Uppers, Bars and Your Yearly Goal

Uppers, Bars and Your Yearly Goal


Supplemental Work:  for my BBB sets I took your advice to heart and started light, using 40%, 50%, and 60% for the 10 rep sets after my 5/3/1 work.  The last working set prior to BBB is always a ball-buster, so dropping to 40% provides a lot of relief, but I don't feel like I'm doing any work.  Should I bump up to 50%, 60%, 70% for my BBB sets, or just leave it alone?  I want to make sure I'm actually getting the benefit of doing the extra sets, but don't want to jeopardize making progress on my main lifts.  I'm trying not to overthink here, but I can't help but wonder if the 40% lifts really are too easy or if they are meant to be that way.

Uppers:  I am not a huge fan of caffeine (aside from my morning cup of coffee) but there are times when after a long day at work it is really tough to get up for a good workout.  My drug of choice here would be sugar-free Red Bull, but I am leery to start introducing something like that to my routine.  What do you think - good, bad, who really gives a crap if it works for you?

Bars:  I have a serviceable bar, but as I keep adding weight I'm getting less and less comfortable with it.  Frankly I think it would be a good idea to invest in the thing I'm holding above my chest/head or strapping across my back with hundreds of pounds on it.  It looks like there are quite a few good options out there, and I'm wondering what you might recommend.  I admittedly don't have the budget for an Eleiko, but also don't want to end up replacing a mediocre bar with something only marginally better.  I'm also curious what you think about center knurl/no center knurl. It seems to me like a good thing to have, particularly for stability during squats, but I'm finding quite a few without.


1.  I suggest you check out the Boring But Big 3 Month Challenge. Starting "too light" is one of the basic principles of the 5/3/1 program. It can ONLY lead to greatness.  Starting too heavy is for fools and trend hoppers.  Get on the winning team - the one with adults, not kids.  If you are looking for the best 5/3/1 program for size and strength, I recommend trying the Krypteia program provided you do it as written.  I am amazed at the progress to those that commit to the program and do every part of it.  

2.  If you can tolerate it, it’s fine. If not, don’t use it.  It’s not like you are injecting heroin so I wouldn’t worry too much about it.  Stimulants, especially the older you get, have a bigger price so be sure you are willing to pay it.

3.  Get a Texas Power Bar.  If it doesn’t fit in your budget, get a new budget.  Having good, QUALITY equipment (not a lot of equipment) is paramount. Educate yourself on the bars - designs and uses.  If you can't do this don't buy anything and save your money.  


Question:  I've met lots of people using your 531 system in the CrossFit community.  I would like to become very proficient in your system and train others.  Do you have any training seminars or a certification for your system?

Answer:  I am pretty much burnt out on seminars.  If someone wanted me to do a 5/3/1 seminar, I don’t know really what I’d do other than read from the book and tell them to start training/coaching.  It’s pretty clear cut and explained. Perhaps I can hold a skull ala Hamlet, wear a cloak and do a long monologue from the book.   As for certifications, we have no plans on ever doing that.  Thanks for the interest but if one wants to become a better trainer I highly recommend these three things:

1.  COMPETE and continue to push yourself physically and mentally.  Never ask of others what you have not done yourself.  
2.  Learn how to be a better communicator via public speaking.
3.  Read and write obsessively every single day.

These three things will serve someone better than any certification or seminar.  Givin’ ya pearls here….


Question:  This is Garrett.  You responded to my question/comment on the EliteFTS Q&A a while back about getting back into lifting, doing my first meet, and using 5/3/1.  The big day was Saturday and it was awesome. I made it down to 181 by cleaning up my diet the last couple months (it was only about 9 pounds).  I've had a beard for a couple years, so I was already prepared on that front. I went 8 for 9 at the meet.  My squat and deadlift broke my gym PR's and my bench was just a bit below my touch and go best. I also talked my father-in-law into competing.  He had a great day, too. I just wanted to let you know how it went and thank you for your program and all the support you offer on the interwebs. Hope your shoulder rehab and everything else in life goes well.

Answer:  Congrats on the meet!  And thank you for the update and the kind words. 


Question:  First of all thank you for writing a wonderful book. I just recently bought your 2nd edition of 5/3/1 and I spent last week trying to get my maxes for all the lifts and will be starting today on my first lift day (bench press).  My question is, how strong can you get without gaining too much size? My goal is strength, in particular I would like to close a Captain Of Crush #4 by the end of the year and break PR’s in all four lifts. My only concern is that I do not want to be too big for my height (I am 5’7) otherwise I would look just weird. I am by no means looking for only aesthetics (been there done that already) but I wanted to know what your advice is on this. Should I just follow the 5/3/1 method and reduce my assistance exercises? My goal is max strength with the least amount of size increase. If that is not possible screw it I am going all the way.

Answer:  Change your attitude or goals.  You already put a restrictor plate on your goals, so to speak.  "I want to do this but...."  As I'm fond of saying:

"One Goal. One Year."

There is a lot of knowledge in those four words.

Legitimate training questions that have not been answered already in the 5/3/1 books or this blog will be answered via social media unless you are a forum member. 

Training Books
Hats, Hoodies, Stuff

Read More Training Q/A's:
Instagram Question & Answer Parts 1 & 2


Related Posts