In the April issue, we introduced you to the 5/3/1 method by showing you how to do it with two assistance exercises. This is a great template to follow, but there are two other effective options for building muscle mass-the bodybuilder and boring but big templates.

Before we get into those, know that you do not have to limit yourself to improving on just the shoulder press, deadlift, bench press, and squat. You can, and should, rotate your lifts from time to time. Just make sure you're switching to similar movements that work the same basic muscle groups. For instance, you can apply the 5/3/1 method to these substitution lifts.

Shoulder and bench press substitutions: Incline press, rack lockout, floor press, close-grip bench press

Deadlift substitutions: Rack pull, trap-bar deadlift, deadlift standing on plates or step, snatch-grip deadlift

Squat substitutions: Box squat (using different heights), front squat

 

 

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Variation #1: The Bodybuilder Template

Follow the set and rep guidelines for 5/3/1 on your first lift of the day, and then perform four or five assistance lifts with very high volume. Because the volume is a large increase over what we offered you in the magazine, do not take any of your sets to failure. Just go for a big "pump".

Here's an example of how you could set up your training days:

Workout A

  • 1 Barbell Shoulder Press
    Sets and reps according to 5/3/1
  • 2 Barbell Upright Row
    Sets: 4 Reps: 10 Rest: 60-90 sec.
  • 3 Dumbbell Shoulder Press
    Sets: 4 Sets: 12 Rest: 60-90 sec.
  • 4 Bentover Dumbbell Raise
    Sets: 4 Reps: 15 Rest: 60-90 sec.
  • 5 Dumbbell Curl
    Sets: 4 Reps: 12 Rest: 60-90 sec.

Workout B

  • 1 Deadlift
    Sets and reps according to 5/3/1
  • 2 Chinup
    Sets: 4 Reps: 10 Rest: 60-90 sec.
  • 3 Dumbbell Row
    Sets: 4 Reps: 15 Rest: 60-90 sec.
  • 4 Back Extension
    Sets: 4 Reps: 25 Rest: 60-90 sec.
  • 5 Ab Wheel Rollout
    Sets: 4 Reps: 15 Rest: 60-90 sec.

Workout C

  • 1 Bench Press
    Sets and reps according to 5/3/1
  • 2 Dumbbell Bench Press
    Sets: 4 Reps: 10 Rest: 60-90 sec.
  • 3 Dip
    Sets: 4 Reps: 10 Rest: 60-90 sec.
  • 4 Dumbbell Fly
    Sets: 4 Reps: 10 Rest: 60-90 sec.
  • 5 Triceps Pushdown
    Sets: 4 Reps: 10-15 Rest: 60-90 sec.

Workout D

  • 1 Squat
    Sets and reps according to 5/3/1
  • 2 Leg Press
    Sets: 4 Reps: 10-15 Rest: 60-90 sec.
  • 3 Leg Extension
    Sets: 4 Reps: 12 Rest: 60-90 sec.
  • 4 Leg Curl
    Sets: 4 Reps: 12 Rest: 60-90 sec.
  • 5 Situp
    Sets: 4 Reps: 25 Rest: 60-90 sec.

Back to 5/3/1 Variations

 

 

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Variation #1: Boring But Big

In this template, you'll only do two assistance lifts, one of which will be a repetition of your main lift for the day, but using a moderate weight and very high volume. The other will either work a complementary group of muscles or your core. The lack of variety means it's not the most exciting way to train, but it will build muscle and strength quickly.

Workout A

  • 1 Barbell Shoulder Press
    Sets and reps according to 5/3/1
  • 2 Barbell Shoulder Press
    Sets: 5 Reps: 10 using 50%-60% of your max Rest: 60-90 sec.
  • 3 Chinup
    Sets: 5 Reps: As many as possible Rest: 60-90 sec.

Workout B

  • 1 Deadlift
    Sets and reps according to 5/3/1
  • 2 Deadlift
    Sets: 5 Reps: 10 using 50%-60% of your max Rest: 60-90 sec.
  • 3 Hanging Leg Raise
    Sets: 5 Reps: 12 Rest: 60-90 sec.

Workout C

  • 1 Bench Press
    Sets and reps according to 5/3/1
  • 2 Bench Press
    Sets: 5 Reps: 10 using 50%-60% of your max Rest: 60-90 sec.
  • 3 Dumbbell Row
    Sets: 5 Reps: 10-20 Rest: 60-90 sec.

Workout D

  • 1 Squat
    Sets and reps according to 5/3/1
  • 2 Squat
    Sets: 5 Reps: 10 using 50%-60% of your max Rest: 60-90 sec.
  • 3 Leg Curl
    Sets: 5 Reps: 10 Rest: 60-90 sec.

Back to 5/3/1 Variations