5/3/1 Upper/Lower Split for Strength & Mass

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Quick & Dirty Summary on 5/3/1

5/3/1 was originally created by Jim Wendler

The load you will be lifting on the big four (and when I say big four I mean the overhead press, bench press, squat and deadlift) will be based off of 90% of your 1 rep max (1RM). One cycle of 5/3/1 is four weeks with the fourth week being a deload (optional on the first cycle you do). After completing one cycle you add 2.5% to the big four lifts OR 10 lbs to the lower lifts or 5 lbs to the upper lifts.

Week 1:

Reps
5/5/5+ (Note 5+ means as many reps as possible but at least 5)

% of Load (90% of your 1RM)
65/75/85

% of 1RM
59/68/77

Week 2:

Reps
3/3/3+

% of Load (90% of your 1RM)
70/80/90

% of 1RM
63/72/81

Week 3:

Reps
5/3/1+

% of Load (90% of your 1RM)
75/85/95

% of 1RM
68/77/86

Week 4(deload optional on 1st and 2nd cycle)

Reps
5/5/5*

% of Load (90% of your 1RM)
40/50/60

% of 1RM
36/45/54

Your 1 rep max is the most weight you can lift for a single repetition. You don’t need to know it to find it. There are formulas and calculators for it. https://strengthlevel.com/one-rep-max-calculator is one such calculator.

You will need to know 90% of your 1 rep max.

In week one your first set is 5 reps with 65% of 90% of your 1 rep max or 59% of your 1 rep max (because 65% of 90% is 59% (58.5 technically — 65/100 = 0.65. 0.65 x 90 = 59%). Next set is 68% of your 1 rep max for 5 reps and the last set is 5 or more reps at 77% of your 1 rep max. So if your 1RM on bench is 315.

90% of 315 is 283.5 so round down to 283 (not up in this situation)

First set is 5 reps of 167 lbs because 65% of (0.65 x ) 283 is 166.97. Second set is 5 x 192. Last set is 5 (or more) x 218 lbs.

As an example. That describes the base program and progression. There are no plateaus in 5/3/1 and it can be used by both intermediate and advanced lifters indefinitely. However novice lifters would progress better on a linear progression scheme.

Routine

Upper (Bench Focus)

Bench Press 5/3/1 Reps (see above), FSL*
Barbell Row 3-4 x 8-12**
Rear Delt Flyes 3-4 x 8-12
Lateral Raises 4 x 8-12
Seated DB Shrugs 3-4 x 8-15
Curls 3-4 x 8-15
Skullcrushers 3-4 x 8-15

* First Set Last. So you do 3-4 sets of 5-8 after you’ve finished.
** You can also do dumbbell, T-bar or seated cable rows

Lower (Squat Focus)

Squat 5/3/1 then FSL
Leg Press 3 x 8-10
Romanian Deadlift 3 x 8-12
Hanging Leg Raises 4 x failure
Calf Raises 4 x 15-20

Upper (Overhead Press)

Press 5/3/1, FSL
Chin ups * 3-4 x 8-12
Incline Dumbbell Press 3-4 x 8-12
Incline Flyes or Pec Dec or Low Cablecrossovers 4 x 8-12
Seated DB Shrugs 3-4 x 8-15
Curls 3-4 x 8-15
Skullcrushers 3-4 x 8-15

* weighted or unweighted, pull ups can also suffice and so can wide grip Lat pulldowns

Lower (Deadlift Focus)

Deadlift 5/3/1 FSL
Leg Press 3 x 8-10
Good Mornings 3 x 8-12
Hanging Leg Raises 4 x failure
Calf Raises 4 x 15-20

Schedule

Monday – Upper (Bench Focus)
Tuesday – Lower (Squat Focus)
Wednesday – Upper (Press Focus)
Thursday – Lower (Deadlift Focus)

The routine is organized so you build strength in one of the main lifts and hypertrophy in the other areas to avoid fatigue and burn out.

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