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Wendler's 5/3/1

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    Wendler's 5/3/1


    Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 powerlifting system is rapidly growing into one of the most popular powerlifting and strength building training routines on the planet. Several years ago, most powerlifters I knew ran the Westside Barbell system. Westside was the gospel, and there was no other. But today, things have changed. A good portion of my friends are running Wendler's 5/3/1, or a Westside/Wendler's combination. Westside is still king, but Wendler's 5/3/1 has proven itself very worthy of consideration.
    In this guide to Wendler's 5/3/1, you will find information on 2, 3, and 4 day splits. You will also find information on a Wendler's 5/3/1 and Westside hybrid program. I have also included detailed assistance work information, including possible variations mentioned in the Wendler's 5/3/1 e-book.
    Wendler's 5/3/1 Core Components

    4 to 5+ Week Mesocycle. A mesocycle of Wendler's 5/3/1 lasts 4 weeks if you train 4 days per week, and 5+ weeks if you train 3 days per week. If you workout three times per week (Monday-Wednesday-Friday), you will rotate between 4 core workouts. If you workout 4 days per week, you will hit each workout once a week on the same training day.
    4 Core Workouts. Wendler's 5/3/1 consists of 4 core workouts:
    Workout A. Squat and assistance work.
    Workout B. Bench Press and assistance work.
    Workout C. Deadlift and assistance work.
    Workout D. Overhead Press and assistance work.
    3 Days Per Week. As stated, if you use Wendler's 5/3/1 and workout 3 days per week, you will rotate between the 4 workouts. Over the course of a mesocycle, you will perform each of the 4 workouts four times, for a total of 16 workouts. A week week mesocycle looks like this:
    Week 1. ABC (Monday - Workout A, Wednesday - Workout B, Friday - Workout C)
    Week 2. DAB
    Week 3. CDA
    Week 4. BCD
    Week 5. ABC
    Week 6. D
    4 Days Per Week. If you use Wendler's 5/3/1 and train 4 days per week, your mesocycle will last only 4 weeks. Your workout schedule should look something life this:
    Monday. Squat Day
    Wednesday. Bench Press Day
    Friday. Deadlift Day
    Saturday. Overhead Press Day
    Workout Waves. Each workout is performed 4 times during the course of a Wendler's 5/3/1 mesocycle. Simply stated, you will have 4 bench press workouts, 4 squat workouts, 4 deadlift workouts, and 4 overhead press workouts. Each specific workout (A-B-C-D) is comprised of 4 waves, or 4 different workouts. These waves are:
    Wave A. Warmup, 75% x 5, 80% x 5, 85% x 5
    Wave B. Warmup, 80% x 3, 85% x 3, 90% x 3
    Wave C. Warmup, 75% x 5, 85% x 3, 95% x 1
    Wave D. Deload wave – 60% x 5, 65% x 5, 70% x 5
    Wendler's 5/3/1 Complete Mesocycle Breakdown

    Now that we've looked at the nuts and bolts of the Wendler's 5/3/1 powerlifting system, let's put them together into a structured mesocycle. Please note that the following tables do not include assistance work. The letter (ABCD) following the core workout is the corresponding wave that you will be performing on that training day.
    Wendler's 5/3/1 Mesocycle3 Days Per WeekWeekMondayWednesdayFriday1 Squat - ABench Press - ADeadlift - A2OH Press - ASquat - BBench Press - B3Deadlift - BOH Press - BSquat - C4Bench Press - CDeadlift - COH Press - C5Squat - DBench Press - DDeadlift - D6OH Press - D Wendler's 5/3/1 Mesocycle4 Days Per WeekWeekMondayWednesdayFridayS aturday1Squat - ABench Press - ADeadlift - AOH Press - A2Squat - BBench Press - BDeadlift - BOH Press - B3Squat - CBench Press - CDeadlift - COH Press - C4Squat - DBench Press - DDeadlift - DOH Press - DExercise Substitution

    For each of the 4 workouts (ABCD), you may substitute the primary workout with an appropriate replacement at the start of a new mesocycle. The following are examples of acceptable substitutions:
    Squats. You may substitute squats with the box squat, front squat, squats with bands or chains, etc.
    Bench Press. You may substitute bench press with floor press, 2-board press, rack press, etc.
    Deadlift. You may substitute the deadlift with deficit deadlifts, rack pulls, deadlift with bands or chains, etc.
    Overhead Press. You may substitute overhead press with push press, overhead dumbbell press, rack press, etc.
    Assistance Work

    How much assistance work you do is up to you. Natural lifters should try to be in and out of the gym in 60 minutes. If you can't "hit it" in that period of time, you need to take a long, hard look at the rest periods you are taking between assistance work sets. A quote from Jim Wendler on training duration:
    "People laugh and call me lazy, while they twit around in their three-hour workout making zero progress. Sometimes, instead of what you do in the weight room, it's what you don't do that will lead to success."
    In the Wendler's 5/3/1 book, the following assistance plans are presented:
    Boring But Big. Main lift, the main lift again @ 5x10 (50% 1RM), and another accessory exercise for 5 sets.
    The Triumvirate. Main lift, and two assistance exercises - 5 sets each.
    I'm Not Doing Jack ****. Main lift, and nothing else.
    Periodization Bible by Dave Tate. Main lift, and 3 exercises - 5 x 10-20 reps each.
    Bodyweight. Main lift, and 2 bodyweight exercises such as the pull up, sit ups, dips, etc.
    Here are some sample assistance work plans based on your goals.
    Strength Builder Assistance Work

    Squat Workout
    Squat: 5 x 10 x 50%
    Leg Curl: 5 x 10
    Bench Press Workout
    Bench Press: 5 x 10 x 50%
    One Arm Dumbbell Row: 5 x 10
    Deadlift Workout
    Deadlift: 5 x 8 x 50%
    Hanging Leg Raises: 5 x 12
    Overhead Press Workout
    Overhead Press: 5 x 10 x 50%
    Chin Up: 5 sets to failure
    Bodybuilder Assistance Work

    Squat Workout Day - Assistance Option A
    Hack Squat: 4 sets of 10-20 reps
    Leg Extension: 4 sets of 10-30 reps
    Leg Curl: 4 sets of 10-15 reps
    Weighted Sit up: 4 sets of 10 reps
    Squat Workout Day - Assistance Option B
    45 Degree Leg Press – 4 sets of 10-20 reps
    Leg Extension – 4 sets of 10-30 reps
    Leg Curl – 4 sets of 10-15 reps
    Weighted Sit up – 4 sets of 10 reps
    Bench Press Workout Day - Assistance option A
    Dumbbell Bench Press: 4 sets of 10-20 reps
    Chest Dip (weighted): 4 sets of 8-15 reps
    Dumbbell Flys: 4 sets of 12 reps
    Cable Tricep Extension: 4 sets of 10-20 reps
    Bench Press Workout Day - Assistance option B
    Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – 4 sets of 10-20 reps
    Chest Dip (weighted) – 4 sets of 8-15 reps
    Dumbbell Flys – 4 sets of 12 reps
    Cable Tricep Extension – 4 sets of 10-20 reps
    Deadlift Workout Day - Assistance Option A
    Chin Up: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
    Bent Over Dumbbell Row: 4 sets of 15 reps/arm
    Back Raises: 4 sets of 10 reps (with bar behind neck)
    Hanging Leg Raises: 4 sets of 15 reps
    Deadlift Workout Day - Assistance Option B
    Lat Pull Down – 4 sets of 10-12 reps
    Bent Over Row – 4 sets of 15 reps/arm
    Reverse Hyperextensions – 4 sets of 12 reps
    Hanging Leg Raises – 4 sets of 15 reps
    Overhead Press Workout Day - Assistance Option A
    Seated Dumbbell Press: 4 sets of 10 reps
    Barbell Upright Row: 4 sets of 10 reps
    Dumbbell Lateral Raise: 4 sets of 10-15 reps
    Standing Barbell Curl: 4 sets of 10 reps
    Overhead Press Workout Day - Assistance Option B
    Hammer Machine Military – 4 sets of 10 reps
    Rope Upright Rows – 4 sets of 10 reps
    Bent Over Dumbbell Reverse Fly – 4 sets of 10-15 reps
    Standing Dumbbell Curl – 4 sets of 10 reps
    Wendler's 5/3/1 Notes

    One rep max. When you first start Wendler's 5/3/1, use a realistic one rep max (1RM). It's better to start a little below your estimated max and work into Wendler's 5/3/1, then it is to over-estimate your 1RM and waste a mesocycle. Powerlifting is not a sprint - it's a marathon. Don't kill yourself out of the gate. Jim Wendler recommends starting at 90% of your 1RM on your first mesocycle.
    The last set. Jim Wendler recommends going all out on the last core set each workout. Remember, core work is either squats, bench press, deadlift or overhead press. On this last set, do as many reps as you can with the given weight. Do NOT use this approach for de-load workouts.
    Adding weight. After completing each mesocycle, add 5 pounds to your 1RM total for bench press and overhead press, and 10 pounds to your squat and deadlift 1RM, and recalculate your percentages. If you run Wendler's 5/3/1 for a year, this progression pattern will add 50 pounds to your bench and press, and 100 pounds to your squat and deadlift. Be patient, and stick with the plan!
    2 Day Per Week Approach

    For those who can hit the gym only twice a week, you can use the following template:
    Monday - Squat and Bench Press
    Thursday - Deadlift and Overhead Press
    This is a 4 week cycle. Hit the primary, core exercises first, and add in appropriate assistance work. Remember to limit your total workout time to about 60 minutes.
    Wendler's 5/3/1 and Westside Hybrid

    Wendler's 5/3/1 is a very flexible training system. Because of this, the door is wide open to integrate Wendler's with core/key components of the Westside system.
    Some trainees may want to utilize dynamic effort (DE) days from Westside training. How you structure this integration is up to you. Some trainees may be able to do both heavy squats and deadlifts on a single day, and then use the second posterior chain day of that week for dynamic effort (DE) work. Some may choose to do heavy Wendler squats with DE deadlifts, and heavy Wendler deadlifts with DE squats.
    Another possible integration between Westside and Wendler's would be to drop the heavy overhead pressing day, and instead, insert overhead pressing movements on your bench days. This would free up one training day each week for DE bench work.
    Sample Westside/Wendler's 5/3/1 program structure.
    Monday - Dynamic effort (DE) bench press. Heavier overhead pressing.
    Tuesday - Wendler's squat day. Dynamic effort (DE) deadlifts.
    Thursday - Wendler's bench press day.
    Friday - Wendler's deadlift day. Dynamic effort (DE) squats.
    For assistance work, use exercises that address your weaknesses. Please remember that this sample hybrid program is only an example, presented to get you thinking about the possibilities. There are many ways to combine Westside and Wendler's, and many reasons why someone would want to do so.
    When jumping into a hybrid routine, always proceed with caution. Start slow, and work your way into it. Don't set up the hybrid with too much work. It's better to get the feel of a hybrid program, and then to add work, then it is to kill yourself and have to pull back on work.
    Final Notes

    Far too many younger trainees are looking for magic routines and training systems. Wendler's 5/3/1 powerlifting system is not magic. It works if you work hard, and stick to it. Wendler's generally needs to be run for multiple cycles, so don't choose this routine if you're not willing to stick with it.
    There are many heated debates about which training system is the best. Remember that the key to success on any program revolves around your drive to succeed.
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    so would you recommend the 3 days a week or 4 days a week?
    Im currently using westside for skinny guys v3, which would you go with for size with strength and not just strength?
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    Quote Originally Posted by SweetLou321 View Post
    so would you recommend the 3 days a week or 4 days a week?
    Im currently using westside for skinny guys v3, which would you go with for size with strength and not just strength?


    I've always done 4d splits. I seem to be able to better balance my routines when split up between 4d versus 3. But that's not to say you can have a solid routine at 3days.

    Westside for skinny guys is a really good program. I'm a PLer so my routines area all geared for the 1RM. But you can have size & strength both if that's your goal.
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    i did 5/3/1 for like 8 months, good program would highly reccomend
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    I ran this program last winter and based my calculations on 90% of my maxes. I think undershooting my percentages really helped in using this program for months without ever hitting a wall. I also took the last set of Waves A-C to failure which made up for the first 2 sets not really doing much for me (i.e. too light). Everything consistently kept going up.
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    Word on the streets is Wendler is looking to revise this program & put deload on week 3 versus 4.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Neck View Post
    Word on the streets is Wendler is looking to revise this program & put deload on week 3 versus 4.
    I think what he's doing for the PL version is switching the order to 3/5/1 with some singles on weeks 1 and 3 and taking the deload as normal
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    Great program been running it for awhile. Its a great program for natural bodybuilders also imo! Especially guys chasing more mass.
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    I would go out on a limb & say it's probably the best universal program out there!!
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    Can someone explain which sets on which days you take to failure? I'm not clear on this. To me, it reads to take the last set on every core excercise to failure, but if it's 90-95% of your max, wouldn't that be 1 to 2 reps anyway?
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    Quote Originally Posted by machwon04 View Post
    Can someone explain which sets on which days you take to failure? I'm not clear on this. To me, it reads to take the last set on every core excercise to failure, but if it's 90-95% of your max, wouldn't that be 1 to 2 reps anyway?
    The book will explain this.

    The last set is calculated off of 90% of your 1RM so its not your 5RM, 3RM or 1RM and you should be able to get extra reps. There are a million spreadsheets out there that will do the math for you and probably help this make sense a little easier for. Just google "5/3/1 spreadsheet".

    Also, its not to failure. You should leave a rep or 2 in the tank on the final set.

    Hopefully that helps.
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    That helps, kinda. I must be really weak in the tris or something. I don't think I can get 90% of my 1 RM more than about 3 reps, 4 on a good day.
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    Quote Originally Posted by machwon04 View Post
    That helps, kinda. I must be really weak in the tris or something. I don't think I can get 90% of my 1 RM more than about 3 reps, 4 on a good day.
    It's basically like this: you take 90% of your 1RM and base your routine off of this.

    The first week the final set is 85% of the above number for max reps (minimum 5)
    The second week the final set is 90% for max reps (minimum 3)
    The third week is 95% for max reps (minimum 1)
    The fourth week is a deload done at 50-60%
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodja View Post
    It's basically like this: you take 90% of your 1RM and base your routine off of this.

    The first week the final set is 85% of the above number for max reps (minimum 5)
    The second week the final set is 90% for max reps (minimum 3)
    The third week is 95% for max reps (minimum 1)
    The fourth week is a deload done at 50-60%
    yeah exactly what Rodja said,

    i used Prilepin's table for the deload weeks and it worked out fine.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodja View Post
    It's basically like this: you take 90% of your 1RM and base your routine off of this.

    The first week the final set is 85% of the above number for max reps (minimum 5)
    The second week the final set is 90% for max reps (minimum 3)
    The third week is 95% for max reps (minimum 1)
    The fourth week is a deload done at 50-60%
    Spot On!!
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    Ok, so I plugged my maxes into a spreadsheet that I found and used the numbers given. I overlooked the ">" symbol, so I only did 5 reps on my last set. I was wondering how that little weight could possibly make me stronger at just 5 reps, so I did a pause at the bottom of every rep just to add a little bit of intensity to it.

    I thought "5/3/1" referred to the max amount of weight you could lift at those rep numbers, not lifting a weight MORE than those rep numbers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by machwon04 View Post
    Ok, so I plugged my maxes into a spreadsheet that I found and used the numbers given. I overlooked the ">" symbol, so I only did 5 reps on my last set. I was wondering how that little weight could possibly make me stronger at just 5 reps, so I did a pause at the bottom of every rep just to add a little bit of intensity to it.

    I thought "5/3/1" referred to the max amount of weight you could lift at those rep numbers, not lifting a weight MORE than those rep numbers.
    On your first "5's" week of your first cycle most people can get 10+ reps. Going to (near) failure on the final set is a huge part of the program. You can almost think of the other sets as warm-ups for that one money set.

    The program is also intended to be used for a long time. Typically 6+ months. When done for that length of time the slow, steady increases can really add up.

    It might be better to think of it as 5+/3+/1+
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    Quote Originally Posted by Turk1976 View Post
    On your first "5's" week of your first cycle most people can get 10+ reps. Going to (near) failure on the final set is a huge part of the program. You can almost think of the other sets as warm-ups for that one money set.

    The program is also intended to be used for a long time. Typically 6+ months. When done for that length of time the slow, steady increases can really add up.

    It might be better to think of it as 5+/3+/1+
    Yea I got it now. That's about what I was thinking, that I could have gotten the last set 12-13 reps if I wanted to.
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    I would recommend to leave 1-2 reps in the tank on that last set. So if you could do 12-13 reps by going all-out, I would do 10-11 reps. Also, the stronger you are, the less often you should push that last set really hard. I learned that stronger guys (SQ near 500+, BP 350+, DL 550+) get beat up if they go for rep maxes all the time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SRS2000 View Post
    I would recommend to leave 1-2 reps in the tank on that last set. So if you could do 12-13 reps by going all-out, I would do 10-11 reps. Also, the stronger you are, the less often you should push that last set really hard. I learned that stronger guys (SQ near 500+, BP 350+, DL 550+) get beat up if they go for rep maxes all the time.
    This.

    I have learned that grinding out that last rep is where most of the major injuries occur. Technique tends to get loose once fatigue sets in and it's a better idea to leave a rep or two in the tank. For example, I hit 8 on my final set of BP today, but I stopped at least one rep short of total failure.
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    Question: I don't feel like I lift heavy enough to need a deload every 4th week. I'm thinking I can run 2 cycles and THEN a deload for now until my weights start progressing. Any opinions or alternatives to this?
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    Quote Originally Posted by machwon04 View Post
    Question: I don't feel like I lift heavy enough to need a deload every 4th week. I'm thinking I can run 2 cycles and THEN a deload for now until my weights start progressing. Any opinions or alternatives to this?
    your CNS just gonna get beat up, weight is gonna feel heavier than it is and not deloading will only hurt you in the long term. besides its just a week, mess around for that week
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeekPoop View Post
    your CNS just gonna get beat up, weight is gonna feel heavier than it is and not deloading will only hurt you in the long term. besides its just a week, mess around for that week
    x2, this is a long term program and skipping deloads will only hurt you over the long haul.
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    Maybe do it in a 6 week cycle. You'd have to start at 70% and increase by 5% every week until the 6th (deload) week.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodja View Post
    Maybe do it in a 6 week cycle. You'd have to start at 70% and increase by 5% every week until the 6th (deload) week.
    How would the reps work then? Care to give a quick example using 100 lbs or something?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodja View Post
    Maybe do it in a 6 week cycle. You'd have to start at 70% and increase by 5% every week until the 6th (deload) week.
    true, but this is already a slow progression 10lbs on sq/ dl monthly and 5 on bp / ohp

    Quote Originally Posted by machwon04 View Post
    How would the reps work then? Care to give a quick example using 100 lbs or something?
    you could juse use pirlepin's table for almost anything, id just use that. youd be better off doing something else if you wanna drag it out IMO.
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    Does anyone have a link for Cephalic_Carnages (from test nation) 5/3/1 bb template? Ive herd alot about it and wanted to have a look for myself but cant come across it........ Iiiiiiii found something but it wasnt a very solid template so i wasnt sure if it was the right template everyone has been raving about!
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