Saturday, June 10, 2017


Hey folks; something a little different this week.  Wanted to write-up a review for 5/3/1 Forever, since there aren't a whole lot out there on the web right now.  We'll resume your regularly scheduled psychological ramblings next week.

5/3/1 Forever was released a few months ago to much excitement, and I’ve had time to read through it and formulate a few thoughts, for those that are still on the fence about if you should add it to your library.

Some background about me:

-I have read every single 5/3/1 book so far (First and Second Edition, Powerlifting, and Beyond). I have also read through every blogpost Jim has posted, and a LOT of what he has written on his t-nation forum. I am, however, NOT a member of his private forum. I share all this so that you know what my familiarity was with the entire 5/3/1 program before reading the book. I cannot speak to the experience someone brand new to 5/3/1 would have reading this book, nor can I say if it gives you everything you need to run 5/3/1, because I didn’t walk into this blind, and I could “fill in the gaps” for anything not explicitly stated. If possible, it behooves you to educate yourself as much as possible before reading.

Quick Summary of the book:

-The book is in 3 sections. The first section provides the basic philosophy behind 5/3/1, along with explaining the 7 week protocol, leaders and anchors. Those last 2 points are pretty crucial to understanding how to run Jim’s programs, and up until this point were only available on Jim’s private forum. The rest of section one details running the supplemental and assistance work, jumps, throws, and warm-ups.

-Section 3 is all about programming conditioning and recovery. This includes some basic nutritional advice, along with ideas for what to do for conditioning and how to program it without overtaxing your recovery.

-Section 2 contains 50 different 5/3/1 programs. That isn’t hyperbole. Before each program is a quick synopsis of what the program is for (strength, size, etc) and who is ideal to run it.

The Good:

-This book contains everything you could ever need to program for the rest of your life. It is 275 pages with zero pictures; that’s a lot of info, and very little of it is wasted. At 50 different programs, almost all of them with leaders and anchors, if you were to just run each program 1 time, that’s something like 450 weeks of programming.

-If you are a fan of Jim’s ramblings on training, he interjects little bits of this through-out the book. I actually found this kept it from being too dry, and compelled me to read through some of the more detailed sections. However, I know some people get rubbed raw by this, so be aware.

-You finally have all of Jim’s thoughts compiled in one location. Prior to this book’s release, you had to piece together little bits of thoughts Jim shared on his forum, his blog, t-nation, facebook and his books to be able to get an idea of where is programming was. Now, it’s all laid down in one location.

-Lots of different programming options. 2, 3, 4 day lifting programs, lots of different conditioning protocols, etc. You’re bound to find something.

-The legendary Krypteria program is contained here. No more mystery.

The bad:

-No table of contents. Jim ended up releasing one on his blog after the fact, so you can print that out.

-Nonsensical organization of programming. Section 2 is pretty much the wildwest, and reading it cover to cover doesn’t really set you up for success if you’re new to 5/3/1.

-No description of how to perform the exercises. Jim had this in the first edition, but has since scrapped it. In fairness, that’s not what this book is about, but it takes away from the ability to just throw it at a trainee and say “read this and you’re set”. There still needs to be SOME background knowledge.

-Not a lot of variety of training movements. Jim really sticks with his 4 big movements these days, and most of his programming revolves around manipulating volume and intensity for these movements. However, he leaves assistance work pretty open to the user, so you’ve got that.

Should you buy it?

-Absolutely. I have been training for 17 years and STILL found some great nuggets in this book. You’re bound to find something you like in here and a few programs you’ll either hop on right away or steal a bunch of ideas from. Honestly, section 1 alone is incredibly valuable in getting your head on straight.


  1. One thing I never understood is why someone as popular as Wendler seemed to insist on publishing himself. The guy is great, but he desperately needs an editor just in terms of getting his organization together (and at least in other books, making sure there is no directly contradictory stuff within the same book)

    1. I suspect its because (at least when you've got a name in the field) self-publishing is vastly more profitable than going through an established publisher and simply hiring an editor isn't cheap either (especially as you need to find someone who understands both editing and the subject in question). I don't know how many copies of 5/3/1 Forever he expects to sell but if its a fairly marginal product - and the more products in a line you have, the more sales tend to drop - shelling out for an editor can pretty quickly drop it from profitable into money sink status.

    2. Yeah, I imagine this is most likely the issue. That, and I imagine demand for a publisher is probably low in all reality. Yeah, we get upset with the grammatical errors and lack of organization, but I imagine the people that are going to buy the book are going to buy it regardless. He's probably losing very few customers from the book being poorly organized.

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  3. Glad I found this... been debating if I should get it since I have all of his other stuff. Did you find the info better with higher value than Beyond 5/3/1 ( Im just assuming you have read it)