Today was the first day, in the first week, of my second cycle doing the modified version of 5/3/1 I came up with a few months ago. Here's a screen shot of the excel file with the details of the program. The percentages, sets, and reps highlighted in yellow are the accessory work. These highlighted sets and reps are just more squats, bench presses, and overhead presses; with deadlifts being an exception. I hate deadlifting for a ton of reps. I left that blank so on some days I can just pull heavy singles or maybe squat some more, depending on how I feel that day.
With the original version of 5/3/1 Wendler says that if you're having a bad day just do the work sets and get out of the gym. Well, that's not the same for this modified version, the highlighted accessory work is mandatory as well. Matter of fact, everything on that damn page is mandatory. What's optional is what isn't on the page, and trust me, I do a bit of optional work after all that jackassery. Here is a link to my Fitocracy profile an example of extra jackassery.
This program seems to be working quite well. Although this is just the beginning of the second cycle through I must admit it is hard to judge and predict how my lifts will fare at the end of however many cycles I go through. One thing I have to keep in mind is "are you building strength or testing it?" I'm the kind of guy that falls into trying to get a new PR every time I step foot into the gym... can't really do that on this program. When week three day five comes around and I'm repping out 95% of my 1RM followed up by 10x3 at 85% of my 1RM it usually results in me being pretty damned smoked by the end of it.
Also, as you may note, the de-load week is more intense and contains much more volume than the traditional 5/3/1 program. Not everyone understands that a de-load doesn't mean you get to pussyfoot about for a week generally sucking at all things other than watching Jersey Shore. There are a few ways to de-load, here they are:
Decrease volume. (Daily or weekly.)
Decrease frequency. (Number of sessions per week in the gym)
Decrease intensity. (Pounds on the bar.)
Decrease density. (Number of exercises per session.)
Or, any combination of the four.
If I missed one or a few, let me know.
Before going into a de-load you should ask yourself what it is you need a break from. Once you have that answer, you'll know what you need to back off of. Considering that this modified 5/3/1 of mine isn't that big on volume, for any of the lifts, I kept the volume roughly the same per workout and simply decreased the intensity for that week. I just finished up my first de-load week and I loved it; there's nothing really quite like squatting for sets of ten after a few weeks of doing five reps or less. I used to be a widowmaker fiend and this de-load gives me a taste of that sweet sweet masochism.
Nothing too bad happened emotionally today. Thankfully no swole-hate was seen or felt... I fear that if I had these squats would have crushed me, both physically and emotionally. I feel safe within the walls of my gym, so much support and camaraderie with my fellow brothers and sisters-in-swole. The pain comes when I step outside, into the real world, where having swole and strength is out of fashion and "otter-mode" is in.
People fear what they don't understand.
People shouldn't fear swole. They should embrace it.