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5/3/1 Big But Boring - what the government doesn't want you to know

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  • 5/3/1 Big But Boring - what the government doesn't want you to know

    I've been doing 5/3/1 BBB for just over a month now. A few observations:

    1. While I had a really hard time limiting the exercises, I finally settled on the following.

    Day 1
    Overhead press 5/3/1
    Close grip bench 5x10
    Chin-ups 5x10

    Day 2
    Deadlifts 5/3/1
    Front squats 5x10
    Ab wheel

    Day 3
    Bench press 5/3/1
    Incline bench 5x10
    Dumbbell rows 5x10

    Day 4
    Power cleans 8x3
    Squats 5/3/1
    Stiff leg deads 5x10

    I'm still trying to forgive myself for not doing dips, but there's just no room for them.

    2. Damn this feels good. Upper body days in particular. I didn't get nearly as sore on StrongLifts. I know soreness doesn't necessarily mean it's working, but it sure feels good.

    3. Damn this makes me hungry. Intermittent fasting is out of the question for now. I'm up 13 pounds from a month ago, though a big chunk of that is surely water retention from creatine.

    4. I'm not sure how I feel about pyramids. If they work, then fine. I just wouldn't have thought it's a good idea to wear yourself out before your heaviest set, which will then not be as heavy as it could be.

    It also makes it harder to observe progress. On StrongLifts, I overhead pressed 100 lbs for 5 reps when starting fresh (after some easy warmup sets). On 5/3/1, I overhead pressed 95 lbs for 7 reps after pre-frying my shoulders. So did I make progress, or not?

    5. Deadlifts might be a problem with this much volume. It hurts to stand up before I even get to the last set. Not fun, especially when followed by front squats. I might have to drop some deadlift sets.

    6. Why all this confusion about what percentage of your max to use for the BBB sets? Why not just do sets across with the most weight you can do for 5x10?

    7. I skipped the deload week after the first cycle. I hate taking time off, and I didn't think I needed it. I think after the next cycle, I'll just take a week off instead of doing a deload week. That would be less of a tease than warming up and going home.

    8. I guess they call the 5/3/1 book the Bible of strength training because of all the contradictions. Like he says something like, "Have a shake with 50g of protein powder after every meal, no matter how full you feel. If you can't do this at least 90% of the time, you sound very average to me." Then later, "I don't recommend protein powders. You should get all your protein from whole foods."

    Then there's some BS like "Dumbbell bench presses cannot be used for the main lift, only for assistance. If you have to ask why, then you obviously haven't been lifting very long." And "I forgot to include worksheets to calculate the numbers for you, but here's what I know about Excel" and "This is how I do math, because I never learned fractions or algebra." It's still a decent book, it just needs a lot of cleaning up.
    "Don't go in there, General, it's a trap! That's a grain chamber. It makes people like you into people like me."

  • #2
    I'm gunna start this next month.

    I looked at the numbers thou for the lifts I would be doing and they do seem low and tried it out 4 1 session.

    My 1 rep deadlift is : 155kg or 3rep 145kg. That means : 90% would 140kg

    But then
    5@ 65% 92.5kg . I usually warm for 10@ this weight before

    5@ 75% 105kg not breaking sweat.

    5+ @ 85% 120kg still light so look advised I bang out as much as possible ! X 18 .

    The finally 1 yeah 18 @ 120kg I pushed myself to the limit but the 65% 75% .

    I take it , that will be the same scenario 4 all the compounds?


    Is this correct or am I reading the ebook wrong?

    I understand slow progression and obviously it will get tougher .


    London UK

    Comment


    • #3
      I am a fan of the reverse-pyramid style....for example, today with bench was 285x2, 265x5, 245x6. I do this with every weight on down.

      I like being able to warm up and jack myself up for that FIRST benchmark lift. It makes tracking progress easier, and for me that is a little bit of a holy grail to lifting for the compliance it gives.
      "The soul that does not attempt flight; does not notice its chains."

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by TheyCallMeLazarus View Post
        I am a fan of the reverse-pyramid style....for example, today with bench was 285x2, 265x5, 245x6. I do this with every weight on down.

        I like being able to warm up and jack myself up for that FIRST benchmark lift. It makes tracking progress easier, and for me that is a little bit of a holy grail to lifting for the compliance it gives.
        Same here, and it seems to make the biggest difference on the 3's or 1's week. I wondered if when deadlifting this way that the 2 lighter sets could be done as deficits or snatch grip to make it more interesting.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Ryancarter1986 View Post
          My 1 rep deadlift is : 155kg or 3rep 145kg. That means : 90% would 140kg

          But then
          5@ 65% 92.5kg . I usually warm for 10@ this weight before

          5@ 75% 105kg not breaking sweat.

          5+ @ 85% 120kg still light so look advised I bang out as much as possible ! X 18 .
          I think it's normal to have some work sets that are lighter than what used to be warmup sets, but getting 18 reps on the last set is highly unusual. With 18 reps at 120, Wendler's formula predicts a 1 RM of 190. The most reps I ever got on a 5+ set is 9.
          "Don't go in there, General, it's a trap! That's a grain chamber. It makes people like you into people like me."

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by PrimalHunter View Post
            I've been doing 5/3/1 BBB for just over a month now. A few observations:

            4. I'm not sure how I feel about pyramids. If they work, then fine. I just wouldn't have thought it's a good idea to wear yourself out before your heaviest set, which will then not be as heavy as it could be.

            It also makes it harder to observe progress. On StrongLifts, I overhead pressed 100 lbs for 5 reps when starting fresh (after some easy warmup sets). On 5/3/1, I overhead pressed 95 lbs for 7 reps after pre-frying my shoulders. So did I make progress, or not?

            5. Deadlifts might be a problem with this much volume. It hurts to stand up before I even get to the last set. Not fun, especially when followed by front squats. I might have to drop some deadlift sets.
            Why were your shoulders pre-fried? How many warm up sets are you doing? If it's just a couple light warm ups and the 5/3/1 sets, I don't see what the problem is. Also, how much volume are you doing on DL? You might want to reasses your form if it hurts to stand up after a few sets.

            I'm almost done with the first month of the BBB 3-month challenge and I'm loving it:
            T NATION | The Boring But Big 3-Month Challenge

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by PrimalHunter View Post
              I think it's normal to have some work sets that are lighter than what used to be warmup sets, but getting 18 reps on the last set is highly unusual. With 18 reps at 120, Wendler's formula predicts a 1 RM of 190. The most reps I ever got on a 5+ set is 9.
              I was using 150 as 1 rep max as I can do 145kg 3 reps thou so 90% of that is 135kg correct.
              So 135 is now my new 100% . So work of % of that:
              65% : 87.5kg actually did 90
              75% : 101.25 actually did 102.5
              85% : 114.75 done 15

              Now I got 18 reps on the last one?
              This was the 1 st time I used this formula .

              I wanna do the programme but is this the standard protocol ?

              Thoughts?




              London UK

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Ryancarter1986 View Post
                I was using 150 as 1 rep max as I can do 145kg 3 reps thou so 90% of that is 135kg correct.
                So 135 is now my new 100% . So work of % of that:
                65% : 87.5kg actually did 90
                75% : 101.25 actually did 102.5
                85% : 114.75 done 15

                Now I got 18 reps on the last one?
                This was the 1 st time I used this formula .

                I wanna do the programme but is this the standard protocol ?

                Thoughts?




                London UK
                Yes, it is standard protocol to start with a relatively light weight. However, your numbers are a little unusual, as mentioned previously. Either your 1RM is relatively low or your endurance at reasonably high percentage of 1RM is relatively high.

                To give you an idea of what is more standard (knowing others with similar ratios etc,). At 75kg bodyweight my 1RM is 165 when last tested (maybe 170 now), so if I take 90% of that (start point for 5/3/1) and then 85% of that I get 125kg to the nearest 2.5kg (rounded down obviously). I could maybe get 10-15 reps at that tops when fresh and almost certainly with heavily compromised form in the later reps. Ability to do high rep work though is largely determined by endurance levels and previous training, as opposed to outright maximal strength.

                Some points to be aware of:

                1) At high rep ranges, the relationship to 1RM is almost impossible to determine e.g. knowing someone's 3RM gives a very good idea of likely 1RM, whereas knowing there 15 or 20RM doesn't
                2) The 5+/3+/1+ sets assume good form for all reps and that a couple of reps should be left in the tank
                3) The first cycle will feel very light, in a few cycles time when the weight is potentially 15kg heavier, it won't
                4) Wendler explains that it is much better to start too light, than too heavy, which may cause you to stall prematurely.

                EDIT: Speaking from personal experience, the program is extremely effective.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by yodiewan View Post
                  Why were your shoulders pre-fried? How many warm up sets are you doing? If it's just a couple light warm ups and the 5/3/1 sets, I don't see what the problem is.
                  I did what the program calls for - three warm up sets and three 5/3/1 sets. The problem is that every set takes something out of you. Not the warmups so much (they're a bit light, even for warmups), but the first two 5/3/1 sets definitely count. Your performance on the last set will be somewhat hindered by the previous sets. Maybe it only costs you a rep or two, but doesn't that matter if we're going for PRs?

                  Originally posted by yodiewan View Post
                  Also, how much volume are you doing on DL? You might want to reasses your form if it hurts to stand up after a few sets.
                  Three warm up sets and three 5/3/1 sets. You really think it's a form problem? I thought "Oh, this is why StrongLifts only has you doing one set of deads."
                  "Don't go in there, General, it's a trap! That's a grain chamber. It makes people like you into people like me."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    blackironbeast.com - 5/3/1 Calculator

                    Try the Bastard option for work sets order. Thats what I do, and I can't really say that I find doing the heaviest set first to be the 'bastard' option. However I dont follow the calculated warmup sets; they are calculated based on the standard option, and leave a pretty large jump in weight from the last warmup to the first heavy set that I don't like. I usually do 2 more reps at a weight closer to the work weight for the first set.

                    EDIT: Stronglifts only has you deadlifting for 1 set of 5, but it also has you squatting 3 times per week for 5 sets. I think it evens out in the end, but I've always liked deadlifting more than squatting. YMMV
                    Last edited by boomingno; 07-22-2013, 10:55 AM. Reason: added deadlift commentary

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by boomingno View Post
                      Try the Bastard option for work sets order.
                      I might end up doing that. However, instead of doing say 85%, 75%, 65%, I'd want to do 85%, 85%, 85%. Or maybe drop the weight 5-10 lbs if I didn't think I could get all the reps again at the same weight.

                      Originally posted by boomingno View Post
                      EDIT: Stronglifts only has you deadlifting for 1 set of 5, but it also has you squatting 3 times per week for 5 sets. I think it evens out in the end, but I've always liked deadlifting more than squatting. YMMV
                      I've always liked squatting much more. Deadlifting has always been mostly a grip test for me, and now with six total sets it also hurts my lower back.
                      "Don't go in there, General, it's a trap! That's a grain chamber. It makes people like you into people like me."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by PrimalHunter View Post
                        Three warm up sets and three 5/3/1 sets. You really think it's a form problem? I thought "Oh, this is why StrongLifts only has you doing one set of deads."
                        Thanks for the clarification. I guess the first two sets do take some out of you, especially on Week 3. That's one reason I kinda like the BBB 3-month challenge I'm doing right now: you just do the prescribed reps instead of going for a rep max. I think it still makes sense to sufficiently warm up. I don't know. Maybe try doing triples or doubles instead of sets of 5. Or just rest a little longer before your big set.

                        You may have prefect form, I don't know. When you say it's hard to stand up, why is that? Just that you're gassed, or does your back hurt? If it's back pain/tightness, I'd definitely check my form. If not, maybe you're fine. Either way, I think you can do as many reps as you want as long as you maintain very good form for all your reps. I know I used to do too many reps on DL and would let my form get sloppy just so I could finish my sets or set a new rep record. I'm done with that. Form is paramount.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by PrimalHunter View Post
                          I did what the program calls for - three warm up sets and three 5/3/1 sets. The problem is that every set takes something out of you. Not the warmups so much (they're a bit light, even for warmups), but the first two 5/3/1 sets definitely count. Your performance on the last set will be somewhat hindered by the previous sets. Maybe it only costs you a rep or two, but doesn't that matter if we're going for PRs?



                          Three warm up sets and three 5/3/1 sets. You really think it's a form problem? I thought "Oh, this is why StrongLifts only has you doing one set of deads."


                          That is the idea; your muscles are pre fatigued from the earlier volume. Run a few cycles and see what happens. Remember, as a novice you sometimes need more sub-maximal volume in order to induce growth and progress. The whole theory behind 5/3/1 is you don't have to be lifting your heaviest weights every time.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by CE402 View Post
                            The whole theory behind 5/3/1 is you don't have to be lifting your heaviest weights every time.
                            This is what I thought I would try 5/3/1. Thing is, once you have added enough weight over time, you're back up to your heaviest weights again. Also, rep % calculators are pretty inaccurate for women.
                            Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by yodiewan View Post
                              Maybe try doing triples or doubles instead of sets of 5. Or just rest a little longer before your big set.
                              I think I'll just take a longer rest before the big set for now. I don't plan on tampering with the sets in the near future, with the possible exception of eliminating some deadlift sets.

                              Originally posted by yodiewan View Post
                              When you say it's hard to stand up, why is that? Just that you're gassed, or does your back hurt? If it's back pain/tightness, I'd definitely check my form. If not, maybe you're fine. Either way, I think you can do as many reps as you want as long as you maintain very good form for all your reps. I know I used to do too many reps on DL and would let my form get sloppy just so I could finish my sets or set a new rep record. I'm done with that. Form is paramount.
                              It makes my lower back hurt, and sitting down between sets takes the load off. The only thing with my form that I know some people won't like is that I don't drag the bar up my legs. I let the bar hang naturally, so it's slightly in front of my legs most of the time and only touches them at the very bottom and the very top. I know it's supposed to be easier on your lower back if you're actually scraping your legs, but I never did that because it seems like a good way to get bruises. I guess I can try it though.

                              Originally posted by CE402 View Post
                              That is the idea; your muscles are pre fatigued from the earlier volume. Run a few cycles and see what happens. Remember, as a novice you sometimes need more sub-maximal volume in order to induce growth and progress. The whole theory behind 5/3/1 is you don't have to be lifting your heaviest weights every time.
                              That could be true, though it conflicts with what some people say. Anyway, if it works, it works. I just think it's a bit inconsistent with the idea of rep maxes. Jim Wendler talks about finding your new 1 RMs after the 5/3/1 sets by doing just the prescribed reps, then testing your max. But obviously whatever you can lift after the 5/3/1 sets is not really your max!
                              "Don't go in there, General, it's a trap! That's a grain chamber. It makes people like you into people like me."

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