Jim Wendler “Beyond 531” a review

“Go be average on your own time, Fitness Hipster. We are training, not fitnessing”

I’ve been a fan of Wendler’s writings for a long time. I’ve previously detailed some thoughts about 531 and CF in this post.

Pretty much out of the blue (at least for me) Wendler launched “Beyond 531” a few days ago. I loved the original book, but found the 531 for PL and the 2nd edition to be a bit disappointing.


As soon as I got the book, I dug into it and I managed to finish it in a couple of hours of reading. As usual, Wendler’s style is easy to read and comprehend, while still offering plenty of detail to get the exact point across.

Wendler continues to repeat the mantra of training maxes, starting light and beating rep records, but also really goes in-depth with the importance and application of mobility and flexibility work. He even suggests yoga! 🙂

The variations:

What really sets this book apart from the others is the ENORMOUS amount of spin-off routines. Want more volume? Higher intensity? back-off sets? It’s all there. In several different formats. There are actually so many variations that picking one could be a problem in itself. This also opens up the possibility for the more experienced lifter to mix and match approaches, which is something I really like personally. I’m not a huge fan of pushing my SQ and DL to the limit every week, but I would like a bit more volume than the original program. Even though my training is loosely planned until November, I’ve started drawing up a routine for myself based on some of the variations.

The variations include : SSS (strength, speed, singles), Full Body, Spinal Tap training, five different deloads (to make them suck less), First set last, pyramids, dynamic work and paused work.

There’s more too.

The “joker” sets:

The joker sets is a completely new concept, that allows you to go outside of the program and really push it a bit more if you’re having a great day. This is great.

Unless you’re a fucktard obviously. More on this later.


Most people like challenges and short 4-6 week programs are extremely popular. Probably because most people really can’t handle the thought of trucking along with the same program for years. Ironically, that’s very appealing to me, though I’ve managed to fuck up 531 with my extreme idiocy I feel like I’ve matured and I’m now at a point where I can get it to work. Especially with all the variations.

Back to the challenges. There are 5: The BBB (aka hypertrophy) challenge, the strength challenge, the Prowler challenge, the 100-rep challenge and the 531-rest/pause challenge. Combined with all the variations, there’s just so much stuff to keep you entertained.

The philosophy:

Wendler has a unique way of passing on his experiences under the bar. His recommendations are sensible, without being overly conservative and are based on good old-fashioned lifting, running and stretching. Nothing really fancy here, just hard work and dedication. We all need more hard work, more dedication and more consistency.

The “problem”:

There’s just SO MUCH STUFF! Seriously. There’s gotta be training programs, challenges and variations to keep you entertained for some four or five years. Do you even have the mental capacity to envision where you’ll be at in five years? 🙂

Another problem is with the joker sets as you can potentially fuck up everything with these. They’re an extremely powerful tool for the smart lifter, but I’m pretty sure they’re gonna kill a Crossfitter or two along the way.

If you’re a fucktard, don’t do joker sets. 🙂

Heavier weights:

What many people find “boring” in the original program is that it’ll take you so long to get to the 1-3 rep range where they think they build strength. Obviously you also build strength in the higher rep ranges, but yea – people like lifting heavy stuff. This book has at least a handful different variations, that allow you to hit weights at or above your training max. How’s that?

Who’s this book for?

The title suggests that it’s for people who completed 531 and/or are “done” with the program, but that’s far from the truth. “Beyond” in this sense means “building on” or “what I’ve discovered through 5 years of using the program”.

The book is for beginners and advanced lifters looking to take it back to the basics and work hard on the main lifts. The programs in the book will get you strong and big no matter who you are.


The original book was an eye-opener for me and it represented a different approach to training entirely. It had some limitations, mainly that the outline was very basic and open to interpretation. This new book fixes that with a massive amount of templates. It builds on the original book so nicely that you sort of wish 531 for PL and 2nd edition never really happened. You close your eyes and forget them, and for that brief moment, the stars align. This book will give you the tools to structure your training towards any kind of goal for life. For life. You don’t really need anything else (but I sure do recommend that you keep reading).

Buy the book here.

This book is definitely worth the money if you’re into strength training. No doubt about it.

PS: there’s no mention of Crossfit at all. Thank you Jim! <3

5 thoughts on “Jim Wendler “Beyond 531” a review

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