531 – One Month Down

Jim Wendler's 5-3-1 Manual

So the first month of 5/3/1 is in the books, and I’d consider it a pretty rousing success.

Now keep in mind, I’m building back up, so the weights definitely aren’t where they need to be yet.  I’m ok with that.  I’d rather re-develop a strong base and have something to build from moving forward, versus jumping back into ridiculous training and expecting to come out unscathed.

Here are the workotus from this cycle, along with some random notes:


Week 1 -275×5

Week 2 – 285×5

Week 3 – 300×8 (added belt this week)

Training Thoughts:

–  I need to get my anterior core stronger.  This has been a constant theme in my training; as soon as I throw a belt on, it feels like I have a rocket booster in my legs.  This needs to be fixed and will be addressed in later training phases.

–  Bill gave me some good feedback on my hip alignment and what I need to address here.  This will include some serious soft-tissue work, mobility work, and some low-load, long-duration stretches.

–  Overall, I was pretty pleased with the squats.  Obviously the weights are almost 100#’s off my best with a belt, but that will come with time.  Slow and steady.


Week 1 -205×7

Week 2 -220×7

Week 3 – 230×6

Training Thoughts:

–  I still hate the bench, but I was happy to see my numbers stay about the same even with the increased weights from week-to-week.

–  I credit a lot of my improvements here with the added stability from the chins/chest supported rows.  I wrote an entire newsletter about this a while back.  Check it out here: Pulling Up Your Bench.

–  On that same front, I’m starting to have a sick love/hate relationship with the chest supported row.  If you own a gym and don’t have one of these, it should be your next purchase.  We got ours from Elite Fitness.


Week 1 -365×5

Week 2 -390×3 (added belt for last set)

Week 3 -410×2 (added belt for last set)

Training Thoughts:

–  The weights may be the heaviest, but this is the lift I had the most issues with.  Some of it was tied to long work days and having to pull after being at IFAST for 8-10 hours; this is something I’m working to manage in my upcoming cycle.

–  I’m losing my arch a touch at the starting position.  I’m going to keep my weights the same for the next cycle, and pull from a very low pin to see if I can correct this.  I think it will also be addressed with the increased volume/intensity of the anterior/lateral core work I’ll be including.

–  If my back wasn’t feeling a bit dodgy that day, the Week 3 reps would’ve been way up.  I was playing around with some technical things, and the weight really felt light.  Unfortunately, it just wasn’t in the cards that day.

Military Press

Week 1 -105×10

Week 2 -110×9

Week 3 – 115×9

Training Thoughts:

–  As you can see, I grossly underestimated my strength levels on this exercise.  I’m glad I did that, though, as I really had no clue what my max would be on this lift.  I liked the fact that I was getting in some good clean reps.

–  I actually tweaked the program by placing chins first in this workout.  I figured this would help with structural balance, as well as improving my bench stability.  I actually think it worked out quite well.

So those are my thoughts after one cycle of 5-3-1.  I’ll be unloading this week, and then starting back up next Thursday.  Overall, I’m still really pumped about the training program and I think it’s definitely something I’m going to stick with for a while.  If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can find the e-manual over at Elite Fitness.

Stay strong



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  1. just a quick question, if this is your first month on 5/3/1, just wondering why your rep numbers are so low for all your lifts, more specifically your squat and deadlift. are you not taking the last money set for as many reps as possible? Looks like you started with too high of a training max, and you wont be able to run it for 5-7 months like Jim says in his manual.

  2. Hi Mike,
    I’m having the same bench problems you speak of. It goes no where and I am using 5/3/1 and have been for about a year and a half. I have put maybe 10# on it during that time ( I was also injured for a few months too ).
    I want to try the pulling before pressing. What set/rep scheme are you using? I was doing 3-5 sets of 10 with CSR and 4-5 sets of pullups with varying reps.
    Think I am on the right track?

  3. Mike-
    You'll def. Have to post your anterior core work you're going to throw in; I have the same issue with explosive power when I throw a belt on. I've been doing some reverse crunches ab-wheel rollouts, but I'm pretty sure the focus and intensity is lacking with those while it should be increased!
    Glad to see 5/3/1 is good so far; I've been using for 4 month's or so and I really enjoy it, although I've had to drop back down on bench numbers because of an ove-zealous starting max.
    Take care

  4. I hate the bench too !! But I love the deadlift 🙂 (not lying to myself)
    Good work on the program Mike ! I am just finishing my 4th full cycle (due to vacation I had a short cycle of week 1-2 in July, then restarted that cycle again) and my rep records have gone from (end of cycle 1 to end of full cycle 4)"
    Squat: 300 x 2 -> 330 x 4
    Bench: 215 x 3 -> 230 x 3
    Deads: 435 x 3 -> (week 2 result, saturday is week 3) 435 x 6 (think I will hit 460 x 5)
    Military: 130 x 5 -> (week 2 result, saturday is week 3) 130 x 10 (think I will hit 140 x 7-8)
    I am using the triumvirate template and switching things up every two cycles. Love the simplicity and the steady progress. In October I will pair it up with a round of V-diet, think that will work well.

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