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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, 3.6 out of 5 based on 28 ratings


  1. mi apellido es wendler :P

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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. Just about to start 531 after years of bodybuilding routines. Cant wait. I am a minimalist and love the basics

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

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  6. 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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  7. 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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  8. 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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  9. 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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  10. … 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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  11. 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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