A lot of you have asked how my 5/3/1 training is going, so I thought it’s about time I gave you all an update! I’m currently completing the second week of my second round of the program, and I’m loving it so far.
I found the first four week cycle quite easy. But I was never expecting to break PRs left and right – the good thing about all the meticulous calculations involved is that I know exactly what weight I’ll be lifting, weeks in advance. Consequently, there were no surprises when I was able to perform 5-7 extra repetitions during my max effort attempts.
Because all of the weights are based on 90 per cent of my actual one rep max, I knew it was going to take several cycles of the program to see gains, simply because I have lifted these numbers before. But it’s amazing how adding a small five pounds to my upper body 1RMs and 10 pounds to my lower body 1RMs can make such a difference. Everything feels much harder (but still manageable without busting a gut!), and I know I will not really be challenged until the third cycle.
That being said, I do feel stronger already. Because I never perform anything more than five reps for the main lifts, I have much more energy for my max attempt lifts. There is something mentally easier about performing less repetitions, even if the weight is heavier. It’s easy to tell myself I only have to do one or three reps, and then the set will be over and I can rest for three minutes.
This program has really taught me to be patient and progress my lifts in an intelligent way. Instead of constantly trying to add more weight to the bar at every opportunity, the 5/3/1 program forces you to slow down and plan your PRs. You often have to check your ego at the door, because you’re lifting less than you might normally. There have been a number of occasions I’ve wanted to disregard my pre-planned weight, but I have to keep the overall goal of the program in mind and perform the lift as prescribed.
I absolutely love being in and out of the gym in only 30 minutes. I’ve been devoting much more time to mobility work and foam rolling, and my body is thanking me. I barely break a sweat during my workouts, however, so this training style may be difficult for those of you who love to sweat. You do spend a lot of time resting, and it does make you question whether you are working hard enough.
Even though I’m only averaging 12 sets in total per workout, I’m experiencing a lot more DOMS – not that it’s an indicator of performance, but it does provide reassurance.
I know something is working well, because ever since I started this program I’ve been tearing through food. About an hour after eating a huge post workout meal, I’m ready to eat again. On one memorable occasion I ate three times in three hours because I was so hungry!
I need to do a separate post about how I’m eating now and why, but I’ve recently started incorporating carbs into my last meal of the day. So far, so good.
Hopefully I can report back next month with some new PRs!
Is there anything else you’d like to know about the 5/3/1 program? Are you curious to try it?