Monday, June 08, 2015

Wendler 5-3-1 Template

Just a heads up on what's going on at Sigma for programming! In the sport of fitness, strength is a commodity. Want to get your first pull up or muscle up or do more of them? Want to clean & jerk over 300#? Want a sub-3 minute "Fran"? Having more strength will generally get you closer to all of those goals, & as Coach Rip would say, "make you more useful & harder to kill." After much experimentation & research of different strength programs, all of your friendly neighborhood Sigma CrossFit trainers got together & decided it would be best to try to implement Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 program during our strength cycle!

There were a couple of reasons why we went with Wendler:
First, it's quite possibly one of the simplest strength programs to implement, while being extremely flexible & the least invasive to the rest of our CrossFit programming. Some other strength programs are so focused on strength, that they actually recommend only light cardio (jogging or walking only) on days where you don't lift. CrossFit is about balance among all fitness attributes, & there are several programs & athletes who have proven that it is possible to get stronger without becoming fat & slow & completely losing your metabolic conditioning (& even some gymnastics ability too). Its simplicity allows us to implement it in a manner that is accessible to EVERYONE, & not just as extra credit for the few among us who have an extra hour to spare everyday to do the CompetitorWODs.

Second, it's progressive (starts out light & slowly gets heavier) but still allows you the opportunity to push yourself for rep-PRs right from the start! Some strength programs start very light & get progressively heavier by adding 5/10# every week, but are limited to particular sets/reps, so it takes a long time, about 4-6 weeks before you really feel challenged. Coach Rip's Starting Strength & Strong Lifts 5x5 are like this. In other words, more experienced lifters will get very impatient with programs that ramp up that slowly & not feel like they're getting a workout until they're about 4 weeks into the program. Wendler's program starts out with light weights as well, but asks you to get as many reps as you can on every workout! But it's still progressive by continually getting heavier from week to week & month to month!

Third, longevity. It's not uncommon for athletes to do Wendler for years & still make #gainz! We will be guiding everyone through 3 months of Wendler & then retest our 1RMs again. If you'd like to continue on with Wendler after that, or switch up the lifts & keep going, feel free to do so! But after 3 months, you'll already know what to do & how to adjust the template yourself from month to month...

The math can be a little confusing at first. So Andrew & I have been working on a Google Spreadsheet to help all of us out!
1. Open the spreadsheet (
2. Make a copy to your own Google Drive (requires a Google account) or download it as an Excel or OpenOffice spreadsheet (downloading it may require some slight tweaking of the formulas to make them work).
3. Fill in your own 1RMs (just so you don't forget what they are), & your Training Maxes for each lift (90% for the FIRST cycle only).
4. Print it out (or access it from your phone) whenever we do Wendler in class so you know what weights you should be lifting & then record how many reps you got on your final set into the spreadsheet.

Every month, we'll gradually increase your Training Maxes to be closer to your 1RMs. The more volume we can build at these sub-maximal weights, the higher it will push your max effort lifts!

If you want to learn more & read some of Jim Wendler's tips for being successful on his program, there's a great article on T-Nation by him ( He has a few books as well, but the article is a great place to start.

No comments:

Post a Comment