Leader and anchor cycles are types of training cycles introduced by Jim Wendler in 5/3/1 Forever.
Table of Contents
What are Anchor Cycles?
Anchor cycles use higher intensities on the main lifts, less supplemental work, and more assistance volume.
5/3/1 Anchor Cycle Example
An example of an anchor cycle is 3/5/1 with PR’s on week 1 and 3, 3×5 first set last for supplemental work, and 50 to 100 reps per assistance exercise.
What are Leader Cycles?
Leader cycles uses lower intensities on the main lifts with higher volume supplemental work and less assistance volume.
5/3/1 Leader Cycle Example
Other leader cycle examples include Boring But Strong (BBS) and Second Set Last (SSL).
- Leader/Anchor Cycles for 5/3/1 Beginner (T-Nation Forums)
Sequencing Anchor and Leader Cycles
Below you’ll find generalized guidance around anchor and leader cycles. To understand exactly how they’re used, you’ll need to pick up 5/3/1 Forever.
This is just to give you a basic understanding of their purpose and how they’re used in training.
The most common sequence is to run two leader cycles and one anchor cycle, starting the first leader cycle with a training max no higher than 85%.
You can read a pretty solid discussion of decisions around anchor and leader cycles in this discussion on the T-Nation Forums.
To best understand how to put this information into practice and actually get stronger, it’s highly recommended that you pick up 5/3/1 Forever by Jim Wendler.
The most up-to-date and complete collection of Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 programming framework. Contains dozens of templates to keep 5/3/1 fresh and adaptable.