5/3/1 for Supplemental Work

TAGS: raw bench, matt ladewski, geared bench, DE Bench, conjugate system, boards, 5/3/1 for Supplemental Work, westside, Jim Wendler

I discovered Westside and the conjugate system of training in 1999. It’s fairly easy to follow the basic concepts without screwing them up, but supplemental work wasn’t as easy to figure it. When I discovered Westside, I was never quite sure when to add them, how often to perform them, or even how much emphasis should be placed on them. I learned that this was the missing piece I needed for better progress. I’m older now. It’s been fifteen years since I started training with the conjugate system and I’ve learned to be much more diligent with my training. For years, I could go into the gym feeling great and ready to hit it hard, but would pay the price for the training session and feel like crap for the next few workouts. My main workouts were not the problem; it was my supplemental work that was on a roller coaster ride.

Thanks to Jim Wendler and his 5/3/1 program, I was able to take his concepts and apply it to my supplemental work. It has helped me control my volume, build the specific lifts I needed to build, and not kill myself before the next workout. I use supplemental lifts most often after dynamic effort work. I use this a little more often on upper body days, since I only have one lift (bench press) to perform. On occasion I will also use it after dynamic effort squats, with my block pulls. To learn all this and make supplemental work the best for me, I needed to tweak a few things.

My Tweaks

  1. Always work off a fairly current max for the builder exercises you are using. Use a real max effort attempt (not a rep max).
  2. Take two extra sets instead of the original three working sets Wendler prescribes. That makes for a total of five work sets. The two extra sets are the percentages between the original working sets.
  3. Don’t do the “1” day. I alternate between the five and three days. You don’t want to turn a supplemental lift into another max effort exercise.
  4. Change exercises. I have used a two– and three–exercise rotation. Although both work, I find that two exercises works better. For example, a two-exercise rotation would be to alternate between a three and four board.
  5. Start with 90 percent of your max. Add two and a half to five percent each cycle. When you hit 100 percent, retest your max before the next wave.

Below are two templates I have used. These are basic and can get you started right away.

Cycle 1 — Raw Bench (Three-Exercise Rotation)

Week 1

DE Bench
Incline (reset max to 90% of your record)
65%x5
70%x5
75%x5
80%x5
85%xAs Many Reps As Possible

Week 2

DE Bench
Incline (reset max to 90% of your record)
70%x3
75%x3
80%x3
85%x3
90%xAMRAP

Week 3

DE Bench
Illegal wide bench (reset max to 90% of your record)
65%x5
70%x5
75%x5
80%x5
85%xAMRAP

Week 4

DE Bench
Illegal wide bench (reset max to 90% of your record)
70%x3
75%x3
80%x3
85%x3
90%xAMRAP

Week 5

DE Bench
No supplemental work

Week 6

DE Bench
Floor press (reset max to 90% of your record)
65%x5
70%x5
75%x5
80%x5
85%xAMRAP

Week 7

DE Bench
Floor press (reset max to 90% of your record)
70%x3
75%x3
80%x3
85%x3
90%xAMRAP

Week 8

DE Bench
Incline (reset max to 92.5% of your record)
65%x5
70%x5
75%x5
80%x5
85%xAMRAP

Week 9

DE Bench
Incline (reset max to 92.5% of your record)
70%x3
75%x3
80%x3
85%x3
90%xAMRAP

Week 10

DE Bench
No supplemental work

Week 11

DE bench
Illegal wide bench (reset max to 92.5% of your record)
65%x5
70%x5
75%x5
80%x5
85%xAMRAP

Week 12

DE Bench
Illegal wide bench (reset max to 92.5% of your record)
70%x3
75%x3
80%x3
85%x3
90%xAMRAP

Week 13-14

Follow the same rotation.

Week 15

No supplemental work. Continue to run this while increasing your max two and a half percent each time you are back to the top.

After you use 100-percent, re-test your maxes or change exercises.

Cycle 2 — For a Geared Bench Presser

*You will do this work raw.

*Before Week 1, test your three-board max. Test your four-board max before the start of the second cycle.

Week 1

DE Bench
3-board (reset max to 90% of your record)
65%x5
70%x5
75%x5
80%x5
85%xAMRAP

Week 2

DE Bench
3-board (reset max to 90% of your record)
70%x3
75%x3
80%x3
85%x3
90%xAMRAP

Week 3

DE Bench
4-board (reset max to 90% of your record)
65%x5
70%x5
75%x5
80%x5
85%xAMRAP

Week 4

DE Bench
4-board (reset max to 90% of your record)
70%x3
75%x3
80%x3
85%x3
90%xAMRAP

Week 5

No supplemental work.

Week 6

DE Bench
3-board (reset max to 95% of your record)
65%x5
70%x5
75%x5
80%x5
85%xAMRAP

Week 7

DE Bench
3-board (reset max to 95% of your record)
70%x3
75%x3
80%x3
85%x3
90%xAMRAP

Week 8

DE Bench
4-board (reset max to 95% of your record)
65%x5
70%x5
75%x5
80%x5
85%xAMRAP

Week 9

DE Bench
4-board (reset max to 95% of your record)
70%x3
75%x3
80%x3
85%x3
90%xAMRAP

Week 10

No supplemental work.

Week 11-14

Follow the same rotation, but base it off 100-percent of your max.

Week 15

Re-test your three and four board maxes before starting over. If needed, change to a four-board and five-board rotation.

As you can see, this is pretty basic. However, it has helped my wife Julia and I break personal records. You can see this in Julia’s training by looking at her dynamic effort days, which include a two or a three-board press. I hope you can use these same concepts to break your own records.

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