5-3-1 Program For Massive Strength And Size
I am going to introduce you to the 5-3-1 program for massive strength and size today. If you have never heard of the 5-3-1 workout style before; it is a program that was designed to make you stronger than ever, while also putting mass amounts of muscle onto you in the process.
The program was design and written by Jim Wendler.
Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1 program was originally developed as a power-lifting system. Jim Wendler is a great power-lifter who has lifted massive weight on the bar. He best lifts are: a 1,000-pound squat, 675-pound bench press, 700-pound deadlift, and a 2,375 total.
That is some amount of weight to lift, I think you’ll agree!
So, what is the point of me talking about the 5-3-1 program if it is for power-lifters?
For starters, the 5-3-1 program can easily be tailored to improve your muscle mass.
In order to gain muscle mass; you have to improve your strength. There is just no getting away from that fact. By working on your strength levels you will eliminate any muscle building plateaus. You will also have something to progress with and you will ensure constant muscle gains.
Hopefully now you understand the importance of strength training and how it can help you increase your muscle size. I personally think that the 5-3-1 program is the best for increasing your strength levels. So lets have a look at the 5-3-1 program.
5-3-1 Program For Strength And Size
The 5-3-1 workout principal is fairly simple once you get to grips with it. You basically do one cycle which lasts 3 weeks. On the first week, you use a rep scheme of 3 sets of 5 reps. Week 2: you do 3 sets of 3 reps. Week 3: you do a set each for 5, 3 and 1.
On week 4 you reduce your weight by half for 3 sets of 5. This is called a de-load week to give your body time to recover. You then start back to normal after your de-load week and go back to the beginning. But this time around, you should be stronger and use slightly more weight.
Does that make sense?
As for the exercises to do; the 5-3-1 program focuses on the main compound lifts. Which are the squat, deadlift, bench and over-head press (shoulder press). The idea is that if you get strong on these lifts, you will be one strong mo fo.
You do other exercises, but these are supplementary exercises performed after your main lifts. You only use normal set and reps schemes (like 3×10) for these exercise.
I will show you a sample workout, as I find this the easiest way to explain a workout. But first you should know that you have to use ramping during your sets.
Ramping basically means that you start of with lighter weight on your first set and increase it every new set. Your last and final set should be the most weight you can lift for the rep amount.
For example: if your 5 rep maximum on the bench press is 100kg; on set 1 you lift 90kg; on set 2 you lift 95kg; on set 3 you lift 100kg. This is what ramping is. It is used to fire up your central nervous system to lift heavier weights.
Let’s take a look at a sample workout, to give you an idea how they look:
Sample Upper Body 5-3-1 Workout
Bench press (5-3-1 style)
- Warm up first
- Set 1: 5 reps with 90kg
- Set 2: 5 reps with 95kg
- Set 3: 6 reps with 100kg (you do as many as possible on your last set)
- Dumbbell bench press: 5×10
- One Arm Dumbbell Row: 5×10
- Biceps Curl 3×8
- Triceps Extension: 3×8
You still with me on all this information on the 5-3-1 workout?
Seriously, if this all seems a bit complicated, it gets a lot simpler once you go over it in your head a few times.
However the 5-3-1 workout is great for improving your strength levels. But what makes it one of my favourite workout styles is how simple it is AND how easy it is to adapt to any training program.
Just use one lift per session done 5-3-1 style, then use whatever you want after.
To use the 5-3-1 system for a complete routine is fairly simple as well. Just run through a session for the bench, then do squats next, followed by the over-head press and finally do a session for deadlifts.
A 4 days a week routine would look like this:
Monday: Bench & supplementary exercises
Tuesday: Squats & supplementary exercises
Thursday: Over-head press & supplementary exercises
Friday: Deadlift & supplementary exercises
You can also do 2 and 3 days a week, with these 5-3-1 workouts. Just keep running through exercises in the same order. It obviously takes longer to go through the 5-3-1 routine, but as long as you are progressing each week, that is all that matters.
I hope I have helped explain the 5-3-1 program well. If the routine seems to simple, do not let that fool you. The 5-3-1 workout is one of the most effective I have ever used!
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I have to give thanks to T-Nation for originally introducing me to the 5-3-1 program.
Thanks for reading my article today on the 5-3-1 program.