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Old Yesterday, 07:05 AM   #1
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Default What’s wrong with 5,3,1?

I saw mentioned in another thread that some here think the basic 5,3,1 routine is not good. I was wondering why you think that.

5,3,1 has been a basic powerlifter’s routine for decades. I used it successfully back in my college lifting days (1979-82) and in the 00s. I’ve used other routines successfully as well, but with now just getting back into doing lower reps for the first time in years, I was thinking of using a modified 5,3,1 routine, namely doing 3 x 5-6, 3-4, 1-2.

But I am curious why some don’t think such would not be a good idea, and what would you recommend instead?
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Old Yesterday, 07:09 AM   #2
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I don't like 531 for lifters during their first several years of training. Periodization and deloading every 4 weeks is a waste of time for the average lifter who is in their first 2 years.

I have mentioned this several times on the forum, so perhaps that is what you came across.

As a periodization rep scheme for more experience trainees, it certainly can work well.
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Old Yesterday, 07:19 AM   #3
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I think I am misunderstanding what is meant by 5,3,1. It sounds like you are taking it as doing five reps for a week, then three reps, then one rep, then a deload week. What I am thinking of is doing 3 sets of 5, 3, 1 reps in the same workout. That is why I said I was thinking of doing 3 x 5-6, 3-4, 1-2.

The ranges enable me to work a little harder, doing say six reps if the fifth is not too hard, but then increasing the weight that much more for the next workout. That would also add variety, doing say 6,4,2 one week then 5,3,1 the next.
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Old Yesterday, 07:28 AM   #4
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Generally, these days, people mean "Jim Wendler's 5/3/1" when they say "531" or "5/3/1".

A specific program, that works as BtB said upthread.

Far as 5 reps, 3 reps, and singles go, I don't imagine most people would have anything against them, though some do recommend that novice lifters stay the hell away from singles, even triples, for quite some time.
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Old Yesterday, 07:36 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Dray View Post
Generally, these days, people mean "Jim Wendler's 5/3/1" when they say "531" or "5/3/1".

A specific program, that works as BtB said upthread.

Far as 5 reps, 3 reps, and singles go, I don't imagine most people would have anything against them, though some do recommend that novice lifters stay the hell away from singles, even triples, for quite some time.
Thanks. That clarifies things.

Also, I definitely agree novices should not do 1-3 reps. As for myself, I was doing 8-10 reps for about three years, so I only dropped to six reps for the past three months. Then just this week I dropped to four reps. I’ll stay with that for a while before doing to 1-3 reps.
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Old Yesterday, 10:23 AM   #6
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The biggest problem I see with 5/3/1 as well as many other plans, routines, systems is that the adherents make them bigger than they really are. I live in Va. Beach, if I want to go to NYC there are a multitude of ways I could go. All would get me there, I have to discover which one will work best for me. 5/3/1 is just one plan to get stronger, it is not THE plan to get stronger. While we can argue frequency, intensity, reps and sets, it won't matter to those whose Gym GPS is programmed to accept only one set of directions.
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Old Yesterday, 12:42 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Dray View Post
Generally, these days, people mean "Jim Wendler's 5/3/1" when they say "531" or "5/3/1".

A specific program, that works as BtB said upthread.

Far as 5 reps, 3 reps, and singles go, I don't imagine most people would have anything against them, though some do recommend that novice lifters stay the hell away from singles, even triples, for quite some time.
This -- 5 reps, 3 reps, and singles are not what I (nor others, I believe) were referring to when we didn't think 5/3/1 was a good program. Clearly, 5 reps, triples, and singles all have their place in training.

5/3/1 on the other hand, Jim Wendler's program, is what we were talking about. Personally, I don't find it useful at all, no matter what stage of lifting the person is in. Let me rephrase -- I don't think it is the most optimal way to train for powerlifting no matter what stage you are in of your training. Certainly it can help, and has helped, people get stronger.

However, I think that one top set of 1+, 3+ or 5+ reps at 75-95% of a 90% training max is not enough stimulus, especially when most (all?) 5/3/1 templates have lifts trained once per week. Again, I know that other people stronger than myself and with much more coaching experience disagree and say 1x/week is enough for a lift. I also know that things like BBB and BBS exist, but I don't think 10x5 sets at 50% of a 90% training max elicit proper sport specific technique practice. Meh, to each his own! These are just some of the reasons I, as well as others who I have talked to, don't like 5/3/1 as a program.
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Old Yesterday, 12:57 PM   #8
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However, I think that one top set of 1+, 3+ or 5+ reps at 75-95% of a 90% training max is not enough stimulus, especially when most (all?) 5/3/1 templates have lifts trained once per week. Again, I know that other people stronger than myself and with much more coaching experience disagree and say 1x/week is enough for a lift. I also know that things like BBB and BBS exist, but I don't think 10x5 sets at 50% of a 90% training max elicit proper sport specific technique practice. Meh, to each his own! These are just some of the reasons I, as well as others who I have talked to, don't like 5/3/1 as a program.
Thanks. I’m getting a better picture of what “5,3,1” means here. And I would agree, if it means one top set of less than maximal effort once per week, then I would agree that would not be sufficient. I’ve tried one maximal set before and never found that to work long-term. 2-3 sets at “almost failure” work best for me. That is why I am thinking of the 3 x 5-6, 3-4, 1-2 plan I mention above, once I feel I am ready to do 1-3 reps.

But I do each lift only once per week. Again, I’ve tried doing each more often, but end up stagnating or even being over-trained.
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Old Yesterday, 02:50 PM   #9
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I personally do not think there is anything wrong with 5/3/1. I started out with 5x5 SL then eventually moved to 5/3/1 and haven't looked back. I have had some really good gains by utilizing the program. I have ran a lot of the variations with great success. I would recommend it to anyone interested in getting strong. There is a built in deload week but it is stated in his book that most beginners should get to at least Cycle 5 before taking a deload. That is about 15 weeks of solid lifting before a deload. You can modify it for heavy singles/doubles/triples and throw in some volume stuff with FSL/BBB/BBS. The possibilities are endless. The thing with ANY program is that one that works for one person may/may not work for another. I just get tired of people bashing on programs. 5/3/1 works for me and fits my lifting needs. I have gotten bigger and strong(er) by using this program. Find a program that works for you, stick with said program for 365+ days, eat, sleep and get fucking strong(er)! Thats what its about.
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Old Yesterday, 05:01 PM   #10
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I'd say whatever program works for you... Alot of people say the Conjugate System isnt for raw lifters, though I added 20lbs to my deadlift after my first 12 weeks and became a believer. Personally, 5/3/1 didnt really work for me, ran it for almost a year and decided to switch it up. Though, guys like DZ ^(Above Poster) has been making great progress with the program..
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