It’s only week 1 for me on Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 Program, billed as: “The Simplest and Most Effective Training System for Raw Strength” and I’m already having a blast.  Course, if you know me, it doesn’t take much to get me excited about barbell training, but the combination of simple, effective, and raw strength sealed the deal for me.  As a mom juggling two jobs, a simple, efficient, and effective training program is the only kind of training I really have the time for. In addition, 5/3/1 lines up perfectly with my goals, to get stronger in the big lifts: squats, deadlifts, bench press, and overhead press (OHP).  And although the program enjoys plenty of popularity among powerlifters who use Wendler’s 5/3/1/ program to prepare for meets.  I see absolutely no reason why I can’t try it! In fact, I’ve always admired the brawny powerlifting culture: it’s somewhat hidden from public view, but full of heart.

“Powerlifting? Why would you want to do THAT?”

But rather than instantly launch into some sort of discussion on how much weight I blasted and how sore I felt in a variety of new places, what I really want to talk about is how much fun I’m having just doing it.  I know from everything I’ve read and heard that 5/3/1 is an intelligently designed program built on the main goal of getting stronger.  I may not be deadlifting a car, nor do I necessarily have “the build” to be a successful competitive powerlifter, but anyone can still succeed with a powerlifting program if your lifts progress over time. It’s all relative.  It’s highly unlikely I’m going to impress anyone (but myself!) with the numbers I press or blast, but I’m learning new technique, having fun with the heavy metal, and succeeding in my own right.  So who cares whether other people understand (let alone approve of) it or not?
The point is ladies (and dudes), if you really want to try something different and fun with your workouts, and it matches up with your goals, this is the year you ought to go for it. To put it in the simplest terms, engage in a great fitness endeavor because you just WANT TO. Not because you’re necessarily training to be competitive body builder, or powerlifter, or elite marathon runner or whatever.
I’ve been dismissed by enough people who’ve scoffed: “Powerlifting? Why would anyone want to do THAT?” like I was about to take a dive in molten lava or shave off my eyebrows  (I did that.)  Is it because (*gasp*) I’m a GIRL and god forbid I break a nail, mess up my hair, or grow a callous or two?  Or worse, a pretty girl might just BLOW UP overnight and be as big as this dude?
It reminds me of a brilliant post a friend’s daughter posted here (read the short article and scroll to the comic.) Picking up barbells, getting stronger, running faster, building muscle or whatever can be a deeply personal challenge,  but you don’t have to bench press 500 lbs, squat 1000 lbs, walk the competition stage, or run in every single race to prove some sort of deep, meaningful point.  You can be a fitness success story in your own right.  Do it for you, and more importantly, because it’s totally awesome.

Sumi Singh is a Personal Trainer in Austin, TX and an online diet coach. Her website is

  1. Waltraut 13 years ago

    Thanks for trying to describe the terminlogy towards the rookies!

  2. Jim 13 years ago

    Is there one particular resource (hard copy book, ebook etc.) that you recommend to women who are interested in starting a weight lifting program for the first time?

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