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The Jim Wendler 5/3/1 Beginner Program | The Ultimate Guide!

Are you curious about the Jim Wendler beginner program?

Do you want to know how to use 5/3/1 to build strength as a novice lifter?

Then you’ve come to the right place.

In this comprehensive guide, I will teach you exactly how to use Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program as a beginner to take your training to the next level!


  • Part 1: 5/3/1 For Beginners
  • Part 2: Sample Workouts
  • Part 3: 5/3/1 Percentages

Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program is one of the most popular training routines in the world.

Millions of powerlifters and other athletes have used this program to increase their strength on the squat, bench press, deadlift, and overhead press.

But what if you are a beginner?

Is 5/3/1 still a good choice for you?

Jim Wendler designed a new training program called 5/3/1 for beginners.

This program is designed for anyone with less than 1 year of training experience.

If you are new to lifting weights, then this program will teach you the correct technique on all of the major lifts, while helping you to build strength faster than you ever thought possible!

Part 1: 5/3/1 For Beginners

5/3/1 for beginners uses a 3-day full body training split.

In other words, you are going to train your entire body each workout, and you are going to perform a total of 3 workouts per week.

Here is how Jim Wendler organizes the 5/3/1 training program for beginner lifters:

The 5/3/1 For Beginners Template

  • Monday: Bench Press / Squat
  • Wednesday: Deadlift / Overhead Press
  • Friday: Repeat!

On each training day you are going to perform two main exercises: the bench press and squat, or the deadlift and overhead press.

Jim wants you to perform 3 moderately heavy sets for each exercise, followed by 5 back-off sets at a lighter weight.

Don’t worry – I will explain all of this in more detail later.

After you perform your 2 main exercises, you are going to perform 4 accessory exercises for your entire body. Check it out:

5/3/1/ For Beginners Accessory Work

  • Exercise #1: Push exercise (dips, push ups, dumbbell press etc.)
  • Exercise #2: Pull exercise (chin ups, rows, face pull etc.)
  • Exercise #3: Single leg / core (abs, back raise, lunge, step up etc.)
  • Exercise #4: Other (box jumps, running, conditioning etc.)

Jim Wendler says it isn’t too important which exercises you use, as long as you are working these main movement patterns.

For example, for your “push” exercise, you can perform dips, push ups, a dumbbell press, a machine press, or any other exercise that works your chest / shoulder / tricep muscles.

The same is true for your other accessory exercises.

Part 2: 5/3/1 Beginner Workouts

Now we’re getting to the good stuff!

Here are some sample 5/3/1 for beginners workouts that you can start using today to get stronger.

These workouts were endorsed by Jim Wendler himself, so you know they are the real deal. Check it out:

Monday: Bench Press / Squat

  • Exercise #1: Bench press, 3 sets of 1-5 reps
  • Exercise #2: Bench press, 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Exercise #3: Squat, 3 sets of 1-5 reps
  • Exercise #4: Squat, 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Exercise #5: Incline dumbbell press, 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Exercise #6: Lat pulldown, 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Exercise #7: 45 degree Back raise, 3 sets of as many as possible
  • Exercise #8: Hill sprints, 3 sets x 100 feet

For inspiration, here is a video of Jim Wendler performing the bench press:

If you are an experienced lifter, then this may seem like a ton of training volume!

You have to remember, beginners often respond really well to high-volume full body workouts.

A beginner isn’t very strong yet, so these workouts are much easier for them to recover from.

And here is a deadlift / overhead press workout that you can try. Check it out:

Wednesday: Deadlift / Overhead Press

  • Exercise #1: Deadlift, 3 sets of 1-5 reps
  • Exercise #2: Deadlift, 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Exercise #3: Overhead press, 3 sets of 1-5 reps
  • Exercise #4: Overhead press, 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Exercise #5: Push ups, 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Exercise #6: Inverted row, 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Exercise #7: Step up, 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Exercise #8: Box jump, 3 sets of 5 reps

For inspiration, here is a video of Jim Wendler performing the deadlift:

As usual, Jim recommends beginners perform 8 total exercises in his 5/3/1 for beginners workouts.

If you are new to weight training, then this routine may be exactly what you need to make screaming fast progress.

On Friday you would repeat the “Monday” workout, and on the following Monday you would repeat the “Wednesday” workout.

You just keep alternating between these workouts and hitting PRs!

Part 3: 5/3/1 Beginner Percentages

Jim Wendler says one of the dumbest things you can do is “go heavy” all the time.

Instead, he thinks you should approach training like a chess match, where you slowly get stronger over time until you are the strongest person in the gym.

Jim Wendler says that beginners should use training percentages to get stronger over time.

Here are the exact percentages that Jim Wendler likes to use for his 5/3/1 for beginners program:

Week #1 Training Percentages:

  • Set 1: 65% x 5
  • Set 2: 75% x 5
  • Set 3: 85% x 5+

Week #2 Training Percentages:

  • Set 1: 70% x 3
  • Set 2: 80% x 3
  • Set 3: 90% x 3+

Week #3 Training Percentages:

  • Set 1: 75% x 5
  • Set 2: 85% x 3
  • Set 3: 95% x 1+

Week #4 Training Percentages:

  • Set 1: 40% x 5
  • Set 2: 50% x 5
  • Set 3: 60% x 5

As you can see, you have three “heavy” weeks in a row, followed by a deload week.

All of these percentages are based off of something Jim Wendler calls a “training max.”

Instead of using your actual 1-rep max to calculate these percentages, you are going to use 90% of your estimated 1-rep max.

This will let you make more consistent progress over a longer period of time.

Conclusion | 5/3/1 For Beginners!

Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 Training Program is one of the most popular programs in the world, and it’s easy to see why.

Jim has a system that works well for lifters of all experience levels – including complete beginners.

If you are a beginner in the world of strength training, then you have to give Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 for beginner program a shot.

It could be just what you need to take your training to the next level!

“The game of lifting isn’t an 8-week pursuit.

Rather, it’s a lifetime pursuit. If you understand this, then progressing slowly isn’t a big deal.

Now you can focus on getting those 5 extra pounds rather than 50.”

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!