Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Weightlifting: Working with 5/3/1

5/3/1 is a basic monthly progression weightlifting system created by Jim Wendler, a former powerlifter and strength coach. It's a simple, no-frills precentage-based program for those that just want to make progress without racking their brains. I'm not criticizing it; it's currently the program that I'm using, since it fits my needs. With a 3 month old infant and physical job, it's hard for me to recover from heavy training, so I've cut my lifting days down to four days a week. 5/3/1 usually uses the squat, deadlift, bench press, and press, but I've programmed the front squat, clean, weighted chin up, and the press. You start by taking ninety-percent of your one-rep max in each lift, and then programming a 4 week cycle. For example:

Front squat: 90 percent of 1 rep max: 285
Week one: 65 percent (185) for 5 reps, 70 percent (200) for 5 reps, 75 percent (215) for 5+ reps.
Week two: 75 percent (215) for 3 reps, 80 percent (230) for 3 reps, 85 percent (245) for 3+ reps.
Week three: 85 percent (245) for 5 reps, 90 percent (260) for 3 reps, 95 percent (270) for 1+ reps.
Week four: deload 50 percent for 5 reps, 55 percent for 5 reps, 60 percent for 5 reps.

Add weight and start again.

However, I use the percentages as more of a guideline than a hard and fast rule. Who wants to bring a calculator with them to the gym? For example, this is what I actually did with my front squat.

Front squat: Max 315.
Week one: (Warm up 135*5, 185*5), 205*5, 225*5, 245*5.
Week two: (Warm up 135*5, 185*5), 205*3, 235*3, 265*5 (personal record).
Week three: (Warm up 135*5, 185*5), 225*5, 250*3, 295*3 (personal record).

So my percentages were considerably heavier than recommended, yet I still hit two PRs. If you're just starting out with 5/3/1, I'd start like Jim suggests. Other than the main lift work, you should do some assistance. My chosen lifts are dumbbell rows, barbell curls, dumbbell presses, one legged squats, and the deadlift. I usually just do 3 sets of 10 with one minute in between sets, except for the deadlift, which I pyramid up to a heavy triple or set of 5. There are numerous ways to modify this flexible program, so just do a quick google search or get creative. That's all for now.

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