T Nation

531 Success


Hi all,

Just wanted to post another 'success' story and give others programming ideas based on what I put together. Although it was not 531's traditional progression (slightly modified), I feel comfortable enough attributing my increased strength numbers and athletic performance directly to Jim Wendler and his principles.

I managed to follow the same template design for one year as of yesterday. At 215-225, here are my before/after numbers:

Bench press: 100 to 189
Squat: 100 to 420
Deadlift: 135 to 475

I started with ridiculously light weights. I know, I know, I can hear the "Starting Strength first" crowd now. That wasn't important to me. Starting low allowed me:
1- Not to be drained every single workout
2- Left room in the tank for accessories
3- Didn't burden me with Starting Strength's centaur progress
4- Bodybuilding sets/reps lets me "look like I lift"

Below is the program and assistance work. Again, not the exact 531 formula, and I was fortunate enough to require not dicking around with my assistance templates too much:

Squat, 5's Pro, 65/75/85x5
Bench press, 5's Pro, 65/75/85x5 + FSL 3x5
Row or pull-up, 50 reps
Pushdowns or curls, 30-60 reps

Deadlift, 5's Pro, 65/75/85x5
Press, 5's Pro, 65/75/85x5, 3x10 @ 60%
Good-mornings or back raises, 30-45 reps
Face pulls or pull-aparts, 50-100 reps

Same as Monday, except, (and here is where my tinkering/progression comes in)
+ 1.25lbs to the TM of Monday (Bench press)
+ 5lbs to the TM of Monday (Squat)

Neck harness was done after every work-out along with 30 minutes "light" conditioning.

"Progression" on assistance exercises was not a priority. Focus on doing the movement right rather than loading up 120 on a DB and going nuts on Kroc Rows. I decreased rest times between movements and my reward was increasing a movement 5 to 10 lbs per month.

Again, turtle pace on the presses, but I haven't stalled yet, and my numbers are Advanced Level in 1 year on this scheme.

I would like to thank Wendler for this programming but more importantly the tenants he put together. I feel the tenants are even more important and actually account for a bigger chunk of the pie than a few simple percentages. What do I mean by this?

  • Rowing and chinning between presses.
  • Getting your conditioning in.
  • Do your Agile 8.
  • Get rid of your stack of dimes neck.
  • Slow and steady wins the race.
  • The TM is just a tool.
  • Flexibility in training


Thanks for sharing and writing it. I am new to it, and appreciated your post.