By - Mike Brookman

My Experience with 531

Over the last few months, I have been extremely focused on coaching and work and less focused on my own training. Part of that was due to just flat boredom due to training alone many times, and another part was due to what we all have to deal with on a daily basis, and that is family commitments. Put all this together with my coaching duties and my normal job and you create yourself into a total lazy piece of crap.

Well recently, I had an epiphany. I was either going to train the way I know how and go after my goals despite whatever else is going on in my life or I was going to regret it for many years to come. When the training slacked off, I was not that far off from competition lifts of 800 squat, 600 bench, and 600 deadlift weighing around 275lbs. That would have got me an Elite total at 275. However, a lot has changed. My schedule got extremely busy and I was not able to make the meet to get these lifts on the boards officially. My training partner, had some commitments with work and life that kept him out of the gym for a long period of time (hey it happens to us all), so I had to adapt and decided to do something I wanted to do for a while. I went back on the WSFL (Warp Speed Fat Loss) diet that I used successfully a year ago as you can read in the link above. I dropped back to 250lbs and was healthier than I have felt in a long time. I have since gained a few pounds back but nothing too extreme. I am working to clean the diet up and increase my conditioning and work to drop to the 242lb class for a meet in March 2011.

This brings me to the topic for today’s blog. I have been experimenting with the 531 system created by Jim Wendler at EliteFTS . I have been wearing powerlifting gear for so many years, its been forever since I have focused on just improving my raw strength in the Big 3 (Squat, Bench, Deadlift). And when I say forever, I mean 4+ years at least. Well the 531 system is very successful and has rave reviews by anyone who has ever used the routine. And I am learning quickly why.

My raw squat and deadlift has just taken off. My bench is a little slower to come around, which is normal or me after a long layoff, but its still improving drastically. And well, this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. The goal of using 531 is to get my raw strength up, so when I get back in gear next month to start preparations for the March 2011 meet, it will only help me to be stronger in the gear.

A few things to discuss with how I have structured the 531 version for my own training. I am doing the 3-day per week routine and focusing a single day for each of the Big 3. One day for Bench, one for squat, and one for deadlift. My percentages are setup per the program as follows:

Week 1: 65%, 75%, 85%
Week 2: 70%, 80%, 90%
Week 3: 75%, 85%, 95%
Week 4: Deload

I have chosen a basic accessory exercise breakdown, where I focus on completing 3-5×10 reps on each accessory movement. The accessory work is done strictly with barbells, dumbbells, Blast Straps, and other bodyweight movements. Depending on how I feel on a certain day, I may do all bodyweight work after the main exercise of the day, and stay away from the barbell and dumbbell accessory movements in order to allow my body to heal. I vary my accessory work each week and rarely repeat an accessory exercise from one week to another. This is not really a requirement, but for me, it seems to really break up the boredom, as I always have something different to look forward too each day after the main movement work. I also have been doing some modified supersets with accessory work and getting in and out of the gym in 45-50 minutes and this includes my dynamic warmups. Keeping the workouts short and intense has really kept me motivated to head out to the garage, otherwise known as Cold Steel Barbell. Here is how I have broken down my accessory work:

Squat Day:
1.) Low Back Exercise: 3-5×10 reps
2.) Quad Exercise: 3-5×10 reps
3.) Ab Exercise: 3-5×10 reps

Bench Day:

1.) Shoulder exercise: 3-5×10 reps
2.) Upper Back/Lats Exercise: 3-5×10 reps
3.) Triceps Exercise: 3-5×10 reps
4.) Biceps Exercise: 3-5×10 reps

Deadlift Day:

1.) Hamstring Exercise: 3-5×10 reps
2.) Quad or Plyo Exercise : 3-5×10 reps
3.) Oblique Exercise: 3-5×10 reps
4.) Adductor Exercise: 3-5×10 reps
5.) Upper back/lat exercise: 3-5×10 reps

Setting up my accessory work in this way, I think has really helped me to hit quick training days, get good work done, and not spend all day in the gym. This has enabled me to fit training back into my schedule instead of allowing me to make excuses to skip a day or more. And the added benefit has been that my strength is quickly getting back to where I was months ago, and I have a renewed energy for training and getting back onto the platform again this coming Spring.

Here is an example of a week’s workout:

    Day 1-Squats

1.) Squats: 1×3(70%), 1×3(80%), 1×3 or more (90%)
2.) ABGM: 3-5×10
3.) Box Jumps: 5×3
4.) Stand Strap Crunches: 3-5×10

    Day 2-Bench

1) Bench: 1×3(70%), 1×3(80%), 1×3 or more (90%)
2) DB Military Press: 3-5×10
3) Lat Pulldowns: 3-5×10
4) Dead Stop Skullcrushers: 3-5×10
5) DB Hammer Curls: 3-5×10

    Day 3-Deadlifts

1.) Deadlifts: 1×3(70%), 1×3(80%), 1×3 or more (90%)
2.) GHR:3-5×10
3.) Bulgarian Split Squats: 3-5×10
4.) DB Side Bends: 3-5×10
5a.) Banded Adductors: 3-5×10
5b) Blast Strap Rows: 3-5×10

The best thing about this entire 531 routine is it can easily be adapted to athletes of any sport. You don’t need to be a powerlifter to reap the benefits of this routine, and as Jim Wendler has detailed in the manual, there are many different ways to setup the training cycle, no matter how much or how little time you may have. The work done in this routine is not done on Hammer strength or Nautilus equipment, rather its done with the good ole’ fashioned barbell, dumbbells, power rack, and bodyweight movements. I train in a 1-car garage and have everything you need to train in a true old school fashion, so there should be no excuses for anyone to say that don’t have the equipment to perform this training. Excuses are for those that finish 2nd, not for those striving to be a Champion!! Most of the strongest men on the planet don’t train at Golds Gym, Powerhouse Gym, Planet Fitness, or some other foo-foo chrome home. They train with the basics of generations ago in a garage or dungeon gym. A place that isn’t pretty and doesn’t have all the fancy chrome machines, but a place where you either work your tail off or you are shown the door.

If you are an athlete in the Roanoke, VA area and are interested in getting stronger, more athletic, and better prepared for your upcoming sport season, then you need to contact us here at Elite Strength & Sports Performance. We can help you with your goals, and unlike a lot of high school training programs that you are forced to do, you will see a direct improvement on the field or court to the work you put in during the offseason. Call us immediately to get started. If you are not an athlete but are interested in getting stronger and possibly competing in Powerlifting, then we welcome you as well. Just contact us and we can make it happen!

Impossible? NO WAY! NOT with Elite SSP as your guide!!

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