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5/3/1: The Simplest and Most Effective Training System for Raw Strength

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  2,625 ratings  ·  149 reviews
97 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2011)
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 ·  2,625 ratings  ·  149 reviews

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Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm five months into The Greyskull LP: Second Edition's beginner lifting program, and am starting to research intermediate lifting programs for when my beginner's linear gains likely run out in the couple months. Wendler's 5/3/1's is pretty popular, so I picked up a copy of this book to check it out. Note that even though this program can be adapted for beginners, the book seems to assume working knowledge of the correct form and mechanics for the lifts. If you don't know those, check out Starti ...more
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Wendler seems to think that the foremost aspect of lifting involves being a hyper-masculine dude's-dude and shooting your load into the fairer sex as often as possible. I never anticipated that a book on a lifting program would mention sex/"mating" numerous times and would stress the importance of "BEING A MAN" so much. It really has no lack of unprofessionalism. His nutritional information is misguided at best, and contradictory at times, for example: "Don't drink protein powder if you can help ...more
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it
He just rams everything on your head. There's no explanation for why one is better than the other. In-between he puts up his own pics and that's not convincing either because he just looks like a giant chunk of mass.

There's no explanation for why 5 reps is better than Arnold's recommended 8-12 reps. No background about how he figured it out, or what he observed that convinced him about this. Just "This is the best. If someone asks me questions I answer once. If they ask again, then that guy's go
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Lifting heavy weights is strong medicine. This book provides a prescription for the recommended dosage.

The author is a well known power lifter with best lifts of a 1000lbs squat, a 675lb bench press and a 700lb deadlift. Even if your health and fitness goals are not aligned with lifting heavy weights (they should be) - this book describes a program for the application of the key concept of strength training - Progressive Overload. The idea is that you lift weights to get stronger - to do that y
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
this could have been a really solid blog post if he'd just stripped out the judgment and condescension and gender bullshit and just stuck to explaining the routine and its variations. ...more
Dec 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
So I've been going through this system for a few months now, and frankly it works. I'm in and out of the gym in 45 minutes and I'm progressing quicker than when I spent over an hour a day. Even if you don't want to do the rep calculations, and you feel a 1 rep max is all-important over rep maxes (I'm not disparaging this line of thinking, whatever motivates you is what's important)... still thumb through this. I found the mindset of keeping it simple, taking the deload week, and making gradual i ...more
Micah Atkinson
Jan 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Guide to strength training and more

This is one the must read books on strength training. Jim Wendler does an incredible job at laying out the foundation of an approach to training and lifestyle of strength that you can follow for the rest of your life.
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-help
Definitely a great book for those who wish to figure out a good method of working out properly. I've been using this set of guidelines for a month now and am full of praises. A definite recommend. ...more
Alex Montalto
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: exercise
I originally read this book years ago but re-read it now as I am working towards using this program again. This book is such a great read for anyone who is keen on bodybuilding. Wendler's no-nonsense approach to writing is similar to his approach to training. Get in, get the job done and get out. ...more
Sam Caldwell
Jun 18, 2017 rated it liked it
I really don't like the overly-masculine writing affectation. The design of the programming is really undermotivated, lacking any explanation beyond "it's worked for me and others." That being said, I'm still planning on giving it a try because I do like some of the ideas behind it. ...more
Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
I like that this book was short and to-the-point. I am already starting to implement 5/3/1 on my deadlift, we'll see if it works!

It's a bit meatheadish (out of the 10 or so success stories Wendler includes, only one was for a female) and some of the "assistance" moves are exercises I would never do (i.e. sit ups). I'm also not hoping for a 600 pound deadlift and don't need to pay attention to the straps/belt info, but the overall advice is sound: focus on the big lifts, don't start out too heav
Nov 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
As an S&C coach/trainer (NSCA-CPT, CSPS) I end up reading a lot of programming books.

There's not much I can add about 5/3/1 that hasn't already been covered. I will say this, it is one of the few strength books I use for my clients (the other two are Practical Programming for Strength Training & Tactical Barbell).

The thing that makes 5/3/1 valuable for me is that rare combination of flexibility and effectiveness. My clients have a wide variety of goals, problems, priorities and schedules. For t
Aug 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A top book on building strength.

This is totally focused on strength and not necessarily looking good. I'm not sure I would want to look like the author, no offence. But the advice is invaluable.

There are some great routines, even routines that include all body weight exercises for the assistance exercises after the main workout.

One great time on building strength and size, wake up in the middle of the night to drink milk or a protein shake.

I personally could have done with a few more photos to h
Mar 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Weightlifters, personal trainers, coaches
Recommended to Shawn by: Reddit hivemind
Shelves: fitness
Simple and brutal workouts for those focused on strength gains. No need to jump into a program like this until you've exhausted the possibilities of beginner linear gains - the kinds that Starting Strength by Rippetoe exploits - but good to read ahead.

I appreciate books that manage to be both conversational and information-dense, and Wendler's 531 fits that description.
Phillip Bost
Dec 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I used to scoff at folks who said you really need to read the book to understand the program.
I'm not scoffing anymore.
If you can get past the organizational issues & occasional (and useless) misogyny, there's a revelatory program here.
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lifting
The program is apparently good, but the book is basically a rambling blog post. There's not a lot here that you can't get from the internet for free. ...more
Sep 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great program, but the book adds a lot of fluff to pad for pages.
Bastard Travel
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
The program works. I'm only a month in an already seeing strength gains and weight loss at a caloric deficit. The writing is real casual so it feels like less like a book and more like a live-action broscience sermon dispensed between sets of BB curls in the only squat rack.

It could use a good, thorough edit. The most extreme contradictions are Wendler's wildly pivoting stance on protein powder and placement of workout volume. In one chapter, he says to avoid protein powder and eat real food, wh
First, let me say that I acquired this book for free. After reading it, I would not recommend paying any amount of money for it, but I would say it is worth the time to at least skim. Wendler's keystone work, his 5/3/1 strength program, is no doubt a tried and true successful strength program. His program, progressions, diet, and recovery, while rough around the edges, are solid enough to produce goal achieving results. The content of this book is not bad, but holy cow is it an adventure to wade ...more
Uriah Marc Todoroff
some parts of this were like fight club, typical masculinity culture i.e. total trash. one part was called "North of Vag." extremely contemptible when the dude gets into expressing his opinions about "androgynous, skinny-jean wearing contemporary man." also the information on dieting was insanely bad.

i'm probably going to switch to the program tho because it includes all the main lifts, obviously; he puts a lot of emphasis on the OHP, which i appreciate; plus, there's still room for incorporati
Kevin Bertao
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
So when reading this book it’s hard not to make comparisons to Mark Rippetoe’s “Starting Strength”.

I read Starting Strength years ago when I first decided to start training properly for strength in the gym, as opposed to hypertrophy.

Starting Strength was an in depth look at the mechanics of each major compound lift, backed up by the physics behind making each movement as efficient as possible, and why you should do them from a physiological perspective. No opinions, just science.

Well I picked up
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self

The review is for the training program. And if this works for me, cannot be decided until I have done it for a while. Nevertheless, the principles are sound and adhere to common sense and tried and tested training methods rather than following a new fad. High hopes for this after a whole lot of doing not a lot of progress on Stronglifts 5x5. Time for a change (If I can survive the percentage calculation that is!)

Now, as a book, this is not a good one if I look at it's literary merits. Could h
Jason X
Oct 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Is it a curated, slick IG-ready presentation? No. Are there unclear instructions and typos on nearly every page? Yes. Is there salty language and uncouth ranting? Yes. Is this book for everyone? No. Does the author care what your or my opinion is? No.

Did I find his knowledge useful, the author amusing, and charming like a polar bear? Yep.

Bottom line: Does the program make you stronger? Without a doubt.

If you want cute approachable sciencey strength training advice head to YouTube. Me, I wouldn’
Nov 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Great lifting system. I've been running it for a year and continue using new variations. I've purchased Jim's other books. My problems with his books are that they are in desperate need of an editor. Jim has a hard time with fluctuating levels of detail and cohesion. He never really details the "why" ever. He can get super in the weeds on one topic and then barely touch another topic. At the end of the day, the lifting plan is solid and that's why I've bought three of Jim's books and continue ru ...more
Apr 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: exercise
This was an okay book, but nothing revolutionary.

The book was fairly offensive; emasculating men who don't push themselves hard enough. I don't remember all of the pejoratives that were tossed around but I believe wimp came up a few times (and I think p*ssy as well). This combined with the author's disdain for science made a middling book a subpar book. That being said, I am a pencil necked man of science and perhaps not in his target audience.
Michael Riely
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book is glaringly devoid of the scientific method. I read it in an hour and didn't learn anything more than an hour on the internet researching the actual lifting 531 program would provide.

I'm a fan of the 531 lifting program and I've seen good results, but the book itself is not worth purchasing. It was $30 on amazon for 97 pages of large type with large spacing. He hits many areas without going into depth on anything or answer any of the "why" questions I have.
Vivek Kalyan
Jun 23, 2020 rated it liked it
I did not learn much over the many available blog posts regarding the 531 regime, though I admit that is not necessarily the fault of the author as the book is concise enough to be read in a single setting. The author also employs a pointless condescending tone and is clearly written for men. If you have already read online blogs about 531, then do not bother reading this. If you have not read any online blogs, read them instead of reading this.
Gavin Breeden
Oct 27, 2018 rated it liked it
A lot of helpful info in here about lifting weights and Wendler's 5/3/1 plan. Both the good and the bad thing about this book is that you feel like you're in the gym with Wendler and he's speaking very plainly and informally to you about lifting weights. I could've done without a lot of the salty talk though. I read the second edition, kindle version. ...more
Jul 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It seems like a pretty cool program, and I'm looking forward to giving it ago. From my own experience, the advice on the lifts and programming is pretty solid too. But I hated how it was written; the spectre of masculinity haunts it like a wet fart when it would've been much better off just written normally. ...more
Feb 14, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good guide for beginners

Jim's takes can be a little too r/redpill sometimes but I have lost 60lbs (460-400) and seen huge improvements in my ability to walk, stand, lift weights, and do pretty much any physical activity. It makes weight lifting totally logical and helps me know exactly what I need to do.
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