Jim Wendler Hardgainer Workouts | The Ultimate Guide!


Jim Wendler Hardgainer

Are you curious about Jim Wendler hardgainer workouts?

Do you wonder how the creator of 5/3/1 adjusts his program for people with below-average recovery ability?

Then you’ve come to the right place.

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

Introduction

  • Part 1: Jim Wendler’s Hardgainer Template
  • Part 2: The 2-Day 5/3/1 Template
  • Part 3: The 2-Day Krypteia Template

Jim Wendler is one of the most successful strength coaches in the world today. He is famous for training with Louie Simmons and the Westside Barbell powerlifting club.

Jim competed as a professional powerlifter for many years, and eventually worked up to 2,375 pound powerlifting total in competition. Of course, Jim is also famous for inventing the 5/3/1 training program!

One of the things that makes Jim Wendler’s program unique is that he has created many different versions of the program for people of all experience levels and recovery ability.

If you are a hardgainer, or if you have below average recovery ability, then you are going to love his 5/3/1 hardgainer templates!

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’s Hardgainer Template

The definition of a hardgainer is someone who has well below-average genetics for building muscle mass and strength.

These people have a harder time recovering from strength training workouts, and tend to make slower long-term progress. Of course, that does NOT mean that hardgainers cannot build a great physique, or get freaky strong.

Quite the opposite!

The key for hardgainers is to use programs that they can recover from. With that in mind, Jim Wendler invented a new program that he calls “5/3/1 For Hardgainers.”

Jim Wendler designed his 5/3/1 For Hardgainer workouts with 4 weekly workouts. In my personal experience, most true hardgainers have a VERY hard time recovering from 4 demanding workouts per week.

If you are a true hardgainer, then you might get better results using one of the 2-day 5/3/1 programs listed at the end of this article.

With that being said, Jim Wendler believes that hardgainers can recover from 4 workouts per week, so I will present his “5/3/1 For Hardgainers” routine first in this article.

Here is what the 5/3/1 hardgainer training split looks like:

Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 Hardgainer Template

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

As you can see, Jim Wendler uses 4 weekly workouts for his 5/3/1 For Hardgainers program.

This is the same training split that Jim used in his original 5/3/1 program. Of course, there are also plenty of differences between 5/3/1 For Hardgainers, and the original 5/3/1 program.

Here are 5 of the biggest differences:

Unique Features Of Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 Hardgainer Template

  • Difference #1: Sets of 5 reps on the main lifts
  • Difference #2: Lower training max
  • Difference #3: Back-off sets
  • Difference #4: Increased upper body accessory work
  • Difference #5: Decreased lower body accessory work

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

Difference #1: Sets Of 5 Reps On The Main Lifts

Jim Wendler has you mostly perform sets of 5 reps for the squat, bench press, deadlift, and overhead press. This is very different from the original 5/3/1 program, where you perform different rep ranges each week. 

Difference #2: Lower Training Max

Unlike the original 5/3/1 program, Jim has you use 85% of your 1-rep max for your “training max” on the 5/3/1 For Hardgainers program.

Difference #3: Back-Off Sets

Jim also has you perform plenty of back-off sets using this system. For example, you might drop the weight and perform 5 sets of 5 reps, or you might perform a back-off “widowmaker” set for 20 reps.

Difference #4: Increased Upper Body Accessory Work

Jim Wendler has you perform significantly more upper body accessory exercises on this program. You even perform upper body assistance work on your lower body days!

Difference #5: Decreased Lower Body Accessory Work

Jim Wendler doesn’t want you to perform any lower body assistance work on this program. He has you perform some conditioning work at the end of your lower body workouts, but that’s it.

Now let’s look at the actual 5/3/1 For Hardgainers workouts!

Note: these workouts are taken directly from Jim Wendler’s blog.

Week #1

Monday: Squat Workout

  • Exercise #1: Squat, 65% x 5, 75% x 5, 85% x 5, 65% x 20
  • Exercise #2: Upper body push exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #3: Upper body pull exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #4: Lower body accessory work, 50-100 total reps

**Perform 3 sets of 5 reps at 65%, 75%, and 85% of your training max. Perform your 20-rep set at 65% of your training max.

Tuesday: Bench Press Workout

  • Exercise #1: Bench press, 65% x 5, 75% x 5, 85% x 5 x 5
  • Exercise #2: Upper body push exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #3: Upper body pull exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #4: Prowler or sled, 20-30 minutes

Perform 1 set at 65%, 1 set at 75%, and 5 sets at 85% of your training max.

Thursday: Deadlift Workout

  • Exercise #1: 65% x 5, 75% x 5, 85% x 5, 65% x 5 x 5
  • Exercise #2: Upper body push exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #3: Upper body pull exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #4: Lower body accessory work, 50-100 total reps

**Perform 1 set at 65%, 1 set at 75%, 1 set at 85%, and 5 sets at 65% of your training max

Friday: Overhead Press Workout

  • Exercise #1: Overhead press, 65% x 5, 75% x 5, 85% x 5, 65% x 10 x 5
  • Exercise #2: Upper body push exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #3: Upper body pull exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #4: Prowler or sled, 20-30 minutes

**Perform 1 set at 65%, 1 set at 75%, 1 set at 85%, and 10 sets at 65% of your training max

Week #2

Monday: Squat Workout

  • Exercise #1: Squat, 70% x 5, 80% x 5, 90% x 5
  • Exercise #2: Upper body push exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #3: Upper body pull exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #4: Lower body accessory work, 50-100 total reps

**Perform 3 sets of 5 reps at 70%, 80%, and 90% of your training max. Perform 5+ reps on your 3rd set. Then perform your 20-rep set at 70% of your training max.

Tuesday: Bench Press Workout

  • Exercise #1: Bench press, 70% x 5, 80% x 5, 90% x 5 x 5
  • Exercise #2: Upper body push exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #3: Upper body pull exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #4: Prowler or sled, 20-30 minutes

**Perform 1 set at 70%, 1 set at 80%, and 5 sets at 90% of your training max.

Thursday: Deadlift Workout

  • Exercise #1: Deadlift, 70% x 5, 80% x 5, 90% x 5+, 70% x 5 x 5
  • Exercise #2: Upper body push exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #3: Upper body pull exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #4: Lower body accessory work, 50-100 total reps

**Perform 1 set at 70%, 1 set at 80%, 1 set at 90%, and 5 sets at 70% of your training max. Perform 5+ reps on your 3rd set.

Friday: Overhead Press Workout

  • Exercise #1: Overhead press, 70% x 5, 80% x 5, 90% x 5, 70% x 10 x 5
  • Exercise #2: Upper body push exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #3: Upper body pull exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #4: Prowler or sled, 20-30 minutes

**Perform 1 set at 75%, 1 set at 85%, 1 set at 95%, and 10 sets at 75% of your training max

Week #3

Monday: Squat Workout

  • Exercise #1: Squat, 75% x 5, 85% x 5, 95% x 5, 75% x 20
  • Exercise #2: Upper body push exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #3: Upper body pull exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #4: Lower body accessory work, 50-100 total reps

**Perform 3 sets of 5 reps at 75%, 85%, and 95% of your training max. Perform 5+ reps on your 3rd set. Then perform your 20-rep set at 75% of your training max.

Tuesday: Bench Press Workout

  • Exercise #1: Bench press, 75% x 5, 85% x 5, 95% x 5 x 5
  • Exercise #2: Upper body push exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #3: Upper body pull exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #4: Prowler or sled, 20-30 minutes

Perform 1 set at 75%, 1 set at 8%, and 5 sets at 95% of your training max.

Thursday: Deadlift Workout

  • Exercise #1: Deadlift, 75% x 5, 85% x 5, 95% x 5+, 75% x 5 x 5
  • Exercise #2: Upper body push exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #3: Upper body pull exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #4: Lower body accessory work, 50-100 total reps

**Perform 1 set at 75%, 1 set at 85%, 1 set at 95%, and 5 sets at 75% of your training max. Perform 5+ reps on your 3rd set with 95% of your training max.

Friday: Overhead Press Workout

  • Exercise #1: Overhead press, 75% x 5, 85% x 5, 95% x 5, 75% x 10 x 5
  • Exercise #2: Upper body push exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #3: Upper body pull exercise, 50-100 total reps
  • Exercise #4: Prowler or sled, 20-30 minutes

**Perform 1 set at 75%, 1 set at 85%, 1 set at 95%, and 10 sets at 75% of your training max

As you can see, this is a pretty high-volume training program.

In my personal experience, most true hardgainers have a hard time recovering from more than 2-3 hard workouts per week.

If this describes you, then you may make better progress on the following Jim Wendler’s 2-day 5/3/1 programs.

Part 2: The 2-Day 5/3/1 Template

Jim Wendler says you can perform the original 5/3/1 program with just 2 workouts per week. For example, here is what the 2-day 5/3/1 program looks like:

Jim Wendler’s 2 Day 5/3/1 Training Split

Week 1

  • Tuesday: Bench Press
  • Friday: Squat

Week 2

  • Tuesday: Overhead Press
  • Friday: Deadlift

As you can see, you only perform 2 workouts per week using this modified 5/3/1 training split. If this doesn’t look like “enough work,” then think again!

Jim Wendler used this exact training split to hit an all-time deadlift PR of 710 pounds. Here is how Jim structures the sets and reps each week using his 2-day 5/3/1 program:

The 2-Day 5/3/1 Training Cycle

  • Week #1: 3 sets of 5 reps (Bench Press and Squat)
  • Week #2: 3 sets of 5 reps (Overhead Press and Deadlift)
  • Week #3: 3 sets of 3 reps (Bench Press and Squat)
  • Week #4: 3 sets of 3 reps (Overhead Press and Deadlift)
  • Week #5: 3 sets of 5, 3, 1 reps (Bench Press and Squat)
  • Week #6: 3 sets of 5, 3, 1 reps (Overhead Press and Deadlift)
  • Week #7: Repeat!

With the 2-day 5/3/1 program, Jim Wendler says that you do NOT need to perform a regular deload week. Instead, you just cycle through the 5’s, 3’s, and 5/3/1 weeks with no formal deload. 

However, everything else with the training percentages is still the same. You still use 90% of your 1-rep max as your “training max,” for example.

Here are the exact training percentages that you will use on the main lifts for each 6-week training cycle:

Weeks 1-2 Training Percentages:

  • Set #1: 65% x 5 reps
  • Set #2: 75% x 5 reps
  • Set #3: 85% x 5+ reps

Week 3-4 Training Percentages:

  • Set #1: 70% x 3 reps
  • Set #2: 80% x 3 reps
  • Set #3: 90% x 3+ reps

Week 5-6 Training Percentages:

  • Set #1: 75% x 5 reps
  • Set #2: 85% x 3 reps
  • Set #3: 95% x 1+ reps

Now let’s look at some sample 2-day 5/3/1 workouts that you can try. Of course, there are many different assistance work templates that you can use with this program.

To read more about them, check out the following article:

For simplicity’s sake, these sample workouts use Jim Wendler’s Triumvirate template. However, most 5/3/1 assistance work templates are compatible with the 2-day 5/3/1 program.

Week #1

Bench Press Day

  • A1: Overhead press, 3 sets of 1-5 reps
  • B1: V-bar dips, 3-5 sets of 6-8 reps
  • B2: Pull ups (narrow / neutral grip), 3-5 sets of 6-8 reps

Squat Day

  • A1: Deadlift, 3 sets of 1-5 reps
  • B1: 45 degree leg press, 3-5 sets of 8-10 reps
  • B2: Glute-ham raise, 3-5 sets of 8-10 reps

Week #2

Overhead Press Day

  • A1: Overhead press, 3 sets of 1-5 reps
  • B1: V-bar dips, 3-5 sets of 6-8 reps
  • B2: Pull ups (narrow / neutral grip), 3-5 sets of 6-8 reps

Deadlift Day

  • A1: Deadlift, 3 sets of 1-5 reps
  • B1: 45 degree leg press, 3-5 sets of 8-10 reps
  • B2: Glute-ham raise, 3-5 sets of 8-10 reps

Part 3: The 2-Day Krypteia Template

Krypteia is one of Jim Wendler’s newest 5/3/1 templates. He says he first wrote about it in his new book “5/3/1 Forever,” so make sure you pick up a copy of it while you still can!

The Krypteia template features 2 full body workouts per week. Here is the Krypteia training template:

Krypteia Template – Week 1

Monday

  • Squat
  • Upper Body Assistance Work

Thursday

  • Bench Press
  • Lower Body Assistance Work

Krypteia Template – Week 2

Monday

  • Deadlift
  • Upper Body Assistance Work

Thursday

  • Overhead Press
  • Lower Body Assistance Work

There are a couple of major differences between Krypteia, and the traditional 2-day 5/3/1 template. The first difference is you perform your assistance work for the OPPOSITE half of your body each workout.

For example, you perform your lower body assistance exercises on your upper body workouts, and your upper body assistance exercises on your lower body workouts.

This means you are actually training your entire body twice per week!

The other major difference is you will be performing some additional volume on your primary exercises, like the squat, bench press etc. Check it out:

Krypteia Template Training Percentages

Weeks 1-2 Training Percentages

  • 65% x 5 reps, 75% x 5 reps, 85% x 5 reps, 65% x 5 sets of 5 reps

Weeks 3-4 Training Percentages

  • 70% x 5 reps, 80% x 5 reps, 90% x 5 reps, 75% x 5 sets of 5 reps

Weeks 5-6 Training Percentages

  • 75% x 5 reps, 85% x 5 reps, 95% x 5 reps, 75% x 5 sets of 5 reps

Note: All sets are performed using a training max of 85% of your actual 1-rep max.

The Krypteia template uses what Jim Wendler calls the “5’s Pros” template.

This means you perform all of your heavy sets for 5 reps, plus 5 sets of 5 reps using a lighter training percentage. Jim talks more about this template in his new book 5/3/1 Forever.

Jim says the training percentages are slightly lighter using this program, so you want to make sure your bar speed is very fast – especially during weeks 1-4.

“When training the main lifts, make sure your bar speed is VERY GOOD.

This particular program is not about max effort lifting, but rather getting stronger and in better condition.”

The overall volume of these workouts is reasonably high. However, you are still only training twice per week, so most hardgainers should have a relatively easy time recovering from these workouts.

Here are some sample 5/3/1 Krypteia workouts that you can try. Check it out:

Sample Krytpeia Squat Workout

  • Exercise #1: Squat, 65% x 5, 75% x 5, 85% x 5, 65% x 5 x 5
  • Exercise #2: Weighted push ups, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: Chin ups / pull ups, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps

For inspiration, here is a video of Jim Wendler squatting:

Sample Krytpeia Bench Press Workout

  • Exercise #1: Bench press, 65% x 5, 75% x 5, 85% x 5, 65% x 5 x 5
  • Exercise #2: Dumbbell squats, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: Romanian deadlift, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps

For inspiration, here is a video of Jim Wendler bench pressing:

Conclusion | Jim Wendler Hardgainer Workouts!

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

He understands how to customize his popular 5/3/1 program for a wide range of individuals. He even made several templates that are suitable for hardgainers!

If you are a hardgainer, and struggling to make progress in the gym, then you have to give Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 For Hardgainers program a shot.

It 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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