet. In the first 5 months it grows a mere 10 feet. Then in the next 30 days it grows an astonsihing 90 feet. He said, do you think the tree was able to grow that last 90 feet because of something that happened in those 30 days or was in more in part to to the 150 days of root strength, and nourishment?

Hopefully you can see the connection. Hard work in the offseason so to speak is only revealed when the intensity increases. This is also partially taken from the CFTS

What is James’ advice regarding 5/3/1? I’m assuming this was conducted in Summer I with testing before Summer II and a transition into alactic capacity with strength maint. from there on?

Everything I have been posting.

Block 1:
wk1- 80xmax reps
wk2- 85xmax reps
wk3- 90xmax reps
deload- 70%

All %'s are based off 90% of last 1rm.

Just one set after a buildup or the typical program with the listed numbers as the top set?

the 80% day looks like this:

80%x5 or repetition max

Ok, close to the way we did APRE 6RM.

From everything I’ve seen,5/3/1 is eerily similar (basically identical) to BFS which was apparently based on Stefan Fernholm’s training from what I have heard.

I’m sure you guys remember James saying this:

The squat never went above 80% during the second intensification block. I typically cycle it from 60-80 or 65-75 over three week intervals during the second intensification.

Otherwise we typically stay between 60-70% on the squat throughout the rest of the training year