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Explanation for the Jim Wendler 5/3/1 calculator [Free Download]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Aug 20, 2015 1:12:00 PM

Explanation for the Jim Wendler 5/3/1 calculator

This is a short explanation of the Jim Wendler calculator I designed for easy print out to be taken to the gym and stored in a folder. I found the first few results I got on google not covering my needs and to cumbersome, therefore i decided to design this. Always consult a doctor before running a lifting program. All these calculations are based on Jim Wendlers's public post on The Wendler 5/3/1 template.

If you want the most up to date news or ask direct questions, then you can follow me on Instagram.

 Get the free 5/3/1 Calculator

1. The lifts

At 1) you find the different lifts which will be performed during the program. It includes the squat, the Deadlift, Bench Press and Military press. Assuming that you searched for a Wendler 5/3/1 template I am confident you know how these movements work in theory and practice. If not, maybe start with Stronglifts 5x5 rather than 5/3/1. You can also use the basic e book on lifting if you do not know these movements yet.
There are no special variations on these lifts, so perform the most commonly known and used or your personal preference. Wide stance squat, narrow stance squat, platz squat and sumo or conventional deadlifting are not prescribed. Same goes for benching.There is room for variation if you wanted to implement it but beware that you have to hit your numbers to go up in weight, when you finish one cycle.

2. Weight

This is the only column in the spreadsheet / calculator that you will fill. All other numbers will populate automatically if you fill these fields. The calculator works either for pounds or kilograms, as the fields are being calculated as a percentage of what you provide in these four fields. So it doesn't matter whether you type in your one rep maxes as pounds or kilograms to use the calculator.


3. 90 % of one repetition Maximum

The Wendler 5/3/1 program works with 90% of your one repetition maximum. These fields will provide numbers once you filled in your input under the column"weight". These are the building blocks from which the four week cycle will be calculated. None of the formulas are hidden and yours to be manipulated if needed. However keep in mind that I based the calculator on the design of the program by the man himself, Jim Wendler, if you make alterations.


4. 5 week repetition maximum week

The first week of one cycle is the 5 repetition maximum week. Each of the lifts is performed on one day and the calculator assumes that you would train 4 times a week. In case you train less than this, the layout of the calculator is sub optimal. Let me know in the comments if you lack the excel skills to make it into a 3 day version and I will provide one, as soon as there are enough requests.  Monday would be squats, Tuesday Bench Press, Wednesday off, Thursday Deadlift, Friday Military Press and Saturday and Sunday is rest. You can start on a different week day, but keep the upper body / lower body splits and the rest periods. 

The last set of each day is a maximum effort day. You should at least hit 5 repetitions with the weight the calculator provides in this field and strive to do as many as possible. If you go beyond 9 repetitions you either want to consider readjusting your weight or implementing joker sets, as you are not challenging yourself enough. This is why it says on the last set 5+ rather than just 5.

More than 9 repetitions means that you are exiting the area of strength building and enter the area of bodybuilding repetition schemes. You find more on the basic principles of loading in this post.

If your main goal is muscle growth please check out my post on German volume training and the accompanying German Volume training video series on youtube.


5. 3 Repetition maximum week

Same concept as the week before, but you are working up to a three repetition maximum rather than a 5 repetition maximum. Do all the build up sets, as they are needed to create the enhanced strength you want. Wendler tried to skip them without the desired result, so do not try to outsmart the template. With the 90% weight the calculator provides perform at least 3 repetitions in your last set and aim for as many as possible. If you do less than three consider lowering your weight. If you do more than seven again make use of joker sets or readjust your one repetition maximum.


6. 5/3/1 week

Same as with the weeks before, only difference being that you will do a set 5, a set of 3 and a 1+ set rather than 3x5's and 3x3's. If you do more than three repetitions consider joker sets.Still you should be careful in this week and only do this if the weight feels really really light as you are working closer to your absolute one repetition maximum.



7. Deload week

Week 4 brings one cycle to its conclusion. Here you give your body a rest and you can use the opportunity to work on your technique, explosiveness or flexibility as the weights are getting fairly light. Maybe incorporate chains and bands as in the west side method to put your muscles through a variety of stimuli. Stay focused, this is also quality work to prepare to go up in weights the next week. The major sources of injury are putting too much weight on the bar or carelessness with light weights.


8. Move to next cycle

Once you have completed the cycle move on to the next worksheet and add 2.5 kg / 5 pounds on the Bench press and Military press and 5kg / 10 pounds on the Deadlift and Squat for the next month / cycle. The calculator provides you with 13 cycles which covers training for an entire year. I planned my One year Wendler numbers with this, printed them and currently work to achieve my goal to become an elite lifter. 

Get the free 5/3/1 Calculator

Further reading on Jim Wendler 531


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Topics: Lift stronger, Jim Wendler 5/3/1, Powerlifting, Bodybuilding, Strongman