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Strength Phase

By brett kokoruda | In Coach's Corner | on October 29, 2014

Most of you have heard by now that we are running a strength cycle for the month that is based off a classic program called “Wendler’s 5-3-1” This is a powerlifting program for you to develop both muscular endurance and absolute strength. When followed correctly there is no easier for you to build foundational and structural strength in all the major lifts. So let’s take this program apart a little and look at how it works. The first thing you need to understand is that Wendler’s is based off of your 1-rep max for each of the lifts. It is designed to keep you from stalling in your progress by applying an “AMRAP set” at the end. Let’s take the deadlift as an example: On week one you will do 5-5-5-5+. the final set SHOULD NOT be a 5 rep max but rather a weight you can get somewhere in the range of 8-12. If you choose a weight that is too heavy for the amrap then you aren’t getting the most out of this program.  On week 2 you will do the same deadlift workout but the scheme is now 3-3-3-3+ obviously since the reps are lower, the weight will go up but you should be able to get at least 6-8 reps on the amrap set here. The last week is 1-1-1-1+…..again the weight is heavier but you should be getting 3-5 reps on that last amrap set.

This program requires patience and perseverance but you also need to be smart about your choices. I know the tendency in the past has always been to work towards your heaviest set at the end but this is not the way Wendler’s works. So how should you approach these workouts? While in classic wendlers your weights are put into a spreadsheet and determined for you, for those of you who are more casual in your approach this is what I would suggest: work up to a very challenging 3rd set, not a full max effort but close. Then take adequate rest and take a little weight OFF the bar. How much is dependent upon how you feel that day and what the 3rd set weight felt like. The juice is the amrap set, so if you can’t get the the minimum of 5 on the 5+, for example,  then you picked too heavy of a weight.


If you’re interested and you know your current 1 rep maxes for the Deadlift, Back Squat and Strict Press, then ask a coach and we can calculate the numbers you should be aiming for. You can also figure this out for yourself with this calculator:

Please feel free to ask a coach if you have any questions.

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