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Blood and Chalk: Jim Wendler Talks Big Weights


Jim Wendler of Elite Fitness Training Systems knows a lot about moving big weights.

As a former competitive power lifter, Jim's best lifts included a 700-pound deadlift, 675-pound bench press, and a 1000-pound squat, which, when you do the math, all totals up to 'really freaking heavy.'

Jim has since retired from competing, trading in all the physical challenges that come with weighing 275 pounds for fatherhood and a busy career at Elite as Dave Tate's right hand man. But the new lean, mean Jim is even more passionate than ever about strength, having published the popular ebook, 5/3/1: The Simplest and Most Effective Training System to Increase Raw Strength.

Considering there are about 350 or so 5/3/1 training logs posted at T NATION, we figured there just might be a demand for a little Q and A with big Jim himself.

But for those who can't handle a little harsh language, consider yourselves warned. This ain't your mama's power lifting column! The Devil's Advocate always tells it like it is.

So without further ado and parental advisories, here's big Jim, raw and uncut.


T NATION: My winter project is to build a yoke so intimidating that it will scare the guys I grapple with. Any tips on growing the traps/upper back/neck? Any benefits to a big yoke?

TM: Whenever I deadlift, my grip always seems to fail before by back or hamstrings. I've tried everything to build up my grip strength, but no luck. Help!

TM: After reading some articles at T NATION and EliteFTS about power cleans, I've decided to add them to my 5/3/1 set up. Will this screw up my squat or deadlift workouts? Any advice you might have is appreciated.

TM: In your 5/3/1 Manual, you briefly talk about the best lifts to bring up your deadlift. Unfortunately, you go into zero detail, you lazy bastard. Care to elaborate?

TM: This fuckball at my gym (I train at a lame 24 Hour Fitness) actually showed up to squat in a squat suit. I almost killed myself laughing, cause his max weight was 365. I honestly think he was wearing it to impress some of the chicks there.

But it kind of got me thinking, what I could do with a suit? My best parallel squat is 495, give or take. Theoretically, what could I get out of a suit? What about a bench shirt? My best raw bench is 385.

TM: I have about 30 books and ebooks about powerlifting...5/3/1 is my favorite, of course. Unfortunately, about 2/3 of my books are basically shit. Who should I trust in this field? How do I spot the goods from the bullshit? Can you list your favorite strength training books?

TM: What's the biggest technique myth that just won't die?

Got a question for Big Jim? Hop onto the article discussion thread and fire away.



Blood and Chalk

Jim Wendler and his big yoke.

Blood and Chalk

High-rep dumbbell rows will build up your grip.

Blood and Chalk

The Joe DeFranco Scarecrow exercise.

Blood and Chalk

Will power cleans screw up your squat?

Blood and Chalk

Jim knows how to develop a built-in bullshit detector.

Blood and Chalk

Jim Wendler's 531 ebook.


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