Build Strength With 5/3/1

The 5/3/1 system was popularized by Jim Wendler and is great for increasing strength. By taking advantage of your established 1RMs and certain percentages of them, you progressively increase the weight you’re moving and decrease the volume. By the end, you are almost guaranteed increases in strength which will be seen in higher 1RMs.

5/3/1 stands for the number of reps you’re doing each set as you progress through the routine. The first phase of the routine will be similar to the 5×5 routine, in the second phase you will complete sets of 3 reps, and in the final phase you will have a set of 5, a set of 3, and a set of 1. Each phase while lowering the volume will be increasing the weight. After the third phase it’s suggested to take a deload week, before repeating with 5-10 lbs. added or moving on to another routine.

How it looks in the gym:

  • Rest between sets of the main exercises should be between 3-5 minutes, and 60-90 seconds for supplemental exercises.
  • On the final set of the main lifts use all your effort. Make these sets count.
  • Use your recent, tested 1RMs.

 

  • Phase 1

Squat Focus

  1. Set 1- 5 reps at 65% of 1RM
  2. Set 2- 5 reps at 75% of 1RM
  3. Set 3- 5 reps at 85% of 1RM

Supplemental Exercises

  1. Leg Extension- 3 sets of 10 reps
  2. Lunge- 3 sets of 10 reps
  3. Leg Press- 3 sets of 10 reps

 

Bench Focus

  1. Set 1- 5 reps at 65% of 1RM
  2. Set 2- 5 reps at 75% of 1RM
  3. Set 3- 5 reps at 85% of 1RM

Supplemental Exercises

  1. Reverse Grip Incline Dumbbell Press- 3 sets of 10 reps
  2. Incline Fly- 3 sets of 10 reps
  3. Cable Fly- 3 sets of 10 reps

 

Deadlift Focus

  1. Set 1- 5 reps at 65% of 1RM
  2. Set 2- 5 reps at 75% of 1RM
  3. Set 3- 5 reps at 85% of 1RM

Supplemental Exercises

  1. Romanian Deadlift- 3 sets of 10 reps
  2. Leg Curl (Seated or Lying)- 3 sets of 10 reps
  3. Bar Curl- 3 sets of 10 reps

 

Overhead Press Focus

  1. Set 1- 5 reps at 65% of 1RM
  2. Set 2- 5 reps at 75% of 1RM
  3. Set 3- 5 reps at 85% of 1RM

Supplemental Exercises

  1. Dumbbell Should Press- 3 sets of 10 reps
  2. Dumbbell Lateral Raise- 3 sets of 10 reps
  3. Triceps Pushdown- 3 sets of 10 reps

 

  • Phase 2

Squat Focus

  1. Set 1- 3 reps at 70% of 1RM
  2. Set 2- 3 reps at 80% of 1RM
  3. Set 3- 3 reps at 90% of 1RM

Supplemental Exercises

  1. (Alternating)Single Leg Press- 4 sets of 8 reps
  2. Lunge- 3 sets of 8 reps
  3. Leg Extension- 3 sets of 8 reps

 

Bench Focus

  1. Set 1- 3 reps at 70% of 1RM
  2. Set 2- 3 reps at 80% of 1RM
  3. Set 3- 3 reps at 90% of 1RM

Supplemental Exercises

  1. Barbell Incline Bench Press- 3 sets of 8 reps
  2. Cable Fly- 3 sets of 8 reps
  3. Chest Dips- 3 sets of 8 reps

 

Deadlift Focus

  1. Set 1- 3 reps at 70% of 1RM
  2. Set 2- 3 reps at 80% of 1RM
  3. Set 3- 3 reps at 90% of 1RM

Supplemental Exercises

  1. Leg Curl (Seated or Lying)- 3 sets of 8 reps
  2. Lat Pull Down- 3 sets of 8 reps
  3. Incline Dumbbell Curl- 3 sets of 8 reps

 

Overhead Press Focus

  1. Set 1- 3 reps at 70% of 1RM
  2. Set 2- 3 reps at 80% of 1RM
  3. Set 3- 3 reps at 90% of 1RM

Supplemental Exercises

  1. Arnold Press- 3 sets of 8 reps
  2. Cable Lateral Raise- 3 sets of 8 reps
  3. French Press (Skullcrusher)- 3 sets of 8 reps

 

  • Phase 3

Squat Focus

  1. Set 1- 5 reps at 75% of 1RM
  2. Set 2- 3 reps at 85% of 1RM
  3. Set 3- 1 reps at 95% of 1RM

Supplemental Exercises

  1. Front Squat- 4 sets of 6 reps
  2. Lunge- 3 sets of 6 reps
  3. Leg Extension- 3 sets of 6 reps

 

Bench Focus

  1. Set 1- 5 reps at 75% of 1RM
  2. Set 2- 3 reps at 85% of 1RM
  3. Set 3- 1 reps at 95% of 1RM

Supplemental Exercises

  1. Barbell Decline Bench Press- 3 sets of 6 reps
  2. Cable Fly- 3 sets of 6 reps
  3. Dumbbell Press- 3 sets of 6 reps

 

Deadlift Focus

  1. Set 1- 5 reps at 75% of 1RM
  2. Set 2- 3 reps at 85% of 1RM
  3. Set 3- 1 reps at 95% of 1RM

Supplemental Exercises

  1. Romanian Deadlift- 3 sets of 6 reps
  2. V-Bar Pull Down- 3 sets of 6 reps
  3. Cable Hammer Curl- 3 sets of 6 reps

 

Overhead Press Focus

  • Set 1- 5 reps at 75% of 1RM
  • Set 2- 3 reps at 85% of 1RM
  • Set 3- 1 reps at 95% of 1RM

Supplemental Exercises

  1. Barbell Upright Row- 3 sets of 6 reps
  2. Rear Delt Fly- 3 sets of 6 reps
  3. Rope Overhead Triceps Extension- 3 sets of 6 reps

 

  • Phase 4

Similar to Phase 1, but the percentages are 40, 50, and 60.

 

 

 

 

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