Jim Wendler Quotes and 5/3/1 Training Tips

This article of the best Jim Wendler quotes will help you get inspired for your next training session.

He is most renowned as the creator of the 5/3/1 strength training program.

Who is Jim Wendler?

Jim Wendler is the creator and author of the 5/3/1 Training Program. This program has been used by millions of athletes and lifters of all ages and abilities.

Jim played football and graduated from the University of Arizona where he was a three-time letter winner. Wendler went on to squat 1000 pounds in competition and is an accomplished Elite Lifter with a 2,375 pound total.

He has coached high school athletes, collegiate athletes, trained general populations and spoken globally on the topics of strength training, conditioning, fat-loss, performance and program design.

However, Jim Wendler’s greatest success is his ability to simplify the complexities of strength training into program variations so that anyone can apply them and achieve their goals using his 5/3/1 training program.

Jim Wendler Quotes

“Nothing tests your will more than a heavy barbell across your back and smashing your lungs.”

“The game of lifting isn’t an 8-week pursuit. It doesn’t last as long as your latest program does. Rather, it’s a lifetime pursuit. If you understand this, then progressing slowly isn’t a big deal. In fact, this can be a huge weight lifted off your back. Now you can focus on getting those 5 extra pounds rather than 50.”

Man in Gym after Jim Wendler Training routine.
Train Hard ©Bastien Plu

“So, if you want to follow a diet plan, get on the Zone diet or Paleo diet and triple the protein requirements. Simple as that. Do so with protein powders and whole foods. Eat a ton of protein. Squat heavy. Push heavy objects. Have sex. Love life.”

“Sometimes, instead of what you do in the weight room, it’s what you don’t do that will lead to success.”

“Take charge of your brain and body – exercise and read/learn/educate. There is nothing more dangerous that a healthy, well-educated man/woman that can critically think.”

“You want science and studies? Fuck you. I’ve got scars and blood and vomit.”

“In fact, I find it very hard to believe that the same people who can’t discriminate what food to put in their mouth are somehow allowed to right to vote for the President of the United States.”

“When you feel tempted to judge yourself by the way you look rather than what you do; that is the way of the contemporary Male. A sad state of ‘looks before performance’ is plaguing the world. If you think looks trump performance, ask the last girl you slept with. Skinny jeans, androgynous bodies and limp character populate Our World. I ask you, ‘What would Conan do?’ Conan wouldn’t stand by and let others determine his attitude. He wouldn’t mope around like a sad, pathetic dog when things don’t go his way. And he sure as hell doesn’t tuck tail when defeated. Stand up and show the world who you are and what you can do.”

“After the age of 18, you are a responsible adult and thus should take responsibility for your actions.”

“Bleed success. Eat. Sleep. Mate. Defend.”

“Best strength book in the world; training log. Teach you more about training than ANY book.”

Athletes working out together in gym.
Stay focused ©Bastien Plu

“5/3/1 is not a program based on building “back” or “arms” – we are building much more. And 100% of the time, when you train for something bigger and better than “pipes”, you end up getting pretty big muscles too. And if you really internalize what the program is about then you CAN become a stronger person. And this CAN make you a better person.

“So, while there is nothing wrong with wanting big ‘wings’ or whatever, you are shortchanging yourself, as a person and a lifter.”

“Good intentions when combined with ignorance and lack of experience are a recipe for bad form, limited results and injury.”

“I remember thinking to myself that if I ever reached a point in my life where I had to walk to get exercise, it might be time to clean out my ears with a gun.”

How to Start the 5/3/1/ Program 

Learn more about how to start Jim Wendler’s famous 5/3/1 program, in his own words.

“Generally, I tell everyone to just do the 5/3/1 program as is, regardless of training age. Of course, if you’re a trainer and are using the program with a novice athlete or someone new to training, simply use your experience to make whatever changes are required – though there shouldn’t be many.”

“Now if you’re a beginner and are working out without any guidance whatsoever, it’s probably best to just stick with the basic program. One of the worst things a young lifter can do is take advice from other beginners on message boards –  they usually have all the advice and none of the experience. Below is one beginner modification that’s permissible, and effective.”

“It’s a subtle, easy way to add in some extra work on the main lifts without compromising the program or the philosophies it was built upon.”

The 5/3/1 Body Protocol 

You perform a full-body routine, three days a week.

Full body strength routines are the best way for novice lifters to quickly get strong, provided the program is not idiotic (i.e. adheres to an intelligent progression system).

Instead of just one main lift per workout (using the 5/3/1 set-up), two main lifts are used for additional weekly exposures.

Remember that the training max must be correct and if in doubt, err on the side of “too light”. Principles guide life AND training.

Jim Wendler – 5/3/1 Training Schedule


  • Squat – 5/3/1 sets/reps, 5×5 @ First Set Last (or FSL)
  • Bench – 5/3/1 sets/reps, 5×5 @ FSL
  • Assistance work


  • Deadlift – 5/3/1 sets/reps, 5×5 @ FSL
  • Press – 5/3/1 sets/reps, 5×5 @ FSL
  • Assistance work


  • Bench – 5/3/1 sets/reps, 5×5 @ FSL
  • Squat – 5/3/1 sets/reps, 5×5 @ FSL
  • Assistance work

The program is set up the same way – taking 90% of your max and working up slowly. All percentages are based on that training max.

Assistance Work

Each day perform ONE exercise from each category listed below. Perform 50-100 total reps (do whatever sets you want to perform – that doesn’t matter) of each exercise.  If you are too weak to get all the reps (chin-ups/pull-ups for example) then simply choose a SECOND movement to complete the total reps.  This is incredibly simple to do.

The three categories to choose from are: push, pull and single leg/core.


Dips, push-ups, DB bench/incline/press, triceps extensions/pushdowns


Chin-ups/pull-ups, inverted rows, rows (DB/machine/BB), face pulls, band pull-aparts, lat pulldown, curls

Single Leg/Core

Any abdominal work, back raises, reverse hyperextensions, lunges, step-ups, Bulgarian one-leg squats, KB snatches, swings

Other Parts of Each Training Session

Perform Defranco’s Agile 8 prior to each workout and should be done every single day.

Perform 10-15 total box jumps or med ball throws PRIOR to lifting.

Woman doing box jumps
Enjoy your training ©Bastien Plu

Tues/Thurs/Sat/Sun some kind of running or conditioning should be done. This will largely be based on your own goals, your current fitness level and what you have access to. DO NOT run yourself into the ground with conditioning; follow the “5/3/1 50% Rule” when conditioning.

Jim Wendler Age

Jim Wendler was born on February 13, 1975. That makes him 47 in 2022.

Jim Wender Weight

Jim Wendler is 5’10” and currently weighs about 240lbs. When he was competing in powerlifting he was in the 275lbs class.”

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