Part 1 of our Strength Program series provided an overview of Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength. In Part 2 of our Strength program series we take a look at Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 strength program. In the realm of strength training, few programs have stood the test of time quite like Jim's program. It's a fitness philosophy that can help you redefine your limits, no matter your age. In this article, we're delving into this time-tested program, breaking down what it's all about, and how it can benefit both beginners and advanced lifters who are over the age of 40. So, grab your gym bag, and let's dive into the 5/3/1 program.
The 5/3/1 Workout Unveiled
Imagine a program that doesn't demand you to hit the gym six days a week or push your body to its breaking point. That's exactly what 5/3/1 is all about - sustainable, long-term progress.
This program revolves around the "big four" powerlifting exercises: the squat, the bench press, the deadlift, and the overhead press. It follows a simple yet effective cycle, typically lasting four weeks:
Week 1 - The 3s: During this week, you'll perform three sets of five reps at 75% of your one-rep max (1RM) for each exercise.
Week 2 - The 5s: You'll do three sets of five reps again but at 80% of your 1RM this time.
Week 3 - The 5/3/1: Things start to get interesting as you perform three sets: five reps at 75%, three reps at 85%, and one rep at 95% of your 1RM.
Week 4 - Deload: Your body gets a well-deserved break. You'll do three sets of five reps at 60% of your 1RM, ensuring recovery and injury prevention.
One of the standout features of 5/3/1 is the consistent, incremental progress. By adding a small amount of weight to your lifts each cycle, you'll see slow, steady improvement - a key advantage for older lifters who may not recover as quickly as their younger counterparts.
The Benefits for Beginners
For men over 40 just getting into strength training, 5/3/1 is a perfect starting point. Here's why:
Simplicity: 5/3/1 is easy to understand and implement. It's perfect for those who are new to the gym.
Sustainability: It's not about quick gains or short-term fixes. This program is designed to keep you lifting and making progress for years.
Injury Prevention: The gradual increase in weights and the deload week ensure your body stays injury-free.
Variety: 5/3/1 is versatile. You can tailor it to your goals, whether you want to focus on strength, hypertrophy, or a combination of both.
The Benefits for Advanced Lifters
If you're a seasoned lifter with a few grey hairs, you're in good company. The 5/3/1 program offers several benefits for advanced lifters:
Customisation: The program's flexibility allows you to fine-tune it to your specific needs and goals. You can incorporate different assistance exercises to target weak points or imbalances.
Sustainable Progress: The incremental increases in weight ensure that you continue making gains, even as an experienced lifter. This can be a game-changer for maintaining and even improving your strength over 40.
Injury Prevention: As an older lifter, injury prevention becomes more critical. The 5/3/1 program's focus on technique and controlled progress can help you stay in the game.
Longevity: This program is about the long haul. If you want to keep lifting into your 50s, 60s, and beyond, 5/3/1 provides a solid foundation for a lifelong fitness journey.
Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 is your ticket to strength, endurance, and staying in the game for the long run. It's a program that respects your age, your experience, and your goals. With 5/3/1, the only thing that's going to get older is your driver's license, not your physique. Check out Part 3 of our strength program training series.