## Velcropop's 5/3/1 Calculator

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Velcropop
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### Velcropop's 5/3/1 Calculator

In preparation for my transition to a 5/3/1 program (coinciding with a new gym membership!) I've decided to create a spreadsheet based 5/3/1 mesocycle calculator using Jim Wendler's guidelines. The calculator generates four cycles of a 5/3/1 program covering the four major lifts; Squat, Deadlift, Bench and Press. The reference weight (90% * 1RM) is increased on each subsequent cycle, again following Wendler's recommendations. The idea (as per Wendler's explanation) is to achieve rep records and overall strength gains, not specific 1RMs (or 5RMs for that matter).

The spreadsheet is designed to be easy-to-use and easy-to-print; open it up, plug the numbers in and print away. I will post some more 5/3/1-centric information up soon.

Questions, comments and suggestions on form, aesthetics and functionality are more than welcome (in fact, they are encouraged).

Velcropop's 5/3/1 Calculator (v 1.3)

v1.3 Notes [19/01/2011]

* The user can now define whether they are using metric or imperial units of mass (kg or lb).

v1.2 Notes [19/01/2011]

* Uploaded the file in .xls format to improve accessibility.
* Added the ability to input desired weight increase per mesocycle. Also wrote up a nifty little function that calculates the average % increase in weight over the four cycles.
* Made other minor functionality improvements.
* Currently experimenting on working with imperial units of mass.

v1.1 Notes [17/01/2011]

* Added protection to the sheets to save from accidental changes, only the necessary values can be input. If your desperate to edit something the password is "exrx".
* My username and current PRs are used as an example. I'm working on figuring out a way to change the title of each cycle (i.e. "Velcropop's 5/3/1 Cycle #X") to reflect the name of the trainee.

v1.0 Notes [17/01/2011]

* Currently only available in metric, I'll get around to knocking up an imperial version in the next couple of days.
* In the interests of resolution RMs are calculate to the nearest .25 of a kg. However, actual workout weights are rounded off to the nearest 2.5kg since that's the minimum weight that most people training with a barbell have access to (i.e. 2x1.25kg plates).
* In calculating predicted 1RMs "Reps Performed" must be between 1 and 9.
* Weight increase per cycle is currently set at 5kg for the Squat and Deadlift and 2.5kg for the Bench and Press.
* I have the rest week set to 6 reps per set instead of Wendler's 5; this is deliberate and purely idiosyncratic.
Last edited by Velcropop on Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Jungledoc
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I use a spreadsheet as well. Mine only covers a single cycle, because I have to make the decision each time whether and how much to increase the training max for each lift, and I tend to make at least minor changes in the accessory lifts each time.

Velcropop
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It seemed like four cycles was a good compromise between consistency according to the program and hitting a point where the trainee might want to change it up. I'm thinking of adding a little table that let's you determine how much weight you want to add to each individual lift per cycle; you might feel good about where your at with your squat and thus only want to add 5kg per mesocycle, but you feel pretty confident about making gains on your deadlift so you up that to 10kg per mesocycle. Since the aim is to hit rep records these figures are somewhat arbitrary but if you find yourself hitting 13+ reps on the final sets of the second microcycle (the "3" week) then your're probably going to want to lower the volume by increasing the reference weight.

Since accessory work and training schedules are fairly subjective matters I decided to leave them out. This is just a good way to keep track of the basic lifts without thinking too much about the programming side of things.

Jungledoc
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Remember that Wendler's guidelines for how much to progress the weight each cycle are just that--guidelines. I've been doing 5/3/1 for over a year, so it's predictable that I'll stall some lifts once in a while. Also, as an "older" trainer", I don't feel that I'm likely to be able to push the loading as fast as a younger trainer would. I have had times when I didn't get the planned reps, so I kept the training max the same for the next cycle, and times when I went 2 or 3 cycles struggling with a particular lift, and reset the training max. I just find it a lot easier to change the training max manually.

I agree, if you find yourself hitting really high reps on your AMAP set, you may want to increase a bit faster. However, keep in mind that having times with a high volume like that is part of the genius of 5/3/1, so going a few weeks with more reps is not a bad thing at all. In fact, a few months ago I took a month away from 5/3/1 and did my big lifts 2x12. When I came back to 5/3/1 I did better at several of the lifts than I had been doing before. That got me thinking that dropping the training max once in a while and getting high numbers on the AMAP sets could be a really beneficial thing.

All in all, I can't plan or program for the amount of the increase from one cycle to the next, so I just leave the training max to change manually each time. It's just 4 numbers, for goodness sakes. How much work do you save by having a formula calculate them for you?

hoosegow
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Because it's cool Doc.

Velcro, I'm just saying this only because it's bothering me and by no means do I mean it as a judgement. I am sure your intentions for putting your spreadsheet out there are purely good.

However, I have refrained from posting specifics about the program. They are the intellectual property of Jim Wendler and to allow someone else to use it without permission just seems wrong. I mean, yes, if someone really wanted to delve deep into what I've posted, they could figure it out.

This might be splitting hairs, and please take no offense to it. I just think giving away the meat of the program is wrong.

Velcropop
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No offense taken, hoose, and I understand where you're coming from. I plan on acknowledging Wendler's work both in the spreadsheet and in the topic's OP, I just haven't got around to writing something nice yet.

The thing is, however, I'm under the impression that JW is quite happy to have his program/ideas disseminated by any means possible. A quick Google search for 5/3/1 strength training will give you the basics of the routine (including periodization percentages) and a little bit of research will help you to program it as best you like.

In fact, if you read T-Nation's interview with Wendler (here) you're armed with just enough information to stick with 5/3/1 for ages without ever having picked up the eBook. Even the forum's own pdellorto has a book review with enough details to get you started. (For the record, I have a copy of Wendler's book.)

Provided I make no commercial gains (and even then it is a grey area) I don't think I'd be stepping on any legal toes (the information wouldn't even qualify as IP in Australia). Ethically I feel justified, too, since JW isn't entirely interested in "selling" 5/3/1 to anyone, and couldn't care less whether anyone takes heed of his advice and experience; he's out to help people who want to be helped. I'd still recommend people buy the book and for anyone who needs help with form and understanding the mechanics of each lift I'd recommend the eternally useful Starting Strength.

All I've done is compiled information freely available in the public domain and programmed the mathematical leg work (no pun intended) in to a nice looking, easy to use spreadsheet, that the lifter can use as a quick way to generate a printable reference for the major lifts. I plan on posting it on some other non-Ex related forums I frequent, as well as giving it to some of my friends. The greater good, gentlemen.

All in all, I appreciate the feedback, and if there ever was an issue I would remove all documents/information without question.

Cheers

Velcropop
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I agree with you J'doc. I guess what you're saying is horses for courses (re: those of advanced age, etc.) and that one should not lose sight of maintaining flexibility for the sake of strict compliance.

It seems that those crazy AMAP sets can really do some good, but again it all depends on how you schedule. Somebody who schedules for 3 weeks per mesocycle isn't going to hit those crazy numbers as often as someone who schedules for 6 weeks per mesocycle. For the former it would be enough to follow the basic guidlines (as per my spreadsheet, for example) and make good gains in a 12 week period.

I just began writing another paragraph and I figure that I'm kind of lost; are we arguing about something? I think you're trying to bring a bit of subjectivity back into a fairly objective calculator, which is fair enough.
Last edited by Velcropop on Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

hoosegow
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All good points Velcro - makes me feel kinda foolish for bringing it up.

Velcropop
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No problems, hoose. The thing I like about this forum is that most posts maintain an honest civility and any arguments (this shouldn't be a pejorative term!) are almost always constructive and productive.

pdellorto
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Personally, I recalculate by hand every cycle for myself when I do them and my clients when I do there - I manually look up the numbers in the charts in the 5/3/1 manual. I find it's easier that way and makes me more cognizant of the slow-and-steady increases.

The AMRAP sets are really a big part of the reasons the program works. Otherwise it's just lifting below your max for a while until you eventually catch back up to it - a running start. That works and it's the basis of a lot of periodization but the AMRAP really adds to it. It lets you adjust to what you have in the tank that day so you're always working to some kind of capacity. I find aiming for a rep goal very inspiring - it doesn't matter if 10 x 135 is better than 5 x 165 or not, if you've only done 8 x 135 before those extra two reps are a step in the right direction. You're divorced from "what is my 1RM?" and instead find what you've got now. Plus all that strength-endurance you train is critical, IMO, to building strength. You get better and better at the movement and straining to max out but at levels of weight you can easily pull for the goal reps. It's freaking genius. I've got one guy on it that's in his 14th or 15th straight cycle of trap bar deadlifts, and it's just going up 5 pound every cycle.

By the way, is there a way to save this file in an earlier version of Excel? Some of us never bumped up from Office 2000, so xlsx doesn't play with our spreadsheet program.

hoosegow
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Try just changing the file tag to just an xls.

pdellorto
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hoosegow wrote:Try just changing the file tag to just an xls.
Just for grins I tried that, but (naturally) it came up as an unrecognizable file format.

Jungledoc
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Velcropop
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I posted the newest version up in .xls format.

I also added the ability to input your desired weight increase for each exercise per-cycle (and a clever little column that shows your avg. percentage increase based on your calculated max versus the increased weight).

Jungledoc
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I use a little different approach. I print out the spread sheet, and that becomes my lifting record. I can get a column for each of 6 workouts (2 weeks) on a page, with lots of room to write in what I do, add notes and comments, etc. The spreadsheet calculates the weights for the big lifts. I started out trying to plan the assistance lifts as percents of the working max for the related lift (e.g., I calculated the weight for GMs from the DL working max), but that didn't really work well, so now I just print a space to fill in the weight.

I print out the 2 pages for a 4-week cycle and keep them in a folder that I carry with me, and then copy the information to my on-line journal later. Every 4 weeks I may tweak the assistance lifts a little.