As I have discussed in previous posts I am currently following the Wendler 5/3/1 lifting program, so I thought it about time I went into a bit more detail.
So, what’s it all about? It’s a super simple lifting program with one aim and that’s to get stronger. Jim Wendler designed this program with exactly this in mind, and in my opinion and many others he’s succeeded.
As in previous posts I won’t divulge to much as this is not for me to do, you’ll have to buy the book for the full details. Basically it revolves around 4 sessions based on the ‘Big 4’ lifts – Deadlift, Bench Press, Overhead Press and Squats.
These 4 sessions are based around a 4 week cycle with each week looking like this
- Week 1 is 3 sets of 5 (3×5),
- Week 2 is 3 sets of 3 (3×3),
- Week 3 is 1 set of 5, 1 set of 3, 1 set of 1 (5/3/1)
- Week 4 is 3 sets of 5 (3×5) de-load week.
Each week is based around specific weight % of your one rep max (1RM) which are all laid out in the book. At the end of each 4 week cycle you add weight to each lift and begin the cycle all over again.
On the final set of each session you lift your maximum number of reps, all with good form and not to complete failure, you then use a mathematical formula laid out in the book and this gives you a theoretical 1 rep max (1rm) or the weight you could lift for one rep.
There are a variety of assistance protocols laid out in the book, ranging from ‘I’m doing Jack Sh*t’ or Body Weight, to my personal choice of Boring But Big (BBB) which revolves around doing 5×10 reps of the big lift plus 5×10 of one other lift.
Part of the appeal to me was this variety of assistance work and the fact that you can chop and change between them to suit your time/mood.
My Journey so far
Following a week of working out my initial 1rm I began the program in earnest. All I can say is that from week 1 I was hooked, I love the simplicity of it, the fact that if your that way inclined you can use an excel spreadsheet (the formulas are included in book) that will tell you exactly what weights you would be lifting for the coming months. I am currently using an iPhone app that does all this for me though.
As I said previously I am following the BBB or 5×10 assistance protocol however there have been days when I am pushed for time so I know I can just get in the gym, do my warm-ups and main lifts and get out all within 20 mins.
Another great thing for me is the flexibility in what session to do, other than me doing upper body followed by lower body, it doesnt really matter what order you do the workouts in. Take today for example, I arrived at the gym fully intending to do the squat session but the squat rack was taken so I just switch
ed to deadlifts and carried on as normal.
I am currently in the middle of week 3 and have made huge gains in all of my lifts, I’m not looking forward to my de-load week next week, but accept that this is part of the programs design so will follow it as prescribed.
My overall goals for this program are to achieve a 100Kg Bench Press and 150KG Squats/Dead Lifts. The over head press is by far my weakest lift and as such I am just happy to make positive gains in this.