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Kentucky Strong: 5/3/1 for Strongman
What is 5/3/1?
If you havent heard of Jim Wendlers 5/3/1 by now, then you mustve been hiding under a rock f or
the past f ive years or so. For those who dont know, 5/3/1 is The Simplest and Most Ef f ective
Training System to Increase Raw Strength. And those words are taken directly f rom the cover of the book.
The reason its been so popular is that it works. And it works while being remarkably simple. If you havent read
the book, I highly recommend that you purchase it and read it. Youll pick up some great inf ormation even if you
dont f ollow the program.
A f ew reasons I like using 5/3/1 with strongman is the f act that you are using sub maximal weights to build
strength. There is less stress on the CNS and on the body overall. By doing this, your body is much f resher
when it comes to event day. Anyone who trains strongman knows just how taxing event training can beits
both mentally and physically draining. That, combined with a ton of max ef f ort and extremely heavy lif ting on
typical gym lif ts, can really take a toll on the body. This could eventually lead to injury and/or overtraining. I also
like the simplicity of the program. It doesnt take a lot of thought to f igure up your training weights and the
progressions are just as easy.
Over the years, Ive experimented with using 5/3/1 and strongman f or both myself and my clients, and Ive
f ound that it works exceptionally well. Ive done it a variety of ways with modif ications, additions, etc. and have
f ound some great ways to incorporate it. But what Im going to lay out in this article is a program combining
strongman and 5/3/1 in a very basic f ashion. It is a basic program, but that doesnt mean it doesnt work.

Specif ics of the program:
You will be using the 5/3/1 protocol on the overhead press, incline bench press, deadlif t, f ront squat, log clean
& press, yoke walk, and f armers walk f or the program above.
As you can see, each cycle lasts f our weeks, and I have two cycles laid out f or a total of eight weeks.
Week 1: 35
Week 2: 33
Week 3: 35, 3, 1
Week 4: Deload
And f or the moving events itll be:
Week 1: 3x Distance
Week 2: 3x Distance
Week 3: 3x Distance
Week 4: Deload
To determine the weights used f or all of the lif ts above (excluding the moving events), youll take your 1RM and
f igure 90% of this number. All of your calculations are now based of f of this number.
Week 1: 35 @ 65%, 75%, 85%
Week 2: 33 @ 70%, 80%, 90%
Week 3: 15 @ 75%, 13 @ 85%, 11 @95%
Week 4: Deload 35 @ 60%
So if your 1RM on the log press is 330 pounds, you use 300 pounds (90%)
Here is how it works f or the log press in this example:
Week 1: 1955, 2255, 2555+
Week 2: 2103, 2403, 2703+
Week 3: 2255, 2553, 2851+
Week 4: 35 @ 180
Increase training max by f ive pounds and recalculate.
Week 5: 2005, 2305, 2605+
Week 6: 2153, 2453, 2753+
Week 7: 2305, 2603, 2901+
Week 8: 35 @ 185
Increase training max by f ive pounds and recalculate.
When you see the 5+, 3+, or 1+ that simply means that youll
perf orm as many reps as possible with that weight (pref erably
leaving one to two reps in the tank). Youll f ocus on setting rep PRs
and then beating those rep PRs in upcoming weeks.
Youll increase your training max by f ive pounds on overhead press,
incline bench press, and log press. Youll also increase your training
max by 10 pounds on the deadlif t and f ront squat.
On to the Moving Events
Most of you are probably wondering what I mean by 3x Distance. This is what you do: Lets say your best
yoke run with no drops is 750 pounds f or 80 f eet.
1. Take 90% of 750 pounds.
2. This would be 675 pounds.
3. Figure 65%, 75%, 85%.
4. That would be 440 pounds, 505 pounds, and 575 pounds.
5. Now f igure 70%, 80%, 90% of that original 675 pounds.
6. That would be 475 pounds, 540 pounds, and 610 pounds.
7. Now f igure 75%, 85%, 95% of that original 675 pounds.
8. That would be 505 pounds, 575 pounds, and 640 pounds.
We now have our weights.
Week 1: 44080 f t., 505x80f t., 57580 f t.
Week 2: 475x80f t., 540x80f t., 610x80f t.
Week 3: 505x80f t., 575x80f t., 640x80f t.
Week 4: *Omit f or the yoke walk.
*For farmers walk, youll run around 60% and focus on speed.
Youll increase your training max f or the yoke walk by 10 to 15 pounds and your f armers walk by 10 pounds at
the end of each cycle.
These can also be done f or f rame carries. These would be done f or the heaviest weight youve done f or a
certain distance with no drops. For the yoke walk, f armers walk, and f rame carry, Id recommend sticking with a
distance no shorter than 50 f eet and no longer than 100 f eet. If you want to perf orm a turn on the f armers,
thats f ine. Just make sure you f igure your percentages based on your best f armers walk with a turn and no
drops. Also, Ive f ound that weights dont have to be as exact when dealing with the yoke walk. You will simply
round to the nearest number that loads onto the yoke the easiest. For example, our yoke implement weighs
390 pounds empty. If I have a set that calls f or 560 pounds, Ill typically just load 570 pounds to simplif y the
load. This way I can add f our 45-pound plates to make up the weight instead of loading two 45-pound plates,
two 35-pound plates, and two 10-pound plates. You are more than welcome to load this exactly, but I f ound
that rounding up or down 10 pounds didnt have much of an ef f ect on the overall success of the program.
However, DO NOT do this f or any other lif ts or moving events.
Instead of going f or rep PRs as you did with the lif ts, youll go f or time PRs on the moving events. You can set
these one of two ways. Obviously, if youre f aster with a weight than you were the previous time you touched
that weight, then thats a PR. I also aim to beat my previous time of a slightly lighter weight with a heavier
weight. If you run a 660-pound yoke 50 f eet in eight seconds, and a f ew weeks later you run a 670-pound yoke
50 f eet in 7.8 seconds, then thats a PR.
A f ew notes on the program above:
Chin Ups/Pulls ups: If you cant hit those rep ranges, use bands f or assistance. If you dont have access
to bands, Id recommend picking some up. As a last resort you can use a lat pull down machine.
On your 5/3/1+ week, you can incorporate some heavy singles. I recommend taking your weight
prescribed f or 1+ and hitting it f or a single or double (at most). Then rest and hit a single at 90-92% of
your TRUE 1RM. If that f eels easier than expected, rest and then hit another single at 94-95% of your
TRUE 1RM. If the f irst single f elt about right, I recommend hitting another at the same weight. If the
single f elt heavier than it should and/or was a struggle, then stop at that single. Dont miss weights.
For your yoke walk and f armers walk, stick with the weights prescribed and f ocus on acceleration and
moving f ast. Its all about speed.
Total rep sets can be broken down however youd like. Just work hard and get the work in. Stay away
f rom hitting f ailure on these as well. Stop a rep or two shy with the exception of your f inal set.
If any accessory movements are too easy with bodyweight, add resistance in the f orm of a dip belt
(dips) or weight vest (GHR, sit ups, rollouts), or by holding a plate behind your head (GHR, sit ups).
Youll alternate between atlas stones and a carry/drag medley (or any type of conditioning medley of
your choice). For example: Week 1stones, Week 2medley, Week 3stones, Week 4medley, etc.
You will not carry the yoke on the deload week. This will reduce spinal loading once every f our weeks,
and will do so af ter your heaviest yoke walk week.
You can use an axle instead of the log f or clean & press if youd like. Pick your weakest event.
In regards to atlas stones: Hvy. is heavy and Lt. is light. Series ref ers to a stone series progressing
in weight, and over bar ref ers to over a yoke bar (or similar bar).
CG push-ups = close grip push-ups
On the medley, 2xs ref ers to two runs of the medley
No Back Squats or Bench Press? What?
You are more than welcome to substitute the back squat f or the f ront squat and the bench press f or the
incline bench press, but I do recommend the f ront squat and incline bench press over the others f or good
reason. I f ind that the f ront squat has tremendous carryover to atlas stones, log/axle/db clean & press, and all
other carry events where the implement is in f ront of you (husaf ell stone, sandbag, keg, etc.). I also f ind that
f ront squats are less taxing than back squats and you can recover f aster. This, combined with the f act that
youre going to have a heavy yoke across your back that same week, makes me pref er to take the barbell of f
the back and put it across the shoulders. Im not anti-back squat, and Im not saying I never do them or program
them. I just didnt include them in this particular program f or those reasons.
What do you bench press, bro? Everyone seems to be obsessed with the bench press. Again, Im not against
the bench press, but I f eel the incline bench is superior f or strongman. Its less technical (leg drive, big arch,
etc.) and more about moving weight with the chest, shoulders, and triceps. I f ind that it carries over to the
log/axle press more so than the bench press. Its also less stressf ul on the shoulders. Again, f eel f ree to
substitute if youd like, but Id pref er you do incline bench press over regular.
Wrapping It Up
Like I said above, Ive experimented with 5/3/1 and strongman numerous ways and have f ound all to produce
great results. To give every option, example, and template is def initely outside the scope of this article. Its
enough inf ormation to f ill a book. But what Ive done is simplif y it down into a basic program that combines
5/3/1 and strongman that works without much thought. And af ter allisnt that what makes 5/3/1 so popular to
begin with? Its simple and it works.