5-3-2

After yesterday’s post on Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1 system, I though about how I would probably incorporate into my training. I had a couple of ideas – more of them in another post maybe – but the most important is that I’d probably do 5-3-2

The reason for that is that I am really not into singles. I am not planning to compete in powerlifting, and I am doing this for health reasons. IMHO singles are just not a risk worth taking. I’d say by the way that Jim doesn’t really do singles: if you believe his formula – the one that says that for every 3 reps you lose 10% on your PR – and if you have been honest then you’ll be doing at least two reps at 95% of your 1RM.

I also like to think about the program in “waves”, each which a certain target, and rather than calling the weight in week 3 / set 3 “95%” I prefer calling it “100%” and think about it as something like my 2RM.

With this the protocol becomes

Period 1 2 3-PR 4-Deload
Set 1 70% 75% 80% 45%
2 80% 85% 90% 55%
3 90% 95% 100% 65%

the alternate protocol becomes

Period 1 2 3-PR 4-Deload
Set 1 80% 85% 80% 45%
2 85% 90% 90% 55%
3 90% 95% 100% 65%

and the rep-scheme becomes

Period 1 2 3-PR 4-Deload
Set 1 5 3 5 5
2 5 3 3 5
3* 5 3 2 5

with set 3 again being AMRAP.

I also note that this protocol seems rather “recoverable”, especially when done at a level far away from one’s genetic max (arguable one could do 5×5 or 3×5 there as well, but 5-3-2 seems more gentle).  One could hence probably schedule the periods closer than weekly – at the limit (and especially when not doing all four exercises) one could probably do something like

  • Period 1 on Monday
  • Period 2 on Wednesday
  • Period 3 (“PR”) on Friday
  • Period 4 (“Deload”) on Sunday

Then rinse and repeat, increasing with something like 5% or 5kg, whatever is smaller. And put in a full deload / rest week after 3-4 full cycles or so.

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