What are the best supplements for 531 training? Jim Wendler’s strength programmes are some of the post popular from the last 10 years. Wendler has written extensively on his training and nutrition but when it comes to supplements, information is more scarce.
One reason for this is that Wendler rarely writes about supplementation, or nutrition for that matter. The meal plans that he mentions in his writings and books are incredibly simple.
In 5/3/1: The Simplest and Most Effective Training System for Raw Strength, Wendler examines his methods for getting big and staying lean. In the FAQ section he sets out his general nutrition guidelines which are:
Eat whole foods and avoid protein powders if possible
Eat 4-6 meals per day with high quality carbs, protein and vegetables
Try to get 1g per pound of body weight in protein from whole foods per day
From this it would be fair to suggest that Jim Wendler doesn’t write much about supplements because he doesn’t see them as having particular value. This is a refreshing position among fitness writers and professionals who always seem to be selling you the new snake oil.
But that doesn’t mean he’s in the ‘No supplements, ever!’ camp either. Supplements have a place in his training programmes. Keep reading to find out my take on the subject.
Supplements for 5/3/1: Simple and Effective
I’ve been using 531 for nearly 2 years now and have found it to be the simplest and most effective way to build strength and muscle (funny that…).
I started the programme after a period of illness left me unable to train or even use supplements for months. Prior to that I had been doing primarily bodybuilding training of high weight, high reps, high volume along with every supplement I could get my hands on.
Coming out of illness and into 531 I stripped everything right back to the bare minimum including supplements. I cut meals to 4 a day (much more manageable) and started with just an amino drink after training before introducing whey when I could stomach it again.
One of the reasons I got sick was because I was an idiot with my nutrition. I was training waaaay too much and not eating enough. I’d been watching those vapid YouTube gym heroes who say you can’t over train – while off camera they shoot up with Test and HGH. Eventually my immune system waved the white flags and I was done.
Since then I’ve increased my calories to meet training volume and rejected ‘bulk and cut‘. I’m in this for the long term, not for short term wins and gratification.
On a normal week I’ll lift three to four times as well as cardio – normally 4 mile runs, hill sprints, circuits or a 5k pushing the buggy.
I also work quite long hours, find time to write and have other interests too so this is quite high volume. So I’m always conscious that my nutrition and supplementation needs to be on point with enough protein and carbs to allow me to recover effectively.
My 5/3/1 Supplement Stack
I’m calling this my stack of supplements for 531 training because that’s the way I train right now. If I was training differently, would I change my supplementation? Probably not that much.
However these are my own personal choices that I’ve developed over time. It’s important that you eat and supplement in the way that suits your body and training needs.
With that out of the way, here’s what my supplementation looks like in an average training day:
Breakfast: Fish oil, multi-vitamin, 1000mg Vitamin C
Post Training: 1-2 scoops whey concentrate (80% protein)
During the Day: Sip weak Branched Chain Amino Acid (BCAA) drink
Pre Bed: 1000mg Vitamin C
That’s the basic framework. Sometimes I’ll be using a preworkout powder or a natural testosterone booster like Bulbine natalensis (buy it here).
I’ll also eat a Quest bar if I’m on the road or doing a lot of travel for business. These are more of a convenience food than a supplement so I haven’t included them in the list.
Smart Supplementation: Simpler is Better
Simpler supplementation is always better. For one thing, it will save you money. I’ve used most supplements that experts say you “need” in your training but with limited effect. Supplementation should fill in any gaps, not replace whole foods or healthy eating.
Now my supplement bill is a quarter of what it was when I would down 4 shakes a day mixed with creatine, beta alanine, dextrose and so on.
Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 and his philosophy on training and nutrition is that it should be simple, effective and do the job. If you apply those principles to your supplementation, you can’t go wrong.
P.S. Enjoyed this? Then you might like my free E-book. You can get it by clicking here.