A spreadsheet for this program can be found here. Download it or Make a Copy to your own Google Drive if you want to make use of it. This program is actually very simple. If you just want to dive right in to following the routine, you can absolutely just plug numbers into the spreadsheet and go.
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Here's what you need to know Getting good at the core lifts will have a huge carryover into everything else.
Start light, progress slowly, and leave out the ego in order to bust PRs. Train days a week. Center each workout around one of the following: parallel squat, bench press, deadlift, or standing shoulder press. Use a specific percentage of your one-rep max to lift 5 reps, then 3 reps, then 1 rep. Options include chin-ups, dips, lunges, and back extensions. I really want to help people, but if they won't take my advice there's nothing I can do.
That's fine by me. I don't fight the battles. I just don't fucking care. Look, arguing about strength training theory is stupid. My best powerlifting accomplishment in the pound weight class was a 1,pound squat, pound bench press, pound deadlift, and a 2, total.
No, I wasn't strong at all! Sure, I could waddle up to the monolift and squat, but I couldn't do anything else. Really, all I could do was squat, bench, and deadlift. Today I have different aspirations. I want to be able to do a bunch of different activities and still kick ass in the weight room. I want to be as mobile, flexible, strong, and in as good a condition as I possibly can.
The bench press, parallel squat, deadlift, and standing press have been the staples of any strong man's repertoire. Those who ignore these lifts are generally the people who suck at them. If you get good at those, you'll get good at other stuff, as they have such a huge carryover. While it may seem counterintuitive to take weight off the bar when the goal is to add weight to it, starting lighter allows you more room to progress forward.
This is a very hard pill to swallow for most lifters. They want to start heavy and they want to start now. This is nothing more than ego, and nothing will destroy a lifter faster, or for longer, than ego. This ties in with starting light, and it keeps lifters who want to get big and strong yesterday from sabotaging their own progress. People want a program that will add 40 pounds to their bench in eight weeks. When I ask how much their bench went up in the last year, they hang their heads in shame.
Notice that it's "rep records" and not "one-rep max. To me, this is foolish and short sighted. Each workout is centered around one core lift — the parallel squat, bench press, deadlift, and standing shoulder press.
Then you start the next cycle, using heavier weights on the core lifts. And that's where a seemingly simple system starts getting a little more complicated. You aren't just picking a weight to lift five times or three times or one time per set.
You're using a specific percentage of your one-rep max. And not your full 1RM. Here's how it works:. Let's walk through the Week 1 workout for bench press. After you finish the first cycle, you add five pounds to your 1RM calculations for the two upper-body lifts and 10 pounds to your 1RM for the squat and deadlift. When I see a program that says three sets of eight reps?
That's the stupidest fucking thing ever. If it doesn't have a specific percentage based on a specific max, it's useless.
That's the hallmark of someone who doesn't understand basic programming. Some programs have no progression from one day to the other. Another unique feature is that final balls-out set in each workout. You don't have to go beyond the prescribed reps if you don't feel like it, but there are real benefits to doing so. I've always thought of doing the prescribed reps as simply testing your strength.
Anything over and above that builds strength, muscle, and character. Yes, that last set is the one that puts hair on your chest, but the system doesn't work without the sets that precede it. I tried cutting those out but I got smaller and weaker. There might be only one really hard set, but the other sets are still quality work. My favorites are strength-training staples like chin-ups, dips, lunges, and back extensions.
But don't go ape-shit with supplemental exercises. They should complement the training, not detract from it. You must have a very strong reason for doing an exercise. If you don't, scrap it and move on. There are a number of ways to do assistance work: Boring But Big my version of a hypertrophy program , The Triumvirate shown below , and my favorite, I'm Not Doing Jack Shit, named for those times when you only have time to hit the PR in your key lift and leave.
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. And it's not just from advanced guys. I received a thank-you from a guy who went from for 1 rep on the bench to for The program has also received criticism from lifters on two fronts: that lifters are told to start too light and build too slow. If your 1RM in the bench is , why calculate loads off a 1RM of ?
My response? You don't need to operate at your max to increase your max. Why people get so bent out of shape about taking two steps back if it means they'll be taking 10 steps forward is beyond me. Then there's the "disconnected from reality" problem. Few lifters are willing to acknowledge their true 1RM.
At one time, I did a seminar every week. Every time, without fail, when I asked someone what their one-rep max was, I'd get this: "Well, about three years ago I hit for a triple, but that was when I was training heavier By using weights they can actually handle, guys are building muscle, avoiding burnout, and most importantly, making progress every workout.
None of this is exactly revolutionary. I learned this in my freshman year. I've always made my best gains when I left just a bit in the tank. As for the "build too slow" criticism, people tell me that they don't want to take three months to build up their strength. Where are you going to be in a year? Fuck that, where are you going to be in five years, when you're still benching with your ass halfway off the bench? The pursuit of strength is not a six-month or one-year pursuit.
It's a year pursuit for me. You've got to be smart about it. But everyone wants everything right now. You must do the program the way it's written. People ask the craziest shit. These same guys then bitch three months later on some message board that the program didn't work. That's like complaining that your girl got pregnant despite you using a Trojan condom, except you forget to mention you were wearing the condom on your fingers.
Some people look for the magic combination of assistance exercises, and completely under-rate the key lift. I call that majoring in the minors. Assistance work is just that — assistance. Do one or two exercises for five sets of 10, or maybe do a few more exercises for fewer sets. It's assistance. It doesn't fucking matter. I sometimes just give people a rep number and let them make it up on their own. Say, "push movement: 60 reps," or "pull: reps.
This bears repeating. I don't know how many times people have blown away their PRs because they learn to train with some restraint and actually use weights that they can handle with good form. I tell guys that the longer your stride, the quicker you'll tear a hamstring. But the problem is, people live for today's workout. No one seems to have the vision anymore to look beyond just what they're doing today.
This extremely popular strength training program is based off of the rep schemes 5, 3, 1, as the name suggests. Jim believes starting light allows a lifter more room to progress forward. Brand new lifters are usually able to progress more quickly from a beginner routine due to practicing the lifts more frequently. Advanced lifters can benefit from its long term training focus. Each cycle consists of 4 weeks. Four days per week is ideal. Each day should be focused around one core lift.
The 5/3/1 Philosophy for Beginners
Wendler has made substantial changes and, in my opinion, improvements to that original template. He claims he was so out of shape that he actually lost his breath just walking around the block. As such, he wanted to come up with a program that took a more holistic approach to strength; he wanted to incorporate conditioning and mobility into his overall plan of attack. Wendler decided to strip away the complexities of the Westside style of training that he had been using and he reverted to a simple percentage based program.
The plan he created is an effective, impactful program that integrates the fundamentals of strength training in a workout that is both adaptable and effective. Note that it is still highly recommended to read this article in full to understand how the program functions and how to properly use it to maximize your progress. Your Name required. Your Email required. The is one of the most simple, yet effective, strength building programs in existence and it has been used, and continues to be used, by beginners, gym enthusiasts and top level athletes all over the world. Wendler is an athlete with an extensive history of fitness and training. He played football for the University of Arizona where he was a letter winner on three occasions and has competed many times in a variety of powerlifting events.