5/3/1 and Football – Jim Wendler

5/3/1 and Football


Note from Jim: I received this message on the TNation forum and am very excited to see the program helping coaches and athletes in high school.  While I am doing my best to help London H.S., I hope other coaches help mentor their kids and get them started on the right path.  At the least, the kids will be stronger and in better shape.  At best, one or two will follow a similar path and will hopefully carry the torch for smart/common sense training.


A few months ago I started a thread (on TNation) about in-season training for some of my football players who had moved on to basketball. Our football season ended 2 weeks ago and I wanted to follow up with the progress we've made.
Because most of our players are 3 sport athletes, we didn't change our programming after basketball finished. We kept training to 2 days a week; squat/bench and deadlift/incline, 5's Pro. Incline because of space. Super sets were done with the main lifts; jumps, face pulls, rows and pull ups.


In June, we ran a combine and every player that had been lifting consistently showed huge improvements, 20%+ gains in their totals. We were also faster (40), more explosive (broad jump and shuttle) and the kids just carried themselves differently. We no longer looked like a young team, we looked like a Varsity team.

We did have some kids who decided to do their own thing during their Spring sport and their results were nowhere near what the guys following our program saw. I could have told them to just follow our routine, but I think guys need to learn some things on their own.

The June combine started our summer training. The only change we made to our programming was replacing deadlifts with cleans. We had wanted to add cleans in earlier, but with so many players constantly in-season we decided to wait. We did not want to teach a new movement in-season and most of our guys had never done cleans before. We could have left deadlifts and just added, but we decided to pull them. We had 6 weeks to teach form before the season started, plenty of time.

In-season training remained the same. Two days a week, with the team being split into 8 groups of 3. Each group started on a main lift, then rotated to the other main lift that day. This worked out great as we were able to complete training in 30-40 minutes a day. We had one player who had to reset his bench, every other player hit all of their reps the entire season. We added 5 or 10 pounds after each cycle and made sure reps remained fast.

That, for me, has been the biggest change in the way I program training. We watch bar speed and if anything is slow, we adjust.

On the field is what really counts and we made huge improvements this year. After losing our first two games, we went on a four game winning streak, finished the regular season at 4-3 and made sectionals (playoffs). This might not sound great to some, but this group didn't win a game last year, only won 1 game 2 years ago and hadn't been to sectionals since 2011.

Other teams commented on how much stronger our players were, other coaches told us we were the most physical team they played. While there is still a lot of work to do, we took some big steps and have built a solid foundation. - Mike G.

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