How to do the 5/3/1 routine to gain strength

One of the most popular workout programs in the weightlifting arena is the 5/3/1 workout. Its name refers to the variation in repetitions of each the weeks go by. Both progression and scheduling of sets and amount of weight are the fundamental foundations of this plan.

With an ideal intensity of 4 days a week, the 5/3/1 routine is intended to increase muscle mass. However, it is also adaptable to beginner-level people.

Weight control must be rigorous and must be appropriate for driving. While not a complex program, it does require you to follow the recommendations.

Where did the 5/3/1 routine come from?

The creator of the 5/3/1 routine is professional lifter Jim Wendler, who broke all-time records powerlifting during his career. Wendler said he was looking for an easy-to-follow plan geared towards avoiding distractions and focusing on hypertrophy training.

His success has led him to write about the program in several publications and it is used by millions of athletes, including all ages, levels and abilities. One of Wendler’s greatest assets is his ability to simplify training plans with complex variations.

The keys to the routine 5/3/1

This program is based on emphasizing multi-joint movements, i.e. those that work several joints at the same time. This is a very effective method for strength training. The plan is structured around 4 fundamental exercises: to press military, to press bench press, squat and deadlift.

Also included are other complementary or accessory movements, which can be mastered, push-ups, rowing with a dumbbell or bar, to press on the bench or strides, among others. All distributed over 3 or 4 training days per week, although the ideal design is adapted to 4.

The 5/3/1 routine is characterized by being a simple but effective plan. Used by athletes of all ages and levels, it is useful for people who decide to increase muscle mass but find themselves stuck on their goals. It is important to pay attention to progression and al intensityas set in the program.

Increase muscle mass with the 5/3/1 routine.
When there is a plateau in training and hypertrophy is not achieved, it may be a good option to try the 5/3/1 routine.

Goals and intensity

The main goal is to gain strength and muscle mass. A progression from light weight to more challenging levels is used to achieve this. Of course this should be tailored to individual fitness, experience and needs.

If you want to get an effective 5/3/1 routine, it is not recommended to change the days, the number of repetitions or the basic exercises. On the other hand, like any hypertrophy-oriented training plan, it must be supplemented with an adequate protein and carbohydrate diet.

Steps to perform the 5/3/1 routine

The weekly calendar must be schematized with 4 training days and 3 rest days. Always keeping in mind that you shouldn’t train more than 2 days in a row.

First, the number of repetitions is described as the weeks go by, as each one has a different cycle:

  • Week 1: The plan starts with 3 sets of 5 reps each on the main exercise.
  • week 2: continue with 3 sets of 3 repetitions each. Weights will increase as follows.
  • week 3: the third week gives the routine its name, as one set of 5 reps is done and then another of 3. Finally, just one more rep is done with as much weight as possible. That is, 5/3/1.
  • week 4: the fourth week is called download, because 3 sets of 5 repetitions are performed again, but with less weight. From this moment it is also possible to start a new cycle.

amount of weight

The calculation for this routine is based on maximum weight a person can lift per repetition.90% of that estimated number should be taken into account. That is, if a person’s maximum weight is 100 kilograms for a given exercise, then 90 kilograms will be taken into account.

The percentages established in the routine are always based on 90%. For example, a workout with 65% weight, taking into account the 90 max, means that you have to carry 58.5 kilograms (65% of 90%).

These weight levels are added to the weekly table presented in the previous point:

  • Week 1: the 5 reps should start with 65% of the weight and increase with each set. That is, it ends at 85%.
  • week 2: the first series starts at 70%. Continue at 80% and finish at 90%.
  • week 3: for 5/3/1 it starts at 75% and ends at 95%. This is the most challenging moment of the training.
  • week 4: at this moment the intensity is lowered, so we start at 40% and finish the last series at 60%.

Complete the 5/3/1 routine and complementary exercises

A complete weekly chart, based on 4 days and including ancillary exercises, would be as follows.


Start with 3 sets of 5 reps each a to press military, that is, the basic exercise. This must be adapted to each week according to the program already described. Continue with to press bench press, pull-ups and barbell rows. In all 3 cases apply 10 repetitions per set.

military press.
He to press military is the basic exercise on Monday. It repeats every week according to the indications of the plan.


The main movement is the deadlift. For the accessories, perform 3 sets of 10 reps on squats, lunges and leg raises. Always with intermediate breaks of between 3 and 5 minutes.


day destined to to press of bank. Complementary ones are to press soldier and row of dumbbells. He remembers that the first week starts with 3 sets of 5 reps, continues with 3 of 3, then 5/3/1.


The last basic exercise is the squat. Combine them with dead weight, curl up thigh and calf lifts. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday are dedicated to rest. Repeat for 4 weeks, in the indicated increments, and start the cycle again.

Importance of preheating

While it’s not an aerobic routine, it’s important to do a few warm-up sets first. The goal is to avoid bad posture and injuries. One possibility is to complete 3 sets with 5 repetitions of each exercise before the weights indicated in the program.

That is, it starts with a 40% progression, goes through 50%, and ends at 60%. If possible, include some flexibility and cardio movements. This can be added on any of the rest days.

The post How To Do The 5/3/1 Routine To Gain Strength first appeared in research-school.



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