Strength Training for Beginners: 5/3/1

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Analysis paralysis is very real.

All you have to do is go through your Facebook, Reddit, Instagram or Twitter and every single day you are bombarded with all kinds of videos of people doing crazy workout shit.

You can get caught in the DO LOOP very easily of frustrated starts/restarts.

Analysis Paralysis - A Case of Terminological Inexactitude ...

I’ve trained with weights for boxing, bodybuilding, and Jiujitsu since I was 15 years old. In nearly 30 years of doing this A FEW THINGS remains consistent:

  1. Setting Goals is Key to Reaching them and Setting New Ones.
  2. Working Hard is a Skill Developed Through Practice.
  3. Start Small. Build Slowly.
  4. Stick With Basics.
  5. Be Consistently Persistent.
  6. Go “All-In” and Give Your Best Efforts (don’t half-ass your effort)

Do you want to be a killer on the mats?

Or kick ass in the weight room?

Well, then, you need to not do things outside of your training that conflicts with those training sessions.

Read this any way you want, but know that I mean it means removing bad things from your life and improving the quality of the good things that link to your goals.


I’ve written extensively about different training methods for the grappler. There are plenty of articles for you to read about the physical training.

If you train hard on the mats several days a week, you will make better progress if you keep your strength training program as simple as possible.  Before reading ahead, I strongly recommend reading Strength Training 101.

5/3/1 – A Simple and Effective Program to Build Strength

Jim Wendler 5/3/1

One of the more basic programs out there is 5/3/1 by Jim Wendler. Why choose this one?

  1. Because it was made for beginners.
  2. It focuses on the primary compound lifts (Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, Military Press)
  3. It follows a Linear Periodization method which most beginners will thrive.
  4. It develops maximal strength
  5. It tests personal records (PR) frequently in both max weight and/or repetitions performed.
  6. Max lifts are based off of 90% of your 1RM setting you up for success in your lifts. This is key to developing confidence in your strength training sessions.

Don’t read that it is for beginners and move on from the program. That’s an amateur mistake.

You should appreciate the simplicity of the workout structure and flexibility to scale the accessory options things to meet your overall program needs.

I’ve been training for over 30 years and I will still follow variations of this program today. I make adjustments based on my own goals, but my belief in the primary compound movements and balanced accessory work allows a great degree of flexibility when additional training or life gets in the way.

Additional Considerations

Wendler also covers topics that are important such as de-loading, incorporating athletic movements, and active recovery methods.

Keeping athletic movements in your training such as sprinting, jumping, and throwing are important for developing explosive strength qualities. Like the main program, his recommends are simple to follow and implement.

I have also incorporate many Fundamental Athletic Training options in the DRILLSKILL workout manual. Get a Free Copy Now during COVID-19.

The same for active recovery, which featured weighted vest walking, foam rolling multiple times a day, and taking epsom salt baths.

Wendler has written numerous articles for both T-Nation and eliteFTS. You can find everything currently about the 5/3/1 program at his personal website.

If you’d like to see more program reviews, leave me a comment below with the program name and what you’d like to learn about it.

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