Wendler 531 - Linear Strength Training Program

A thorough explanation of the Wendler 531 program
Bryan Kapustinski
December 3, 2020

Hi everyone,

CrossFit's methodology is based around 10 components of fitness (listed below). Each one is an important aspect of your well-roundedness as an athlete. If I was forced to rank them, I would place strength at the top. Being physically strong is important for a number of reasons (both physically and mentally) and strength training is an essential part of any fitness program. Being a naturally skinny and weak kid, strength training in my early teenage years gave me confidence during those early and awkward teenage years and literally transformed my life's experience. With almost 30 years of weight training experience under my belt, I have tried many different approaches to strength training. In the last 10 years I've gravitated towards Jim Wendler's 5-3-1 method. In my opinion, it's the perfect combination of weight and volume for building a solid foundation of strength as well as maintaining strength for those who are already highly developed. 5-3-1 is a linear progression of strength development. The weights you lift are all based on percentages of your 1 rep max. The program typically runs in 3 or 4 week cycles and over time your theoretical 1 rep gradually increases as you get stronger. Each training day you will do 3 "warm-up" sets and 3 "work" sets. The warm-up sets weights stay the same for each cycle and the work sets increase in weight (percentage) each week. The final set each day is a maximum effort to get as many reps as you can. See below:

Wendler 5-3-1 Program:

Week 1

5 reps @ 40% 1 rep max (warm-up)

5 reps @ 50% 1 rep max (warm-up)

3 reps @ 60% 1 rep max (warm-up)

5 reps @ 65% 1 rep max (work)

5 reps @ 75% 1 rep max (work)

5+ reps @ 85% 1 rep max (work)

Week 2

5 reps @ 40% 1 rep max (warm-up)

5 reps @ 50% 1 rep max (warm-up)

3 reps @ 60% 1 rep max (warm-up)

3 reps @ 70% 1 rep max (work)

3 reps @ 80% 1 rep max (work)

3+ reps @ 90% 1 rep max (work)

Week 3

5 reps @ 40% 1 rep max (warm-up)

5 reps @ 50% 1 rep max (warm-up)

3 reps @ 60% 1 rep max (warm-up)

5 reps @ 75% 1 rep max (work)

3 reps @ 85% 1 rep max (work)

1+ reps @ 95% 1 rep max (work)

After each 3 week cycle, we will add 5 or 10lbs to your "one rep max" - and then we will repeat the cycle again. This is the basic Wendler 5-3-1 program, as we get used to this and it becomes easily manageable, we will add things to it, but this is what we are starting with. If you miss a day, you can and should make it up during open gym. This system works great for anyone who consistently adheres to the program.  

10 Components of Fitness:


Endurance (Cardiovascular and Respiratory)

Stamina (Muscular)









I know a lot of people struggle with math, but if you entered your 1 RM into BTWB, the app will do the math for you. Round to the nearest 5lbs. 

Another option is to download the 531 Strength app - here you can enter your 1 rep max for any lift and it will do all the math for you. This app is also on our check-in laptop, so you can use it there as well.

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