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Young Jim Wendler for an Older Lifter

Hey Everyone…

Of all the variations out there, the program noted in the now famous “Letter to a Young Jim Wendler” intrigues me the most because I already do the main lifts in my current program. Does anyone think it would be counterproductive for an older lifter(I’m 43) to do it as described in the article? I don’t think i can do all the accessory lifts he has outlined in the article, but the main lifts plus one extra a day would be easily managed.

Your thoughts?

I’m 45 and don’t have any problems with it, it boils down to your training base/foundation/history, injury history etc more so than age. If you have an adequate training base give it go for a cycle and see how you handle it.

Thanks for your reply. What accessory lifts do you do? I really like the idea of incline bench; however, i think I would be better to hit them on Fridays rather than Wednesdays… In fact, I would even consider doing them using the 5/3/1 protocol.

I don’t think you should worry. I’ve been doing this for a little while and it’s been the least taxing variation I’ve done. It’s very basic, and takes very little time. This is also considering I do jumps/throws and the prowler in addition to that routine. I think you’ll be fine with the routine as is.

So you just do the primary lifts?
Mon: Bench and Squat 5/3/1
Wed: Power Cleans and Deadlifts 5/3/1
Fri: Press and Front Squats 5/3/1

plus the prowler and jump/throws?

That sounds like a good workout!

I like your advise, because it’s these main lifts that attracted me to this variation.

In fact, if i leave out the extra lifts, I should be able to have time to sprint some hills or push a sled around too…


I have quite some experience with this template, it works great as is and that’s how I used it. After the main lifts there really isn’t much assistance not really much more than most templates. You can complete this in under an hour. You can superset where its practical and makes sense and remember that assistance should not take a life of its own.

I began using this template with my son when he was in highschool and I still use it as part of our yearly plan depending upon where we are in the year.

You mentioned perhaps 5/3/1-ing the incline press, if you did I would make either the bench or press an assistance lift and not run all three as 5/3/1 during the same week. Or you could replace the bench with incline for a number of cycles instead if you wanted to focus on driving up your incline press.

As for swapping the incline day to Friday and moving the press to Wednesday, in the grand scheme of things you have a slot for a “press” on each day so you are just swapping one press day for another press day within the same week, so don’t split hairs since both are programmed. If you put the press on Wednesday use it as an assistance lift because you don’t want to have 3 heavy 5/3/1 lifts in the same session. Which means yes you could try incline bench on Friday using 5/3/1 and see how it works for you.

Just fyi, but from an efficiency standpoint in the weight room I prefer the pairing of the front squat with the press as its more convenient going from one to the other especially if in a busy gym.

Just my 2 cents, my advice run it as is, but if you really want to focus on incline for awhile make the changes and go for it. Goodluck!

No, I do the assistance lifts as well.

Thank you everyone! Cannot wait to run this…

By the way… I’m going to run the program as is with one maybe two assistance lifts. Why mess with a good thing…

Great idea!

As will I.

Thanks again

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Hi again…

I have an additional question.

Would the lifts programmed into YJW also work spread out over a 4 day/week period?

For example:

Mon: Back Squat and Bench 531(both)
Tues: Power Clean 531
Wed: Off
Thurs: Front Squat and Press 531(both)
Fri: Dead lift 531

I’ve often thought about going to the gym more days(I currently go 3) to take advantage of some of the equipment for mobility, conditioning and body weight work, but I don’t want to go just for that… So that is why I am asking if spreading out the lift like above would work. Also, i might be able to add more variety to the assistance lifts too…

Any comments would be greatly appreciated.


The volume for each day is too low, in my opinion, to split up into an extra day. Sure, you could add other assistance work, but at that point it wouldn’t be YJW anymore.
I personally like the low volume and the 3 days thing, it allows me to condition without feeling like crap (usually right after I lift), and not feel too tired to live my life generally. Better yet, I still feel like I can use my body more effectively now. So, maybe you could very well just dedicate a 4th day to mobility/conditioning/body weight (even though I’d say bodyweight is already a part of the routine).

Look into other templates, as 5/3/1 is typically run on 4 days anyway so you’ll have options. I’d start with the Bodyweight or the Triumvirate templates.

And I apologize, as an addendum to my last reply : I don’t do the 4way neck work but I do everything else.

I see your point. In fact, the more Iook over my 4 day format, the more it looks like a watered down version of the YJM program. I think I need to stop over analyzing this and just hit the program and see how it works. Thanks again.

Hi Jim,

Is it OK to add FSL to the Young Jim Wendler program? To be honest, I’ve already tried FSL 3x5(for the main movements, except for the power cleans and deads) and I really enjoy it. In your book, you wrote that FSL are for those who want to hit the main lifts and get out, which is essentially my goal. Right now, I am super setting them with one of the assistance lifts mentioned in the article - basically because i have limited time in the gym. I would appreciate your thoughts on this. Thanks in advance.

Hey Everyone,
I am heading into my 4th cycle using this template - I guess you can say things are getting pretty serious :wink: The only thing I altered was adding FSL to the main lifts(except deads and power cleans) - I got the idea from the 5/3/1 for Beginners program and from what I´ve read in Beyond 5/3/1, they are the perfect thing to add if you want to hit the main lifts more - which I do! I typically superset one of the assistance lifts while doing the FSL so my session don´t take too long. So far, it has been working well; I don´t think it is hindering anything at all and I don´t think I have change what this program was designed to do.

Has anyone else done this type of modification and found success?