Training – change up

I need to change my workout program because of goals and injuries.

I’ve been following 5/3/1, and I’m going to continue with 5/3/1 as my base. However I’ve been generally following templates and now I’m going to do what I need to do to address my needs.

The work for the past 2.5 months has been basically following the “5/3/1 for Powerlifting, Off-Season for Mass” template, because I was aiming to drop some weight. Alas, I didn’t drop much weight at all. I’m not happy about it, but I know what’s up. I will say it did help me get things under control so I’m not continuing to grow. I’ll go with that for now. The bottom line is if I want to continue to achieve my main goal (3/4/5), I have to feed myself and I just have to deal with it. However, getting things reigned in is also good, and this gave me what I needed in that regard.

But what’s also changed is injury.

I’m pretty sure my knee problems are because of the Cecil Burch combatives weekend.  But for sure, it’s making everything difficult. Even bench pressing is a pain because leg drive.

However in conjunction with this, I’ve used 5/3/1 enough over the years to know that while it’s great for getting strong, it’s also rough on my body. When I spent a lot of time exploring Paul Carter’s methodologies, I found that his work did a lot to give my body what it needed. For example, unilateral work has been a very good thing for my knees, even tho I hate doing it.

So what I’m going to do is keep 5/3/1 as my base, but then structure the work in my own way: no more templates.

Here’s my current thinking:


  • Squat – 5/3/1 with rep PR on the last set
  • Pause Squat, 3×3-5; using weight from the first work set
  • Leg Extensions/Split Squats/Lunges – 4×10-20. Exactly what I do here I don’t know. I’d like to do splits/lunges, but if the knees complain I may just go with extensions until things get built up.
  • Ab work, 3xWhatever

The intention here is to squat with a strength focus. Pause squats will give me some additional squat volume, which is not just good for volume but also a little more time squatting and thus can focus on technique (esp. since it will be lighter weight). And it’s a little less stressful. Then I’d like unilateral work, but it just depends how the body wants to go.

It does seem like less work, and I may need to add in some work here (who knows, it may be lunges/splits, then leg extensions). TBD. I want to ensure I get work, but not overwork – recovery is vital. I’ve found “jack shit” days are great because I know I’m only going to do X amount of work, so I put everything into that and often I think I get more out of such an approach. So if I can do less but pour more into it? That could be good for me at this stage. I expect I will up the work in time, but right now it’s about making the legs happy again.

Bench Press

Note: I am also shifting back to running my week: squat, bench, deadlift, press. I prefer this ordering. I am going to stick with 4x/week for now, because I expect with a little less overall work it should play better into recovery.

  • Bench Press – 5/3/1 with rep PR on last set
  • Bench Press, pyramiding back down the work weights. 2 x AMRAP
  • DB Bench – 3×10
  • All benching superset with cable rows, 10-15 reps
  • Kroc Row, 2×10 then 1xAMRAP (aiming for 20-40 reps)
  • Upright Row, 3×12
  • Overhead Rope Extensions, 3×12
  • BB Curl, 3×12

The focus here is strength and rounding out the upper body. So the volume is pulled back, but I ensure some work is had. The pyramid AMRAP has been really good, so I’m going to continue with it. Beyond that, it’s just a little bit of assistance work for back, shoulders, and arms. Nothing much, just something to ensure everyone gets a little work. Again, pairing back on overall volume vs. recovery.

Also going for fewer sets I expect to use slightly more weight. When I say things like 3×10 I mean up to 10 reps. But I really expect to be working in the 6-10 rep range. So I want weights that perhaps on the first set make 10 tough to get to, then the next set I might only get 8-9, and the last would be maybe 6-8.  Straight weight, just chosen differently than if I was trying to get the added volume of 5 sets, y’know? This holds across the board.


  • Deadlift 5/3/1 with rep PR on the last set
  • Deadlift pyramid down the work weights, 2 x AMRAP
  • RDL, continuing to pyramid back down (through the warm-up weights), 3 x AMRAP
  • Hyperextensions 3×10-15
  • Leg Curls, 3×10-15
  • Abs 3xwhatever

I was surprised how much I enjoyed the pyramids on deadlifting, and how much good work it gave my posterior chain. So this is a bit of an experiment. I was getting somewhere good with RDL and so now I want to see how it might go by pyramiding back down into the warm-up weights using RDL and going for AMRAP. It may not work out, but I want to give it a shot. If it does work, I expect some really good work to my hams and glutes.


  • Press 5/3/1 with rep PR on the last set
  • Press, pyramid down 2 sets, AMRAP
  • Dips 3 x whatever
  • All pressing (and dips) superset with lat pulldowns
  • DB shrugs, 3×15
  • 25# plate front raises, 3 x whatever
  • Skullcrushers 3×12
  • Hammer Curl 3×12

Pretty much the same philosophy here as everything else. Dips because I’ve been wanting to add them back in. Not that I’m expecting to get many reps, but given one of my core stretches is basically the bottom position of the dip and how it helps keep my shoulders and chest and everything happy, I’d like to work that more. The rest is a bit influenced by wanting to get more work overall into my back and shoulders – you can see this (and bench day) put in some work on traps.

But again, the overall of what I’m going for us trying to get more with less, getting back towards the pure strength focus, and doing what’s needed to support better recovery. Doing what I need, not what a template suggests.

Given that, I’m sure as I run through this I’ll make adjustments. So long as I see progress, it’s good.