The Jim Wendler Jiu Jitsu Program | The Ultimate Guide!


Jim Wendler Jiu Jitsu

Are you curious about Jim Wendler jiu jitsu program?

Do you wonder how the creator of 5/3/1 organizes his strength training workouts for athletes competing in jiu jitsu, and other mma sports?

Then you’ve come to the right place.

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

Introduction

  • Part 1: Jim Wendler Jiu Jitsu Workouts
  • Part 2: The 5/3/1 Jiu Jitsu Program
  • Part 3: The 5/3/1 2-Day Program
  • Part 4: The 5/3/1 Krypteia Program

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 team.

Jim trained for many years as a professional powerlifter, and worked up to some incredible lifts, including a 1,000 pound competition squat!

Of course, Jim is also famous for inventing the 5/3/1 training program. Jim says 5/3/1 is one of the simplest and most effective ways to train for raw strength, and based on his results, he might be right!

5/3/1 was originally designed for powerlifters and other strength athletes.

However, you can also use a modified version of Jim Wendler/s 5/3/1 program to become a better jiu jitsu or mma athlete!

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Jim Wendler Jiu Jitsu Workouts

Jim Wendler says if your primary goal is to become a better jiu jitsu competitor, then your training program has to reflect that.

You can still train to get stronger on the “big 4” exercises like the squat, bench press, overhead press, and deadlift. However, your main priority has to be sport-specific jiu jitsu training sessions.

Here are Jim’s thoughts on how MMA athletes should organize their strength training workouts:

“Since there are many abilities that must be trained and much time devoted to practice (and this practice being very difficult), I propose the following

  • Train two days/week
  • Assistance work is kept to 2-3 exercises per day
  • A third day can be added for additional assistance work (if time and energy allow)

The time spent in the weight room must be devoted to getting stronger, not  running around doing circuits. 

You are in the weight room to get stronger, NOT to mimic another practice. Feel free to do your battling ropes and burpees AFTER you strength train.”

As you can see, Jim recommends jiu jitsu and MMA athletes perform 2 strength training workouts per week. This makes it much easier to recover from your sport-specific workouts, as most jiu jitsu athletes perform MMA workouts several days per week!

Specifically, Jim recommends that you perform 2 full body workotus per week.

On day 1 you train the squat and bench press, plus 2-3 basic assistance exercises. On day 2 you train the deadlift and overhead press, followed by 2-3 more assistance exercises. Check it otu:

The Jim Wendler Jiu Jitsu Training Split

Day One

  • Squat
  • Bench Press
  • Assistance Work

Day Two

  • Deadlift
  • Press
  • Assistance Work

Recovering from 2 full body workouts per week can be somewhat challenging, depending on your recovery ability. However, most jiu jitsu athletes are not lifting crazy weights on the “big 4” exercises, so you recovering from this split should be extremely doable.

If you are unable to recover from this split, then you may want to try one of Jim Wendler’s other 2-day 5/3/1 training splits.

For example, here is the exact split that Jim Wendler used to deadlift 710 pounds:

The Jim Wendler 5/3/1 2-Day Training Split

Week #1

  • Day 1: Squat
  • Day 2: Bench Press

Week #2

  • Day 1: Deadlift
  • Day 2: Overhead Press

You perform 1 primary barbell exercise per workout, plus some additional accessory exercises.

On your upper body workout you perform 2-3 upper body assistance exercises, and on your lower body workout you perform 2-4 lower body assistance exercises.

This is NOT an official Jim Wendler recommendation for jiu jitsu athletes. However, you may find the split helpful. If you really want to perform full body workouts, but can’t recover from Jim Wendler’s original 2-day jiu jitsu training template, then you may like the 5/3/1 Krypteia training split:

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

This training split is almost identical to the previous one. The main difference is you perform upper body assistance exercises on your lower body days, and lower body assistance work on your upper body training days.

Again, this is not an official Jim Wendler jiu jitsu training recommendation. However, some of you reading it may find this split helpful.

Of course, you can’t talk about 5/3/1 jiu jitsu workouts without talking about the 5/3/1 training cycle! If you are familiar with 5/3/1, then you know that Jim cycles his set and rep schemes each week. Check it out:

The 5/3/1 Training Cycle

  • Week #1: 3 sets of 5 reps
  • Week #2: 3 sets of 3 reps
  • Week #3: 3 sets of 5, 3, 1 reps
  • Week #4: 3 sets of 5 reps (Deload)

This is how you would organize your workouts if you are using Jim Wendler’s original jiu jitsu workout template.

You have 3 challenging weeks of training, followed by a lighter deload week with lower training percentages.

If you are using one of the other 2-day templates, then you you would organize your workouts like this:

The 2-Day 5/3/1 Training Cycle

  • Weeks 1-2: sets of 5 reps
  • Weeks 3-4: sets of 3 reps
  • Weeks 5-6: sets of 5/3/1 reps

Now let’s talk about the training percentages. For each workout, you perform 3 working sets on your first 1-2 heavy barbell exercises.

These sets are all based on very specific training percentages. Check it out:

Weeks 1 Training Percentages:

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

Weeks 2 Training Percentages:

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

Weeks 3 Training Percentages:

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

Weeks 4 Training Percentages:

  • Set 1: 40% x 5
  • Set 2: 50% x 5
  • Set 3: 60% x 5

Jim Wendler says that you should use a “training max,” rather than your actual 1-rep max to calculate your weights for the day.

The training max is set at 90% of your actual 1-rep max. For example, if your 1-rep max on the overhead press is 100 pounds, then you would set your training max at 90 pounds.

After your 3 working sets on the first 1-2 barbell exercises, you will perform 2-3 assistance exercises. I will cover Jim’s recommended assistance work exercises later in this article.

The 5/3/1 Jiu Jitsu Program

Let’s start by looking at Jim Wendler’s original 5/3/1 Jiu Jitsu program.

Jim says these workouts are primarily focused on building strength on the big 4 exercises: the squat, the deadlift, the bench press, and the overhead press.

Here are Jim’s thoughts on how to organize your priorities during your 2 strength training workouts per week:

“The time spent in the weight room must be devoted to getting stronger, not  running around doing circuits. 

You are in the weight room to get stronger, NOT to mimic another practice. Feel free to do your battling ropes and burpees AFTER you strength train.”

In case you forgot, here is what Jim’s original 2-day 5/3/1 split looks like for jiu jitsu athletes:

The Jim Wendler Jiu Jitsu Training Split

Day One

  • Squat
  • Bench Press
  • Assistance Work

Day Two

  • Deadlift
  • Press
  • Assistance Work

Jim Wendler says that you can perform 2-3 different assistance exercises after your main sets. Of course, your primary exercises are the most important part of the workout, so you should put most of your energy there.

The assistance exercises are important, but they do not replace the main exercise.

Here is what your first week of training on this split might look like:

The Jim Wendler Jiu Jitsu Training Split

Day One

  • Exercise #1: Squat, 3 sets of 1-5+ reps
  • Exercise #2: Bench Press, 3 sets of 1-5+ reps
  • Exercise #3-5: Assistance work

Day Two

  • Exercise #1: Deadlift, 3 sets of 1-5+ reps
  • Exercise #2: Overhead press, 3 sets of 1-5+ reps
  • Exercise #3-5: Assistance work

For the assistance exercises, you may want to perform 1-2 upper body exercises, plus 1 lower body exercise. For example, you could perform 1 upper body pulling exercise, 1 lower body exercise, and perhaps 1 upper body pushing exercise.

Because the sport of jiu jitsu relies heavily on your upper body pulling strength, you may want to prioritize upper body pulling exercises in your assistance work.

Here are some of Jim’s favorite assistance exercises that you can use:

Upper Body “Push” Assistance Exercises

  • Weighted dips
  • Weighted push ups
  • Dumbbell presses (all angles)

Upper Body “Pull” Assistance Exercises

  • Pull ups / chin ups
  • Lat pulldowns
  • Rows (all types)

Lower Body Hamstrings Exercises

  • Glute ham raise
  • Good mornings (moderate weight)
  • 45 degree back extension

Lower Body Quad Exercises

  • 45 degree leg press
  • Bulgarian split squats
  • Dumbbell squats / goblet squats

After the main strength training work Jim Wendler you can perform some additional conditioning work if you want.

The 5/3/1 2-Day Program

The 2-day 5/3/1 program is a very underrated way to train. Jim Wendler hit some of his biggest lifts using this simple training split, including a massive 710 pound deadlift for a single!

The main difference between this split and the previous one is you are only training 1 primary barbell exercise per workout.

You are also performing your assistance work for your upper or lower body only.

The Jim Wendler 5/3/1 2-Day Training Split

Week #1

  • Day 1: Squat
  • Day 2: Bench Press

Week #2

  • Day 1: Deadlift
  • Day 2: Overhead Press

If you are having a hard time recovering from the full body workouts from the previous section, then this may be a viable option for you.

For the assistance work you can continue to perform 2-3 assistance exercises like Jim Wendler recommends.

For example, here is what your workouts might look like using this template:

5/3/1 Squat Workout

  • Exercise #1: Squat, 3 sets of 1-5+ reps
  • Exercise #2: Reverse hyperextension, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: Dumbbell lunges, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps

5/3/1 Bench Press Workout

  • Exercise #1: Bench press, 3 sets of 1-5+ reps
  • Exercise #2: Dips, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: Chin ups / pull ups, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps

5/3/1 Deadlift Workout

  • Exercise #1: Deadlift, 3 sets of 1-5+ reps
  • Exercise #2: Leg press, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: Good morning, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps

5/3/1 Overhead Press Workout

  • Exercise #1: Overhead press, 3 sets of 1-5+ reps
  • Exercise #2: Flat dumbbell press, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: One-arm dumbbell rows, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps

This is a simple but effective way to organize your jiu jitsu or mma workouts. 

The 5/3/1 Krypteia Program

The Krypteia template is one of Jim Wendler’s latest and greatest 5/3/1 training templates. This one is similar to the previous 2-day template.

However, there are 2 main differences:

  • You perform assistance work for the opposite half of your body
  • You perform extra sets on the primary barbell exercises

The first change is pretty simple. During your squat and deadlift workouts, you perform assistance work for your upper body. Then on your bench press and overhead press workouts, you perform assistance work for your lower body.

The other major difference is you perform some additional “back-off sets” for your primary barbell exercises. Don’t worry, I will cover that below. To recap, 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

So far, so good. Here are the training percentage that you will use on this 2-day split:

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: you are only using 85% of your 1-rep max as your “training max,” rather than the usual 90%.

Jim says these back off sets are very helpful for accumulating additional volume. He says the training percentages for this program are somewhat lighter than they are for other 5/3/1 templates, so it’s very important to focus on bar speed and maximally accelerating the weight on each rep.

This is not an official Jim Wendler jiu jitsu or mma template. However, some of you may find success using this 2 days per week training template.

Here are some sample workouts:

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

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

Remember to use 85% of your 1-rep max as your training max for these workouts!

After doing your accessory exercises, Jim says you can do your jiu jitsu conditioning work, such as battling ropes or whatever else you feel is necessary.

Conclusion | Jim Wendler Jiu Jitsu Training!

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

He has a gift for designing simple but effective strength training workouts that work for a wide variety of people.

If you are a competitive jiu jitsu or mma athlete, and you are looking for a simple 2 days per week strength training program, then you have to give these Jim Wendler jiu jitsu 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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