5/3/1 Manual by Jim Wendler
12-26-2009 02:21 PM
5/3/1 Manual by Jim Wendler
5/3/1 Manual by Jim Wendler
Question: Can I use chains or bands while using this program?
Answer: I donít recommend this, but hereís the easiest way to figure out how to work chains and bands into the program. First, pick the exercise. This could be benching with bands, squatting with chains, or whatever Ė there are many different options. Second, estimate what 80-85% of your max would be with that exercise (with the added resistance). Third, warm up to that weight and perform an all-out rep max. Finally, take this weight and these reps and plug
them into the rep max formula to find you estimated one rep max:
Weight x Reps x .0333 + Weight = Estimated 1RM
After you get the estimated 1RM, take 90% of that number (1RM * .9) and use this as your new training max.
Question: Why donít you recommend the use of chains and/or bands?
Answer: Accommodating resistances are a good idea on paper, but the practice has been popularized by strong individuals who all use equipment. The popularity of chains and bands has spread throughout the powerlifting world, and lifters have had great success with them. Iíve seen LOTS of athletes and regular lifters **** the bed with them, though, and this is for one main reason:
The strength curve for athletes/regular guys is heavy at the bottom and light at the top, so they need more low end work. The strength curve for geared lifters is light at the bottom and heavy at the top, so more high end work is needed.
Using chains/bands on a raw lifter will lower the use of bar weight and THUS lower the amount of weight thatís used at the bottom of a lift. Hence, the strength curve is all screwed up and not always suited for a raw lifter.
Question: Do I need to deload if Iím a beginner?
Answer: You donít need to deload no matter who you are, but I highly recommend using a deload every fourth week, because it allows your body and mind to rest. Youíre not going to get weaker. If you do, itís all in your mind.
Question: Can I perform the bench and military press in the same day?
Answer: You could do this, but I would highly recommend basing your military max on what you can do AFTER you bench, and not when youíre fresh.
Question: Can I squat and deadlift on the same day?
Answer: Yes. Again, pick which lift youíd like to do first, and make sure you base your second exercise on what you can do AFTER you perform the first. If you donít know which one to perform, simply ask yourself which lift you want to improve the most. If you have an equal desire for improvement in both lifts, then find the time to give it an extra day.
Question: If I max out on one lift, but the other three lifts are still improving, do I cut back all lifts 10% and start over? Or do I just cut back one?
Answer: Just cut back one and keep the others moving forward.
Question: Do I go for max reps on each set or just the last set?
Answer: Just the last set of the day for the big exercise.
Question: Do I go for max reps during my deload week?
Answer: No. Limit these reps to 5, and deload!
Question: How much time do you rest between sets?
Answer: You should rest for as long as it takes to perform the set with good form, but not enough to get cold. For most lifters, this is about 3-5 minutes.
Question: Do you ever take your assistance work to failure?
Answer: Very rarely. The key to assistance work is doing enough to stimulate the muscle. Your assistance work should not affect your recovery and overall performance.
Question: How long should you stick with assistance exercises?
Answer: You can switch ever week if youíd like but I would recommend using the same assistance work for at least 4 weeks before switching.
Question: Do you always stick with an assistance template or do you vary it?
Answer: I vary it all the time. The most important thing is to get the work of the main lifts in.
Question: How much time do you take between sets of assistance work?
Answer: Anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes. If a set is worth doing, itís worth doing correctly. Iíd rather do one good set than five bad ones with terrible form.
Question: Do you always take the last set to absolute failure?
Answer: No. Sometimes itís best to do the required reps and move on, but rarely is a set done to absolute failure. In most cases, the set should be done close to failure, but with perhaps a rep or half of a rep left before failing. This is something youíll have to learn for yourself.
Question: Do you ever take a true one rep max?
Answer: You can do it whenever you want, but Iíd recommend waiting at least 3 or 4 cycles to test it again. Never give up a training day to take a 1RM. Simply do the workout first, but donít go for max reps on the last set. From there, try for a new max. While this program will improve your one rep max, the programís success is not geared just toward one rep maxes. Structuring your training like this would be setting you up for failure. A one rep max is no better or worse than a five rep max.
Question: I want to do curls. What day can I use for this?
Answer: Whichever day you want. It doesnít matter.
Question: Can I use front squats instead of back squats for my big exercise?
Question: Do you recommend decline presses as a main or assistance movement?
Question: Can I use power cleans (or something similar) in this program? If so, where would you put them?
Answer: Yes, this is a great idea. Iíd recommend doing power cleans, hang cleans, power snatches or hang snatches if want to choose an Olympic movement. If you want to do these along with the regular training, Iíd recommend doing them before you perform your squat or deadlift workout.
Question: Can I use the trap bar instead of the barbell for deadlifting?
Answer: Yes, this is the only acceptable deadlift option.
Question: Can I use the push press or jerk in place of the military press?
Question: If I switch from deadlifts to trap bar deadlifts, how long should I stick with the trap bar?
Answer: You should stick with the new exercise until you reach your goal or until you stall. You must stay with the new exercise for more than just 4-8 weeks.
Question: Can I switch movements every other cycle? For example, do a trap bar deadlift for a cycle and then switch to a deadlift and then back to the trap bar.
Answer: No. Stick with one exercise and keep pushing this exercise until you stall out or reach your personal goals.
Question: I recently hit a max deadlift of 500 pounds. Do I base my training weights around this number (500)?
Answer: No. I recommend starting with10% less (90% of your actual max) than your actual max and working up slowly.
Question: Do you think it's better to be consistent and incremental with 5 pound advancements for all four lifts? Or do you think the 10 pound advancements on the squat and pull are better than 5 pounds for most lifters?
Answer: The smaller the jumps you can make, the better youíll be in the long run. Unfortunately, this requires an ego check, which isnít easy. Trust in the "small jump" system and reap the benefits long term. You can even make 2.5 pound jumps if youíd like. Remember to always think long term.
Question: Do you wear any equipment for your training?
Answer: I always wear a belt. For squats, I wear knee sleeves that help keep my knees warm. They donít add much (if anything) to the lift, but they do a great job of keeping my IT bands and knees warm. For bench press and military press, I wear wrist wraps (and a belt).
Question: Can I use straps for deadlifting?
Answer: While I understand the use of straps Ė and used them often when I was younger Ė Iíve come to the conclusion that, barring some sort of injury, you shouldnít use them. I say this because:
1. Your grip will quickly catch up to your hip/leg/back strength.
2. Grip strength is essential in all sports, and in life.
3. For overall muscle growth, itís best to train without the aid/support of equipment.
4. Itís also best to use as few "crutches" as possible when you train.
Take it from someone whoís learned the hard way: ditch the straps as soon as you can and train minimally for maximum results. Get stronger all over. Youíll thank me.
Question: What kind of diet should I follow during training?
Answer: Iím probably the last guy you should ask about dieting, but since Iíve been asked this a million times, here are my general recommendations:
1. Eat all whole foods. Try to avoid protein powders unless absolutely necessary.
2. Eat 4-6 meals per day. Each meal should have some kind of protein source, some kind of fruit or vegetable, and some kind of carbohydrate.
3. Try to get 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day through whole foods. If youíre over 15% body fat, use your lean body mass instead of your bodyweight.
4. Donít go crazy counting calories, grams of protein, etc. Just eat and learn how to approximate your portions.
5. If you want to gain weight, the simplest way is to drink a gallon of milk a day. Simple and effective.
Question: Do you think the 5/3/1 method can be done instead of dynamic days Ė in harmony with max effort training Ė without my CNS going down the toilet?
Answer: I think this would burn you out, and I wouldnít recommend it.
Question: During the deload week, do I deload the assistance work too?
Answer: If youíre deloading, DELOAD! Cut back on everything and let your body rest and recover.
Question: Can you use this program while using powerlifting gear?
Answer: Iíve been asked many times how Iíd modify this program for training with powerlifting gear. Iím sure thereís a way to do this, but I no longer have the patience or the desire to try to figure this out. I donít train in gear, and I donít really work with anyone who does, so itís best to leave this to someone who actually trains with gear. Iím not interested in using bench shirts or squat suits when I train. There are too many variables and inconsistencies when training with gear to put them into a simple training program.
My best advice to you would be this: if you want to bench press 600 pounds with a shirt, train for a 590 pound raw bench. Iím pretty sure youíll be able to get 10 pounds out of your shirt.:001_rolleyes:
Question: When I begin the program, do I start with my true max on each lift?
Answer: No. You begin with 90% of your actual max. If you have a 300 pound bench press, you begin the first 4-week training cycle with a 270lb ďmaxĒ. All your percentages for your first four weeks are based on 270 pounds.
Question: How do I know how to increase the weight after each 4-week training cycle?
Answer: After each training cycle, increase your bench press and military press NO MORE than 5 pounds. You should increase your squat and deadlift NO MORE than 10 pounds. In the above example of the 300 pound bench presser, his ďmaxĒ would start at 270 and increase to 275 for the second 4-week phase. Every four weeks he would move up 5 pounds.
Question: Is this program for advanced or beginner lifters?
Answer: Iíve used this program with both beginning and advanced lifters. Steady, slow progression will never go out of fashion, and neither will the big exercises. The trick is to teach beginners correct form at the start. For advanced lifters, the most important thing is to remember long term goals, and not basing unrealistic maxes on what you did four years ago.
Question: If a person wanted to get big and strong, what would you recommend?
Answer: I would recommend the 5/3/1 program, with the Boring But Big assistance work. Then have that person drink a gallon of milk a day. Three things that are very easy and simple to do.
Question: What if that person is lactose intolerant?
Answer: Buy baby wipes. Itís gonna get dirty.
Question: Why do you do so many chins and dips? Is this part of the program?
Answer: No itís not part of the program. I do chins and dips because they are the most efficient upper body assistance exercises.
Question: Can I use kettlebells as part of my assistance work?
Answer: Yes. This is a great idea.
Question: I donít know how many sets and reps to do on my assistance work.
Answer: When in doubt, do 5 sets of 10 reps.
Question: Can you do board presses with this program?
Answer: Yes, it would work. I would not recommend them if you are a raw lifter.
Question: What are the five best exercises to increase my deadlift?
Answer: Squats, deadlifts for reps, some kind of abdominal training (sit ups or leg raises), good mornings and Kroc rows (high rep dumbbell rows).
Question: What are the five best exercises to increase my squat?
Answer: Squats, good mornings, some kind of ab work (see above), lunges and leg presses.
Question: What are the five best exercises to increase my bench press?
Answer: Bench press, military press, dips, chins and dumbbell rows.
Question: What are the six best exercises to increase my military press?
Answer: Military press, bench press, dips, chins, hanging leg raises and back raises.
Question: What is more important for getting stronger; assistance work or the four big lifts?
Answer: The four big lifts. Done with correct form and a well thought out plan, this will trump ANY weak point exercise or assistance work.
12-26-2009 03:09 PM
thanks. very timely, i'm starting 531 next week.
12-26-2009 04:02 PM
the q&a from the book?
um read the whole book its a great read, ive been doing 5/3/1 for a couple weeks now, its good ****
12-26-2009 04:30 PM
That's good to hear fellas. Great and informative read for sure.
12-27-2009 09:47 PM
I hated 5/3/1. Tons of guys do great on it though, good luck with the new program.
12-28-2009 12:15 AM
what is there to hate, there is a basic simple way to work towards slowly progressing your lifts, and then you can do whatever you want... seems like a win win to me.
12-28-2009 02:31 AM
This program confuses me. Would someone mind helping out as I am planning on starting this program?
For example week 1\Day1 is 3sets of 5 for Military Press, in the Assistance Exercise section, there are 2 push 2 pull exercises in the sample template on page 26.
• Dips: 5 sets of 10 reps
• Dumbbell Rows: 3 sets of 12 reps
• Shrugs: 3 sets of 15 reps
What I am confused here is that it is no longer 5/3/1 for this first day? and I would be using this day 1 template for the next 4 weeks when I do the Military Press.
Now what about the following week i.e. Week 5 day 1? Do I use the same principle here i.e. push\pull exercise on Military Press day but change the Dips.DB Rows, Shrugs to other compound exercises that target the same muscle groups on Military Press day?
I apologize in advance if this sounds basic, but I would rather know *why* and *how* to do this in order to get a better understanding of the principles involved in weight training.
Personally I am use to getting the programs as they are presented and following them. I am trying to advance knowledge wise so I can design my own workouts.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Last edited by MK9; 12-28-2009 at 02:31 AM.
12-28-2009 10:24 AM
i dont want to speak like i am an expert on this program, or quote jim wendler wrong, but you can do whatever you want.
Originally Posted by MK9
5/3/1 is the main lift ie:
monday: OH PRESS
or switched around if you have different issues...
if you read the q&a above, you will see he says that assistance exercises can my moved around or done however fit. THE WHOLE POINT OF 5/3/1 is the actual MAIN LIFT done with the right percentages on the same days with the set amount of reps.
the beauty of this plan is the assistance work, because you can basically do whatever you want. Now that might be confusing for a lot of people because they dont know jack **** about setting up a decent program based on their needs and what works for them or what doesn't.
with doing strongman training, and trying to do lots of conditioning training, i try to keep my assistance light as far as leaving some energy in the tank. If you are a bodybuilder then you would probably want to to do your extra volume stuff.
Basically I ask my self after i get done with the main lift, what can i do to help me get stronger in that lift...
this was an example of last weeks workout:
warmup is done before every workout, usually 5 minutes of stationary bike, with some light stretching, maybe 1 set with the bar, sometimes do a set or two of light cleans, jump rope before strongman events.
monday: oh press 5/3/1, 100 bodyweight dips, 70 bodyweight chins, stretching, conditioning
^^^ i got my heart rate going decently with the dips and chins, felt good and had some energy left, so i stretched and did 30 minutes of hills on the stairmaster.
Tuesday: deadlifts 5/3/1, hyperextensions with weight behind head 5x15 or 75 reps, lying leg curls 5x20, hanging leg raises toes to hand 50 reps, stretching
^^^ this workout made me decently tired, so i just stretched and went home
Wednesday: light strongman training, 600lb tire flip 50 feet /medley with 500lb sled drag 50 feet, 250lbs farmers walk 50 feet, 80lbs sled sprints - 20 sprints
^^^ wasn't planning on doing strongman on this day, but was bored and decided to do some.
Thursday: Bench 5/3/1, 25 chins worked in throughout sets of press movements, incline db press 2 warmups of 10 reps, then 2-3 work sets of 4-6 reps (ex: 70x10, 80x10, 120x6, 130x6,4), DB rows 2 warmup sets of 10, 1 all out set (ex: 115x27 each arm), french press 5x15 (or whatever, i think i did like 15,15,12,10,8 or something) stretching (i would put in conditioning here, but i took my workout a little to the limit, and it was xmas eve, and i decided to take the rest of the week off from cardio, lol)
^^^ great workout, was feeling good, so i did some heavier stuff, like the db incline, etc.
Saturday: squats 5/3/1, leg press pyramid scheme, reps 10/8/6/4, some DC style calves, and some abs on decline bench with weight behind head for 75 reps. stretch
^^^ was feeling pretty rested from the off day, so i did a little heavy stuff on the leg press, wasn't that heavy, just went up to 1000x4 on the last set, but again its about saving energy and ASSISTING the main lift. not replacing it.
Sunday: foam rolling, light stretching..
and that is pretty much it, i keep it simple and keep it easy. Now next week coming up i might not do the same stuff, i might add something here or there, or who knows.
12-28-2009 10:43 AM
12-28-2009 11:44 AM
Originally Posted by Harland
I apologize if I am misreading this, but i think what you have written down IS NOT JW's 5/3/1 program.
5/3/1 is composed of 4week cycles, and yes, the rep/% scheme applies to the main lifts only.
week 1 - 3 set of 5 reps at 65/75/85% of 1RM
week 2 - 3 sets of 3 reps at 70/80/90% of 1RM
week 3 - set of 5, set of 3, set of 1 reps at 75/85/95% of 1RM
week 4 - deload
Assistance work is whatever you want/need. On last set, if you have it in you to go beyond the required reps, go for it. Personally I through in a 100% rep after the 95% to validate that my 1RM is real.
start next cycle by adding some weight to you 1RM (5-10lbs depending on lift), calculate new percentages and repeat.
it is a good raw program, did 4cycles to prep for my meet, and just started a new cycle to prep for the next....
12-28-2009 11:52 AM
yeah i didn't really get into the percentages, as i thought that was a given...
Originally Posted by rxp1997
i got all mine set up in a excel sheet, its pretty nice, i just plug in the numbers and i have my whole month set out for me...
i do the "waves" exactly as you laid them out in your post, in my four main lifts, on their respectable days. and i do warmup sets laid out by JW himself as well, 40%x5 50%x5 60%x3, then i got into my lifts.
12-28-2009 12:23 PM
cool, just got confused when you listed a workout with a 5/3/1 rep range
12-28-2009 12:32 PM
I've been doing 5/3/1 since June and love it. I take a deload every 8 weeks though. Strength in the big 4 has progressed amazingly. I agree with the post above about assistance work. Once I complete the main lift I too think how I can better that lift with my assistance and go from there. I typically keep the same assistance work for the 3 weeks and change that up for each cycle.
12-29-2009 06:25 PM
The workset rep scheme just didn't work well for me. I'm not saying it's a bad program by any stretch, just didn't carry over well for me that's all.
Originally Posted by Harland
12-30-2009 06:12 PM
Thank you for posting this.
01-07-2010 11:35 PM
with the statement about band and chain work... would it be best to use bands and chains with a bench shirt instead of raw???
Similar Forum Threads
By brownstown89 in forum Workout Logs
Last Post: 04-18-2013, 02:02 AM
By The Neck in forum Powerlifting/Strongman
Last Post: 12-19-2010, 04:58 AM
By Turk1976 in forum Powerlifting/Strongman
Last Post: 11-24-2010, 10:57 AM
By Rodja in forum General Chat
Last Post: 09-17-2010, 09:42 AM