Started the 5/3/1 Training Program
“Look, arguing about strength training theory is stupid,” he says. “And the reason I came up with 5/3/1 was that I wanted a program that eliminated stupid thoughts from my head and just let me go into the weight room and get shit done. I’ve been training for 20 years, and this is what I’ve learned.”
In the end, the 5/3/1 program is about simplicity and slowing building your strength through increased weight on the bar on the four main lifts: squat, press, deadlift, and bench.
My 5/3/1 Program
Since I also do conditioning workouts on Monday/Wednesday/Friday (more on that later), I have structured the program using Jim’s suggested three day split. Each day has a specific focus on one of the main lifts. The three day programs means I don’t hit all four lifts in one week but it is spread out over 7 days. So far not a problem because I am not overtraining and actually get some good rest in there for one of the lifts each week. This program is intense, so rest is very important.
I have also chosen to do the “Boring but Big” variation of the program explained in the book. The way this works is that I do the main lift at the prescribed set and rep range (3×5, 3×3, 3×1) over the weeks, but after each main lift I do the same main lift but with a 5×10 set/rep range. Of course the weights are much lower but it is still crazy tough and my muscles seem to be really loving it.
Patience is Key
If you read about the 5/3/1 on the internet long enough, the main “criticism” you will read about is that it progresses so slowly. In contrast to StrongLifts 5×5, you are not adding weight to the bar nearly as fast. In fact, you only do that in four week cycles. Sure each week as the rep range goes down the weight on the bar increases, but you are not increasing adding weight to you max calculations until after the deload week in week 4. This is taking some getting used to as the weight can feel pretty light for the first 2 sets of the main lifts. However, in that third set where you try to pound out as many reps as possible, you see why Jim has structured it this way. In my opinion, StrongLifts has many people progressing too fast and sacrificing form for more weight. I have seen it many times (with others and myself).
I am really enjoying the 5/3/1 program and hope to get at least 3 or 4 four week cycles out of it to see where my strength (and muscle mass) goes. At some point I can show you some pictures and of course will update my body fat using the BodPod at my gym. In the meantime, I will lift heavy and train hard.