Adding in 5/3/1

Adding in 5/3/1

Our weekly workouts are designed to give you a great blend of overall strength and conditioning. A few months ago PSKC’s strength/powerlifting guru (appropriately named Meathead) and I talked about experimenting with Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 Training. Meathead uses it as his sole source of strength training. Myself and other PSKCrs have been implementing this program as a means to get stronger in additional to the class workouts.

To keep the post short, I’ll forgo my usual longwinded explanations…bottom line it’s amazingly simple and works. Strength is king and will tremendous carryover to all your workouts. It started with just a few of us and has quickly spread to several folks at the gym getting their lifts in. I’ll explain how we use it, but you should really read the ebook (click HERE).

If you want to get strong, there’s no need for complicated crazy programs, especially for beginners starting out to strength training. You will choose up to four compound lifts (squat, military press, deadlift, and bench). Me personally, I only do squat, press, and deadlift in my programming. But if you wanna do bench, go for it. At a minimum I recommend squat and deadlift days. I just leave it out for time considerations.

WARNING: This does require the use of math and/or calculators. However, technology has solved a lot of this with several Wendler 5/3/1 apps or awesome websites that do all the math for you like HERE.

DETAILS: First thing you need to do is determine your 1 rep max (1RM) in the lifts you’re going to train. Me no likey the math, so I always use the 5/3/1 app. But you need to understand the philosophy. So I’ll keep it simple in the example. If your squat 1RM is 300, your working max is 90% of that = 270. Your numbers will be based off of 270 (working max) not 300 (your true 1RM).

This program is broken down into 4-week cycles. After you complete one cycle you add 10lbs to your lower body lifts and 5lbs to your upper lifts and repeat for another cycle. You just keep repeating the cycles each month and adding small incremental poundages and you keep getting stronger. I’m on my 4th cycle and haven’t stalled out on my lifts yet (more on that later).

Step 1: 1RM (e.g. 300) x 90% = W1RM (270)

Now that we ninjy chopped that first mathematical obstacle, here’s how the 4-week cycle breaks out using my 300 1RM example.

Week 1:

5 reps of 65% W1RM (175)

5 reps of 75% W1RM (200)

*5+ reps of 85% W1RM (230)

Assistance lifts

Week 2:

3 reps of 70% W1RM (190)

3 reps of 80% W1RM (215)

*3+ reps of 90% W1RM (245)

Assistance lifts

Week 3:

5 reps of 75% W1RM (200)

3 reps of 85% W1RM (230)

*1+ reps of 95% W1RM (255)

Assistance lifts

Week 4 (Deload):

5 reps of 40% W1RM (110)

5 reps of 50% W1RM (135)

5 reps of 60% W1RM (160)

*Your last sets will be essentially as many reps as you can perform with good/solid technique. For example on week 3, you’d rep out 255 as many reps as possible. Each week (minus deload) that last set should be a significant emotional event. Setting and breaking personal rep records, this is how you’ll know you’re getting stronger.

Deload weeks are important. They allow you reset/recover and get ready for the next cycle. You just do your sets and get out. The next cycle you add 10lbs to your max, so now your numbers are based off of 310. Rinse and repeat and get stronger.

SCHEDULE: Here’s my personal implementation plan. Sundays are my squat day. Tuesdays are my press day and Thursdays are my deadlift day. You want as much rest in between your lifting days as possible. E.g. you don’t want to do squat day on Monday followed by deadlift day on Tuesday.

It’s important to note that I implement the 5/3/1 strength program in addition to the regular class workouts throughout the week. But since I want to get stronger I prioritize my 5/3/1 days. For example, on Sundays and Thursdays I do is my 5/3/1 main lifts with assistance lifts (more on that later). So if you’re wanting to get stronger. Don’t do the regular class on Thursday, come to the open gym and get your lifts in.

DO’S AND DON’TS: Here are some things to keep in my mind when adding this strength program to your weekly PSKC workouts.

• Do not do a class workout then immediately go do your (squat/deadlift/press) day. You’re shooting yourself in the foot. If you want to get stronger you need to be fresh for your lifts. If you just did a monster conditioning workout then 10 minutes later you want to squat/deadlift you won’t progress. However, if you want you could do the class workout in the AM, come back in the PM for your 5/3/1 or vice versa.

• However, you can get your lifts in then hit up a nice quick and dirty conditioning finisher immediately afterwards. For example, on my squat or deadlift day if I haven’t been able to get enough conditioning work in that week, I will hit my 5/3/1 and assistance lifts then do some kind of prowler/double under/battling ropes/burpee finisher. (NOTE: this is why we have open gyms on Monday & Thursday)

• Do not chase crappy reps. This is not a quick/short duration program. This is something you can do for a long time (several months/years). Listen to your body/mind if you ain’t feeling it that day. Just go in and get your reps and leave. (For example, since the Crossfit open has popped up, I’m not too concerned right now about breaking my rep records, I just want to ensure I get my quality lifts in).

• Do log everything! Use WODSTACK, your phone, pen/paper. Keep track of reps on the last set. This is how you’ll get a goal to shoot for the following week/cycle.

• Do plan your week out. Keep in mind this program is in ADDITION to the regular weekly workouts. Pick and choose accordingly to your own personal goals.

• Don’t inflate your working maxes. Starting out you may think the weight is light and want to increase your weights. Stay the course and allow for incremental jumps each cycle. 5-6 cycles later you’ll be impressed at the loads you’re lifting.

• Do your own math/work. During the additional lifting periods, we are there to LIFT. Not explain the program every time/explain %s/show you how to use a calculator. Know weights/goals ahead of time and go hit it.

ASSISTANCE LIFTS: We’ve toyed around with different assistance lifts/exercises paired with our main lifts. Below you’ll find what we do and recommend. Based on what Wendler recommends and some experimentation we believe these combinations will have the greatest carryover to Crossfit workouts and improving Olympic lifts.

On Squat days we pair the squat with Dimel Deadlifts (click HERE for great explanation). So after we hit our main lift (squat) we go into our assistance lift (Dimel deadlift) at the following reps/%

Wk1 = Dimel deadlifts 10 @ 50%1WRM, 10 @ 60%1WRM, 10 @ 70%1WRM

Wk2 = Dimel deadlifts 8 @ 60%1WRM, 8 @ 70%1WRM, 8 @ 80%1WRM

Wk3 = Dimel deadlifts 5 @ 65%1WRM, 5 @ 75%1WRM, 5 @ 85%1WRM

On deadlift days we do the same thing, but our assistance lift is the Front Squat (same reps/%s). On military press my assistance work is strict pull-ups.




There it is. Try it out and enjoy the journey to getting stronger. Form/technique is paramount.

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