More of a template than a strict program, many variations of 5/3/1 exist. You’ll find some of the best spreadsheets for these variations here. All of them will get you stronger by focusing on steady progression of the Big 3 lifts though. Jim Wendler’s popular 5/3/1 template was highly influential on the popular GZCL and nSuns programs.
The program is comprised of 3 and 4 week cycles, designed to run indefinitely.
Related: Jim Wendler’s Building the Monolith
- 1 Recommended Reading: Jim Wendler Books
- 2 5/3/1 FAQs
- 3 Spreadsheets
- 3.1 5/3/1 BBB (Boring But Big) Spreadsheet
- 3.2 5/3/1 BBB Program Spreadsheet (variation)
- 3.3 5/3/1 for Beginners Program Spreadsheet
- 3.4 5/3/1 BBB for Bodybuilding
- 3.5 Power & Hypertrophy 5/3/1 Program Variation
- 3.6 5/3/1 Vanilla + 3/5/1 Powerlifting Specific Program Variation
- 3.7 NSuns Linear Progression Program Variation
- 4 Video Overview
- 5 Updates:
Recommended Reading: Jim Wendler Books
5/3/1 Forever by Jim Wendler
The latest in the 5/3/1 series, 5/3/1 Forever collects all of Jim’s thinking on 5/3/1 with the latest training methods (e.g. anchors and leaders) and over 50 different 5/3/1 training templates.
Even though this is the most expensive Wendler book, it covers everything and removes the need to check out any of Wendler’s older stuff.
Beyond 5/3/1 by Jim Wendler
If Forever is too expensive for you, the best bang for your buck is Beyond 5/3/1. This represents a major step forward in Jim’s training philosophy, introducing concepts like First Set Last (FSL) and Joker sets that have become 5/3/1 staples.
To understand how 5/3/1 can work best for you, putting in a little reading work goes a long way.
5/3/1 for Powerlifting by Jim Wendler
If you’re looking for a powerlifting specific interpretation of the 5/3/1 for Powerlifting. An example of this program is available in a spreadsheet below, though nothing beats reading the book.
What is Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program?
5/3/1 is a flexible lifting template that can be applied to a variety of lifting goals. It is best suited for intermediate level lifters and is renowned for the significant length of time an athlete can continually make progress on it.
Can 5/3/1 be run for powerlifting?
Yes, there are variations of 5/3/1 that are well suited for powerlifting. A spreadsheet of a powerlifting 5/3/1 variation is available on Lift Vault.
Does 5/3/1 not have enough volume to be effective?
A common point of criticism against 5/3/1 is that it doesn’t program enough volume (volume being reps x weight lifted). For certain variations of the program, this could be true. The “original” version of the program published on T-Nation in 2009 does, in fact, only contain 3 working sets for each primary movement. This was “addressed” later when Wendler released his book Beyond 5/3/1. This contained a variation known as “first set last” that added an additional AMRAP set to each day’s primary lift. Another common remedy is to run the “Boring But Big” variation (spreadsheet included here), which contains a significant number of back off sets for extra volume. This only scratches the surface of ways to add volume to 5/3/1. To learn more, check out Wendler’s classics: Beyond 5/3/1 and 5/3/1 Forever.
What other programs did 5/3/1 influence?
5/3/1 BBB (Boring But Big) Spreadsheet
Wendler’s 5/3/1 Boring But Big (BBB) program is renowned for both its brutal simplicity and serious results.
Basically, BBB follows the 5/3/1 template where one main lift is trained per session (squat, bench, deadlift, or overhead press) using the 5/3/1 rep scheme before dropping the weight and doing 5 sets of 10 reps for the same lift.
The result? Strength and size. No gimmicks, just hard work.
Because the training max increases monthly, this program is best geared for intermediate to advanced lifters that require more recovery and cannot progress as quickly as novice/intermediate lifters.
5/3/1 BBB Program Spreadsheet (variation)
This is simply another variation of the program above. Check out both and see which layout you prefer more.
5/3/1 for Beginners Program Spreadsheet
Full program details now available at 5/3/1 for Beginners
via /r/fitness wiki sidebar
5/3/1 BBB for Bodybuilding
This is a tweaked version of 5/3/1 that combines a view different 5/3/1 principles into a “bastardized” program for bodybuilding goals. You can view the full details on this page: 5/3/1 BBB for Bodybuilding.
Power & Hypertrophy 5/3/1 Program Variation
5/3/1 Vanilla + 3/5/1 Powerlifting Specific Program Variation
This spreadsheets contains two different templates: “vanilla” (i.e. normal) 5/3/1 and a powerlifting variation known as 3/5/1. The powerlifting variation of 5/3/1 switches weeks 1 and 2 and incorporates additional heavy single work – increasing the specificity needed for powerlifting and including additional recovery time by not scheduling consecutive heavy lifting weeks.
NSuns Linear Progression Program Variation
This popular mutation of 5/3/1 was created by Redditor /u/n-suns. It was inspired by 5/3/1 but is significantly different and is definitely not associated with Jim Wendler. However, I am including it here because it is a very popular program and may be of interest to people already looking into 5/3/1.
It allows for faster progress week to week than the initial BBB program, making it ideal for novice and intermediate lifters that are able to recovery more quickly.
If you like this spreadsheet, check out the other n-Suns program spreadsheets.
If you’d prefer to watch instead of read, check out this excellent video overview of the 5/3/1 training methodology (source: Alex Bromley).
- 3/11/20 – Added kg/lb rounding and full program details for 5/3/1 for Beginners (same spreadsheet)
- 3/1/20 – Created a more detailed program page for 5/3/1 BBB (same spreadsheets)
- 2/25/20 – Added 5/3/1 BBB for Bodybuilding spreadsheet + detailed program page
- 5/14/19 – Added “Power & Hypertrophy” 5/3/1 version