A Gym Program that Works

[drop_cap]Since the age of 20, I have been hitting the gym.[/drop_cap] I am now 27.  Over that time, I have learned a thing or two.

From recording deadlifts in my rumpus room and posting them to an online forum (probably still somewhere in the interwebz) to posting random workouts on my instagram, the journey has been amazing.

Lifting weights has taught me discipline, strength, hardship, effort, how to make friends, and a ton more.  I don't know who I would be without the weight room.

The thing I love most about it, is the progression and growth you can achieve.  I believe this is also where my passion for growth in business comes from.  I just love seeing things grow. (Strength, Brands, Bank Account).

So over those 7 years I have tried many many many different programs.

In the beginning I just nabbed workouts from bodybuilding.com (which looking back were way too advanced for me and like many beginners, I thought I needed wrist curls, shrugs, multiple sets of calf raises and a ton of rear delt work).

I then moved on and somewhere along the traps just started lifting 5x5 (my own version) and actually got pretty strong.  Then came the time where I wanted to 'feel' the muscle and dropped all my weight and focused on contraction etc.

I have also done custom workout programs written by Derek Woodske, Eric Falstraut, and even a program given to me directly from world leading strength and conditioning coach, Charles Poliquin.

But what has worked for me, and is the best option for my body (and wallet) is to use something that has worked for thousands of others before.

[drop_cap]Which is where Jim Wendler comes in.[/drop_cap]

Screen shot 2016-01-22 at 3.55.32 PMJim Wendler is a genius.

His no bullshit attitude has helped thousands upon thousands get into shape, get strong and also develop this no bullshit attitude.

This is done through his 5/3/1 program.

I'm not going to explain the program too in depth (that's what the book is for) but,

[drop_cap]here is how you can get started:[/drop_cap]

  1. Buy the book here
  2. Use this website to calculate your maxes and make this online calculator or download a sweet calculation spreadsheet here.
  3. Lift the weight (there's no getting around this).

Basically it's using the 4 main lifts (Press, Deadlift, Squat and Bench) with built in progression.

This is based off specific %ages that you input at the start.

The thing I love about this program is you get to lift heavy and max out every single time you're in the gym.  And no, not max out with maximum weight, but maximum reps.  Here is what I mean:


Week 1 = Work up to a top set of at least 5 reps...(but you gun for as many as you can).

Week 2 = Work up to a top set of at least 3 reps...(but you gun for as many as you can).

Week 3 = Work up to a top set of at least 1 rep...(but you gun for as many as you can).

Week 4 = Deload where you take it easy.

^^ that's what we call a meso-cycle.


This is all based off using 90% of your max.  You don't have to lift at your maxes to increase them. This is the most important part of the program.  You MUST be honest with yourself.  Don't bullshit the system...or it will bullshit you and you'll get shit results.  Then who are you going to blame?

Each week you work up to your top set using specific ramped up percentages.  This is all calculated for you in either the spreadsheet mentioned above or on the Black Iron Beast website (both available earlier).

At the end of the 'meso-cycle' (which can be 4 weeks/5 weeks depending on if you have weekends off lifting or not), you add 5lbs to your upper body lifts, and 10lbs to your lower body lifts.

Then you repeat.

Then you deload.

Then you add weight and repeat.

You get the pattern.

[drop_cap]Accessory work and Variations[/drop_cap]

The program comes with many variations, which dictate the work you do after the main lift (if you feel like it).  So for me, I do my main lift, followed by 3 exercises.  Each of these has 5 sets.

I do it this way because I like being in the gym and currently have between 45 minutes to an hour to spend in there.  If you had less, take out the 3 exercises, if you have more, put some in (not too many, remember, more isn't always better).

The whole premise of 5/3/1 is about doing what actually works.  It's based off percentages from what has worked with thousands of athletes within Jim's gym.

Do the work and the program will work for you.

[drop_cap]What if I get stuck?[/drop_cap]

When you stall (which if you did the right thing at the start and we honest with your maxes, should not happen for at least 3-4 meso-cycles), Jim recommends dropping your current calculated maxes by 10% and starting again.

So if you had a 100kg bench at the beginning, worked up to 110kg but stall, then you calculate 90% of your current max 110kg, and punch that into the calculator.

[drop_cap]Who is it for?[/drop_cap]

I don't recommend programs around time frames because I've seen people with 10 years lifting experience who hardly look like they lift.  And then I've seen people with 3 months in the gym who look like they could be a cover model.

This isn't a beginners program, and it's not an advanced program either.  It's for those in the middle.  Those who want to have fun with their training, and see some real progression.

Instead, if you have some experience in the gym, have decent-ish form and can at the bar minimum do the following (bench over 60kg, deadlift over 100kg and squats over 80kg, then go for it.

It will get you strong.  Fast.

[drop_cap]Final Thoughts[/drop_cap]

When I was in one of the biggest workout ruts of my life, I used this program and these steps to fix it.  It works.

I also used this many years ago and took my squat from 5 x 85kg to 8 x 125kg.  Pretty silly that I ever moved off it right! Well won't be happening again any time soon.

Give it a try.

Hayden