The 5/3/1 Philosophy
The 5/3/1 philosophy is more important than the sets and reps. Whenever I feel like I’m getting
sidetracked or want to try something different, I revisit these rules to make sure I’m doing things
the right way. Even if you decide this program isn’t for you, these basic tenets have stood the
test of time. Take these things to heart, and you’ll be greatly rewarded.
Emphasize Big, Multi-Joint Movements
This really isn’t any secret. Beginners have been told to do this for years, and advanced lifters
swear by these movements. Multi-joint lifts are lifts that involve more than one muscle – i.e., not
an isolation exercise like leg extensions – and allow you to build the most muscle. These lifts
are the most efficient for building muscle and strength. Examples are the squat, deadlift, bench
press and power clean.
Start Too Light
My coaches emphasized this to me when I was in high school, but unfortunately, I didn’t listen.
Hopefully you will. Starting too light allows for more time for you to progress forward. It’s easy
for anyone – beginner or advanced – to want to get ahead of themselves. Your lifts will go up for
a few months, but then they’ll stall – and stall, and stall some more. Lifters get frustrated and
don’t understand that the way around this is to prolong the time it takes to get to the goal. You
have to keep inching forward. This is a very hard pill to swallow for most lifters. They want to
start heavy, and they want to start now. This is nothing more than ego, and nothing will destroy
a lifter faster, or for longer, than ego.
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