Build Strength with Wendler 5-3-1 Progressions

5/3/1 By the Numbers

In 5/3/1, you’re expected to train three or four days a week. Each workout is centered around one core lift — the back squat, bench press, deadlift, and standing shoulder press.

Each training cycle lasts four weeks, with these set-rep goals for each major lift:

Week 1: 3 x 5
Week 2: 3 x 3
Week 3: 3 x 5, 3, 1
Week 4: de-loading

Then you start the next cycle, using heavier weights on the core lifts. And that’s where a seemingly simple system starts getting a little more complicated.

You aren’t just picking a weight to lift five times or three times or one time per set. You’re using a specific percentage of your one-rep max. And not your full 1RM. The calculations are based on 90% of it.

So if your 1RM in the bench press is 315 pounds, you use 285 (90%) as the base number for your training-weight calculations. Here’s how it works:

wendler_table

When you see 5+, 3+, or 1+, that means you do the max reps you can manage with that weight, with the goal of setting a rep record in each workout.

Let’s walk through the Week 1 workout for bench press. Using the example above, if your 1RM is 315, you calculate all your percentages from 90% of that max, or 285 pounds.

So you’re using     185 (65% of 285) x 5,     215 x 5, and     240 or 245 x 5 or more

After you finish the first cycle (4 weeks), you add five pounds to your 1RM calculations for the two upper-body lifts and 10 pounds to your 1RM for the squat and deadlift.

These specific instructions for 1RM percentages and monthly progression are what set 5/3/1 apart from less useful systems. With 5/3/1, you accomplish a goal every workout. Some programs have no progression from one day to the other.

Another unique feature is that final balls-out set in each workout. You don’t have to go beyond the prescribed reps if you don’t feel like it, but there are real benefits to doing so. Think of it like doing the prescribed reps as simply testing your strength. Anything over and above that builds strength, muscle, and character. Yes, that last set is the one that puts hair on your chest, but the system doesn’t work without the sets that precede it. There might be only one really hard set, but the other sets are still quality work.

Assistance Work

Along with the bench press, squat, shoulder press, and deadlift, 5/3/1 includes assistance exercises to build muscle, prevent injury, and create a balanced physique. My favorites are strength-training staples like chin-ups, dips, lunges, and back extensions.

But don’t go ape-shit with these supplemental exercises. They should complement the training, not detract from it. You must have a very strong reason for doing an exercise. If you don’t, scrap it and move on.

WOD 8.7.14 Thursday

A. Back Squat

  • 5@75%
  • 3@85%,
  • Max Effort@95%
  • rest as needed

B1. Front Squat

  • 10-10-10 AHAP

B2. Partner Glute/Ham Raises

  • 12-12-12

C. 3 RFT

  • 50 Pistols (alternating)
  • 7 Muscle-Ups (Scaled: 7 Pull-ups + 7 Ring Dips)
  • 10 Hang Power Cleans 135/95#

WOD 8.27.13

A. Every 75 seconds for  (6 sets)

  • 5 Back Squats (Heavier than last time)

Rest 2 minutes, then EMOM for 6 minutes

  • 8 Narrow Stance Good Mornings

B. 2 Rounds for Time:

  • 15 Hang Power Cleans (85/55)
  • 15 Front Squats (85/55)
  • 400m Run

C. 2x

  • Banded Lat Stretch 30sec/side
  • Lunge Stretch 30sec/side
  • Good-Mornings

    Good-Mornings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WOD 8.5.13

Captain Barbell

Captain Barbell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

LEVEL 1

A. 3x
10 Bent-Over Barbell Row
10 Ring Dips

B. For Time:
110 double-unders (or 250 singles)
then, 3 Rounds:

  • 25 second Bar Hang (bands ok)
  • 20 V-Ups
  • 20 Overhead Walking Lunges / Leg (10# Plate)

then,
Run 600m

C. Foam Roll Quads, Butt and Hamstrings

LEVEL 2

A. 3x
10 Bent-Over Barbell Row
10 Ring Dips

B. For Time:
200 Double unders
then,  3 Rounds :

  • 30 T2B
  • 30 Overhead Walking Lunges / Leg (45/25)

then,
Run 600m

C. Foam Roll Quads, Butt and Hamstrings

High Hamstring Gnar, Trigger Points, and Up Stream/Down Stream: KStar

Today’s episode is a reminder to always work upstream and downstream of an injured, gnarly, or painful tissue site.  You can memorize the thousands of trigger point referral patterns of your body, OR you can just force yourself to hunt around for gnarly areas literally upstream and downstream of the offending site.  Because hey, sometimes your hamstrings are connected to the back of your butt by, wait for it, your hamstrings.  Right?  You just have to remember hunt around for your hidden business.

Go upstream/downstream yourself.

Kstar

WOD 8.2.13

Level 1

A. Every 90 seconds for 9 minutes (6 Sets)
5 Back Squats (Heavier than last Friday)
Rest 3 minutes
EMOM for 6 minutes
3 Hang Power Snatches

B. 6x
100m Run
2 min.+ Rest

*No times, simply to put out and race the other people in your class

C. 3x
Jog 200m
Banded Stretch Hamstrings 30sec/side

Level 2

A. Every 90 seconds for 9 minutes (6 Sets)
4 Back Squats @ 80%
Rest 3 minutes
EMOM for 6 minutes
3 Snatches (70%)

*Must Squat

B. 6x
150m Run
2 min.+ Rest

*No times, simply to put out and race the other people in your class

C. 3x
Jog 200m
Banded Stretch Hamstrings 30sec/side

Back of left lower extremity.

Back of left lower extremity. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WOD 7.25.13

LEVEL 1

 

A. 4 Rounds
7-9 Ring Dips
30 Sec Rest
7-9 Ring Rows (single leg)
30 Sec Rest
7-9 Toes to Bar
30 sec Rest

B. 3 Rounds
20 Pull-Ups
30 Sit-Ups (10 lb plate)
500M Row

C. 3 Rounds
8-10 Hollow holds- 10 sec
20-30 Sec Handstand Hold

LEVEL 2

 

A. 4 Rounds
3-5 Muscle Ups
30 Sec Rest
2-3 Handstand Push-Ups
30 Sec Rest
3-5 Pistols (each leg)
30 Sec Rest

B. 3 Rounds
500M Run
30 Sit-Ups (25 lb plate)
20 Pull-Ups

C. 3 Rounds
5 Single Arm KB Snatch

25 Unbroken Double Unders

IMG_1363