T Nation

Starting Wendler's 5-3-1


#1

Well, I'm trying to get back in shape and decided to try Jim Wendler's 5-3-1 system as it seems simple and effective. It doesn't consume too much time either.

Some info about me:

29 years old, 172 cm (5 ft 8 in), 74 kg (163 lbs)

PRs estimated for the program (approx. 90% as prescribed):
squat - 120 kg (270 lbs)
bench press - 105 kg (230 lbs)
deadlift - 150 kg (330 lbs)
military press - 60 kg (130 lbs)

I'm able to train 3 times a week. I've started already and I'm in the week 2 now (aim: 3+ repetitions in the main lifts).

I've chosen bodybuilding template for the beginning even though hypertrophy isn't my main goal (I'm a diabetic and shouldn't gain too much mass). If I like the program, I'll try the powerlifting template next.


#2

Tuesday, 14th July 2009 (Squat + legs, abs & calves)

  1. Barbell squat 5x60kg, 5x60kg, 3x80kg, 3x90kg, 3x100kg, 3x110kg
  2. Good mornings 10x60kg, 10x70kg, 10x70kg
  3. Split squats 10+10x30kg, 10+10x40kg, 10+10x40kg
  4. Sitting calf raises 3x20
  5. Sitting crunches on a machine 3x15

I didn’t go harder on squat as my legs were sore after Sunday forest running.


#3

Thursday, 16th July 2009 (Bench press + triceps)

  1. Bench press 5x50kg, 5x50kg, 3x70kg, 3x80 kg, 3x85kg, 3x90kg
  2. Dumbbell incline press 10x17kg, 10x19kg, 10x22kg
  3. Dumbbell flies 3x15x11kg
  4. Dips 3x10 (bodyweight)
  5. Machine french press 3x15

It was very hot and I hardly reached the gym. The BP was miserable (5x90 kg a week ago), I survived though :slight_smile:


#4

Saturday, 18th July 2009 (Deadlift + lats & core)

  1. Deadlift 5x70kg, 5x70kg, 3x100kg, 3x120kg, 3x130kg, 3x140kg
  2. Pull ups 3x10 (bodyweight)
  3. Weighted hyperextensions 3x15 (bodyweight + 15/20/30 kg)

GPP & core training - 2 circuits:
4. One-hand sandbag carry
5. Bear hug sandbag carry
6. Overhead sandbag carry


#5

You should be going for max reps on the last set. If you are only getting the prescribed reps, you may consider leaving the weights the same for another cycle or so to prevent stalling.


#6

Yeah, I know… maybe next time I’ll manage to add some reps. I’m concentrating more on the technique now. Thanks for the support though.

Monday, 20th July 2009 (Military press + delts, biceps & forearms)

  1. Military press 5x40kg, 5x40kg, 3x45kg, 3x50kg, 3x55kg
  2. Plate front rises 3x10
  3. Lateral rises 3x10
  4. Barbell curls 3x10
  5. Reverse curls 3x15

#7

No problem. Good luck


#8

Thursday, 23rd July 2009 (Squat + legs, abs & calves)

  1. Squats 5x60kg, 5x60kg, 3x80kg, 5x90kg, 3x105kg, 2x120kg
  2. Good mornings 3x(10x60kg)
  3. Split squats 3x(10+10x40kg)
  4. Sitting calf raises 3x15-20
  5. Sitting crunches on a machine 3x15

It was hot as hell and breathing in my gym which is underground seemed almost impossible.
I survived though. I even managed to get an extra rep on the last set of squats (and it was a long and painful one).


#9

[quote]Paranoid wrote:
Thursday, 23rd July 2009 (Squat + legs, abs & calves)

  1. Squats 5x60kg, 5x60kg, 3x80kg, 5x90kg, 3x105kg, 2x120kg
  2. Good mornings 3x(10x60kg)
  3. Split squats 3x(10+10x40kg)
  4. Sitting calf raises 3x15-20
  5. Sitting crunches on a machine 3x15

It was hot as hell and breathing in my gym which is underground seemed almost impossible.
I survived though. I even managed to get an extra rep on the last set of squats (and it was a long and painful one).[/quote]

If this is your first cycle and it was a battle to get 2 reps on your 5/3/1 day, then your weights are way too heavy. I’m about to start my 4th cycle and I’m still hitting 5 or 6 reps on the last set on my 5/3/1 days.

What sort of maxes are you basing your 90% off of? Your training maxes should be 90% of a weight that you can hit for a max on any given day in the gym, not 90% of an all time PR.


#10

[quote]Stronghold wrote:
What sort of maxes are you basing your 90% off of? Your training maxes should be 90% of a weight that you can hit for a max on any given day in the gym, not 90% of an all time PR.[/quote]

Well, I based it on the maxes I was able to hit about a month ago, of course. The problems are probably caused mainly by too little rest and the climate. Or maybe I lie to myself :slight_smile:
I’ll consider leaving the weights the same for the next cycle.


#11

[quote]Paranoid wrote:
Stronghold wrote:
What sort of maxes are you basing your 90% off of? Your training maxes should be 90% of a weight that you can hit for a max on any given day in the gym, not 90% of an all time PR.

Well, I based it on the maxes I was able to hit about a month ago, of course. The problems are probably caused mainly by too little rest and the climate. Or maybe I lie to myself :slight_smile:
I’ll consider leaving the weights the same for the next cycle.[/quote]

I would back them off rather than leaving them where they are at. You started too heavy, reset things at a more manageable level and you will recoup your lost time much more quickly than if you try to stick with the current numbers next cycle.


#12

I’m kind of a newb, but I agree with Stronghold. My first cycle (just finished this week, deload next week) I got 4-7 reps for 95%. That will give me plenty of time to span the program out without stalling.


#13

Saturday, 23rd July 2009 (Bench press + chest & triceps)

  1. Bench press 5x50kg, 5x50kg, 5x70kg, 5x80kg, 3x90kg, 2x95kg
  2. Incline dumbbell press 10x19kg, 10x23kg, 10x23kg
  3. Dips 3x15 (bodyweight)
  4. Machine French press 2x10
  5. Dumbbell flies 2x10

Well, I spent most of the night at work so I didn’t expect anything extraordinary but it still was a bit too hard. I’ll leave weights the same for the next cycle.

Gabex & Stronghold - getting more reps than 1 or 2 in the last set of this week seems reasonable but 5-6 or 4-7? As far as I remember Wendler said it’s OK to get only the prescribed number of reps if you don’t feel too strong on the particular day… there is a huge difference between 1 rep and 5 reps with the same weight though. Don’t you think your cycles were a bit too light? After all it’s a strength based mesocycle…


#14

[quote]Paranoid wrote:

Gabex & Stronghold - getting more reps than 1 or 2 in the last set of this week seems reasonable but 5-6 or 4-7? As far as I remember Wendler said it’s OK to get only the prescribed number of reps if you don’t feel too strong on the particular day… there is a huge difference between 1 rep and 5 reps with the same weight though. Don’t you think your cycles were a bit too light? After all it’s a strength based mesocycle…[/quote]

That’s not too many reps for your 5/3/1 day. Here are my numbers for cycle/wave 8:

military - 5x175
squat - 7x345
bench - 3x255 (crap day, so I’m using the same weight next cycle)
deadlift - (later today)x375

That bench workout ends up being my lowest numbers hit to date. I typically get 8-10 reps on the “5” day, 5-8 reps on the “3” day, and 3+ reps on the “5/3/1” day.

I think you started to high for your first cycle. Not a big deal, just drop the weight and do it again. I made the same mistake my first cycle.


#15

Monday, 27th July 2009 (Deadlift + lats & core)

  1. Deadlift 5x70kg, 5x70kg, 3x100kg, 5x115kg, 3x130kg, 2x145kg
  2. Pull ups 3x10 (bodyweight)
  3. Weighted hyperextensions 3x10 (bodyweight + 10/20/20 kg)

GPP & core training - 2 circuits:
4. One-hand sandbag carry
5. Bear hug sandbag carry
6. Overhead sandbag carry


#16

[quote]TheDudeAbides wrote:
Paranoid wrote:

Gabex & Stronghold - getting more reps than 1 or 2 in the last set of this week seems reasonable but 5-6 or 4-7? As far as I remember Wendler said it’s OK to get only the prescribed number of reps if you don’t feel too strong on the particular day… there is a huge difference between 1 rep and 5 reps with the same weight though. Don’t you think your cycles were a bit too light? After all it’s a strength based mesocycle…

That’s not too many reps for your 5/3/1 day. Here are my numbers for cycle/wave 8:

military - 5x175
squat - 7x345
bench - 3x255 (crap day, so I’m using the same weight next cycle)
deadlift - (later today)x375

That bench workout ends up being my lowest numbers hit to date. I typically get 8-10 reps on the “5” day, 5-8 reps on the “3” day, and 3+ reps on the “5/3/1” day.

I think you started to high for your first cycle. Not a big deal, just drop the weight and do it again. I made the same mistake my first cycle. [/quote]

I absolutely agree here. I’m on my 3rd wave, and for deadlift/press/bench press have hit 12/11/11 reps on my “85%” day.

You’re supposed to hit higher reps. The program was written that way; it’s the point.


#17

Thursday, 30th July 2009 (Military press + delts, biceps & forearms)

  1. Military press 5x40kg, 5x40kg, 3x45kg, 3x50kg, 3x57kg
  2. Plate front rises 3x10
  3. Lateral rises 3x10
  4. Barbell curls 3x10
  5. Reverse curls 3x15

So, the cycle is almost finished… after the deload week I’ll do my best to get more reps with the same weights. It’s going to be the powerlifting routine this time.


#18

Beginning of the second cycle:

Monday, 10th Aug 2009 (squat + assistance)

  1. Squat 5x90kg, 5x95kg, 8x100kg
  2. Good morning 3x10-15
  3. Split squat 3x10+10
  • metabolic complex