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Functional Fitness: Upcoming (Wendler) 5/3/1 Cycle

Hi Team,

With the upcoming strength programming, I have been referring to the next block as a ‘WENDLER-Cycle’ for a while now – and this has meant (with some justification) that I have been getting some questions along the lines of ‘What does that even mean’?  Which is probably fair enough.

The cycle has been built using the principles outlined by Jim Wendler, a former powerlifter and strength coach.  Wendler is famed within the S&C community for a number of reasons but the things that I have been the most influenced by are his initial book:

 -Book:  5/3/1: The Simplest and Most Effective Training System for Raw Strength (there are a number of books he has written in the 5/3/1 Series).

 -Article:  The Walk On where he tells his story of playing College football at (I think) Arizona or Arizona state (not being from America I know there IS a difference but don’t really know ‘the difference!)

 -Podcasts:  Wendler has a very direct communication style and is a regular guest on numerous S&C podcasts – I hear him most often on “Power Athlete Radio”.

Anyway – back to the a ‘Wendler program’ and what 5/3/1 is all about – well…it isn’t anything particularly ‘revolutionary’ but it is a very structured system that is based on the principles of progressive overload.  What does that mean?  It means gradually increasing the weight lifted over time to build strength and muscle. The program is typically done over a 12-week cycle, but it can be condensed to 6-weeks. 

Five, Three, One, Gains…or “Why is the Wendler Strength Cycle Effective?”

Based upon Progressive Overload: The program is designed to gradually increase the weight lifted over time. This means that the muscles are constantly challenged and forced to adapt, leading to strength and muscle gains.
Level of Variation: The program focuses on three to four main lifts but incorporates different sets and rep schemes throughout the cycle.   It is this ‘structured variation’ which is such a hit with athletes – it prevents mental fatigue/boredom (same lifts and rep schemes every day/week/month like the 5×5 linear progression plan) AND at the same time keeps the muscles “guessing” – which can lead to more consistency and better progress.

The Wendler Strength Cycle is an incredibly effective way to build strength and muscle and there are so-called ‘Wendlerites’ all over the place (you can identify them because of their goatee beards, shaved heads and heavily thumbed softcopy volumes of one or more of the 5/3/1 books in their gym bags) who would say if you follow Wendler’s program to a ‘T’ then it is IMPOSSIBLE to not make progress.

The Wendler Cycle will be starting in the Strength Gym from Monday May 8th.

See you in the gym,


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