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Workout of the week #6 Jim Wendler 5/3/1

Posted by Josh Atwell on


Today we examine one of the most popular and well known routines in fitness circles, Jim Wendlers 5/3/1. This is a powerlifting routine with a difference. Jim designed this routine to get people strong while mitigating risk of injury and not being solely focused on strength, he also talks about; “I want to be as mobile, flexible, strong, and in as good a condition as I possibly can. That's how I came up with 5/3/1.”

The workout looks like this.

Workout 1

 

Exercise

Sets

Reps

% 1RM

A

Standing Shoulder Press
 Week 1
 Week 2
 Week 3
 Week 4

3


5
3
5/3/1
5


65,75,85
70,80,90
75,85,95
40,50,60

B

Dip

5

15

 

C

Chin-Up

5

10

 

Workout 2

 

Exercise

Sets

Reps

% 1RM

A

Deadlift
 Week 1
 Week 2
 Week 3
 Week 4

3


5
3
5/3/1
5


65,75,85
70,80,90
75,85,95
40,50,60

B

Good Morning

5

12

 

C

Hanging Leg Raise

5

15

 

Workout 3

 

Exercise

Sets

Reps

% 1RM

A

Bench Press
 Week 1
 Week 2
 Week 3
 Week 4

3


5
3
5/3/1
5


65,75,85
70,80,90
75,85,95
40,50,60

B

Dumbbell Chest Press

5

15

 

C

Dumbbell Row

5

10

 

Workout 4

 

Exercise

Sets

Reps

% 1RM

A

Squat
 Week 1
 Week 2
 Week 3
 Week 4

3


5
3
5/3/1
5


65,75,85
70,80,90
75,85,95
40,50,60

B

Leg Press

5

15

 

C

Leg Curl

5

10

 

 

The workout consists of multi-joint movements the bench, overhead press, deadlift and the squat. Each workout focuses on one of these movements with some accessory work whether it be bodybuilding type work or my preference, prehab style exercises.

One of the main points Jim mentions in his work is how necessary it is to start light. When using a calculator (or the spreadsheet below) be conservative with your 1 rep maxes. Jim suggest starting the routine using 90% of your 1 rep max in your calculations. This is so you can slowly progress and means you’re less likely to stall or burn out. By using slightly lower weights you can focus on long term gains.  

Progression

Another key point is setting rep records each workout. You finish each key movement with going all out and trying to knock out as many reps as possible with the given weight. This means that you’re constantly progressing and challenges your body, keeping it guessing and growing.

At the end of each month, you increase your training max weight on the lower-body movements, the squat and the deadlift, by 10lbs or 5kgs; you increase your training max on the upper-body movements, the bench and the press, by 5lbs or 2.5kgs. From there, you repeat the exact same workouts that you did the month before with slightly heavier weights.

Spreadsheet

Here's a spreadsheet of one way to set up the routine and includes weight calculations

Conclusion

This is a great workout for intermediate lifters, perhaps coming from starting strength or a 5x5 routine like strong lifts. It’s also good for those who come from a bodybuilding background, as it still has some bodybuilding elements and can be easily adjusted. I think that’s one of the great things about the routine, its flexible and can be changed to suit a variety of needs. Give it a few rotations and see how you go!

Further reading 

https://www.t-nation.com/workouts/531-how-to-build-pure-strength

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