Pumping Pure Strength with the 5-3-1 Training

5-3-1 training program review

You may be wondering what the 5/3/1 training program is. Well, first of all, it is a fantastic way for skyrocketing your strength and breaking through all of your weight lifting plateaus.

Another, but equally appealing, fact is that you do not have to spend your life at the gym in order to see great results. All it takes is 3-4 workout sessions of 45-60 minutes per week. Pumping muscles with weights is good, but bodybuilders are known to have troubles with mobility and flexibility. If you wish to keep doing great in the weight room, but also stay flexible enough to do a wide range of other activities, then you should definitely consider the 5/3/1 training program.

The Basics of 5/3/1

The basic tenets of strength training, which have stood the test of time and have to this day remained the staples of any strongman’s repertoire (the standing press, bench press, deadlift and parallel squat) are the core of the 5/3/1 training philosophy.

If you have decided to give it a go, start light. It may seem weird that you have to take weight off the bar instead of putting on more, but starting easy will allow for more progress in the future.

All I have to say to those who want to start progressing immediately and with heavy weights – leave your ego at home. Ego is the one responsible for the failure of so many lifters. Start light, progress slowly, and focus on breaking your own personal records. Let go of the one-rep max and know that you become stronger if your squat goes from 225×6 to 225×9.

The 5/3/1 Program

According to this philosophy, you have to train 3-4 days a week, and center each of your workouts on one core lift – the standing shoulder press, bench press, deadlift, and parallel squat. Each workout cycle lasts 4 weeks: Week 1 – 3×5; Week 2 – 3×3; Week 3 – 3×5, 3, 1; Week 4 – Deload. Increase the weight at the beginning of each new cycle. Take 90% of your 1RM weight as the base number for your weight calculations.

So, for example, if you 1RM is 315 pounds, 90% of it is 285, so you will be using 185×5, 215×5 and 245×5 in your first week (for the bench press). After you are done with the first cycle, add 5 pounds to your 1RM calculations for upper-body lifts and 10 pounds for the deadlift and squat. If you do not follow the specific percentage according to a specific max, you will not be getting any nearer to your potential maximal results.  

Perform Assistance Work

Alongside these 4 core exercises, include assistance exercises to create a balanced physique, prevent injury, and build muscle. Try going with back extensions, lunges, dips and chin-ups, but do not go too hard, because these are meant only to complement your 5/3/1 training. If consuming workout supplements, do your research and use quality pre-workout supplements that are tried and tested and know to give results and do not damage your overall health. Make sure to also upgrade your fitness apparel, and get something that will allow you to feel comfortable in – you want to be able to focus, not think about your shirt climbing your back.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Not starting with the right weights is the first mistake that rookies tend to make when starting with their 5/3/1 training. Find your one-rep max and calculate the right weight.
  2. Trying to make fast progress is another bad mindset for starting the 5/3/1, because it leads to injuries. Set long-term goals and do not live only for today’s workout. The lifting game is a lifetime pursuit.
  3. If you put too much focus on the assistance work, you will underrate the key lifts. Assistance work is as its name says – assistance.
  4. Not doing the program the way it is written, but trying to customize it, is another rookie mistake that keeps lifters from progressing. Stick to the program and make a plan for a few months in advance. It is all about intelligent training and consistency. If you feel like modifying things, choose a different program.

Learn about the 5/3/1 training routine and start with a realistic idea of your 1RM. Give as many reps as you can to the final set of your core lift, train 3-4 times a week, and do not skip core lifts, but do all four of them. Follow the program as it is written and do not forget to de-load. Your muscles need a break to grow.

This article was provided by Samantha Oliver, editor at Ripped.me. Be sure to check out her fantastic website!

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