Quick Interview with Jim Wendler: Beginner Mistakes, Individualization, and Your Path

Quick Interview with Jim Wendler: Beginner Mistakes, Individualization, and Your Path

 Hi, could you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?

I am Jim Wendler, father to Mason and James Wendler, son of James and Jance Wendler, brother to Laura Wendler and husband to Juliet Wendler.  I’ve been involved with training, weight lifting and programming for almost 30 years.  I played football and graduated from the University of Arizona.  After graduation, I began to powerlift competitively. I am known for my contributions in articles and the Q/A at EliteFTS.com and developing/writing the popular 5/3/1 training program. When all is said and done, I’m just a guy that loves to train, loves to write and loves to pursue his passions.  That’s about it.  I have things to do in my life and I always want to move forward and get stuff done.

Obviously you’re an advocate of 5/3/1 but if you had to sum it up in a sentence, what is your training approach?

Simple and effective programming with large, multi-joint exercises.  I think that sums it up as best as I can in one sentence.


How would you recommend younger lifters approach diet, is a cut/bulk approach a good idea?

Just depends on the individual, but really…who lifts weights to get smaller?  Follow a base programming template that involves mobility, strength, hypertrophy and conditioning and adjust the diet to fit your needs.  A young lifter just needs to learn the basic lifts, learn basic programming and understand that this is not going to happen overnight.  I wish someone would have screamed those things at me when I was younger.  At least the last part.


What does a typical day for you look like?

I am fortunate enough to work from home so much of it depends on what family stuff I have going on.  But every day I try to set 3 basic goals for myself – things I need to get done.  Anything after that is icing on the cake, so to speak.  So at least I know I am 3 things better than I was yesterday.


What is the worst thing you see people doing? Keep it fitness related

Novice lifters listening to novice lifters on message boards – it’s like two Navy recruits running a nuclear submarine.  Nothing good can happen.


You’ve had much success in powerlifting, what do you feel are the biggest mistakes that you have learned from?

You have to remember that for the first 13 years of my training life, I trained for football and other sports.  This was harder and more complicated than training for powerlifting.  Most of the mistakes that I made were made then, not powerlifting.  Powerlifting is an easy sport to train for as all you have to do is get better at the squat, bench and deadlift.  Training for a sport like football is much more complicated. The biggest thing that I’ve learned over the years is that this is not an 8 week, 6 month or 1 year pursuit. It is YEARS.  When that is realized, anything becomes possible.


How important do you feel individualisation is when training and is there ever such a thing as a size-fits-all program?

“Individualization” is a way for people to think that they are special and different, really a symptom of how important people think they are in a world of billions.  You put a hand on a hot stove, it burns. You squat, your legs get bigger and stronger.  Everyone thinks they are special until they become accountable.  So to answer your question, yes there are programs that “fit all”.  They just have to be rooted in common sense.


A skinny/underweight young male approaches you, seeking to gain weight, what kind of approach would you advise to him?

Lift weights, run, eat more than normal and take your time.  You can’t push an oyster in slot machine, and you can’t force much of this.  I don’t recommend becoming a fat, awful turd either.  That’s why you have to run or push the Prowler.  The strongest, most explosive people I know are throwers and they all run and jump.  So there is no reason why you can’t either. There are no secrets to any of this – you have to be smart and be patient.


What is one tip that you would give anyone who is looking to get into powerlifting?

Don’t worry what others are doing around you. Seek your own path and do what you think is correct.  This goes for life too.  Powerlifting is simply about being strong. If what you are doing isn’t making you strong, drop it.  If the path you chose is weak, veer another way.

Thanks a lot, Jim.

Original Interview with Propane Fitness 

Training Books and Programs by Jim Wendler


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