T Nation

5/3/1 for Powerlifters...OK Who's Switching?


The program changes for a competitive PLer are straightforward. Who is going to give it a try? It would also appeal to those that just like heavy single work.



I'm going to run standard 5/3/1 for two or three more cycles to get some base strength built and then switch to:

Wendler quote:
"In 5/3/1 for Powerlifting, I switched week 1 and week 2 around and added a few singles, so it basically looks like this:

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"

I have no plans to compete but am interested to see what happens with some singles added in.


I saw that and will probably spend the money to get the book just to see if there is anything else to it. I really dont have any use for the steriod part of the book but information is information.


Well great! Ive could have used the new take on 5/3/1 several months ago. Oh, ill buy it all right and apply it to my training. But im not going to go as far and saying that im going to come crawling back on my knees to the church beging for reintatement.


I think I'm going to have to buy it too and see if tehres any new info in it.


I am a believer so I will buy it. Wendler knows what he is doing, I have faith in what he publishes.


Am I the only one who finds it somewhat ironic that a low-rep program put out by a hard-core powerlifter has just gotten a "for Powerlifters" version? I guess I always thought this program WAS for powerlifters already, since it doesn't emphasize the "10 ways to hit your delts" approach that I see with bodybuilding.

None of this means that I don't think the idea has some merits, but it seems like this should have just been marketed as "The 5/3/1 program (revised)"

I'll be interested to hear from people who buy the book. I purchased the original and don't feel as though I've exhausted the wisdom yet, so I'm going to hold off on this version.


good, cuz we changed the secret handshake, and you're screwed


I would not classify 5/3/1 as a "low rep" program. have you read the book? the point is to get the max reps on the final set of the day. The main change for the powerlifting version is to add a couple heavy singles after what we call the "money set". That, and switching the 5 and 3 weeks

you are now on the top of the list to be killed and eaten. sorry.


Cycle 12 starts for me on saturday, and I will be adding in the heavy singles. Since I'm dieting pretty hard right now, I don't think I'm going to get big numbers on the singles though, but it will be nice to get something heavy in my hands again.

The difference is, I am on the 2 day/week template, so there is no deload. Also, Jim is suggesting only 1 "heavy" day every 2 weeks. I need to find out if he means for that lift, or in general.

[edit]- also, since I'm doing the 2 day template, there is no real need to switch the 5 and 3 weeks.

i am totally buying the book as soon as its available. I am Jim's #1 nutswinger


^ But he said I was his #1 nutswinger, I feel so used. Hey man why you dieting? What are you doing?


Well, that's a real bummer, since I was going to apply for the open position left by the recent heretic.

I have in fact read the book, and as far as I can tell I'm doing it exactly as prescribed, but I'd love to hear suggestions based on my log. I realize that you are to do as many as possible on the last lift, but that's still somewhere in the range of 2-6 for me in most cases. Compared to a program where you lift comparatively lighter weights for 3 sets of 8-12, and do multiple exercises for a given muscle group, I still think this is fewer reps in the main program.

All of this is part of why I've adopted the BBB model for assistance, because I think that having those extra reps on the same exercise is helping.

In any case, I'm certainly not trying to start a fight. Is it possible to pay some sort of penalty, perhaps coupled with a public confession of my sins, in order to be let into the 5/3/1 Cult?!?


Seems live Ive been unjustly "Blacked Balled" by the church!!!!
You need to understand that 5/3/1 is one of the best over all "strength programs" to come on the scene in a long time.It simple and effective .Now to clear a few things up. I have a hard time going agains "lord Wendler" Since most of my training philospy are simular as his. For the record my own philospy was esstablished before I even knew who he was.(no nut hugging here).

When Wendler developed 5/3/1 he was retired from powerlifting and was looking for a simple and effective overall strength program for himself. For most people 5/3/1 is perfect for most who want to get stronger and bigger. Its leaps and bounds above all the crap thats in gyms and on line.But in my opinion for whats its worth it needs a few modifications to make it more specific for someone wanting to compete in powerlifting. The main principle of the program is simple progressive overload .Again all strength training is based on this core concept. It also focuses on the "repadative method". Twice ive used 5/3/1 for prep for a Meet with mix results.( for the record 2 & half years ive been back at it I have done at least 15 cycles so no one cant say I havent stuck with it). Buy its design as written its a long term plan.

With the program there is great vaule placed on Rep PR's. Common scense really if your putting up more reps with a certain weight then you where doing a few weeks ago youve gotten stronger.But the problem arises over the fact that on the program a person doesnt get many chance to actualy work in a true "maximual range" . Case in point if your doing bench . On your last set of 3 you hit a RPR of 7 in all reality your not training close to 90 % of your actual Max. But then again your getting stronger. But it doesnt prepare you for taking max attempts at a Meet. Obviously it seems im not the only one that feels this way. Since it seems that the demand was so great Mr . Wendler felt there was enough  interest to justifie another book. Thats my 2 cents . So now let the burnning at the stake begin.


The books is also to go over using "Gear" and peaking for a Meet.


Ooh. I love all the debate here. I certainly don't think you're trying to start a fight, ag918w35. I like the fact that we can debate without getting personal and catty.

I've never done 5/3/1 for exactly the reasons Bulldog mentioned. From past experience, I know that I have to lift at or near my max somewhat frequently or my 1RM drops no matter how many rep PRs I'm hitting in sub-maximal ranges. But that's just me. Different programs work for different people.


And this sort of well-reasoned response is the reason I come here. Having never entered a competition I make no claims to know how to train for one, so what you say makes perfect sense. I feel as though I'm still at the point of getting stronger without having hit much of a plateau that would require a more sophisticated program.

In any case, I'm very interested in hearing more about the program after all of you have had a chance to digest it.


Seeing as there is a bit of a debate going I,ll tell you what I think of 5/3/1/ looking at it with my little bit of sports science knowledge. There is nothing earth shattering about 5/3/1 I think the real reason this programme works for the majority of older lifters especially those with work and family commitments is simply because of the inclusion of de-load weeks! Be honest before following 5/3/1 how many of us took a week off every 4 weeks? I,ll argue you were all like me and would hammer at it week in week out until we went on holiday or got injured. And that is why we didn,t make gains each week on other routines.
I will also say that what I think makes you stronger on 5/3/1 is the volume of the assistance work not the lower rep work on the main lifts. Consider squat day, you do
1st set of 5 at 75% (studies show average reps at 75% is 10-12) you do 5
2nd set of 5 at 80% (studies show average reps at 80% is 8-10) you do 5
3rd set of 5 at 85% (studies show average reps at 85% is 6)
As far as I,m concerned that is only one work set for squats . Nowhere near enough volume to increase strength much. However, include the 50+ reps of assistance work that Wendler advises and suddenly the programme starts to work. But only because all the assistance work hypertrophies your prime movers. So it might work for many but is hardly the amazing routine it is cracked up to be.
That,s just my 2 cents worth. My life insurance and will is all in order, I shall await my death threats.


This ^^^^.


I'm sorry but I somewhat disagree with the studies that show the avg reps at so&so. I think it all depends on the individual and the lift that one is doing. I work in a 80% range for most of my workouts @ 3reps, and my strength has increased greatly the past few years.

The problem I have with alot of the studies, is they do not use pure strength athletes -- not at the caliber of some of the world's best powerlifter/strongman. These university studies, aswell, are always changing.

However, again, I think in the end it all depends on the individual.


I agree. of course my point was leaning towards most of the time your not training in that intensity range a majority of the time. Its become standered practice when you start using the program to base your training max at 90 % or in some cases less. Now I understand the reason for it. The idea beind to drawling out things slowly increasing strength and extending the length of time before one plateau .Just for the record 5/3/1 isnt ground breaking I agree. I was drawn to this program due to the similaraity it shares with the first strength program I ever used in high school for Football back in the 80's. By chance is anyone ever herd of "BFS".
But ill end up picking up the book. lets just say im very interested in how singels are implemented into the program. Namely how manny and at what % . I know that Raw lifter Scott Yard from Elitefts has been using his own take of 5/3/1 for awhile. Along with a few others.
In all do respect. I will say I 5/3/1 as a great program for most people invulved in weight training. Its a great for anyone wanting to develope a solid foundation and something that can be used for the long haul. But I will still stand by what I said before in regards to powerlifting.