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Jim Wendler Football Program

Are you curious about the Jim Wendler football program?

Do you wonder how the creator of 5/3/1 trains high school and college football athletes?

Then you’ve come to the right place.

In this comprehensive guide, I will show you how to use the Jim Wendler football program to take your training to the next level!


  • Part 1: Jim Wendler Football In-Season Training
  • Part 2: Jim Wendler Football Off-Season Training

Jim Wendler is one of the most successful strength coaches in the world today. He is most famous for training at the Westside Barbell powerlifting club, and for inventing the incredibly popular 5/3/1 program.

You may not know this, but Jim Wendler is also an extremely successful football coach.

He played football in college, and today he coaches many high school and youth football athletes. Of course, Jim Wendler has his own opinions on how to design optimal strength training programs for football players!

Jim Wendler Stats

  • Date Of Birth: February 13th, 1975
  • Height: 5 Feet 10 Inches
  • Weight: 240 Pounds
  • Body Fat: About 15 Percent


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Part 1: General Football Training

Jim Wendler says strength training is extremely important for the serious football player.

This is true regardless of whether you are playing football at the professional level, in college, or as a high school or youth athlete.

Jim says there are no “sport specific” exercises for football, as you are never going to perform a squat or deadlift on the football field. However, being bigger, stronger and faster is always going to benefit you.

Jim says that a football training program serves several purposes:

  1. Muscle mass and strength
  2. Muscular balance
  3. Conditioning
  4. Rehab / prehab

Jim structures his workouts to address all 4 of these different qualities. So how does he actually organize his football workouts?

The truth is Jim incorporates mobility work, explosive / speed work, strength work, and conditioning work into the same workout. Check it out:

The Jim Wendler Football Workout

  • Step #1: Mobility work (stretching / dynamic warm up)
  • Step #2: Speed work (springs, jumps, throws etc.)
  • Step #3: Strength work (barbell exercises etc.)
  • Step #4: Conditioning (sprints, prowler push etc.)

This may seem like a lot of work. However, Jim says structuring your workouts in this way is key to improving your athletic performance.

Now let’s take a closer look at how Jim structures his in-season and off-season football workouts.

Part 2: Jim Wendler Football In-Season Training

Jim Wendler says the offseason is your main opportunity to get bigger / stronger / faster.

During the regular competitive season, when you are playing 1 competitive game per week, your main priority should be maintaining your current level of size, strength, and conditioning.

So how does Jim structure his in-season football workouts? Jim Wendler says that you should perform 2 gym per week during the competitive football season. Check it out:

Not in the off-season? Do two workouts per week. The set up should look like this:

The Jim Wendler Football In-Season Training Split

  • Monday: 5/3/1 Workout
  • Wednesday: 5/3/1 Workout
  • Saturday: Competition Day

Jim says there are a couple of different ways to structure your in-season 5/3/1 workouts. You can either use an upper / lower split, where you train your lower body on Monday and your entire upper body on Wednesday, or you can perform 2 full body workouts.

Let’s start by looking at Jim Wendler’s in-season upper / lower split. 

Note: this template was taken directly from Jim Wendler’s blog

Saturday Morning (After Game)

  •  Calisthenics/Mobility/Stretching
  •  Very light lifting/movement work

Monday – Lower Body

  • Exercise A1: Trap bar deadlift, 3 sets of 1-5 reps**
  • Exercise B1: Pull exercise, 50-100 reps
  • Exercise B2: Push exercise, 50-100 reps

Wednesday: Upper Body

  • Exercise A1: Bench press, 3 sets of 1-5 reps**
  • Exercise B1: Pull exercise, 50-100 reps
  • Exercise B2: Push exercise, 50-100 reps

This is a very simple way to organize your in-season workouts. Jim actually likes to use the trap bar deadlift for your in-season lower body workouts. H

e likes the trap bar because it is very easy to use, and is easier to recover from than a regular conventional deadlift – especially for the lower back. Jim says that it also has very good carryover for most athletes. 

Now let’s look at the template where Jim uses full body workouts for his in-season football athletes. Check it out:

Saturday Morning (After game)

  • Calisthenics/Mobility/Stretching
  •  Very light lifting/movement work

Monday – Full Body

  • Squat: 5/3/1
  • Bench Press: 5/3/1
  • Assistance Work

Wednesday – Full Body

  • Deadlift: 5/3/1
  • Press: 5/3/1
  • Assistance Work

Note: this template was also taken directly from Jim Wendler’s blog. 

For this template Jim wants you to perform 2 full body workouts during the week. This is a more demanding template than the previous one, so it should only be performed by athletes with above-average recovery ability.

For the assistance work, Jim wants you to perform 3-4 exercises with 8-12 reps for each exercise. For example, you might perform 1 “push” exercise, 1 “pull” exercise, and 1 lower body exercise.

The truth is Jim hasn’t published a lot of public information about his in-season football training programs.

If you want to learn more about this, then check out his book “5/3/1 Forever.”

Part 3: Jim Wendler Football Off-Season Training

Jim Wendler says getting bigger, stronger, and faster in the offseason is critical if you want to reach your full potential as a football player.

Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about recovering from “game day” each week during the offseason, so you have a lot more energy that you can devote to your workouts.

Here are Jim Wendler’s exact thoughts on off-season football training:

“In the off-season, you can train 2, 3, or 4 days a week. The days don't matter as much as the principles that are applied.

Once you've embraced the principles, you'll realize that everything falls into place. The minutia is no longer important.”

Of course, Jim Wendler trains his athletes using his popular 5/3/1 training program. However, you can use almost any version of the program, including the 2-day, 3-day, or 4-day version of the program.

You can also use various different assistance work templates, including krypteia, boring but big, the triumvirate etc., depending on your weaknesses and recovery ability.

Let’s start by looking at how Jim Wendler organizes his individual off-season workouts. Check it out:

5/3/1 Workouts For Athletes

  • Step #1: Warm Up
  • Step #2: Strength Exercises
  • Step #3: Conditioning

As you can see, Jim organizes the workouts in a very similar way to his in-season workouts. He performs a thorough warm up, his 5/3/1 strength-building exercises, and some conditioning work.

Let’s start by looking at the Jim Wendler football warm up.

Step #1: Warm Up

  • Part 1: Mobility work
  • Part 2: Joe Defranco’s Agile 8
  • Part 3: Medicine ball throws
  • Part 4: Jump training

Jim Wendler has all of his football athletes perform mobility work, Joe Defranco’s famous agile 8 warm up, and explosive training including medicine ball throws and jump training. 

Step #2: Strength Exercises

Jim Wendler doesn't rely on calisthenics or other bodyweight exercises to train his athletes in the offseason. Instead, he focuses on getting his athletes as strong as possible on the basic compound lifts like the squat, bench press, deadlift, and overhead press.

For athletes who aren't as strong yet, he sometimes has them perform dumbbell squats, goblet squats, and other bodyweight exercises while they build a strength base.

However, once they are ready he wants them to get stronger using the 5/3/1 training program for the actual strength training work.

If you want to learn more about this program, you can read the following article: 

Of course, I will give you a quick overview of Jim’s program here. Jim’s original 5/3/1 program uses a 4-day upper body / lower body split:

The 5/3/1 Training Split

  • Day 1: Bench Press
  • Day 2: Squat
  • Day 3: Overhead Press
  • Day 4: Deadlift

Of course, he also has 2-day and 3-day versions of this training program. With Jim’s program you perform 3 sets of the primary exercise that day, followed by 2-4 assistance exercises.

Here is how Jim organizes the sets and reps each week:

The 5/3/1 Training Cycle

  • Week #1: 3 sets of 5 reps
  • Week #2: 3 sets of 3 reps
  • Week #3: 3 sets of 5, 3, 1 reps
  • Week #4: 3 sets of 5 reps (Deload)

The weights get slightly heavier from weeks 1-3, then on the 4th week you perform a deload week. For the assistance work Jim says it is very important to train for balance between the different muscle groups in your body.

For example, you want to train for balance between your pushing and pulling muscles, between your quads and hamstrings, and so on.

Step #3: Conditioning

Jim Wendler finishes his football workouts with conditioning workouts. He uses many different tools for his conditioning work, including hill sprints, prowler pushes, and so on. 

If you want to learn more about his favorite conditioning protocols, then check out the following article:

Of course, you can also check out Jim Wendler’s new book “5/3/1 forever” for more information. 

Conclusion | The Jim Wendler Football Program!

Jim Wendler is one of the most popular football coaches in the world today, and it’s easy to see why.

He competed as a high school and collegiate football athlete, and he uses this first-hand experience to design extremely effective football programs for his high school and collegiate athletes.

If you are looking for a way to become a better football athlete, then you have to give the Jim Wendler football program a shot.

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

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