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5/3/1 Method

Change up your routine with this popular strategy for gaining major strength

WHAT IT IS A popular strategy using weights much lighter than your max.

ORIGIN Unveiled in 2008 by powerlifter and strength coach Jim Wendler. DO IT Choose four barbell lifts you want to improve, such as the overhead press, deadlifts, bench press, and squat. Estimate the most you can lift on each and then take 90% of those numbers. You’ll base your workouts on those new values. Each week, you’ll do three sets using percentages of those values. The first week, you’ll do 65%, 75%, and 85% for five reps each. The second week goes 70%, 80%, and 90% for three reps. The third week is done with 75%, 85%, and 95% for five, three, and one rep, respectively. On the third set each week, you can do more than the prescribed five, three, or one rep. Push yourself to do as many as you can. Reduce your loads on the fourth week so the workouts won’t be taxing. Then increase the 90% max by five to 10 pounds for the next month.

THE GOOD Users can increase their max without training with max weight, which improves recovery and lessens the risk of injury and overtraining.

CAUTION! You need to increase the loads you’re lifting gradually. Resist the urge to go heavier sooner than prescribed. If you can’t get more than the prescribed reps in any workout, you need to lighten the load. To buy the 5/3/1 ebook, go to elitefts.com

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