Home Workouts Programs Getting Big and Strong With Wendler’s 5/3/1 Powerlifting Program

Getting Big and Strong With Wendler’s 5/3/1 Powerlifting Program


The challenge of beginning strength training is enormous. Between the muscle soreness and the inability to lift heavy weights, it is easy to get discouraged and give up altogether. But if you stay the path, you start falling in love with fitness, and it becomes a lifestyle. It reaches a time when your usual routine doesn’t cut it anymore. It either gets boring, or it leads you to a plateau, where there are no gains in strength or size. This has been the story of my life, and in my quest to reach a new level with my fitness, I sought a program that would deliver. That’s how I stumbled on Wendler’s 5/3/1 Powerlifting Program.

What Is It?

Jim Wendler is an elite powerlifter, who, after struggling with his health and his lifting ability decided to reclaim his strength. His pursuits led him to a simple, yet simple plan- to get back to the basics and build from there. He detailed the program he formulated in his e-book, for which he lent his name.

The 5/3/1 program is as simple as they get. It focuses on the four most comprehensive compound exercises- the bench press, squat, deadlift and the military press. It recommends three to four days of training in a week.


The program consists of a cycle, depending on how many days you train. It lasts for 5 weeks if you train for three days, and four if you train for four. You are supposed to rotate through 4 core workouts.

  1. Workout A includes ‘Squat and assistance work’
  2. Workout B includes ‘Bench Press and assistance work’
  3. Workout C includes ‘Deadlift and assistance work’
  4. Workout D includes ‘Military Press and assistance work’

The workouts are executed in what is termed as a mesocycle. In more elaborate terms you are supposed to perform them in waves. Before you begin, you need to know what your 1RM, as in the total weight that you can lift in just one rep. Once you do, here are the waves you should follow, as per the Wendler’s 5/3/1 Powerlifting Program.

  • “Wave A. Warm-up, 75% x 5, 80% x 5, 85% x 5”
  • “Wave B. Warm-up, 80% x 3, 85% x 3, 90% x 3”
  • “Wave C. Warm-up, 75% x 5, 85% x 3, 95% x 1”
  • “Wave D. 60% x 5, 65% x 5, 70% x 5”

These percentages are based on your 1RM.

If you are working three days per week, the split looks like. The letters correspond to the wave that you will be using.

3 Days Per Week






Squat – A

Bench Press – A

Deadlift – A


Mil Press – A

Squat – B

Bench Press – B


Deadlift – B

Mil Press – B

Squat – C


Bench Press – C

Deadlift – C

Mil Press – C


Squat – D

Bench Press – D

Deadlift – D


Mil Press – D

You can substitute the core exercises with similar one when you are starting a new mesocycle. As far as the assistance work goes, it is all up to you.


This is the basic outline of the Wendler’s program, as I understood it. My gains in size have been significant, and would recommend it to anyone who wants to hit the gym hard and leave with real results.

Get the full Wendler Program here.

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