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Appreciation and Complaints for Hardgainer 5/3/1

Just a quick thanks to Jim for the 5/3/1 program(s). Began the basic 5/3/1 in January and liked the simpleness and quantifiable results in strength and muscle gains. Having those weights slowly increase through each round was awesome.

I went to BBB for two months with similar results; slowly increasing all my PRs except my press. It hit a wall and I missed my singles a couple of times, but no big deal.

I’m just now finishing the third week of hard gainer and it has blown the others out of the water. When I first looked at it, I was wondering where are the PRs? That’s the point right?! But whatever, I’d give it a shot and then run a BBB and see if my PRs went up or at least held steady.
I followed the program to a tee with a calf day thrown in each week because they always have sucked. Long story short, today was my week 3 press day and after feeling good on the first two sets, bumped up the last one to my old 90% PR and ripped through 5 like nothing! Boom! And still finished the 10 sets afterward.
So thanks Jim for another great program. I’ll be sticking with this one for a while.

Oh yeah, the complaints.

  1. With every new and improved program, you keep messing up my log book
  2. F that week 3 widowmaker set.

For anyone who is wondering about the hard gainer, just try it…it’s three weeks. It helped me crush through a sticking point.

Thanks and congratulations on the success. The new book will blow all of the old stuff out of the water. Gone are templates, in place are programs. HUGE difference.

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I love it! Half way thru the 3rd week and this helped me more than anything I have tried yet. Thank you.

Anybody else get exertion headaches during widowmakers?

They definitely drain the life out of you, thus the name. Every time I do them, I’m sucking wind and wanting to find a bench to sit on, but mainly just pace a little bit until I can catch my breath and unload the bar since I won’t be doing any more damn squats that day. Ha.

I’m sure everyone is different. Plus, I think you mentioned in the video you posted that it was your first ever Widowmaker set, so I would put away the “Jump-to-Conclusions Mat” and just see how your body adjusts to the demands you’re asking of it. You’ll probably find that you’ll be able to handle the intensity after a few laps around the block.

Also, a word of caution. Keep your Widowmakers to the first 2 or 3 cycles out of 5 only. Don’t ride them out for the full 5 cycles. Not a good idea.

I mean, you COULD do that if you wanted, but I would just take the advice. I’m just talking about general programming, not necessarily this Hardgainer template. Not sure if Jim would recommend using this same template for 5 cycles or not.

All of that aside, I love Widowmakers. I’ve been running my 5 cycles with PR sets + Widowmakers in the first 3 cycles, then just PR sets in the final 2. Working out great.

Whatever you choose to do, good luck!

Wait until you get to the 75% widowmaker then see if your enjoying it still :slight_smile:

I’m assuming you’re referring to the 20 reps at 75%? I don’t always hit 20 reps on the FSL AMRAP set when I program them in. I just go for as many as I can get that day with the goal of hitting 20 reps as Jim talks about in his book. Even if I don’t hit the magical 20 reps, I still call it a Widowmaker set just out of convenience.

You’d have to ask Jim whether or not what I’m doing is still considered a Widowmaker set, and whether or not hitting 20 reps on the FSL set in the Hardgainer template is required or just a goal.

I love the hardgainer program. I know the program is new, but it’s been the best program I’ve been on. The progression and pace just feels right to me.

I like it too-
Nobody’s mentioned this but i really like the approach to the assistance (choosing from the three categories) - it is keeping it fresh, challenging and somehow stress free…there are a lot of ways to get creative…or not if that floats your boat too-
Thanks again Wendler!

Ah I think our concepts of a widowmaker differ , I don’t rack the bar until I’ve done all 20 reps no matter how long the set takes

I don’t know how Jim approaches this, but widowmaker means a 20 rep set (og. done with squats).

I understand that it means what it means in 5/3/1. If you have a terrible day it is okay to cut short, but the 20 reps is the goal. If doing this first time I would think that TM should be adjusted little “too low”, to make first widowmakers “easy”.

NOTE: I’ve never ever done widowmakers in big movements (I’ve gone somewhere around 15 reps, but never 20), but I’m definitely going to try them for a 2 cycles after my current 5/3 is done.

I know that Widowmakers are generally 20 reps but I’m just saying that is the goal of the set. The reality is, there’s not always enough gas to get to 20, and I would rather get as many quality reps in as I can, even if it’s not 20 reps. I’m not going to get down on myself if I don’t get 20. If I gave it what I had that day, I’m good.

I think you’re doing good. Getting some high rep work and winning the mental process are what counts in the end.

This may come to what kind of training type/personnel you are. I would take the 20 reps as a challenge and do that set no matter what (unless I’m having a really shitty day). I would lower my TM if I could not get the reps in. But like I said, this does not mean that you’re doing things wrong. Quite contrary, your approach is probably more sensible one than mine.

I punked out on my widow maker squats yesterday during my phase III workout.

I only punked out because I almost felt projectile vomit ensuing.

I was doing a 20 rep squat day a few months prior to this program run, but for some reason I have lost my optimal pase for completing these. I have been doing breathing squats the first 8 or so reps, then I am hitting a block in my head, so I just rep through to high teens, then breathing squats to finish off. Yesterday, I hit my mental block around 10 and repped up to 16 and felt the vomit coming so I fucking punked out. Caught my breath and banged out the last 4 reps. The third set of 5 at 95% took a lot out of me prior to my widowmaker set.

I know I had to last 4 reps in my widowmaker set, just a bad day. I am going to see where my workouts fall this week and if everything is line for progressing up in training max, I am going to bring my squat with it.

My diet hasn’t changed in the last year or so, yet I have pretty much stayed at the same weight. In the 3 weeks on this program the scale is starting to move up, with no diet changes. I have been taught to believe that I should have been putting on bodyfat over the last year with my calorie intake if not muscle, yet the scale would hover around the same spot. Now with no changes in diet the scale is ticking upward. Fluid retention in muscles? Been stuck at a point for a long while and progress is finally pushing through the barrier? Why would you think I was not adding bodyfat with my diet yet I was obviously eating enough calories to increase weight?

I was doing to much. And the calories consumed was maintaining, now with total volume decreased, I am in calorie surplus. I guess just writing it out helped me see the answer.

Just finished week 1 or 5-3-1 hard gainers and really liking it so far, went a little conservative on my 1rm so widowmaker squats were bad but not too bad! Looking forward to progressing on this program.

with the hardgainer program is it strictly only for three weeks or can you re do it for another 1,2,3 cycles


You can do it for as many cycles as you want :slight_smile:
Keep in mind to eat, sleep and recover.
You could do it for 2 cycles then do a 7th week deload, or if your recovery isn’t stellar do the deload after each cycle.
After 2 cycles and the deload, try a cycle of OG 531 with PR set and 3 sets of 5 FSL.
It’s your body you know it, and you have to listen to your body.

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