Top 10 articles: Jim Wendler

Following last week’s Date Tate top 10 articles, I thought it would be good to read up on the work of his right-hand man, Jim Wendler.  Jim is famous for his 5-3-1 training template but he’s written a lot more than just one template in his time…

Here is a selection of my favourite Jim Wendler articles:


  1. The yoke – possibly my all time favourite Wendler article is his piece on “the yoke.”  In this article, Jim explains how to build up your trapezius, rear deltoids and neck muscles to build that huge and imposing silhouette that just shouts “I lift weights!”
  2. Upper back for the bench press – and closely following the yoke article in my list of favourites is this article on why you need to build up your upper back to bench big weights.  This is one of my aims for this year so I re-read this article with keen interest.  Do the same and your bench will benefit.
  3. Interview by Critical Bench – find out more about Jim’ early years with this great interview that talks about his football playing past.  There are stories aplenty and lots of discussion about what makes a good player and what makes a good powerlifter.  Not necessarily the same things…
  4. Interview by Jason Ferruggia (one and two) – in part one of this interview, Jim explains to Jason what has happened since he stopped competing.  He talks about the conditioning he does and the dietary changes he made.  He talks about his new goals, which include building an even bigger yoke… In part two, Jim answers some direct questions about how to train athletes most effectively, muscle gain and what is possible with and without steroids.  Then, as the two of them get drunker, he goes into the meaning of life, politics, his tattoos and why he is a film buff.
  5. Why you should do rack pulls – Jim explains why rack pulls (he calls them pin pulls) are great for shoulder health, getting really strong, building mass, focusing on your posterior chain and building big calves.  In fact, they are great for everything.  But before you go dashing off to your power rack, make sure you read all the way to the end of the article…
  6. A simple training template – Jim explains that a training template should include three components: (1) mobility, (2) strength, and (3) conditioning.  Which of the three you focus on will be determined by your physical condition and your goals.  Jim makes it clear, though, that you never drop any of them, you just spend less time on the less important ones.  As an aside, I thought that his sample programmes contained a massive amount of volume (and I get a reasonable amount of criticism for my volume).
  7. The 5/3/1 training template (and reloaded) – in his 5-3-1 article, Jim explains the philosophy of the 5-3-1 training template and gives some basic details.  He explains that the main purpose of the template is to slow people down, stop them sabotaging their own progress and help them start to increase their lifts.  He also explains that the assistance work in his programme is limited to absolute essentials.  He finds that many people don’t know why they are doing various assistance exercises and end up doing pointless extra work that doesn’t achieve anything.  Simple is often better.  In his reloaded article, Jim gives some details of how to modify the programme for various specific goals.
  8. The Blood and Chalk series (one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight and nine) – I’m not going to even try and detail what you can learn from these articles.  Just bookmark them if you haven’t read them already and come back to them when you have time.
  9. Why? – in this short but thoughtful post, Jim explains why he struggles to respond intelligently when someone asks him why he lifts weights.
  10. Ten reasons to call your mother – if you’ve made it this far, congratulations!  As a rewards, read on as Jim goes through all the reasons why you should call your mother and how it came to be that he was hatched from an egg…


That’s all folks.  Let me know if I’ve missed anything really obvious…

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