Shrugged Collective

Interview with 5/3/1 author Jim Wendler

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This Scotch-fueled episode of Barbell Shrugged is intended for mature audiences only. The stories and lessons we share with 5/3/1 author Jim Wendler are not for sensitive ears or the easily offended, but they just might make you incredibly strong.

Enjoy the show, but brace for impact. Jim is one of the most passionate and real human beings I’ve ever known. His point of view is raw and honest, and it could change the way you live and train forever.

Listen up.

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The Real Deal

Matt Vincent and I have similar stories, although I admit, he’s the better athlete.

Yes, he looks a lot  like a jacked Bobby Moynihan, only with cooler hair. But he also happens to be a Highland Games World Champion. But still, both of us owe a lot to Jim.

At a time when we were both still raw and in the fog, he took the time to answer our endless training questions. We trained and talked shit. Religion. Politics. Sludge, whatever. And when it came to life and purpose, Jim wouldn’t ever bullshit anyone. There was not time for that. To borrow a phrase from Henry Rollins, Jim would always kick you the real deal. The truth.

I’ve never thanked Jim for some pivotal advice he gave me about a decade ago now. I’d like to do that.


April 17th, 2005. Jim squats 1k, and I look like a Goth Shrek?

Jim’s lesson

There was a time when I took powerlifting very seriously. It’s an easy thing to see in hindsight.

The truth is that I could have trained a lot more effectively (less skull-caps and triglycerides), with plenty of time left over for leading a more balanced life. But that wasn’t my mindset at the time. I figured that extreme results required extreme methods, which just isn’t true.

At the time we were both training for the 2005 Iron House Powerlifting Classic in Janesville, OH. I made the drive up from Memphis to Columbus to put in a week of Circa-max training at Westside Barbell (very high band-tension box squats).

I wanted to train with Jim for a very simple reason – He was one of the most explosive squatters I had ever seen. I knew that if I wanted to also squat 1,000 pounds, I was going to have to TRY and be just as fast, every single set.

I never caught Jim, but the chasing made me much stronger and explosive.


I knew that I was going to do well in the upcoming meet, but the truth was that I could do MUCH better.

At the time I was distracted by life. I was desperately trying to wedge myself into a PhD program for Physiology and Sports Science, but I was struggling to find a fit. I was freaking out, honestly. I didn’t have a vision of the future that didn’t include a world championship of my own.

I asked Jim what he thought about it as we wrapped up our assistance work. “What do you think, should I move up here? I think I have a shot.”

I didn’t get the answer I wanted, but it’s what I needed to hear.

Almost any coach or lifter would have rumbled about what it takes to be a world champion. They would say that, if I really wanted it, I would need to go all-in. And that’s true. But Jim Wendler is not the typical lifter, coach, or human being. He said what was true, not the thing that I wanted to hear.

“Why the fuck would you do that, dude?” he proclaimed. “You could do this shit anytime you want, but you can’t put off your studies. Finish your work.”

I took Jim’s advice. And as it happens, that was awesome advice. My additional time hanging around Memphis gave me time to get to know a few knuckleheads that I would go on to start a podcast with 6 years down the road.

Jim, thanks for everything you’ve done. My guess is that you’ll never quite understand just how many lives you’ve actually changed for the better.

No wonder he has so many questions. He is reading it upside down.

A photo posted by Jim Wendler (@jimwendler) on


Follow the guys

Check out Jim’s site JimWendler.com, and make sure to follow him on InstagramFor Jim’s books check out his Amazon author page HERE (5/3/1 for Powerlifting is my favorite).


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5/3/1: A must have book for your training journey. Click to order.

The Drifta Lifta

Matt’s actually feeling generous. Visit his site now and you can save 10% on anything in his shop by using the code SHRUG at checkout. Thanks, Matt. You should check out his Drifta Lifta video series, he does a really good job with it. If nothing else, go watch him get tortured by Kelly Starrett.

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Don’t miss Matt’s book, STRENGTH LAB. It’s a no-BS guide to maximal power & Strength.

Jim, Matt, we had a blast drinking and talking shit. Let’s do it again soon.




Chris Moore is a writer, recovering meathead, fledgling raconteur and rabid imbiber. He's also cohost and resident potty mouth on Barbell Shrugged, a weekly podcast devoted to Crossfit, strength, fitness and all things brash. His experience is drawn from over twenty-years spent training for and competing in American Football, Powerlifting, a bit of strongman and a dash of mixed martial arts. Also, it's possible that he's had one too many cups of coffee. A caffeine fever is a hell of a thing, you know?


  • Bill Murray lives in Charleston, SC right now. And yes, most of the stories of him stealing food are true.

  • One of the things I find the most bad ass, and something I personally believe to be one of the best qualities in a person is to be passionate about something and be grossly committed to making that passion work in life somehow/someway. It was good to hear Jim say some of this and I have a massive amount of respect for him and his perspective. Thanks for another great podcast.

  • Awesome scoring an interview with Jim! So glad he has made it back from his motorcycle accident. 5 3 1 is keeping me NOV. I totally agree with you Chris, he will never truly know his impact but I hope he has even a small sense of what he has contributed to improving and enriching the lives of so many.

    … and to get him with the drifta lifta too? Barbell Shrugged is killing it.

  • Great episode! Didn’t know what Jim was like but it was great to see his passion and ability to cut right to the truth whether you like it or not.

    I am 3 months into 5/3/1 and have seen big gains by just being consistent and patient and I have found a new love for training. He probably cant even imagine how many people he has inspired. Thanks Jim!

    I have two boys myself and can’t wait to read the book for his sons. Nice job guys!

  • What an epic episode! Really relaxed and chilled. It was great to hear such a badass talk with such charisma about what he loves.
    More episodes like this please.

  • I am on my 15th week 531. It works.
    Bottom line, it works and only works if you follow the system as it is written.
    5rm squat went up 120 pounds
    5rm press went up 60 pounds
    1rm bench went up 40
    5rm deadlift went up 80 pounds

    Cant wait for the 30 week program that you guys talked about. Cause I want to lift heavy shit for the rest of my life.

    I live in South Africa so we dont get the nice equipment at a decent price so I am going to build my own prowler out of old train tracks and scrap metal and give it a run to .


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