Jim Wendler is an accomplished powerlifter who was schooled, beaten up and bloodied, and "graduated with honors" from Westside. His best lifts include a 1000-pound squat, a 675-pound bench press, and a 700-pound deadlift – a 2375 total in the 275 lbs. class. That's right, inhuman strength.

Perhaps unlike his mentors and peers, Wendler applies a more streamlined, "get in and get out" mentality to his workouts. This mindset gave birth to his book, "5/3/1: The Simplest and Most Effective Training System for Raw Strength." It currently ranks as one of the most popular lifting systems ever developed.

When this former Division 1 college athlete isn't getting a new tattoo, riding his motorcycle, or tending to his offspring, he's dishing out often-caustic but-oh-so-true information and advice about lifting. He is, above all, 100% his own man.

I've found that giving people simple training templates makes their training (and really, my training) easier to program.

The problem is that training templates, for the most part, are too rigid and really only take a snapshot of a training session and even with the best intentions, don't allow for enough flexibility to account for daily ups-and-downs and training goals.

What I've done in response is make a very basic training template that anyone can do, regardless of what program they're on or what their goals are.

Training Day Template

  1. Stretch
  2. Lift
  3. Sprint

The template above covers the basics of training – strength, mobility/flexibility and conditioning. Whatever your goals are for your training, this template can easily be followed.

Let's say that strength or hypertrophy is your main goal. If that's the case, you'll still need to incorporate stretching/mobility in your training, so you keep that in.

The strength portion of training will be your emphasis (or you'll raise the volume of assistance work if you want to get bigger as well as stronger) and the conditioning will take a back seat. Now "back seat" doesn't mean that you eliminate it; it means that you do only what's necessary to keep your conditioning level appropriate to your goals.

Now if you're lacking in the mobility department, more time and care will be given to the first part of the template, and you can easily take a few exercises off the assistance work to keep training time to a minimum. Conditioning, again, will be performed only to maintain your status quo and won't be a huge priority. But do NOT cut it out.

Now if conditioning is your weakness, you'll still stretch and do mobility work, but you don't need to spend all day on it as if it were a weakness. The strength-training portion would be cut down to make up for the energy and time that you devote to your conditioning. Training maxes would be cut down and your conditioning work would occupy most of your training and recovery time.

The key to remember in all of this is to have one of these things be a priority for you, not all three.

The definition of overtraining is when three things are emphasized. When everything becomes important, nothing gets done correctly. So pick an area you need to work on, figure out what you need to do, and make the necessary cuts to the other two areas.

Now within each of the three areas, we can break it down further.


  1. Foam roll / PVC roll / lacrosse ball
  2. Dynamic movements
  3. Static stretch


  1. Fast movement (example: power cleans, box jumps, med ball throws)
  2. Strength movement (example: squat, bench press, deadlift, press)
  3. Size / Hypertrophy (example: all assistance movements)


  1. Prowler, hills, strongman movements, treadmill sprints, weight vest walking, complexes. General rule of conditioning: If it's awesome, do it. If your mom can do it, don't.


Sample Conditioning Workout


  1. PVC roll: IT Band, hamstring, quads
  2. Foam roll: upper and lower back
  3. Lacrosse ball: piriformis and feet
  4. Prowler push: 40 yards x 6 times, big strides
  5. Static Stretch: hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, shoulder dislocates


  1. Power Clean: 5/3/1 * (90% of training max)
  2. Squat, 5/3/1: (90% training max)
  3. Glute Ham Raise: 3 sets (alternate each set with 100 jumps on jump rope)
  4. Hanging Leg Raise: 3 sets (alternate each set with 100 jumps on jump rope)

* For a description of Jim's 5/3/1 program, click here.


  1. Hill running: 15 hills

Conditioning Template Notes:

  • General template remains the same. This is the purpose of this entire article.
  • Strength portion; keep training max at 85-90% of max. Since conditioning is your main focus, I want to stress the "train to maintain" idea. Just do enough to keep your strength somewhat high but this is not a time to be setting records or looking to break records. IT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. So keep the strength portion in training, but just strive to keep it about 90% of where you were before.
  • Assistance work is minimal. Still do some muscle work to balance your body – make sure you do plenty of pulling (chins/rows) as this should be a priority.

Sample Strength Workout


  1. PVC roll: IT Band, hamstring, quads
  2. Foam roll: upper and lower back
  3. Lacrosse ball: piriformis and feet
  4. Dynamic Warm-up, all for 40 yards: Frankensteins, side-walk shuffle, lunge, backward jog
  5. Static Stretch: hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, shoulder dislocates


  1. Bench press: 5/3/1 (alternate each set with Chin-ups)
  2. One arm dumbbell shoulder press: 5 sets of 5-12 reps
  3. T-Bar rows: 5 sets of 10-15 reps
  4. Face pulls: 3 sets of 20 reps
  5. Barbell curls: 3 sets of 10 reps


  1. Prowler: 6 x 40 yard sprints with 90 lbs

Strength Template Notes:

  • General template remains the same.
  • Push strength work (main exercise) –push last set to 1-2 reps before failure when you feel great and just minimal reps when you don't.
  • Keep assistance work to 2-4 exercises.
  • Conditioning work needs to be done so that it doesn't mess with recovery for strength work. Just as the other templates use "Train to Maintain" in regards to how you approach strength, use the same approach for conditioning. I always use 6-10 Prowler sprints or hill sprints as my maintenance level. I can do this 3-4 times/week with no effect on my strength.

Sample Hypertrophy Workout


  • Defranco "Agile Eight"

Editor's Note: DeFranco's "Agile Eight" consists of the following moves:

  1. Foam roll IT band
  2. Foam roll adductors
  3. Glute/piriformis myofascial release with static stretch
  4. "Rollovers into V" sits
  5. Fire hydrant circles
  6. Mountain climbers
  7. Groiners
  8. Static hip flexor stretch


  1. Deadlift: 5/3/1
  2. Good morning: 5 sets of 10 reps
  3. Chins (weighted): 5 sets of 10 reps
  4. Leg curls: 5 sets of 15 reps
  5. T-Bar rows: 3 sets of 10 reps


  1. 2 mile walk

Hypertrophy Template Notes:

  • General template remains.
  • For strength portion, keep training max at 85-90% of max.
  • Perform assistance work for higher reps.
  • Diet must compliment training high protein/calories.
  • Conditioning must not take away from training and recovery. Since training for this goal is pretty fruity and awful (you should just train to be strong and let things fall into place), this is the only template that allows wimp conditioning.

General Notes

This is nothing ground breaking here, but using this template gives you a simple, basic structure to keep your training and your goals intact.

These three things (stretch/lift/sprint) will always keep you and your training goals in sight. When you lose sight and get off track, remember the template and think of it as a map to where you want to go.

Training is hard work but it's simple hard work that's always the best. Don't be swayed by the newest trends or fads as stretching, squatting, and running will never go out of style.