Jim Wendler Conditioning Workouts | The Ultimate Guide!


Jim Wendler Conditioning

Are you curious about Jim Wendler conditioning workouts?

Do you wonder how the creator of 5/3/1 organizes his conditioning workouts to get bigger, faster, and stronger?

Then you’ve come to the right place.

In this comprehensive guide, I will show you how to use Jim Wendler conditioning workouts to take your training to the next level!

Introduction

  • Part 1: Jim Wendler Conditioning Exercises
  • Part 2: 5/3/1 And Conditioning Training
  • Part 3: Walrus Training For Conditioning

Jim Wendler is one of the most successful strength coaches in the world.

He is most famous for inventing the 5/3/1 training program, which he calls “the simplest and most effective training program for raw strength.” Tens of thousands of athletes all over the world have used 5/3/1 to build muscle, get freaky strong, and get in the best shape of their life.

Of course, Jim knows that you need more than just a great strength training program to perform at your best: you also need a great conditioning program! 

Jim Wendler Stats

  • Date Of Birth: February 13th, 1975
  • Height: 5 Feet 10 Inches
  • Weight: 240 Pounds
  • Body Fat: About 15 Percent

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Part 1: Jim Wendler Conditioning Exercises

Jim Wendler believes there is no excuse for being fat and out of shape.

He says too many powerlifters can put up massive numbers in the squat, bench press, and deadlift, but get out of breath after walking up a flight of stairs!

If this describes you, then you have to start performing some of Jim Wendler’s favorite conditioning workouts to whip your body into shape.

“For the everyday lifter, it’s about having pride in yourself.

Respectable levels of conditioning, flexibility, and strength will help you personally, professionally, socially, and most importantly, improve your health.”

So what do Jim Wendler’s favorite conditioning workouts look like?

Some of Jim Wendler’s favorite conditioning exercises include pushing the prowler, pulling the sled, hill sprints, and high-volume exercise circuits.

He says you can perform these conditioning workouts on your off days, or at the end of your regular strength training workouts to get in shape fast.

Jim believes conditioning workouts are also a great way to build GPP, or general physical preparedness. Let’s start by looking at some of Jim’s favorite conditioning tools. Check it out: 

Jim Wendler’s Favorite Conditioning Exercises

  • Option #1: Prowler
  • Option #2: Sled Pulling
  • Option #3: Hill Sprints
  • Option #4: Exercise Circuits

Let’s take a closer look at each of these options.

Option #1: Prowler

The prowler is one of the simplest and most effective conditioning tools that you can use.

All you have to do is load up the machine with a moderate amount of weight (100-400 pounds depending on your strength / conditioning level), and then running or sprinting for 50-200 yards.

Trust me – the prowler is much harder than it looks!

It works almost every muscle in your upper and lower body. It also gives you a tremendous conditioning workout.

By the end of your first prowler sprint you will be gasping for air!

The prowler is a great choice for anyone new to GPP workouts or intense conditioning work. It is very easy to learn how to use the prowler, and it puts very little stress on your joints.

This makes it a great choice for powerlifters and other athletes who are looking for a simple, joint-friendly way to improve their conditioning level. 

Prowler Advantages

  • Extremely effective
  • Very easy to use
  • Weight can be adjusted

Prowler Disadvantages

  • Expensive piece of equipment
  • Need 50-100+ foot space to use

As you can see, the advantages of the prowler far outweigh the disadvantages.

Option #2: Sled Pulling

Sled pulls were popularized by Louie Simmons and the Westside Barbell powerlifting club.

Louie originally learned sled pulls from Eskill Thommason, a powerlifter who visited Finland to figure out why they were such great deadlifts. It turns out powerlifters from Finland often worked as lumberjacks, and they had to pull wood and trees using a sled as part of their job.

Today, sled pulls are one of the most popular forms of conditioning in the world – especially for powerlifters and other athletes who require high levels of maximal strength. 

Sled pulls have many of the same advantages of prowler pushes.

They are incredibly simple to perform, and you can adjust the weight depending on your skill level. It is also extremely easy to perform forward and backwards sled drags.

Forward sled drags will work more the hamstrings and glutes, while backwards sled drags will place more emphasis on the quads.

Of course, you can also perform a variety of upper and lower body exercises using the sled, including chest presses, shoulder raises, pull throughs, and so on. This makes sled drags one of the best GPP, or general physical preparedness workouts that you can perform.

Sled Advantages

  • Extremely effective
  • Very easy to use
  • Joint friendly
  • Many different variations
  • Weight can be adjusted

Sled Disadvantages

  • Expensive piece of equipment
  • Need 50-100+ foot space to use

Option #3: Hill Sprints

Hill sprints are one of Jim Wendler’s all-time favorite conditioning tools. They force your legs and lungs to work EXTREMELY hard.

However, unlike traditional running workouts, they put way less pressure on your joints, including your knees. This is due to the incline angle, and the fact that hill sprints are performed outside on grass. 

Jim Wendler LOVES to use hill sprints in combination with his 5/3/1 training program, either on his off days or at the end of his regular barbell workouts. 

Some people really like to do treadmill sprints for conditioning.

Indeed, treadmill sprints are another acceptable option, and Jim has written about them in the past. However, overall Jim believes that hill sprints are a much better option than treadmill sprints for increasing your conditioning level – especially for competitive athletes.

Unfortunately there are a few drawbacks to hill sprints.

The first drawback is that you need a good hill to perform this exercise. Depending on where you live, this may or may not be a problem.

The second problem is they do put some pressure on your ankles and achilles heel. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but it is something that you have to watch out for.

The third drawback is hill sprints are more difficult to recover from using the sled or pushing the prowler. If you are a competitive powerlifter, they may not be your best option. However, if you compete in American football or other sports, then hill sprints can be a fantastic choice.

Hill Sprint Advantages

  • No equipment required
  • Great conditioning workout
  • Builds mental toughness

Hill Sprint Disadvantages

  • Need access to a good hill
  • Hard on ankles and achilles tendon
  • More difficult to recover from

Option #4: Exercise Circuits

Another one of Jim Wendler’s favorite conditioning tools is exercise circuits.

He sometimes likes to perform high-volume circuits using 4 different exercises at the end of his heavy barbell workouts.

For example here are a couple of circuits that you can try at the end of your 5/3/1 workouts:

8 Minute AMRAP

  • 10 Push-ups
  • 10 Kettlebell Swings
  • 10 Ab Wheels
  • 10 Bent Over Row

8 Minute AMRAP

  • 5 Chin-ups
  • 10 Dips
  • 15 Goblet Squats
  • 25M Farmer’s Carry

This is a simple but effective way to increase your conditioning level.

Performing exercise circuits like this may not be optimal for someone who is trying to build maximal strength. However, if you are looking for a good balance of size, strength, and conditioning, then these can be a great option.

Exercise Circuit Advantages

  • Can perform after your workout
  • Circuits are very short
  • Builds size and conditioning

Exercise Circuit Disadvantages

  • Does not replace traditional conditioning
  • Athletes still need to perform running  / sprinting workouts

Part 2: 5/3/1 And Conditioning Training

Jim Wendler is famous for inventing the 5/3/1 training program.

He calls it “the simplest and most effective way to build raw strength.” However, 5/3/1 isn’t just about getting freaky strong. Jim says you can combine the traditional 5/3/1 training template with conditioning workouts to become a more well-rounded athlete!

There are a couple of ways to combine 5/3/1 and conditioning workouts. But first, let’s look at the original 5/3/1 training template. Check it out:

The Original 5/3/1 Training Template

  • Day 1: Squat
  • Day 2: Bench press
  • Day 3: Deadlift
  • Day 4: Overhead press

The original 5/3/1 template uses 4 workouts per week. You have a separate day where you train the squat, bench press, deadlift, and overhead press. 

So where do you put your conditioning workouts when using Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 training program? The truth is, there are two good options: you can perform your conditioning work at the end of your regular workouts, or on your off days.

How To Combine 5/3/1 And Conditioning

  • Option #1: Perform conditioning work after your 5/3/1 workout
  • Option #2: Perform conditioning work on your off days

Let’s take a closer look at both of these options.

Option #1: Perform Conditioning Work After Your 5/3/1 Workout

This is the simplest way to perform your conditioning work. You perform your regular barbell workouts, and then perform your conditioning workout after you are done.

For example, here is a basic template for how Jim organizes his 5/3/1 lifting and conditioning workouts:

5/3/1 + Conditioning Workouts Template

  • Step #1: Stretch
  • Step #2: Lift
  • Step #3: Conditioning

As you can see, Jim organizes his workouts into three separate parts.

He starts by performing stretching and mobility work, including Joe Defranco’s agile 8 warm up routine. Next, he performs his heavy barbell exercises as outlined in his 5/3/1 books. Finally, he performs his conditioning work, including prowler pushes, sled drags, and so on.

Sample 5/3/1 + Conditioning Template

  • Day 1: Squat + conditioning
  • Day 2: Bench press + conditioning
  • Day 3: Deadlift + conditioning
  • Day 4: Overhead press + conditioning

Overall, this is a very simple and effective way to incorporate conditioning work into the original 5/3/1 training template.

One of the advantages of this template is you do not have to do anything on your off days. This means you have a full 3 days during the week to rest and recover from your intense workouts.

For many people, these full rest days are essential for making long-term progress. Here is what a 5/3/1 squat workout might look like with conditioning work performed at the end. Check it out:

Sample 5/3/1 Squat Workout With Conditioning

  • Warm up: Joe Defranco’s Agile 8
  • Exercise #1: Back squat, 3 sets of 5 reps**
  • Exercise #2: 45 degree leg press, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #3: Glute ham raise, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Conditioning: Prowler sprints, 3 x 100 feet

Overall, this is a great option for many people.

It can be easier to recover from, and it saves time as you perform your strength training and conditioning work on the same days.

Option #2: Perform Conditioning Work On Your Off Days

The second option is to perform conditioning work on your off days.

This is another great option, although it has different advantages and disadvantages vs the previous option.

5/3/1 + Off Day Conditioning Template

  • Day 1: Squat
  • Day 2: Conditioning
  • Day 3: Bench Press
  • Day 4: Conditioning
  • Day 5: Deadlift
  • Day 6: Conditioning
  • Day 7: Overhead Press

Jim Wendler says it is up to you how many days per week you want to perform conditioning work. If you have superior recovery ability, and are really looking to get in shape fast, then you could perform conditioning work on all of your off days.

Here are some options for conditioning work that Jim Wendler previously posted on his blog:

Sample Conditioning Schedule

Tuesday 

  • “Prowler: 10, 40 yard sprints/walks with 50% of bodyweight. 60-90 seconds rest in between the sprints/walks”

Thursday

  • “84 pound weight vest, 2 mile walk”

Saturday

  • “Air Dyne Bike, 10 miles”

As you can see, Jim likes to mix things up for his off-day conditioning work. He says this is important for keeping things fresh, and avoiding burnout. 

Part 3: Walrus Training For Conditioning

You can’t talk about Jim Wendler’s favorite conditioning strategies without talking about his Walrus Training program!

The truth is Jim Wendler is a relatively older lifter, and he has several injuries that prevent him from performing the traditional barbell exercises like the squat and deadlift.

Instead of giving up on training, Jim has turned to bodyweight conditioning workouts using a weighted vest.

“After my back surgery, I needed a way of rehabbing my back and challenging myself physically.

Since I couldn’t use a barbell, I began using a weighted vest. I set some standards and started working towards them.”

For his Walrus Training workouts, Jim likes to perform circuit workouts using a weighted vest. He usually uses a 25 pound weighted vest, or about 10% of his bodyweight.

Jim likes to perform 3 bodyweight exercises, such as squats, push ups, and chin ups, followed by 3 easier isolation exercises.

Here are 7 of Jim Wendler’s favorite Walrus conditioning workouts. Check it out: 

Walrus Training Workout #1

  • Exercise #1: Squats
  • Exercise #2: Push ups
  • Exercise #3: Chin ups / pull ups

Walrus Training Workout #2

  • Exercise #1: Squat
  • Exercise #2: Dips
  • Exercise #3: KB/DB Rows

Walrus Training Workout #3

  • Exercise #1: KB Snatch
  • Exercise #2: Push-ups
  • Exercise #3: Chin-ups/Pull-ups

Walrus Training Workout #4

  • Exercise #1: Squat
  • Exercise #2: KB Snatch
  • Exercise #3: Dips

Walrus Training Workout #5

  • Exercise #1: Squat
  • Exercise #2: KB Snatch
  • Exercise #3: Chin-ups/Pull-ups

Walrus Training Workout #6

  • Exercise #1: Squat
  • Exercise #2: KB Snatch
  • Exercise #3: Push-ups

Walrus Training Workout #7

  • Exercise #1: Squat
  • Exercise #2: Push-ups
  • Exercise #3: KB/DB Rows

Jim says that these Walrus workouts are NOT a good idea for someone who wants to get as strong as possible using the original 5/3/1 training program.

Instead, he believes they are a good choice for people who want to build a superior conditioning level, while maintaining an OK level of size and strength.

The other advantage of the Walrus Training program is it is very easy on your joints. Jim can perform all of these exercises with very little pain!

Over time Jim has experimented with some more intense Walrus Training workouts. Here is one of his more advanced Walrus conditioning workouts that you can try. Check it out:

Jim Wendler Advanced Walrus Training Routine

  • Exercise #1: AirDyne bike sprint, 1 mile
  • Exercise #2: Squats, 150-200 reps
  • Exercise #3: Push ups, 100 reps
  • Exercise #4: Chin ups, 50 reps
  • Exercise #5: AirDyne bike sprint, 1 mile

**Perform all exercises with a 20 pound weighted vest.

As you can see, Jim often likes to combine traditional conditioning exercises, such as bike sprints, with his weighted vest workouts.

About twice per year Jim likes to perform “challenge” workouts where he really pushes himself with an 88 pound vest. Jim does NOT recommend performing these challenge workouts all the time.

Instead, he uses them once every few months to see just how far he can push himself. Check it out:

Walrus Training Challenge Workout #1

  • Exercise #1: Dumbbell Squat: 100lbs x 50 total reps
  • Exercise #2: Push-ups (or Dips): 50 total reps
  • Exercise #3: Chin ups / pull ups: 25 total reps

**Perform all exercises while wearing an 88 pound weighted vest.

****You have a 30 minute time limit to perform all exercises.

Walrus Training Challenge Workout #2

  • Exercise #1: Squat: 250 total reps
  • Exercise #2: Push-ups (or Dips): 50 total reps
  • Exercise #3: Chin ups / pull ups: 25 total reps

**Perform all exercises while wearing an 88 pound weighted vest.

****You have a 30 minute time limit to perform all exercises.

Walrus Training Challenge Workout #3

  • Exercise #1: Kettlebell snatch: 106 pounds x 50 total reps / arm
  • Exercise #2: Push-ups (or Dips): 50 total reps
  • Exercise #3: Chin ups / pull ups: 25 total reps

**Perform all exercises while wearing a 25 pound weighted vest.

****You have a 30 minute time limit to perform all exercises.

Walrus Training Challenge Workout #4

  • Exercise #1: Walking lunges: 50 total reps / leg
  • Exercise #2: Push-ups (or Dips): 50 total reps
  • Exercise #3: Chin ups / pull ups: 25 total reps

**Perform all exercises while wearing a 25 pound weighted vest.

****You have a 30 minute time limit to perform all exercises.

Walrus Training is definitely one of Jim’s more controversial conditioning programs. It has several benefits over traditional barbell strength-building workouts, including:

Walrus Training Benefits

  • Benefit #1: Flexible training schedule
  • Benefit #2: Reduced joint pain
  • Benefit #3: Improved functional strength
  • Benefit #4: Lower back friendly
  • Benefit #5: Great for older lifters

Of course, if you are a serious powerlifter or athlete then Jim’s 5/3/1 program is probably a better choice.

However, there is no doubt that Walrus Training is a viable option for older lifters who prioritizes boosting their conditioning level over everything else.

Conclusion | Jim Wendler Conditioning Workouts!

Jim Wendler is one of the world’s most successful strength coaches, and it’s easy to see why.

He has several great strategies for incorporating conditioning work into your regular strength-building workouts to help you get in shape as quickly as possible.

If you are looking for a simple but effective way to boost your GPP and conditioning base, then you have to give Jim Wendler’s conditioning workouts a shot.

They may be just what you need to take your training to the next level!

Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

What's going on! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen, I'm the creator of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to take your training to the next level, then you've come to the right place... My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world!

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