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? 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 the 5/3/1 program. What I would do is to arrange your assistance 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 (chin ups/rows) and your arms will "grow" just fine. Thinking you need to add an extra day really 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. This is also a very typically a sign that you have set your training maxes too high. 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 building your arm size and strength (direct movements) are Fat Bar Curls and Dips. The Fat Bar Curls help strengthen and build your biceps and forearms. Dips done correctly either body weight or loaded 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 and stronger you get in basic movements, the more potential your arms have. This means eating for performance and strength and not neglecting the basic movements of squat, bench, deadlift, overhead press, row, clean, etc. This should go without saying. I also recommend using a fat bar and a rope (or towel) for your chin up 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 three assistance categories we use for programming assistance work in all 5/3/1 programs (templates are dead), you can use them no matter what program you choose.
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