T Nation

A Thanks to Jim + "My" 5/3/1 Variation


Howdy. First post here, but I’ve been skulking around T-Nation since 2009. I just wanted to extend my sentiments of appreciation to Jim Wendler, and to share with you guys what I’m doing right now with my training and how I’m incorporating 5/3/1 into it.

To Jim:

I was that skinny-fat dude in High School that benched every day and never squatted, with his heart set on going from total geek to alpha-male. I was completely embarrassed by my weakness, and sought out whatever quick fix I could apply to correct what I considered was a serious condition - and it was a serious condition. I call it “Total Bitch Disease” these days. I could barely bench a bar, FFS, and I’m talking about the 20 dollar Wal-Mart Gold’s Gym bar, not an Olympic barbell.

In 2012, I enlisted in the Marine Corps. This is when my fitness life really took a sharp turn-around. I quickly learned that it is best to make slow, steady increases that can be maintained rather than the charge forward method. I got ahold of copies of Starting Strength and Practical Programming from one of my friends who lived by them and we followed that for about a year in conjunction with our morning PT. Then, during my first deployment in late 2013 I discovered 5/3/1. Since then, it’s been a staple in any program I executed. Despite being in the Infantry (significant because field time means inconsistent training and diet on a large scale) I’ve made what I consider impressive gains for someone struggling with a lot of limiting factors. I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves:

2009 - 160 lbs, 5’8"
Bench - Whopping 95 lbs.
Press - Couldn’t tell ya’, never did it.
Squat - Maybe 135 lbs on a FRONT Squat (after a year of weight training class, too!)
Deadlift - Again, I never did it at this point.

2013 (Post Starting Strength for 1 year, and I grew a little) 170 lbs, 5’10"
Bench - 185 lbs
Squat - 205 lbs
Press - 75 lbs
Deadlift - 205 lbs

My To-Date PR’s, after using 5/3/1 off and on since 2013 - @195 lbs, 5’10"
Bench - 295x3 / 275x8 on a Joker Set (I avoid 1RM due to weak AC joints)
Squat - 365x3
Press - 185x2 on a Joker Set
Deadlift - 465x1 (no straps, no belt), 495x1 (with straps and belt)

Not very impressive compared to some of the lifters here, but I’m just getting started. Most of my gains were made following 5/3/1 Triumvirate, with Pyramid Sets and FSL (First Set Last), and 5/3/1 Boring But Big. I also did a lot of personal experimenting throughout my training developing my own programs and training cycles designed to help me maximize my performance at work, but I always feel as if my greatest leaps were made during one of the 5/3/1 templates. So thanks Jim Wendler, you alpha bastard, for being one of my main coaches and mentors throughout the years without you even knowing it.

Here’s my current training plan for anyone who wants to use it, critique it, piss on it, or shit talk it. I really don’t care I’m gonna do it anyway. I’ll be doing this for about 6-8 weeks before changing it up, and I’ll be on about a 6k/day diet. Trying to lay a foundation for strongman training while keeping my body fat relatively low.

Monday - Press Day
Press 5/3/1+FSL
DB Bench 5x10 (Light to Moderate Weight)
High Pulls 5x5
Weighted Pull-ups 5x8-10
Dips 3x10 (Bodyweight)

Tuesday - Deadlift Day
Deadlift 5/3/1+FSL
Barbell Lunges 5x10 ea. leg
Box Jumps 3x30 seconds
Incline Walk 20 Minutes

Wednesday - Active Rest Day
I usually mix it up. I’ll do 10-15 minutes of core and jump roping, or Neural Charge Training, or Tabatas.

Thursday - Bench Day
Benchpress 5/3/1+FSL
Arnold Press 5x10 (Light to Moderate Weight)
Barbell Rows 5x5
Face Pulls 3x10
Dips 5x8-10 (Weighted)

Friday - Squat Day
Squats 5/3/1+FSL
Tractor Tire Flips 3x10 or Trap-Bar Deadlift 5x10 (Lightweight)
Leg Press 5x20 (Light to Moderate Weight)
Calves 3x10-15

Saturday - Active Rest Day
See Wednesday.

Sunday - Only Rest Day

Happy Thursday.



Thanks for sharing this - and what a transformation! I read this a couple times already and laughed at something new. The “Total Bitch Disease” kills me.

“I was completely embarrassed by my weakness, and sought out whatever quick fix I could apply…” Man, all of us have been there and fucked this up - if not in strength/fitness then somewhere else. Glad to help you and be a small part of your transformation. Good luck in EVERY part of your life, not just training.

For what it’s worth, I want to help people to get stronger and maybe help inspire the few that have a true passion for this and hope that they pass the torch when I’m dead and forgotten. That’s kind of the main goal of everything. So like your buddy who passed on Starting Strength, pass this stuff to another younger lifter at some point. We only need a few to keep the flame alive!