Using the 3×5 Approach to Break Through Pleateaus

For the majority of weight trainers pyramids or trying to add reps or weight to sets from previous work outs are the way forward.  However for people who have been following this approach for a while and have started to see diminished gains set loading programmes can offer a great way of pushing past your stagnation.

There are a number of these programmes on the internet one of the closest related to the method I shall be discussing here is Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1.

This 3×5 system uses an approach where over 4 weeks you will be building towards a Very Heavy (third week) week where both intensity and volume reach their peak.  In the 4th week the volume will drop off drastically and the intensity of effort will remain high.

This approach should allow you to add percentages to your 3×5 week consistently for a number of blocks when it eventually stalls out you can change the set x reps/ use another set loading programme / go back to following a session on session approach.  As the saying goes everything works and nothing works forever.

Laying out the programme.

The programme I will outlay here will cover basic lifting (squat-bench-deadlift) I will include two spread sheets at the end of this article one for those looking to follow the programme written here or for those looking to incorporate this approach to a single lift.

Core Lifts – The first two or three lifts in each session represent the core lifts that are the centre of the programme these lifts follow the 3×5 template.

Accessory lifts and Ab work – accessory lifts and abdominal work are carried out for hypertrophy and as thus present a volume effort.  The reps should be difficult by the last set each week and the weight used for each lift should increase as the weeks go on.  On the fourth week the weights should drop 10-20% from the first week to represent a large drop in volume.

Here is a spreadsheet version of the outlayed programme

Hers is a spreadsheet programme for one exercise

I hope this article has given you some idea’s you can incorporate into your training that can hopefully get you back into the habbit of setting personal bests on a regular basis.