Weekend Q/A: A Plethora of Souls Guided to Swing Their Richards Again

Lord Mantis - Jim Wendler Blog

Question:  (Question edited for length) My question deals with the assistance exercises on the upper body days. I would like to change the order of the pull up and the dumbbell row such that I will train the 5 x 10 pull up assistance exercise on BENCH day and the dumbbell row assistance on MILITARY PRESS day. Is this advisable?  

Answer:  Thanks for the kind words – as for the moving the assistance work around (rows and chins) that is fine.  It will not affect anything.  Good luck.


Question: I have Inguinal Hernia and probably gonna get surgery this or next month (well I got this shit almost from 8 years old so it doesnt really bothers me to deadlift.440 lbs @ 180lbs but still need to get rid of.. ). Anyway what do you recommend to do  for recovering? Its going to be only my second year since I've started training seriously and I wanted to try myself in Israel Powerlifting Championship(yeah I'm from Israel heh..) next year, so now this surgery really pissing me off...  

Answer:  I have never had that malady so I have no idea what it entails or what to do.  I’m sure that you can find a doctor or PT in Israel before and after the surgery that can clue you in on the rehab.  I would take the same approach as I did to my rehab: check out the article “Jim Wendler In Rehab” and find the forest through the trees.


Question:  I will keep it short. I'm in the marines and am a bit of a fat body I have realized my strength is not strong. To remedy this I'm trying the 5/3/1 program and am on day 2. I just want to know if I add ring work in on my days off and bodyweight exercises throughout the week if this can have negative impact on my strength progressions? If you have any suggestions on how I could program it to make it a little less complicated that would be awesome. Thank you.  

Answer:  Yes it will.  Give yourself some time and let your body adapt.  Thank you for your service.  


Question:  Hey jim. What's the deal with speed work? Is it useless, and why isn't any included in 531.  

Answer:  There is tons of speed work in the 5/3/1 program - I've advocated jumping (various kinds including bounding) and various medicine ball/shot put throws.  We also do a lot of sprint work/starts for athletes.  I'm sure you don't mean just "bench pressing for sets of 3" or other such narrow views of "speed work".  My advice to you is to look for the strongest and fastest athletes in the world and see what they do.  (Hint: they jump, sprint and throw.  They don't use bands.)


Question:  I'm following your 5/3/1 program and it is going well.  Thank you for your insights on training, eating, life, etc. it is cool to see a simple and logical approach, as most over-complicate everything.  My question is my AC joints are lame and bench pressing irritates the hell out of my shoulders, but I can still press without any issue, so should I program squat, press, dead, and leave it at that?  Thanks in advance, keep doing what your doing.  

Answer:  That’s fine – good luck and get your problem fixed.  The attitude of the Beat To Hell Group is this: worry about what you CAN do.  Never fixate about what you can't.  The latter will do you no good. The former can lead to greatness and peace.  It is your choice.


Question:  I've been doing 5/3/1 for around 6 months now and just competed in my first meet. Got 175/120/180 for a 475kg total at 6'5" and 98kg. The first two were PRs. I was pissed I missed my 200kg deadlift attempt so went inside and pulled 190 just to at least beat my old record. I'm starting up training again after a rest week and given that I'm weak off the floor I was considering doing deficit deadlifts (standing on a 20kg plate). What's your opinion of them? I've reset all my weights based on the weights achieved at the meet so I'm confident I'll be able to adjust for the increased difficulty of the movement. If not deficit deads, would you recommend another assistance exercise?  

Answer:  They are good as supplemental work; only recommend during the Leader phase of training.  For assistance work, I would recommend GM’s, back raises (all kinds) ab work (various) and DB Rows (various).  The key to lifting big weight is to get stronger - it is rarely on account of a fancy exercise.  


Question:  For an older lifter who trains 3 times per week, is the full body template the best option or would a triumvirate approach be preferred?  I have a tendency to “jump” templates and am looking for something to stick with (I don’t do well with “options” – tend to lose focus quickly).  If I went with the FBT, I’d imagine sticking with the deload percentages on the non-5/3/1 squat days to increase recovery.  Also, to increase recovery in general I typically do light core/upper back work and stretch/foam roll daily.  I like the idea of the FBT, but I’m thinking that the triumvirate approach allows for more recovery time.  Again, for peace of mind sake, I'm looking to pick a template and stick with it.  Thanks for the great advice, it’s greatly appreciated.  

Answer:  As you may know, we don't use templates anymore, rather we use programs. The best program I have used on athletes and other athletes is the Krypteia program.  The strength and size gains, IF DONE EXACTLY as written, eclipse any program I've ever written or even seen.  


Question:  I ve been using the neck harness consistently for about a year now and my question is in reference to that.  Its damn near impossible to get the weight balanced on the chain.  Sometimes im motivated to take the time to maneuver the weight until it feels balanced, other days i just finish my reps with out any adjustments.  Do you have any tips on how to get the fucking thing balanced on the first try?  Perhaps I may have answered my own question with this :  ive been making progress and i havnt gotten hurt, so does the balance issue even matter?  

Answer:  I am not sure what you mean by this question; just put the weight on the harness and it takes about .5 seconds to center the plate and do the reps. Maybe you have a faulty harness?  Or slow the rep speed down so the weight doesn’t move too much.  I have no idea.  It’s a neck harness, ya know?  It doesn’t require too much thought.  


Question:  I've been doing your 5/3/1 prog since last year Nov., and love it.  In my recent couple of cycles though, on the heavier set's of DL's, my lower back is rounding. Is the fix for this just a matter of doing Hyper's and rev. hypers and strengthening the lower back or is there a form issue too? Would DL from deficit on the warm up and lighter weights be recommended? My goal with the DL is to go from 325 to 405 by the end of this year.  

Answer:  Everyone who pulls something respectable rounds their back when they deadlift.  Just make sure it’s held statically and you don’t “candy cane” aka look like a dog taking a shit.  Make sure you are using the correct training max and each and every rep is perfect/fast.  Also, make sure you are doing abdominal work (slow/controlled) and plenty of low back work (back raises).


Question:  I've been running 5/3/1 for 2.5 years now with great success. For conditioning I started following the 3 easy, medium, and hard Prowler workouts you outlined in a T-Nation article. This has helped my conditioning tremendously and I can say I've conquered all 3 of the Prowler workouts. If I switch things up with dragging rather than pushing the sled, what would you recommend as far as volume/intensity vs. pushing the Prowler.  

Answer:  Just do the same heavy/light/medium protocol on the sled.  Same idea/premise, different thang.  We also have a brand new 10 Minute Prowler challenge that allows you to program all your Prowler workouts for every workout. Makes things dummy proof. Give it a shot.


Question:  I've been doing your 5-3-1 routine now for about three months, and I couldn't be happier. I do, however, have a quick question about the BBB assistance work you outlined in the three month challenge. Instead of doing 50/60/70% in cycle 1, 2, and 3, could I ramp up in weeks 1, 2, and 3? Essentially increasing the load in my assistance work throughout the cycle, then deloading during week 4?  

Answer:  Sure, but it isn’t the 3 Month Challenge anymore.  


Question:  I have read some very favorable things about the stability, construction, and overall performance of the Nike Romaleos 2 and the comparable shoe Adidas just released.  That said, they are both Oly shoes with a .75 inch heel raise as compared to the .5 inch in the Powerlift.  So what is the best solution here?  Should I stick with the Powerlift that has a lower heel drop, but less stability and a foam heel, or invest in a shoe with a truly incompressible heel and second strap, but an extra .25 inches of heel drop?  On one hand it seems like such a small difference that it is hard to believe it matters that much, but on the other hand I see how it could impact form in which case it is rather critical.  As a point of reference I am following BBB, so I'm only doing bench, squat, press, deadlift, and the associated assistance work.  

Answer:  Like said before: Jack Daniels:  Good enough for Lemmy, good enough for me. Gibson SG: Good enough for Iommi, good enough for me. Adidas Olympic Lifting Shoes: Good enough for Pyrros Dimas, good enough for me.  


Question:  I am competing in two months in my first meet (push/pull)...How/what/when should i start paused benching with commands in preparation for this meet??? I am getting all sorts of opinions and bits of advice on this topic such as.... -dont pause in training, only pause at the meet when you have to obey the commands -pause your first rep of each work set -start pausing one month out -never pause unless its at a meet because of stretch reflex blah blah blah (what does this even mean) What the hell should I do???  

Answer:  This is why I write books; so you can learn!  This is all answered in the 5/3/1 for PL book.  You can find it here and Amazon.com.  


Question:  I  saw a few Q and A's back, you mentioned an advanced 5/3/1? I think it revolved around doing the last set for multiple sets. Am I wrong with this? Did I misread? Can you explain more?   My next  question is, for the 5/3/1 for the non competitive powerlifter, would it be ok to do the prescribed reps only for the 3's and 5/3/1 weeks, and THEN work up to a few heavy singles, and then go back to the last set to go for the rep record?   I ask because once I did an all out set of 500 for 8-9 reps for my last work set, and then I couldn't work up to a few heavy singles after. But I think I could have worked up to those few heavy singles and then came back down to do the last work set for required reps or more.    

Answer:  The 5/3/1 Advanced Program is in the 5/3/1 Beyond book. Also, there is numerous ways to program for stronger/more advanced lifters. The key is programming Leaders/Anchors and using the correct TM. Generally, due to intra/inter muscular coordination, an older/stronger lifter uses a lighter TM. This is something you learn within the first year of lifting but it bears repeating.  Program long term (as stated before) and never fall for trends.  


Question:  Hey Jim, thanks for all the work you've done. Now for the question, earlier today I was experimenting with power cleans after not having done them in months.  I was getting light headed after pretty much every set. Then, after I hit a rep with a relatively heavy weight for me, I dropped the bar and started walking to get a drink when I briefly fainted.  I was only out a few seconds (long enough for me to hit the ground).  Anyhow, I was wondering if you had any experience with this and/or recommendations to prevent this in the future? Could it have been my meal timing, breathing, etc.? Thanks!  

Answer:  If it’s a one time thing, not a big deal. If it occurs all the time, change your breathing.  If that doesn’t work, I’d stop doing PC and either get it looked at OR just put ‘em on the back burner. Work on changing your breathing i.e. not taking such a big breath.  I had to do this on presses and it worked wonders.  

Question:  I wanted to get your thoughts on this. I'm a college student and next week I'm taking a new job unloading trucks at UPS. I worked there over Christmas peak season and my training went to shit. When I start next week I'll probably be working around five hours a day, five days a week. After a couple days of working there it begins to be a bitch. I'm planning on adjusting my training schedule from 4 days/week to 2 days/week. Keep in mind, I'm trying to stay as north of vag as possible, but I was wondering how you would recommend balancing my training schedule with my work schedule and avoid burning out.  

Answer:  I did this for a year as a job.  I lifted 4 days/week and ran hills 4 days/week.  You’ll be fine.  First week sucks but you’ll adapt. Just about every person I've known has worked early hours in a shitty job and have been fine.  Just be patient.

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