Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I recently submitted a question to my good friend Bob who works for Elite Fitness Systems. The question is in regard to in-season training regarding Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 program (which Key2 Sports reccommends highly for both athletes and anyone else looking to get in shape).

Here was the exchange:


I should probably be asking Jim Wendler this question but because of the fact that you are coaching football players i'm submitting it to you.

Do you recommend a modified 5/3/1 for in-season athletes? The reason i'm asking is because this program already has set percentages that are lower than the lifter's maximum weights. I actually see it as a perfect fit but my hang up comes in the deadlift & military press category. I personally know how damaging pulling is to my CNS, so I personally would take them out for our athletes and focus on free squats & box squat mini-cycles. Thoughts? The other hang up is with the military press. IMO we have the same issue here with the added pressure of risking overuse on the shoulders. My thoughts here were to mix in incline presses as a substitute, so the mini-cycles would involve flat bench & incline bench. Lastly, the percentages for each cycle begin at 65% according to Jim's plan. What is your starting suggestion for percentages? My personal thoughts were 55% - 75% or 80% depending on the day. BTW this is concerning kids WHO PLAY, for the kids who don't we're not changing the original program.

Even more specifically, we're using a mix between 1) I'm not doing Jack
2) the Triumvirate &
3) body weight

This is for all players whether they play or not. Thoughts?

I know you like articulation so I believe I have given you a platform to express your expertise in this area my friend. Thanks for your input. -Cornell


What's up, my man? I'll address this first by directing you to a post I saw from Jim on the subject:


Now, since Jim recommends something you have a bit of a hang-up with, I'll tell you what I've told you several times now. And remember, I'm not telling you this to be obnoxious or to tell you anything you don't already know. The purpose of this is to help other coaches who have the exact same question this time of year.

Cornell, you, especially, were a damned good football player. Use your experience here. When I did this, I found that things work better when we keep it to benching and squatting - with no overhead work done during the season. Now, where this confuses me is in the individualization of things, because, like some people, I've found that the more overhead work I do, the better my shoulders feel. I've heard Jim say the same thing.

Then again, I'm no longer playing football (except when I'm drunk in Vegas and rambling on and on about it), so the same level of collateral damage no longer exists.

What I've found to work is squatting and benching to about 70-75%, doing maintenance work for assistance stuff, then getting the hell out. Seriously? If I were still playing, my lower body workout would look like this:

1. Warm-up including foam roller and LIGHT sled dragging

2. Box Squats (possibly even above parallel): MAYBE work up to 75% x 3

3. GHR or 45-degree back: 3x10

4. Ab circuit

5. Stretch

This whole thing should take a half hour or less. Same goes for the upper body:

1. Warm-up including foam roller and LIGHT sled dragging.

2. Bench Press: MAYBE work up to 75-80% x 3

3. Banded Pushdowns: maybe 30-40 total reps

4. Pull-ups

5. Some quick neck and shoulder work, including shrugs, followed by some shoulder horn-type stuff, and that's it.

I would end up waving the percentages, but this is about the only work I've personally found to not f--k up our practices.

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