531 Strength Training Program

531 is a simple and powerful strength program written by Jim Wendler.

If you're not familiar with Wendler, he's a coach and writer who squatted 1,000 lbs. when he was a powerlifter. He trained at the famous 'Westside Barbell' Gym and has a ton of experience with the world of muscle and strength. You can see his website at Wendler.com

Wendler tired of being a fat powerlifter and wanted a program that was simple. The goal was to be strong and in great condition. He wanted to be able to do more than just waddle up to the squat rack and do 1 rep and lose his breath walking up stairs. So he came up with 531-“The Simplest and Most Effective Training System to Increase Raw Strength”.

This strength routine gives “The Big 4” priority. That’s one reason I like it so much. It's a no bs kind of program that has you start light and make slow and steady progress without any fluff. 

How It Works

The name "531" comes from the amount of reps per set. One week you do sets of 5, next week 3, next week 5,3,1. Then you have a deload week where you only do 50% of your work weight so you can rest and recover properly for the next wave.

You lift 3 or 4 times a week, each day starts with one of the big 4 strength exercises followed by assistance lifts (dips, pullups, good mornings). You can choose any days you want but don't lift more than two days in a row. You can even lift twice a week if you are strapped for time, as Wendler outlines a 2 day lifting plan in the book.

You follow a monthly progression, adding ten lbs. to your lower body lifts each month and five lbs. to your upper body lifts.

Why it works

Muscle and strength gains come from progressive loading and this program is perfect for that. You challenge yourself on the big lifts and set personal records (PR's) in different rep ranges.

It's a simple program and you have an outline for each workout with exact numbers/percentages to keep everything clear and let you focus on the most important weightlifting exercises, The Big 4!

Old school strength training programs never go out of style. They work! Wendler's 531 routine cuts out all the extra junk and forces you to focus on the essentials, much like the Juggernaut Method. Get to the foundation and build from there.

You can always specialize with assistance work, conditioning, bulking/cutting to suit your goals.


Find your 1 rep max for each of the Big 4 and take 90% of each lift. That will be your starting work weight for each lift.

If your 1 rep max for bench is 300, your work weight would be 270. You would then base your monthly lifting for bench on the following waves and percentages.

Wave 1: 65%x5, 75%x5, 85%x5 or more

Wave 2: 70%x3, 80%x3, 90%x3 or more

Wave 3: 75%x5, 85%x3, 95%x1 or more

Wave 4: 40%x5, 50%x5, 60%x5 (deload week)

So your 4 training days will look something like this:

1- Overhead Press (531 programming), dips, pull-ups

2- Deadlift (531 programming), good mornings, lunges

3- Bench (531 programming), db rows, facepulls

4- Squat (531 programming), front squat, situps

That's the program in a nutshell. Straight to the point without any fluff. Get strong with minimal equipment necessary.

If you need more info on the program, shoot me an email. I'd be happy to help. I did this program for over 2 years and had great success with it.

I tried various assistance work, conditioning methods and switched up some of the variables at times due to scheduling and working around injuries etc..

For a personalized program go to my online coaching page HERE