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.