Jim Wendler 5/3/1 Top Set Calculator
Who should use it ?
This calculator is to be used to accompany the Jim Wendler One year calculator which is also provided by Marathon Crossfit. This should be used, when you have familiarised yourself with the ground principles of the program via the Jim Wendler books and how to track your workouts in the excel spreadsheet.
If you are just starting out with your strength journey please do not use this program. This is a method for people who know what their one repetition maximum is on the squat, deadlift, military press and bench press and are able to distinguish between warm up sets, work sets, top sets and joker sets with ease. This program needs strength, awareness, confidence and brains in the gym, which beginners usually do not have. If you have less than one year of experience lifting in the gym, run Rippetoes Starting Strength or Stronglifts 5x5 by Mehdi for a year and revisit this post afterwards (yes I said and meant a year, do not come back after a month because you are bored. You are wasting your time reading this article and attempting any kind of serious sport then).
Do not get me wrong,I do not think you are stupid or incapable. In your first year however, when you will bang of the power rack, wobbly on your feet (and feed, but that is another topic) & conscious about how other people in the gym perceive you (after a year you won't give two heaps about that), the last thing you want to worry about is to pick and calculate your numbers right. Starting Strength and Stronglifts 5x5 require no thinking whatsoever with a strict regiment in terms of weight progression. That is just right for beginners. Once you have the basics down and are not able to get stronger anymore without getting some variance in, it is time to switch to something more advanced like 5/3/1.
If you are a seasoned lifter and have not done 5/3/1 before you will understand this tracker straight off the bat after half a day of reading into the program. You could also use it to track the progression of the top sets and their one rep maximum development of other programs, if you so may wish.
What does it ?
The top set tracker is an easy excel tool that anyone can operate who can type in the numbers. It zooms in on the top set of each Jim Wendler session and calculates your one repetition maximum to store it.
It is designed to accompany a year of Jim Wendler 5/3/1. The man himself recommends that you always have an idea which numbers you want to hit before you enter the gym. As this is not always straight forward and you might lose track this is a good way to track progressiosn from workout to workout.
In the day to day trenches I found that running the numbers just by using the 1RM calculator from bodybuilding.com to be cumbersome and not focused enough of what I want to achieve.
The one year calculator helps you to know which numbers to hit, except the amount of repetitions for the top set. This space is now being filled.
How to operate the 5/3/1 top set calculator ?
The calculator itself is very easy to operate. Just download it at the end of this post and open it in Excel. Once done reads these instructions to get your bearings.
First open the "Input sheet" excel worksheet. This is where you will type in all of your results for your Jim Wnedler top set. The top set is the last excercise of the day where you are going after as many reps as possible for the highest weight you lift that day.
In the upper left you find the calculations which is used for all of the numbers. The formula is already prefilled, so you do not have to do anything. Still it is written down, so you know on which assumptions / formula this excel spreadsheet works. It runs the weight and repetitions you put in via the formula
weight lifted x repetitions x 0.0333 + weight lifted = One repetition maximum
This is the mathematical basis which is also recommended by the originator of the program himself.
For each of the movements you will find three columns in the calculator. In the first you will put down the number of repetitions, second the weight lifted and the third will automacially populate your !RM for the given day.
On the right hand side you will see the number of week you are in assuming that you train 4 times a week. Week 4, 8 , 12 are not missing, but not worth mentionning as they are deload weeks and you will not do the AMRAP set. If you only train two times a week or do a six week cycle before taking a deload week, just adjust the week numbers as you deem see fit. It will not impact the calculator. Same for whether you want to put in the weight in pounds or kilograms. Does not make a difference.
When you switch from the Input sheet to Top Set development sheet you will see a graphical representation of your one rep maximum development which will help you to keep track of the big picture.
If you have any questions using this calculator or have suggestions for improving it, please feel free to comment below. Now it is time to get going and download your calculator.