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Old 05-11-2012, 05:19 AM   #1
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Default Westside Barbell or Wendler's 5/3/1

Not really an either or question, more a what are the pros and cons of each question and what do people that have used the routines/templates think of them?

Do you have a preference for either one and if so, why? Or, is there another specific training method that you prefer?

This is basically to get some views together for new people to the powerlifting/strength scene to consider when selecting a routine etc.
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Old 05-11-2012, 06:13 AM   #2
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I'm writing from my phone so I'll be brief. I used 5/3/1 for more than a year and then switched to Westside which I am still using 15months later. In my opinion the pros and cons for both are as follows:

5/3/1
PROS
Easy to set-up and understand
Lots of practice on core lifts (especially on the BBB template)
High volume and sub maximal weights so low risk for new lifters

CONS
For a competitive lifter the weights are too low
For a novice lifter who will make gains through technique and CNS adaptation very quickly so the planned progression can be too slow

WESTSIDE
PROS
Lots of variation so boredom is unlikely
Weekly work at 90%+ of your maxes
Use of accommodating resistance to allow more frequent lifting on core lifts
Improves both strength and speed
Works very well for equipped lifters using squat suits, bench shirts, etc
High volume assistance for hypertrophy

CONS
A LOT of the literature around how to set this up is written for lifters who are already well conditioned and quite possibly using PEDs
If you're a RAW lifter a lot of exercises and templates need to be changed to make them work for you without gear
You have to be a proficient enough lifter (or have access to a coach/someone who is) to be able to accurately assess your lifts and decide what your weaknesses are and how to attack them

I may think of more but that's a good starting point.

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Old 05-11-2012, 09:41 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LtL View Post
I'm writing from my phone so I'll be brief. I used 5/3/1 for more than a year and then switched to Westside which I am still using 15months later. In my opinion the pros and cons for both are as follows:

5/3/1
PROS
Easy to set-up and understand
Lots of practice on core lifts (especially on the BBB template)
High volume and sub maximal weights so low risk for new lifters

CONS
For a competitive lifter the weights are too low
For a novice lifter who will make gains through technique and CNS adaptation very quickly so the planned progression can be too slow


WESTSIDE
PROS
Lots of variation so boredom is unlikely
Weekly work at 90%+ of your maxes
Use of accommodating resistance to allow more frequent lifting on core lifts
Improves both strength and speed
Works very well for equipped lifters using squat suits, bench shirts, etc
High volume assistance for hypertrophy

CONS
A LOT of the literature around how to set this up is written for lifters who are already well conditioned and quite possibly using PEDs
If you're a RAW lifter a lot of exercises and templates need to be changed to make them work for you without gear
You have to be a proficient enough lifter (or have access to a coach/someone who is) to be able to accurately assess your lifts and decide what your weaknesses are and how to attack them

I may think of more but that's a good starting point.

LtL
Very, very good post LtL. I would like to address your CONS on the 531 side though. In and of itself, in the basic template, I agree with you that for a competitive lifter, the weights are too low. I've found though that the 531 lends itself very nicely to the incorporation of heavy single work. That is currently how I'm lifting.

As far as progresion being too slow, that may be true at the outset, but as one gets three or four cycles into the template, shouldn't you be getting into unexplored territory? So, yes, I would agree with that statement as it applies to beginning the program. If one were to carry it out for six months or so, progress should be made each workout. At least that's what I think. I've never been able to run it for more than 4 cycles without getting cancer or something.

Another CON I would add is that if you're not careful, the rep ranges on your terminal sets could become absurd. I remember needing to deadlift 315 x 13 just to push my projected 1 RM by a few pounds.

A PRO for 531 would be absolute flexibility of programming. As long as the target lift is being addressed each workout, any auxilliary work is completely optional. If you only have time to do the main lift, then go in and hit it hard. Otherwise you can pretty much design your own auxilliary program (BB style, PL style, HIT, doggcrapp, etc.), as long as its relatively consistant.

My humble opinion is respectfully submitted.

P.S. This is an excellent thread, by the way.
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Old 05-12-2012, 12:10 AM   #4
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I've recently started 5-3-1 and never done westside, so FWIW:

I believe westside is extremely partial and band oriented, to the extent that if your form is not tight, and/or your ability to critique yourself accurately isn't pretty good, you will just end up buying bands and chains that you thrash yourself against to very little in the end. It's equipment intensive and expert or higher lifter imperative.

5-3-1 is for the common man. Sub maximal for the most part so no worries about spotters or equipment. It's primal in that your max rep attempts are done because you choose to go for it, not because that's the day you had optimal spotters and gear.

Also and more importantly, 5-3-1 has tons of variations that get around your particular lifting peccadillos. Need to bench and squat twice a week? Do wendler's fullbody. Need to Deadlift once a month? Do Wendler's with partials except every third week. Want to progress faster? Skip deloads or periodize your main lifts in cycles so that you only max one at a time.

I think I'm in the intermediate level and I can see value in either method.

At a certain point it's a matter of taste. Some say potatoe, some say potato.

But I do think Westside is better saved for the more way more experienced athlete.

My .02
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Old 05-11-2012, 07:59 AM   #5
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Good list LtL.

One 'pro' I might add to 5/3/1 is that it is easy to do with limited equipment.
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Old 05-11-2012, 08:12 AM   #6
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excellent post LtL

another Pro for 5/3/1 for me is that it is easy to use this template for persons who train alone. (like me!)

as i have not tried Westside i cant give an opinion either way
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Old 05-11-2012, 12:03 PM   #7
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Just add that Westside is a lot easier to mess up when used by an less experienced lifter. Wendler's is hard to mess up because the major tools are given to you.
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Old 05-11-2012, 12:57 PM   #8
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I have done 24 months of 531 over the course of 30 months. I have had great results. i have only tried a very watered down version of westside so I can not comment on that program.

The pros of 531. It's simple to follow. Consistent results. No injuries due to over training or developing weaknesses.

The cons... Haven't found any yet.
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Old 05-11-2012, 01:57 PM   #9
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Good stuff.
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Old 05-11-2012, 07:57 PM   #10
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One con I will add isn't with the program only with the calculated max vs actual in Wendlers program. I found the calculated max using over 5 or 6 reps to over estimate the actual max and when you got to reps of 10 there was a substantial difference.
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