5/3/1 Training System Review
After the Two Oceans I was feeling very flat and weak. I’d concentrated solely on a 10 week running program with very little strength training and was not feeling my usual “shexy self”. I also had to do something about these weird looking legs I’d developed.
I had read about Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program a couple of years ago on t-nation (see article) and got a copy of the eBook. I always intended to follow the program, but never really got into it.
So when I decided to get back into building a good strength foundation I started 5/3/1 with my wife as my training partner.
The program, in summary, is based around multi-joint lifts (bench press, squat, deadlift, and standing shoulder press), it advocates starting with light weights and progressing slowly. Also, it only required me to be in the gym about 45mins.
Perfect lazy man’s routine!
On the 7th April we took our baseline maximum lifts in all four of the major lifts and plugged it into a MS Excel calculator I put together for the routine (Yes, I’m a nerd). The first couple of weeks were actually a breeze as you never feel like you are training even close to those initial maxes. I must admit that Aanikah kept me fully committed to the plan and we completed each required rep per workout.
We then did another strength test on the 6th May and to our amazement our numbers had improved…dramatically.
On average I had added almost 20% to each lift (my bench press upped by 5kgs, but it was still the most I had ever pressed in my life). Similarly, Aanikah added 15% to her lifts, with her squat making a huge jump from 30kgs to 65kgs!
All of this after 4 relatively easy weeks?!? #converted
After finishing the second cycle I re-did my 1 rep maxes and again I was thoroughly impressed:
Granted these numbers are not great by any means (I am no Mariusz Pudzianowski), I was officially the strongest I had ever been. Only thing that sucked was that I was still wearing my ankle stirrup so my squat numbers couldn’t be tested.
So far, we are in our 4th cycle of the training system and we have tailored back the increases in the weights to be more in line with the recommended increases of ±2.2kgs on upper body lifts and ±4.5kgs on the lower body lifts. The aim now is to progress slowly and build on a solid foundation.
If you are looking for an excellent strength training foundation then look no further than 5/3/1.
You will get stronger and you will do so while remaining injury-free.