Notes on Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1

I have just reread my copy of Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1 Manual, and whilst – due to lack of access to a weight room with barbells – I will not be doing it anytime soon, I though I’d keep some of my notes here for future reference.

The Main Exercises

The systems is based on 4 big exercises (squats, deadlifts, bench and military presses)

Assistance Work

and a number of different assistance work schedules (including the f+ck-O schedule). I will not go into assistance work (…buy the book…), other than mentioning the Boring But Big schedule that I find rather interesting. Apart from some usual suspects (chins, dips) this schedule does the main exercise of the day on a 5×10 set, with weight being between 30-60%.

Warm-Up

I also want to mention Jim’s warm-up schedule en-passant (as an aside – the warm-up is pretty much the same as the work-out in the deloading week)

  • 1×5@40%
  • 1×5@50%
  • 1×3@60%

Work-Schedule

Jim schedules all four exercises into a week, and there is a full week of recovery before the same exercise is done again. At every session there are three work sets. The weights increase according to the following schedule (week 4 is deload week):

Week 1 2 3 4
Set 1 65% 70% 75% 40%
2 75% 80% 85% 50%
3 85% 90% 95% 60%

or according to the alternative, slightly more aggressive schedule

Week 1 2 3 4
Set 1 75% 80% 75% 40%
2 80% 85% 85% 50%
3 85% 90% 95% 60%

Thereby the reps per set are 5 in week 1, 3 in week 2, 5/3/1 in week 3, and 5 in (the deload) week 4:

Week 1 2 3 4
Set 1 5 3 5 5
2 5 3 3 5
3* 5 3 1 5

(*) Note that the set 3 is slightly different in weeks 1-3 (not in the deload-week 4): it is an all-out set, ie one does as many reps as possible, either going to fatigue, or very close to it

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