OK… Get Strong But Don’t Get Hurt… My take on 5/3/1

Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program is solid, versatile, safe, and it will make you strong in all the right places for a long, healthy career. I highly recommend buying his 97 page ebook and reading it three times. He does an excellent job of describing the nuts and bolts of strength training and highlighting two principles which are today’s topic, starting light and progressing slowly…  All of the programming that we will be using here to accomplish the strength goals laid out earlier will require that you have some idea of what your 1 rep max is for all of the primary lifts, Squat, Dead-lift, and Standing press. Most department’s physical fitness policies strictly prohibit 1 rep max attempts so we will be using a formula to estimate your 1 rep for each lift and we will use rep/max to measure progress.

Here is Wendler’s formula:

-warm up

-load the bar with 80-85% of what you think you can lift with proper form

-perform as many reps as possible at that weight

-plug the reps and weight into this formula – weight x reps x .0333 + weight = estimated 1 rep max

– Do this for each lift then multiply your estimated 1 rep max by .9 this will give you your training max. This is what you will be using to calculate loading for each training day.

It is important to always round down when setting your training max because your ego tends to inflate the numbers and this is one place that going too heavy can really impede progress. Starting lighter than you think you should just gives you more time to get strong and subsequently reduce the chance of injury.

Now that you have your training max (90% of your estimated max) here is how the primary work will be set up.

Week 1 –

set 1  65% x 5

set 2  75% x 5

set 3  85% x as many as possible, at least 5 but shoot for 10

Week 2 –

set 1  70% x 3

set 2  80% x 3

set 3  90% x as many as possible, at least 3 but shoot for 7

Week 3 –

set 1  75% x 5

set 2  80% x 3

set 3  95% x as many as possible, at least 1 but shoot for 3

Week 4 –

set 1  40% x 5

set 2  50% x 5

set 3  60% x 5

That is the basic break down, at the end of your 4 week cycle add 10 pounds to your calculated max for lower body exercise and 5 pounds for upper body.

I break my week up like this:

1st day of my shift

Back Squat 5/3/1

Standing Press 5/3/1

Hanging Leg Raise 5 x 10 (sets x reps)

Strict Pull ups 5 x 10

Short (under 10 minutes) and intense strength bias metabolic conditioning (metcon) circuit

2nd day

Active recovery (warm up, stretch, foam roll, etc.)

Skill work (play in the rings, hand stands, light o-lifting, etc.)

Sprint drills working acceleration with lots of rest

Plank Holds 5 minutes of work split up 1:1 or 1:2 work:rest

3rd day on

Dead-lift 5/3/1

Ring or Bar Dips 5 x 10

1 leg squats (pistols) or walking lunges 5 x 10 each leg

15-20 minute metcon working sled pushes, sled drags, hill sprints etc. shoot for max efforts using a 1:1 or 1:2 work:rest ratio.

3rd Day off

20-40 minute metcon ( trail run, 800m repeats, etc.)

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