I read the original 5/3/1 (1st edition) a while back (about a year ago?), and I liked the program and have been loosely using it since. I finally found out that there was a new edition just for powerlifters, and I am glad I picked it up. Unlike the original, it contains information specific to geared lifters (but it is not entirely for geared lifters). It also had some useful recommendations regarding how to modify the program to fit your needs and how far out from a meet you are. Where the original contained a lot of things that any powerlifter should already know (like how to perform basic lifts), this edition replaces it with information that is of special interest to a powerlifter. While this book makes references to the original, the references are explained enough that this one can stand on its own just fine. Like the original, it makes for easy, short reading. If your interest is the sport of powerlifting, you can skip the original and just buy this one. Personally, I got more value out of it then I did the original.
Jim did a great job on this follow-up to his immensely popular 5/3/1/ book! I highly recommend this book for both powerlifters and people just looking to use 5/3/1 to get strong. He spends a lot of time explaining key concepts and going into more detail about topics first introduced in the original 5/3/1 book. As has been mentioned elsewhere, 5/3/1 will keep you lifting and progressing for a lifetime, not just one or two cycles.
One of the best things about the program is its flexibility, not only to the daily ups and downs of life but also to different lifters needs. I am 32 years old and fly every week for work, yet I still manage to use the 5/3/1 program for my training (hint: the two days a week method works great).
As an aside, I will suggest a bundle package for anyone buying this book:
1) 5/3/1 - The original 2) 5/3/1 For Powerlifting 3) Starting Strength - Basic Barbell Training by Rippetoe 4) A prowler 5) A spittoon (you'll know why after pushing the prowler and running the big mother hill)
This book gives a great overview of the original 5/3/1 program and then shows ways to tailor it if you want to improve your powerlifting. The 5/3/1 program has been incredibly effective for me. I bought this book to get more ideas. It was worth the money. I will incorporate some of the ideas when I start my next 5/3/1 cycle.
I enjoy Wendler's simple style. The best systems, of just about anything, have a basic structure, but allow for flexibility within that structure. There is nothing magical or mysterious about 531. Far too many of us get caught up in assistance exercises, gimmicks and techniques too advanced or implemented wrong and never progress in our primary lifts. By providing a basic structure that stresses the Deadlift, Squat, Bench Press and Overhead Press and a simple progression scheme that a majority of trainees are lacking coupled with multiple ways to individualize or add variety, Wendler offers a system that is pure gold. He reviews the basic system and then tweeks things a bit to gear it to powerlifting, and offers meet prep framework. That said, this is not a "get strong overnight" or fad program. It is for the long haul, so if you want to get off your hampster wheel, stop the "insanity", prep for a meet, or just structure your training and actually make some progress...do it! Just for the record, women are not immune to the benefits of 531!
I have seen people complain that Jim Wendler's books are too expensive for what they contain, but I have to disagree with this assessment. His programs are well-recognized, have thousands of success stories behind them, and are simple enough for any lifter to follow. Hell, there's even a free app to track 5/3/1 training. So the information in the books is generally well worth the price. This book is no exception. He spends very little time outlining the basics of the program, instead focusing on the modifications and specific concerns of the powerlifter versus people training for any other reason. Gear concerns, tapering a program for meet preparation, and other concerns specific to the powerlifter's goals are the focus of this book. Now, for the negative. I am pretty sure that no one edited this book at all. There are not only basic misspellings rampant throughout the book, but there are also numerous places where random symbols are inserted in the middle of a line. It looks as though it was composed in one format, then copy/pasted into a document in another format, and some kind of translation incompatibility replaced a lot of punctuation with other inappropriate symbols. At times, it actually makes comprehension of a sentence pretty difficult, but generally speaking, it is little more than an annoyance. How much of an annoyance is up to you entirely, but to me it reeks of amateurism.
I really think that Coach Shepard's "Bigger, Faster, Stronger" is an all-around stronger product--however, this book makes an excellent "graduate level" course after you have a strong beginning in that material. Especially, it provides good programs for incorporating other kinds of conditioning into your regular workout, which a appreciate--powerlifting is supplemental training for me, not my main activity.