Wendler’s 5/3/1 Powerlifting Program


Wendler’s 5/3/1 Powerlifting Program

Build Strength

Personally I have used this program to increase strength and it worked! If you are purely focused on increasing your strength I would recommend you give this program a try. Furthermore, it is important to trust the process.  First time through I didn’t always feel like I was getting a huge workout because there are not a lot of sets and repetitions. This goes back to the first point as you do not need a lot of volume to get stronger. If you are looking for hypertrophy refer to another program like German Volume Training.  Wendler’s 5/3/1 strength program is based off of percentages of your 1 rep max.

The program consists of 4 Essential Workouts

Day 1.  Squat and assistance work.

Day 2. Bench Press and assistance work.

Day 3. Deadlift and assistance work.

Day 4. Overhead Press and assistance work.

The Mesocycle will last for 4 weeks, workout every other day.

Monday – Squats

Wednesday – Bench Press

Friday – Deadlift

Saturday – Overhead Press


  •  Week 1. 3 sets of 5 reps (3×5).
  •  Week 2  3 sets of 3 reps (3×3).
  •  Week 3 1 set of 5 reps, 1 set of 3 reps and 1 set of 1 rep (5/3/1).
  • Week 4 3 sets of 5 reps (3×5). This is a light deload week.

Once complete you can repeat.

The calculations are based on 90% of your 1 rep max.

For example it your 1RM bench press is 315 pounds, for training purposes use 285 (90%) as the base for training weight.

Week 1     Week 2      Week 3     Week 4
Set 1: 65% x 5     70% x 3     75% x 5     40% x 5
Set 2 :75% x 5     80% x 3     85% x 3     50% x 5
Set 3 :85% x 5+  90% x 3+  95% x 1+   60% x 5

For the numbers that have a + beside that means do as many reps as possible. The goal is to set a rep max in that weight.

It is very important to trust the process. The program starts light then progressively builds so that you can reach new personal records. A lot of people want to start really high. The problem is this does not leave a lot of room for improvement and individuals tend to bottom out faster.  Wendler’s 5/3/1  starts slow and ramps up as you go. Additionally, it gives you an opportunity to set a new milestone with each workout.

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