What is  5 3 1 ? In Depor Trainer , we have a section to explain all the bodybuilding and strength routines. Today, we're breaking down one of the most famous and effective workouts:  Wendler's 5 3 1 routine . Can you gain strength and muscle hypertrophy at the same time with just one workout? Yes. Here, we explain everything to you. Learn how to do the 531 , its benefits and drawbacks. Also, download it in Excel!

Why do the 5 3 1 routine?

The 5 3 1 workout is ideal for adapting to maximum strength . Is  5 3 1 the program you need? If you've been training for hypertrophy with bulking routines for a while, it might be time to start working with lower reps. Know how much weight you are able to lift in basic exercises thanks to this routine. It's also perfect if you've been doing high-rep workouts like the Bilbo Method . Thanks to the Wendler system, you will be able to take advantage of all the explosiveness that you have gained with other routines and adapt to try your maximum strength. Sounds good right?

The routine is great because it has a basic version that is strength and another hybrid version that also enhances hypertrophy. This gym workout is simple but very well planned. You will see that it is not difficult for you to learn to do it.

Bases of the strength routine 5 3 1

This training is 4 days per week. Each day, you will work with a basic exercise: bench press, squat, deadlift and military press . What is the best distribution? If possible, allow a rest day after each training day. For example, try the following distribution:

• Bench Press Day - Rest - Squat Day - Rest - Deadlift Day - Rest - Military Press Day

The most usual thing is that, due to the schedules of commercial gyms and our daily obligations, we cannot train in the proposed way. We recommend the following distribution , which is much more feasible. 

• Monday (bench day) - Tuesday (squat day) - Wednesday (rest) - Thursday (deadlift day) - Friday (military press day)

We will leave Saturday and Sunday to rest completely.

5/3/1 hypertrophy and strength routine

Blocks and weeks of the routine 5 3 1

Each block of the routine is very easy to follow. Basically, a block lasts 3 weeks . Each week, 3 effective sets will be done in the proposed exercises as follows:

  • • Week 1: 3 sets x 5 repetitions.
  • • Week 2: 3 sets x 3 repetitions.
  • • Week 3: 3 sets (5, 3 and 1 repetitions).
  • • Week 4: In the fourth week, we can start again as in the first week (3 x 5) or deload (ie, train easy and away from failure to fully recover).

Recommendation : It is better to do the download week after having completed at least two blocks (6 weeks).


A particularity of  the 5 3 1 program is that, in the last sets of each exercise, you must not only do the marked repetitions, but go as far as you can. For example, in the first week, we will end up doing 5 repetitions or more if we can (6, 7...). In the second week, we will finish with 3 repetitions or more (4, 6...). In the last week, we will do one repetition or more (2, 3...). Remember this: if we can get more reps on the last set, we'll do them.

Why does Wendler's 5/3/1 work?

Because it is a very well planned routine. It includes the four most basic exercises to build strength and the progression is very easy to follow. Never start this routine using the maximum weight you can lift. Be conservative and start working with a light weight. This will prevent you from getting bogged down early and you will be able to maintain progression for longer. 

 Rutina 5 3 1 Boring but Big

The routine is short

Although the method is very well planned, not all are advantages. To adapt or gain maximum strength, this training works. However, doing just three effective sets of the basic exercises is very little work . It is best to add some extra exercises .

Those of us who train in the gym want to not only be strong, but also to look strong. For this reason, we should include some muscular hypertrophy work that accompanies this 5 3 1 strength routine . Each bodybuilder is unique and has priorities. For this reason, each person should personalize this routine through the accessory exercises that they like the most. However, we will show you some interesting proposal.

  • • The system works very well for people who are limited in time to train.
  • • It is for those looking for their maximum strength (1 RM) in basic exercises. For example, it is for those who prepare a powerlifting competition.
  • • However, most athletes will find the routine somewhat limiting and will want to add more work.

The best of the 531 Wendler

Wendler's routine is fun and enjoyable. He makes the person want to progress in each workout. He has few sets and does not present a complicated approach. The most engaging part of the workout is week 3, when we powerlift 5 3 1 sets  to get closer to our maximum weight. Everyone likes the 1-rep set. Athletes are encouraged to give it their all in that lift.

How to do the 5 3 1 and calculator for the routine

Surely you already understand the approach of this method. However, you still have questions. What weights do you have to use on a  5/3/1 Wendler ? The charges to be used are calculated based on percentages of your 1 RM. 

The 1 RM is the maximum amount of weight you are capable of moving for a single repetition in an exercise (without losing technique). There are methods to estimate your 1 RM; we have talked about them in other articles. 

Recommendation : We always advise natural athletes not to use their actual one-rep max for calculations. This is because, normally, most powerlifting routines have been tested by athletes who use doping substances. For this reason. Working with the true 1 RM will be a very tough start for almost anyone. We recommend taking 15% off at 1 RM. For example, if your one-rep max squat is 100 kg, you'll use 85 kg (15%) as the base for calculating percentages. Trust us, you'll appreciate being conservative.

Now yes, let's see the percentages of all the sets in each week. Let's assume that an athlete will start with the following maximum records: bench press (75 kg), squat (100 kg), deadlift (130 kg) and military press (50 kg).

Week 1week 2week 3

Set 1: 75 % (5 reps.)

Set 2: 80 % (5 reps.)

Set 3: 85% (5 reps or more)

Set 1: 80 % (3 reps.)

Set 2: 85 % (3 reps.)

Set 3: 90% (3 reps or more)

Set 1: 75 % (5 reps.)

Set 2: 85 % (3 reps.)

Set 3: 95% (1 rep or more)

Let's see how the progression would be with the 75 kg bench press of our example athlete.

Week 1week 2week 3

Set 1: 55 kg (5 reps.)

Set 2: 60 kg (5 reps.)

Set 3: 62.5 kg (5 reps or more)

Set 1: 60 kg (3 reps.)

Set 2: 62,5 kg (3 reps.)

Set 3: 67.5 kg (3 reps or more)

Set 1: 55 kg (5 reps.)

Set 2: 62,5 kg (3 reps.)

Set 3: 70 kg (1 rep or more)

The athlete would have to calculate the weights for the rest of the exercises: squat, deadlift, and military press. Don't worry if it looks like a mess. Later, we have left you for  5 3 1 a calculator  in Excel where you can enter your maximum weights and obtain the loads automatically.

Remember to rest for 3-5 minutes before doing a set. We are facing heavy strength work that requires longer breaks.

What do we do when we finish a block of 3 weeks? We will add a few kg to our 1 RM and adjust the weights again. We will do it as follows:

  • • We will add 2.5 kg more to the RM of bench press and military press.
  • • We will add 5 kg more to the RM of the squat and deadlift.

Can I do this training without calculating the percentages?  If you want to train by eye and without calculating anything, simply start with some weights that you can easily control for the proposed sets. On each block, add about 2.5kg to the weights you used to progress. Flush when you get stuck and start over. It is more advisable to do the  5 3 1 routine with a calculator , but it is not mandatory either. In the end, it's all about enjoying your workout.

5 3 1 hypertrophy workout Chris Bumstead

Routine 5 3 1 Boring but Big and accessories

Do you remember what the main problem with this routine was? For some people, it's not enough because it's short. Luckily, there is a version called  Routine 5 3 1 Boring but Big  with accessory exercises. It's a  5/3/1 hypertrophy . Now, we will see what it includes.

After carrying out the corresponding progression (5 x 5, 3 x 3 or 5 3 1, depending on the week), you will have to do 5 sets of 10 repetitions for the main exercise. These 5 extra stes will be done with 60% of the 1RM. Going back to our 1RM 75kg bench press example, we would do the extra 5 sets with 45kg x 10 reps.

The name says it all. It's called "boring but big" because doing 5 sets over 10 reps really gets boring. However, it is necessary to get bigger and get the hypertrophy results you expect. 

After the 5 x 10 in the main exercise, you can do a few more sets of different exercises (eg for the arms). The person should choose the following exercises according to her preferences. We will show you some preset routines to download.

Routine 5 3 1 in Excel to download

Routine 5 3 1 in Excel download 

If you are already determined to try this system, you can use our 5 3 1 routine in Excel . It includes the three work sets of each day, the five sets of Boring but Big  and also accessory bodybuilding exercises. Complementary exercises include back pulldowns, French presses, leg presses, femoral curls, biceps curls, triceps extensions, or abdominal shrugs.

Additionally, the routine includes a progression for pull-ups and chest dips. To calculate the weights, you just have to enter your 1 RM in the corresponding boxes of the calculator (we recommend subtracting 15% from your real 1 RM). 

To know your 1 RM for pull-ups and funds, keep in mind that you will have to add your body weight plus the weight you use. For example, if you did 15kg pull-ups for 1 rep and you weigh 75kg, your rep max is 90kg (which you would put into the calculator).

It's a  5 3 1 Powerbuilding routine . What is Powerbuilding? It is a new trend that consists of combining powerlifting and bodybuilder training. With this hybrid system, athletes are able to improve their maximum strength and build an aesthetic physique. Powerbuilding is becoming increasingly popular among young people, who want to be strong while still looking big and muscular.

They recommend the  5 3 1 PowerExplosive, Strongman Tarrako, and other well-known strength and conditioning athletes.


- Download routine 5 3 1 Excel in Spanish


- Download routine 531 Excel in English

5 3 1 of Powerbuilding PDF for Beginners

The above routine is really complete. However, it may be too long for some people. That's why we also have a version of 5 3 1 for newbies . This only has the main sets, the complementary sets and one more bodybuilding exercise (pull-ups, sit-ups, barbell rowing and femoral curl).

Give it a try if you are a beginner and want to start with something basic.


- Download routine 5 3 1 Excel for beginners in Spanish


- Download routine 5 3 1 Excel for beginners in English

Jim Wendler Story

Finally, if you want, stick around to meet the creator of the routine and why he decided to design it. Jim Wendler is an American powerlifter. Since he was a teenager, he has practiced football and bodybuilding. Later, strength would become his passion. There were already many strength routines, but they all had the problem of being too complicated and long (like the Smolov routines, Boris Sheiko...). Wendler  wanted something simple and adaptable to all audiences, beginners and advanced athletes , so he designed his system. It would be a very basic progression of three blocks that could be followed in a cyclical way so as not to stagnate. Three sets of five, three sets of three, and five, three, one.

Powerlifter Jim Wendler programa 5 3 1
Powerlifter Jim Wendler.
Young Jim Wendler routine 5 3 1 Powerlifting

Young Jim Wendler.

The progressions with the method led the powerlifter to obtain the following personal bests:

  • • Squat: 453 kg
  • • Bench press: 305 kg
  • • Deadlift: 317 kg

He totaled 1,075 kg after following the 5 3 1 routine for powerlifting . 

Later, accessory exercises would be added to develop a perfect method that would also enhance hypertrophy. Today his system is popular all over the world and many coaches use it. You can do  5 3 1 on the press , squat, deadlift, and any heavy basic movement.

The 5 3 1 is a training methodology that you should try yes or yes in the gym. Wendler's routine is unbelievably effective and his results show up on records. Download the calculators that we have provided and start training. We look forward to your achievements after two months.

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