The 5/3/1 Program

Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program is often referred to as “The Simplest and Most Effective Training System to Increase Raw Strength.”

The 5/3/1 program is a real proof that training does not have to be complicated or fancy to work wonders. The concepts behind Wendler’s 5/3/1 workout philosophy are quite simple:

Big multi-joint movements

These are the core of the workout. Bench press, squat, deadlift and overhead press are the big exercises that will build strength and muscle on your frame.

Start light

By starting light you make more room for further progression and strength gains.

Slow progress

Take it slow, no need to rush. This is a guarantee that you won’t sabotage your own progress.

Break rep records

5/3/1 is set up to allow you to break a variety of repetition records throughout the year.

The method itself is divided in cycles where every cycle has 4 micro cycles or waves(weeks).

sets                                  set1      set2     set3

Wave(week) 1. Warm up, 65%x5,  75%x5, 85%x5
Wave(week) 2. Warm up, 70%x3, 80%x3, 90%x3
Wave(week) 3. Warm up, 75%x5, 85%x3, 95%x1
Wave(week) 4 (Deload) – 60%x5, 65%x5, 70%x5

Wendler suggests that you underestimate your loading percentages by subtracting 10% from your 1RM when calculating weights.

Every wave (or week) has 4 workouts.

A. Squat + assistance
B. Bench press + assistance
C. Deadlift + assistance
D. Military press + assistance

Along with the main lifts, Wendler’s 5/3/1 program includes assistance exercises (like chin-ups, dips, lunges, and back extensions) to build muscle, prevent injury, and create a balanced physique.
Assistance work depends on your goals:

– just do the main lifts
Strength – just do 1-2 supplementary lifts, typically 3-5 sets x 6-20 reps
Bodybuilding – 3-4 supplementary lifts, including some isolation work, done for higher volume, typically 3-4 sets x 10-20 reps