Breaking Bad Template – Jim Wendler

Breaking Bad Template


I always have to name templates, challenges and variations.  For one, it makes it easy for people to reference.  Second, it makes it easier for me to reference.  Finally, because it allows me to do something stupid.  Some of the templates are named after music/bands because I want to promote them (Hellhammer 5’s, for example). This one is a bit of a stretch.  This is a combination of a few different 5/3/1 programs/templates. Thus a combo.  And Combo was a character in Breaking Bad.  Like every person in the world, I thoroughly enjoyed Breaking Bad and have no problems admitting to being sucked in by this piece of pop culture. With that being said, here is the Breaking Bad Template.  It combines, what I like to call, smart training and stupid training.  This can be done for as long as you want and because of the layout of the program, it doesn’t always fit the 3 week or 6 week model.  So with this in mind, some personal responsibility will come into play.  In other words, use your brain! The basic structure of the program is one week of 5’s Progression/First Set Last (5x5) followed by one week of Rest Pause.  And repeat.  Don’t get wrapped up in what 5/3/1 week (3x5, 3x3, 5/3/1) falls within the structure of your template – just do the work.

Week One (5’s Pro/FSL 5x5)

There are 3 different ways to structure this part of the training.  There is no better way overall – so what you choose will have to be better for you.  You will have to choose what you believe will work better for you based on your own personal experience.  If you don’t have any experience, choose the one that you WANT to do. Monday
  •  Squat – 5’s Pro, FSL 5x5 (3x5 Week)
  • Bench Press - 5’s Pro, FSL 5x5 (3x5 Week)
  • Lats/upper back – 100-200 reps
  • Conditioning work (easy or hard)
Wednesday
  • Deadlift - 5’s Pro, FSL 5x5 (3x5 Week)
  • Press - 5’s Pro, FSL 5x5 (3x5 Week)
  • Ab work (no low back) – 100-200 reps
  • Conditioning work (easy or hard)
Friday
  • Squat - 5’s Pro, FSL 5x5 (3x3 Week)
  • Bench Press - 5’s Pro, FSL 5x5 (3x3 Week)
  • Lats/upper back – 100-200 reps
  • Conditioning work (easy or hard)

 Week Two (Rest Pause)

Monday
  • Deadlift – go for PR on last set, FSL – 1 set of 15-20 reps (3x3 Week)
  • Press - go for PR on last set, FSL – 1 set of rest/pause (3x3 Week)
  • Assistance work – rest pause (choose 2-4 exercises and use the rest/pause)
  • Conditioning work (easy or hard)
Wednesday/Thursday
  • Squat - go for PR on last set, FSL – 1 set of 15-20 reps (5/3/1 Week)
  • Bench Press - go for PR on last set, FSL – 1 set of rest/pause (5/3/1 Week)
  • Assistance work – rest pause (choose 2-4 exercises and use the rest/pause)
  • Conditioning work (easy or hard)
Friday/Saturday Sled/Prowler/Rope/Farmer’s Walk – get out of the weight room and lift heavy stuff/push heavy stuff/drag heavy stuff.  While this will be hard work and you will be out of breath, don’t turn this into a conditioning session.  However, you will be out of breath from doing heavy things.  There is a difference.  There is no set workout, so have fun, be creative and enjoy the time.  

Week Three (5's Pro/FSL)

Monday
  • Deadlift - 5’s Pro, FSL 5x5 (5/3/1 Week)
  • Press - 5’s Pro, FSL 5x5 (5/3/1 Week)
  • Ab work (no low back) – 100-200 reps
  • Conditioning work (easy or hard)
Wednesday
  • Squat – 5’s Pro, FSL 5x5 (3x5 Week)
  • Bench Press - 5’s Pro, FSL 5x5 (3x5 Week)
  • Lats/upper back – 100-200 reps
  • Conditioning work (easy or hard)
Friday
  • Deadlift - 5’s Pro, FSL 5x5 (3x5 Week)
  • Press - 5’s Pro, FSL 5x5 (3x5 Week)
  • Ab work (no low back) – 100-200 reps
  • Conditioning work (easy or hard)
 

Week Four (Rest Pause)

Monday
  • Squat - go for PR on last set, FSL – 1 set of 15-20 reps (3x3 Week)
  • Bench Press - go for PR on last set, FSL – 1 set of rest/pause (3x3 Week)
  • Assistance work – rest pause (choose 2-4 exercises and use the rest/pause)
  • Conditioning work (easy or hard)
Wednesday/Thursday
  • Deadlift – go for PR on last set, FSL – 1 set of 15-20 reps (3x3 week)
  • Press - go for PR on last set, FSL – 1 set of rest/pause (3x3 Week)
  • Assistance work – rest pause (choose 2-4 exercises and use the rest/pause)
  • Conditioning work (easy or hard)
Friday/Saturday - Same as week 2 (Continue program with basic structure/template)  

Notes:

  •  There is no 3x3, 3x5 or 5/3/1 week – keep alternating the workouts.  And don’t worry about it.
  • The odd numbered weeks are the “easy weeks” as far as effort.  You shouldn’t feel totally run down during these weeks and all the reps should be fast and strong.  Be careful of doing extra pressing work as assistance.  You can do dips/pushups, etc. but understand that you are pressing every training day so be cognizant of it.
  • The even numbered weeks are less volume BUT the PR sets, the rest pause sets and the widowmakers are going to suck.  For those that have done DoggCrapp training, a variation of it or the 5/3/1 Rest Pause template (and I mean really committed to the work) – you know that this can be very hard work.
  • The point of this template is to offer some set/rep variations and methodologies in the same template.  But with some intelligence.  As mentioned before, the rest/pause work is brutal. Doable but brutal, especially when done correctly.  So the work done on the odd weeks (5’s Pro and FSL, 5x5) can give your body a bit of a break but still allow you to get great, quality work.  The beauty of the 5’s Pro and FSL, 5x5 is that it allows you to make progress sub-maximally and it rarely drives you into the ground.  It’s not flashy and it is certainly not “NO PAIN, NO GAIN” but in the long run it works extremely well.
  • Keep up with the conditioning – don’t forget that a well conditioned heart/lungs pay WAY BIGGER dividends than farting around with endless assistance work. This doesn’t mean assistance work is useless. What it does mean is that sacrificing time conditioning for extra assistance work is useless.
  • Don’t ignore the speed work and the mobility/flexibility work – again, the 5/3/1 program has evolved greatly over the years and one thing that I have stressed and stressed as it has evolved is the importance of Total Training, not just weight training.  And the great thing is that conditioning, jumps/throws and mobility work take little time. And yet the pay off is huge.  Take the time, make the time.  I didn’t put these in the template but by now, it should be assumed.
  • Remember that conditioning work doesn’t have to run you down.  Get out there, do some work and go home.  Like everything else in life, a little bit of consistent work can go a long way.  This doesn’t mean you be a big pussy but you don’t have to load up the Prowler every time and kill yourself.
  • I can’t stress this enough – the odd weeks shouldn’t be a volume fest.
  • The PR sets on the even weeks (rest/pause weeks) don’t and shouldn’t be to failure. Before you lift, find out what a PR is for you.  Use reps, weight or the 1RM calculator – either one of these works.  But it shouldn’t be to failure – there is a big difference between setting a PR and going to failure. With that in mind, sometimes you feel like crap and won’t be able to set a PR. That is fine. That is part of life and training.  If you know this prior to your set, and you should know this, set a goal in your head for the reps and get it done.  So whatever happens on this day, you should ALWAYS have a goal in your mind prior to getting under the bar.
  • Personally, I see this program as a contrast between Speed and Stupid.  Speed is emphasized on the odd weeks. Getting stupid is stressed on the even weeks.  This is a simplistic way of looking at things and not entirely true but if you take a step back, you can see it.
  • If you remember the above statement, you can tweak some things/days for your own template.  Just sitting here typing it, I’ve come up with 3 variations. The point is NOT the template rather the idea behind what we are doing.