Wendler's 5/3/1 Program

My husband has been a body builder, a power lifter, a generally all-round fit guy, and most recently is leaning toward competing in CrossFit (but, shhh! Don't tell anyone.)

I have been a generally fit person, a runner, an obstacle course racer, and now... I guess CrossFitter would be the best description because the idea of CrossFit is that the athlete is among top competitors in a variety of sports. Although I really love running long, my body is more built for short outputs of energy, like sprinting, weightlifting, etc.

I did my first CrossFit competition this year and I LOVED IT! And I did well. Much better than I've done in races. (Plus there is the fact that, although the competition lasted a few hours, the work output was just 10 to 12 minutes in each event-- compared to 23 minutes of pushing into pain during a 5k or 2 hours during a Spartan Super or half marathon.)

But... to get to the point of this post:
On June 27, 2013, I began using the Jim Wendler 5/3/1 program. It's a strength building program. This is a really good article that breaks down the program. The program is based on using percentages of your 1 rep max to train. Before you begin this program, I will say-- don't just follow the website link I gave, invest in purchasing the actual program. And WARNING-- 1) Always check with your doc before beginning a training program of any kind. 2) Your workouts will now involve using lots of math. 3) Wendler has the mouth of a sailor.

Bonehead that I am, I didn't really find a 1RM. I worked backwards and looked at a 1RM calculator. I based my 1RM off the weights I was lifting for 3 at that time. For dead lifts, I had done 205 for 8. That was the most weight I had ever dead lifted at the time. So, I estimated that my 1RM was 260. DO NOT DO THIS. FIND YOUR TRUE 1RM!

So, on June 27, I did 210 for 5. This was supposed to be 90% of my training max. Really, though it was the max weight I've ever done on a dead lift. On October 3, 2013, I did a true 1RM at 260.

Anyway, I've learned MUCH from all of this heavy lifting:

  1.  Following a program is absolutely necessary if you are serious about gaining strength.
  2. Tracking your workouts in a training log is absolutely necessary if you are serious about improving yourself.
  3. Respect, but DO NOT FEAR the weight. (I've realized that I am afraid to lift heavy weight. I have an incredible imagination-- some days I picture the weight breaking my body in half. Not a healthy place to go when you are lifting heavy. It's not true. If it's really too heavy, it won't come off the ground-- it will not break me in half.)
  4. Recording!!! In the lift in the video, the weight felt extremely heavy. I had already felt my brain thinking-- Wow! There is no way I can pick up more weight than that next month. But then I watched the video. It came up really smoothly, really easily. Watching it, I know I can totally pick up more than that.)
  5. Coaching!!! Get a coach if you are serious about competing. They will motivate, correct, and just generally help set your mind right.


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