Wendler’s 5/3/1 Powerlifting System

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This is an overview of Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 lifting program.

Workouts. There are 4 primary workouts in Wendler’s 5/3/1 program:

  • Workout A. Squat, and assistance work
  • Workout B. Bench Press, and assistance work
  • Workout C. Deadlift, and assistance work
  • Workout D. Overhead press, and assistance work

Routine. You lift three times per week, using the following pattern over 5 weeks to complete a full cycle of 16 total workouts.

  • Week 1. ABC
  • Week 2. DAB
  • Week 3. CDA
  • Week 4. BCD
  • Week 5. ABC
  • Week 6. D

Waves. Each workout is performed 4 times over the course of this cycle, using the following 4 wave structure:

  • Wave 1. Warmup, 75% x 5, 80% x 5, 85% x 5
  • Wave 2. Warmup, 80% x 3, 85% x 3, 90% x 3
  • Wave 3. Warmup, 75% x 5, 85% x 3, 95% x 1
  • Wave 4. (deload) – 60% x 5, 65% x 5, 70% x 5

Notes. Jim Wendler recommends that you subtract 10% from your one rep maximum when calculating percentages for the 5/3/1. Also, when performing the last set, Wendler recommends that you rep out with as many reps as possible on the final, heavy set.

This is not a complete detailed overview of the system. For more information on Wendler’s 5/3/1, please visit the following links.

Training Three Days a Week by Jim Wendler

Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 Logbook Calculator

Wendler 5/3/1 For Powerlifting

Jim Wendler made the following modifications for his newest e-book:

Modification #1

Jim Wendler switched weeks 1 and 2 around, and added a few heavy singles.

  • Week 1: 3 x 3, plus a few singles
  • Week 2: 3 x 5  only perform requisite reps
  • Week 3: 3 x 5,3,1, plus a few singles
  • Week 4: Deload

Modification #2

Jim Wendler provides a 2 day per week training solution.

Week 1:

  • Monday: Squats 5/3/1, leg press 5 x 10, stiff leg deads 5 x 10, abs
  • Thursday: Bench press 5/3/1, dumbbell press 5 x 10, dumbbell row 5 x 10, biceps curls (yes, curls).

Include three days of hard conditioning (hill sprints) on nonconsecutive days.

Week 2:

  • Monday: Deadlift 5/3/1, safety bar squat 5 x 10, good mornings 5 x 10, abs
  • Thursday: Overhead press 5/3/1, chin-ups 5 x 10, dips 5 x 10, biceps curls (no, the joke isn’t on you, biceps curls).

Include three days of hard conditioning (hill sprints) on nonconsecutive days.

Wendler’s 5/3/1 Powerlifting System, 3.7 out of 5 based on 31 ratings

17 Comments. Leave new

Ramiro wendler
August 21, 2014 6:22 pm

mi apellido es wendler :P

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I have done this program for 10 months now and this is by far the best routine I have ever done…the gains have been consistant and astonshing!
If you don’t make gains on this program…you are doing something wrong!

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Ive been using this for 2 months now. my bench has went from 240 (im only 16) to about 225. i no longer train as intense as i used to, and it has shown. maybe not hitting 225 was a fluke, but it still worries me.

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Reginald Greene
March 12, 2012 1:57 am

Just about to start 531 after years of bodybuilding routines. Cant wait. I am a minimalist and love the basics

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531 is the shit. Made more gains in this than anything else with 5 years of training. Enough said.

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R. J. Grigaitis
January 21, 2012 3:58 am

I’ve written a 5/3/1 Calculator that has PDF outputs (http://grigaitis.net/5/3/1/). Check out this example:

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I am also using Wendler’s 531 program with great success. My question is about barbell complexes, however. Complexes are new to me and I became aware of them via Wendler’s website and a reccomendation by Mr. Wendler. How often can barbell complexes be done while using the 3 days per wk 531 program? Can anyone help me with this who has experience with doing them along with the 531 program?

Thank you,

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Hi Chris,

I would recommend posting this question on the forum. We have a lot of guys who are running Wendlers and they can give you some great feedback.


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Keep it short and simple, it´s the only way to getting stronger step by step.

Thank you for taht Jim.

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A Summary of the 5/3/1 Training Program | My 5/3/1 Journey
June 20, 2011 5:09 am

[…] Waves – During each cycle, you will have four sessions for each primary movement, three progressively intense sessions and a final deloading session. This means at the end of a cycle, you will have completed 16 sessions. For an awesome overview, just go check out this post over at Muscle and Brawn. […]

What’s Michael been up to in the gym | Perfect Mike dot com
April 7, 2011 12:09 am

[…] better but I was concerned about the plateaus.  It was around this time that Jason started doing a 5/3/1 class at the gym a couple nights a week.  I liked the idea of regularly performing the major lifts […]

031411 – Monday – Friday the 13th « kettlebellguy
March 14, 2011 3:26 pm

[…] started back up on my 5/3/1 lifting program. I will be doing that on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I did really well with the shoulder press […]

Thoughts on Training Like a Powerlifter | PhitZone
March 2, 2011 2:02 pm

[…] only week 1 for me on Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 Program, billed as: “The Simplest and Most Effective Training System for Raw Strength” and I’m […]


my brother is always giving me shit for only working out 4 days a week for usually only a half hour to 45 min. i just laugh it off, he doesnt study strength, just spends 6 days a week for 2 hours at a time killing himself to get nowhere. less is the way to go

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… Update from Paul LaDouceur

Still on the 531 Program, although
I did stray for 2 months.

I again, tried a couple of programs
I reviewed on the internet.

The main fact, is… 531 works.

Many people have too many questions
about what they can do or what they
should add.

The simplest answer is, you can use
531 for any type of exercise in the
weight room.

I’ve read some folks putting spins on
the 531 program by adding in some
Westside or other stuff.

Who cares what you do… as long as
your are progressing.

I’ve recently dropped a few sets for
the accessory exercises and my gains
continue to go up.

Here’s my current plan.

Bench 531 as prescribed
DB Press 2 sets of 8-10
Pull Ups 3 sets
Dumbell Rows 2 sets of 8-15
Squats 531 as prescribed
Standing Calves 3 sets
Seated Calf raises 2 sets
Shoulder Press 531 as prescribed
Dips 2 sets
Pull Ups 3 sets
Deadlift 531 as prescribed
Reverse Lunges 2 sets
Standing Calves 2 sets
Stiff Leg Deadlifts 2 sets of 10-15

Note… Workout Mon. Wed. Fri.

You will see this is not a lot of volume
but the Bench and Shoulder Days are
split far enough apart to accomodate
each other.

Also, the Squats and Deadlift days are
equally far apart so as not to interfere
with recuperation.

Keeping it simple, and not adding too
much is the key.

If you are not taking any “helping” additional
nutrients… you know the kind… then
you need to keep the volume at a level
you can recover from.

Bench 240 for 5 reps
Squats 315 for 3 reps
Shoulder Press 135 for 4 reps
Deads 295 for 3

People in the gym keep commenting on
how are you getting so strong… you’re
not a big person…

I show them my program… and they ignore
it… saying it’s not enough.

The mentality of needing to do more is what
a lot of folks seem to like…

But… LESS is more… keep it simple.


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Paul LaDouceur
June 14, 2010 3:24 pm

I’ve been researching a lot of programs over
the last year. I tried HST, WS4SB… and then I
found Wendler’s 5-3-1.

To get the total concept, and a humorous,
but straight forward write up, go purchase
the e-book… it’s only 20 dollars.

I believe too many people are looking to
make this difficult. Keep the exercices
as they are written, and be careful not to
do too much accesory work.

Training to failure is not required, but
working hard is. (There is a difference).

I’ve had tremendous success over the
last year using a 3-day a week plan for
the 5-3-1 program.

ABC first week
DAB second week
CDA third week
BCD forth week
Then deload on the fifth without using accessory exercies.

My Bench went from 165 for a set of 5 to 215 for a set of 7.

Squat… 225 for 5, up to 295 for 4 clean reps.

Overhead Press 105 for 8 to 140 for 5

Deads (Deadlift) 135 for 4 up to 215 for 5.

I switch me accessory exercies.

Shoulder Press
Pull downs, various grips
Dips (different hand widths
Lunges or different accessory
Calves (yes i work calves)
DB Press (incline, flat, decline)
Rows, or Barbell Rows
Romanian Deadlift or SLDL or a variation
Calves again this day

Keep it short, keep it simple, don’t add too
much. (I am 42 years old, diabetic, and I am
getting stronger every month.

Now I can say… my bench went up 50lbs for
reps last year.

Thank you mister Wendler for such a simplified,
effective approach to weight training.

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