• Q&A
  • November20th


    Dan Gable

    Question: I did 5/3/1 previously and am considering starting it again soon. I had a couple questions that I could really use answering  First off, could I add an arm day as the 5th day to workout? When doing 531 the first time, I noticed a lack of arm definition and size. I rarely experience arm fatigue so I feel it could work.  Second,  how bad is it to add more exercises to each or certain days?  I’ve been lifting the same weight for a year and am sick of it! Any information is appreciated.



    Answer:  I certainly wouldn’t recommend an added arm day for anyone using this program.  What I would do is to arrange your assistant work in such a way that gives you the necessary arm work during the 4 main workouts per/week.  If you cannot do this, then you are not choosing the correct exercises and trying to fit too much in.  Doing 50-100 reps of biceps work and triceps work per week is easy to fit into the main workouts.  Plus, you keep the back work (chins/rows) and your arms will “grow” just fine.  Adding an extra day simply means that you need to prioritize your training and exercises.

    As for adding exercises, I am assuming you mean assistance lifts.  Again, the program is flexible but you saying that you haven’t made progress in a year shows me that you aren’t ready to tweak a proven program.  Perhaps you need to follow the program as written – this seems to work for most.  I didn’t just create this program out of thin air and the thousands that have gotten stronger on the program isn’t a coincidence.  Trust the program; no matter what program you are using.  Once you lose that, you lose the effectiveness of ANY program, no matter how good it is.

    The two best movements for your arms, direct movements are Fat Bar Curls and Dips.  The Fat Bar Curls help strengthen and build your biceps and forearms.  Dips done correctly can help you build some big AND strong triceps. Both are functional movements in that they do more than give you size. Strong arms are essential for anyone that wants to be a strong S.O.B.  Don’t forget that the bigger you can get and stronger you get in basic movements, the more potential your arms have.  This means eating for performance/strength and not neglecting the basic movements of squat, deadlift, press, row, clean, etc.  This should go without saying. I also recommend using a fat bar and a rope (or towel) for your chin work.  I have a variety of fat bar chin attachments I use and a thick rope that help strengthen the arms to a large degree.  Adding these to your program is both smart and efficient.

    Since curls and dips are part of the Wendler Six Assistance movements these can be easily added into your training program without losing the focus and principles of the 5/3/1 program.


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  • July21st


    Weighted Chins

    I like them. I’m not voting for them in the next “Five Awesome Exercises” election but they certainly have their place. I’ve championed chin-ups for years, mostly    because they’re great for the upper back, lats, and arms. And because you can do them anywhere – chin-up bar, top of the  Smith machine, scaffolding, top of the monolift, playground equipment, etc.

    Weighted chins are a good idea IF you can do them, and even then you still need to keep bodyweight chins as part of your training (unless you can bang out multiple sets of 20 with good form). And  if that’s the case, gain some weight! Now of course there are people, usually some sort of Lifting Forum Queen, that would like to point to the VERY strong Konstantin Konstantinovs and tell me how wrong the prior statement is.  But you can’t use the exception to prove the rule.  And you just proved yourself to be unreliable and weak.

    If you want to add some weighted chins as part of your training repertoire, start light and see how you do. Make sure you use something that doesn’t allow the weight or dumbbell to swing too much when you do them. I recommend a good chin/dip belt or simply get a piece of chain and hang it from your lifting  belt.

    One day I’d do bodyweight chins for 50 or more total reps. The next chin-up day I’d do a couple sets of weighted chins, either multiple sets at a given weight (for example 5 sets of 6 reps with 45 lbs.) or work up to an  all-out set with the heaviest weight I can handle. Another great way to program chins is as follows:


    Day One – Weighted Chins

    • Warm-up and perform 5 sets of 3-5 reps.  All the work sets are done with weight. It can be the same weight or different weight.

    Day Two – Volume

    • On this day, you do multiple sets of low reps (for example, 20 sets of 5 reps).  Just do them between your sets.

    Day Three – 20%

    • On this day, do 3 sets of chins. The first set is done for max reps. Rest 5 minutes. The second set is done for 20% less than the first set (that is your goal, so don’t freak out if you don’t get it. It doesn’t mean you have AIDS or have some mythical “weak point”. Now rest again for 5 minutes.  Your third and final set will be done with a goal of doing 20% less than the second set.

    As much as I love doing chins, they’re still not squats, presses, cleans, and pulls. They’re great to do, but I’m not going to lose sleep if my strength on these goes up and my chinning strength remain stagnant.

    You can’t sleep with all the women in the sorority, so just be happy you got some trim.


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