The Wendler Routine 5/3/1: an introduction
The 5/3/1 program by Jim Wendler emphasizes starting with light weights, progressing slowly, and being consistent. According to the name, this extremely popular strength training program uses the five-rep scheme, three-rep scheme, and one-rep scheme. Your goal will be to hit personal records each workout by working with percentages based off of your maximum.
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Despite its versatility, 5/3/1 is generally recommended for athletes with intermediate experience. In order to achieve slow but steady progress, 5/3/1/ would be good for you. Jim believes a light starting point gives lifters more room to grow.
Lifters who practice their lifts more frequently typically progress from a beginner routine faster. Long-term training can also benefit advanced lifters.
Wendell’s 5/3/1 explained
Five-three-one is designed around cycles. The cycles last for four weeks each. There are either three or four days of training per week. The ideal number is four. A core lift should be the focus of each session. Squat, Military Press, Deadlift, and Bench Press are these lifts. As long as you perform only one main lift a day, you can run this program three days a week. This means you won’t do the same exercises on the same day every week. It is mandatory to complete all four exercises before repeating them.
Every week, you will set rep-set goals for each major lift.
Weighing the options
Knowing your maximums for the main 4 lifts is essential before you begin lifting weights. Taking 90 percent of your maximums will be the numbers you use to base your first cycle (first 4 weeks). In the bench press, if your 1RM is 315 pounds, you would use 285 (90% of 315 pounds) as your base number for your training-weight calculations. The formula is as follows:
Among the last three sets, you may find 5+, 3+, and 1+. You will do as many repetitions as possible during these sets. It is not necessary to go to failure, but you should strive to set a new rep record every workout.
You will add five pounds to your 1 rep max for upper body exercises (bench press and military press), and ten pounds to your 1 rep max for lower body exercises (squat and deadlift) once you finish your first cycle (first four weeks).
5/3/1 can be performed alongside assistance exercises. Remember, these are for assistance only and shouldn’t be used in place of your main lifts. 5/3/1 can be incorporated in a number of ways. Among them are:
- Big but boring –
Do 5 sets of 10 repetitions of the same exercise after you perform your prescribed working sets and repetitions. Alternatively, you can do both.
- There are three Triumvirates.
Each workout should consist of no more than three exercises, including the main lift. Assistance exercises should be limited to two. To figure out which exercises are most effective for you, you will need to experiment.
- David Tate’s Periodization Bible –
In Jim Wendler’s book, specific exercises are described. Dave Tate wrote an article that inspired this.
- My life isn’t a joke –
Assisting is not your job. Your main lifts are done at the gym, and that’s it. If you don’t have much time, this isn’t recommended.
- The body weight of a person is
All assistance exercises can be performed here using your bodyweight. For each exercise, you should do at least 75 repetitions.
Routine 5/3/1 for Wendler
You can customize, print, or download the routine below, along with a link where you can do so. It will calculate your maximum when you enter it. Don’t forget to write down your workout days and sets while you’re at the gym! The customized spreadsheet can be found HERE. It can be printed or downloaded.
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