Eye-opening for sure.
Wendler says a few things about the “press” days. Things like for every 1 pushing rep you should do at least 2 pulling reps. That in between your pushing sets you should do some sort of pulling, like pull-ups. Basically it’s a way to get a lot of back volume because back is important.
When I first did 5/3/1 some years ago, I didn’t do this. I did some back work, yes, but I didn’t do the above because 1. I couldn’t do pull-ups (fatter, weaker), and 2. I had a wussy attitude. You see, when you don’t have much, every little bit is significant; but when you have a lot, you don’t consider the details as much. For example, I’m tall and when people ask how tall I am I say things like “6 foot something”. My wife is short, so when people ask how tall she is she says “5 feet 4 and 1/4 inches” — that 1/4 is important! And so it was for me back then I was afraid that trying to do back work in between my pressing sets would detract and tire me out and keep me from getting all the reps or getting that weight number — I was weak (minded) and wanted every little bit I could get.
But it’s been a few years, and I know that sure maybe it will detract a little bit — at first — but over the long haul I’m going to be better and stronger for it all.
So this time as I 5/3/1 I’m making sure to do pulling work in between my pressing work, because 1. I finally can, 2. I’m stronger (minded).
How did things go?
The pull-ups were very strict — dead-hang, chin above the bar, no swinging, no momentum, fully reset between reps. That worked well.
The pressing? Well, just a few days ago I was benching and my AMRAP set was 195 for 11 reps. Today’s PR set was 195… and I got 12 reps AND had a couple left in the tank. So does pull-ups in between each set detract? I don’t think so. 🙂 Granted it’s not a total apples-to-apples comparison, but good enough to demonstrate that it’s just good for me.
On the pull-ups I generally got 5 reps per set, which was really cool. I’m taking longer rests between sets, and I think that’s going to pay off in terms of better recovery and thus greater volume. Thing is, at the end of the session I totaled up all the pulling reps I did and basically did hit that “twice as many pulling as pushing reps” metric; not precisely, but very close enough. I dug that. 🙂
The wide, neutral-grip lat pulldowns were interesting. Yeah, I got some lat work in there, but I really felt it in my rear delts and that area. It’s been interesting to see how various handles on the pulldowns have hit different things for me. Like the v-bar really hits the middle of my upper back (and my lats). This wide, neutral-grip really hits my rear delts and that outer-upper back (and my lats). Something like a curl-grip pulldown really really works my lats. Quite interesting. Mostly because some time ago when back work still didn’t “move me”, I didn’t feel much difference between the grips/handles. But as I’ve gotten better at really working my back muscles, I’m finding the differences. It’s cool.
The DB rows were “Kroc-style”. I can’t do true Kroc Rows (implies you take the heaviest db in the place and rep it out). But I do the approach of 2 10-rep sets to warm up, then hit the last set for 20-40 reps. Dig that.
I found that my back was worked well, but not killed — that whole “stimulate, don’t annihilate”. My back hasn’t felt like this before; pretty cool.
I actually didn’t feel like I got enough pressing work, but I have to remember the pressing work is of a different orientation, so just roll with the program.
So far, digging the SST.
Music: Metallica, on shuffle…. and hitting “skip” a lot when it comes to particular albums. 😉
5/3/1 Simplest Strength Template
- Bench Press
- bar x whatever
- 95 x 5 (warmup sets superset with band pull-aparts)
- 115 x 5
- 140 x 3
- 150 x 5 (work sets superset with neutral-grip pull-ups)
- 170 x 5
- 195 x 12
- Incline Press
- 105 x 10 (sets superset with neutral-grip pull-ups)
- 125 x 10
- 145 x 10
- Wide, neutral-grip Pulldowns
- 110 x 15
- 110 x 15
- 110 x 12
- DB Rows
- 55 x 10
- 55 x 10
- 55 x 21
- Overhead Triceps Extensions
- 40 x 20
- 40 x 20
- 40 x 15
- Hammer Curls
- 25e x 15
- 25e x 12
- 25e x 9