I came across the 5,3,1/7,5,3 rep scheme many years ago and have always found it to be an amazingly simple and effective program. The strength of this program is in its simplicity and the fact that it is very low volume program allowing you to recover much more quickly. We will talk about volume in later articles, but for now I just want you to understand that grappling is a very tiring sport and keeping our strength training at a lower volume will help you to gain strength while not burning out. I personally have put 50+ pounds on my bench press, squat, and deadlift in 30 utilizing this program. Now let’s move on to the nuts and bolts of the program.
Let’s start by choosing the bench press as an example exercise (you must choose a compound lift to perform the 5,3,1/7,5,3 reps scheme). The first step is to find your 1 rep maximum in the bench press. In this example we will say you managed a 1 rep max of 200 pounds. Now you can apply the 5,3,1/7,5,3 to your bench press. You will subtract 30 pounds from your max (this would put your first lift at 170 pounds) and perform 5 reps. Add 10 pounds to the bar making the weight 180 pounds and rest 3-5 minutes. Now perform 3 reps of the bench press. Add 10 more pounds to the bar making the weight 190 pounds and rest 3-5 minutes. Now rest 3-5 minutes and add 15 pounds to the bar so you can attempt a new max of 205 pounds. Next week you will follow the same pattern but instead of performing 5 reps, 3 reps, and 1 rep you will instead perform 7 reps, 5 reps, and 3 reps. For example you would take the bench press again and start at 170 pounds, but instead of performing 5 reps you would perform 7 reps this time. The next set you would add 10 pounds to the bar making it 180 pounds, but instead of performing 3 reps you will perform 5 reps. Once again add 10 pounds to the bar and instead of performing 1 rep you will perform 3 reps. Now if you desire you may perform 1 more set trying to beat your 200 pounds maximum again. The 3rd week we will start over again but our starting weight will be 10 pounds heavier. So you will start your bench press at 180 pounds instead of 170 pounds and perform 5 reps. You will then perform 3 reps with 190 pounds and 1 rep with 200 pounds. You will continue to follow this pattern week after week until you begin to stall out and cannot complete the prescribed reps for the workout. At this point you will pick a similar exercise such as a floor bench press, find your 1 rep max, and then start this whole sequence over from the beginning.
By changing the exercise to a similar exercise you will be able to continue to make progress without burning out your central nervous system. Once you complete this sequence with the new lift, and begin to stall out, you may go back to your original bench press exercise, or choose another slightly different exercise such as the incline bench press. Have fun with this and I hope you are able to get the same great results I got from the program. As always if you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me.