This program was inspired by my experience running nSuns 5/3/1 and Jim Wendler's 5/3/1. I ran both programs successfully, however, I felt there needed to be a balance between the two. nSuns 5/3/1 for me was too 'fiddly' and excessive in terms of volume for a novice and early intermediate lifter.
Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 'Boring but Big' and 'Beginners' programs were lacking in volume and variation. YES, I know Jim suggests using 'Joker Set's', 'AMRAP sets', and 'first set last' to increase volume but it just didn't work for me.
Therefore, I decided to create my own program that better suited my style of training which incorporates variation exercises, sub-maximal sets of five, low volume-high intensity and high reps and low intensity training all in one training!
In addition, you train just three times per week which allowed sufficient recovery for me to make continuous strength gains.
This program works off your training Max and NOT your one rep max, however unlike Jim Wendler's training max of 90% of your 1RM, I have chosen 95% of your 1RM. This is because I felt for a four-week program training at 90% of your 1RM was way to low intensity for me to make continuous strength gains.
You train just three days per week and it's likely each session with take 60 minutes. I recommend the below schedule to allow for sufficient recovery between training sessions:
- Monday - Wednesday - Friday
- Tuesday - Thursday - Saturday
- The days off between each session are for recovery and rest, DON'T DO ANY EXERCISES except light cardio.
EACH TRAINING DAY BREAKDOWN
- Day One
Day one is 5 sets of 5 reps at medium intensity performing a total of 25 reps each session. The percentages stay between 70-75% of your 1RM, the sets and reps remain the same from week one-three.
Make sure you rest 3-5 minutes between each set and do not progress to the following weeks weight if you are unable to complete all reps. Don't rush your reps, make sure you perform your squats with proper depth, a slight pause off the chest when benching or touch and go/bounce the plates off the floor when deadlift.
- Day Two
Day two is your medium intensity day whereby volume/hypertrophy is the goal working at low intensity between 55-65% of your 1RM. You perform eight reps for each set and each week you increase the intensity percentage by 5% and reduce the number of sets by one starting at 5 sets of 8 reps and finishing at 3 sets of 8 reps. Take 1-2 minutes rest between sets and make sure you still are performing good reps, no cheat reps and lazy form!!
Just because its higher volume does not mean you perform quarter reps and be lazy with your technique. For example, don't perform close grip bench press with an outside shoulder width grip, or fully extend your knees for the 'stiff legged deadlift' and bounce each rep off the floor!
- Day Three
Day three is your heavy day whereby you lift maximal loads, and you stay in the three-rep range starting week one by performing 5 sets of 3 reps and finishing week three for 3 sets of 3 reps. It follows the same logic as day two, as the intensity is increased by 5% you perform less sets and thus less base volume. The deadlift percentages of 1RM differ from the bench press and squat, you lift 10% more for the deadlift than the squat and bench press.
This is the final day of the week because you earn yourself two days of solid recovery before your next training session. This is needed to ensure you can make a strength adaptation for the following week. This session is designed to get you used to lifting heavier weight and week three sub maximal loads.
PR WEEK (PERSONAL BEST WEEK)
The fourth week you set a new PR for your squat, bench press or deadlift. Alternatively, if you feel like you need a week to rest before chasing new PRs week four is for recovery then chase your PR week five. If you are using this program to peak for a meet, the follow this same schedule whereby you compete week five and rest week four. The top three singles are your three attempts for the main lifts.
The first two sets are NOT based on your 1RM, they are based on your training max. However, the three heavy singles are based on your 1RM not training max. If you fail at any of the attempts then do not progress, you could try the same weight again IF you feel like the issue was technique or setup related.
The deload week is for recovery, its low intensity and low volume and should not eat into your recovery. I recommended performing the main lifts (squat/bench press/deadlift) for 3 sets of 8 at 50% of your 1RM. Perform variation exercises (OHP/Front Squats/SLDL/Pendlay Rows) for 3-4 sets of 8 to 10 reps at an RPE of 6-7.5.
VARIATION PRIMARY EXERCISES
This program differs from Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 and nSuns 5/3/1 because I have included a lot more variation on the main lifts. Day two has two variation exercises, one for the bench press and another for the Squat. Choose which exercise based on your sticking point for the lift.
You can find further information regarding which variation exercise is best for you on "Drop List" sheet. Below is a list of the variation primary exercises:
- Close Grip Bench Press
- 3 Second Pause Bench
- Press 3 Second Pause Squats
- Banded Squats
- Anderson Squats
- Trap Barbell
- Rack Pull
- High Block Pull
For day three you have to choose a variation on the deadlift performed at maximal effort, you can find further information about the strength benefits of each variation on the "Drop List" sheet.
The compound secondary exercises are a must in the program and are not optional and as follows:
- Strict OHP (overhead press)
- Pendlay Rows
The strict press is fantastic for helping strengthen your anterior deltoids and a sticking point in mid-range of motion of your bench press. Pendlay Rows strengthen your Lat's, this benefits all three lifts! So please don't skip the rows.
Other exercises are Isolation assistance exercises and are optional, if you feel fatigued or run out of time you can skip them. In addition, if you would like to replace any of with another for that muscle group then go for it!
- Rear Delt Flyes (Rear Deltoids)
- Dumbbell Flyes (Pec's)
- Wide Stance Leg Press (Hamstrings)
- Barbell Front Squats (Quads)
- Calve Raises (Calves)
- Pendlay Rows (Lat's)
- Lat Pulldowns (Lats)
- Kneeling Face Pulls (Rhomboids, Traps and Rear Deltoids)
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