T Nation

1RM PR Max Attempts, When and How?



I'm currently following 5/3/1 with Joker sets and multiple FSLs, and always going for a rep PR on the last working set.
What I am still very confused about is when and how to go for true 1rm PR attempts:
Can I go for it in the Joker sets if I feel particularly good any given day?
Or should I rarely put in a PR attempt day, for example after a deload week before starting a new cycle?

At the moment, I just keep on increase the weight on Joker sets and maybe go for a PR in any of the main lifts about roughly once a month when I feel like it. But I have a feeling that that is too often and might be counterproductive...

The frequency obviously is important here, and the idea behind Joker sets is to NOT go to failure (as mentioned in Beyond 5/3/1). In general, I have trouble sticking to the "don't go to failure" rule with the Joker sets, and quite often work up to 90%-98% of my true 1rm (often not really leaving 1 or 2 reps in the tank).
So please give me shit if that is stupid! It's so damn hard ignoring the ego at times :smiley:

Any piece of information or advice that can shed light onto this is highly appreciated!
Thanks in advance!


Dude, have faith that the program is working - setting PRs is evidence. If it is really eating away at you, do it once every six months. You'll appreciate the jumps more and you won't be exposed to sooking it up because you happened to have a bad day where you're weaker than what you were 3 weeks ago.


Only do Jokers every sixth week.

Just do the program as layed out. I'm not sure if that answers your question but that is the answer.


Have faith in the program, we all mess this up until we mess up bad, then we start to listen. Pep prs are way healthier for you long term.

For what its worth, and I may be jaded because I'm getting over my second shoulder surgery in 3 months, don't chase max pr's if you don't need them (I use to because my max was always close to strongman competition weight, this burned me out in a lot of ways I didn't know about) but overtime I kept pushing 1rm even tho they got way higher than what I needed for comp. I got caught in the more weight trap! 650, hmm lets go for 675, then hmm 700 is a nice round number. never satisfied

When I come back, I'll probably only really 'maxout' once or twice a year. Let your rep PR's be your measuring stick.

Chasing and testing a true 1rm too often will shorten your training, its too much toll on the body. But again, that's if you don't need it for whatever strength sports you do.


Alright, thanks for the input, that definitely helps! It makes a lot of sense to only push for PRs in the form of rep PRs, especially considering that this should be a lot easier on the body for the long run.

Jim: I don't get the Jokers only every 6 weeks, though. From your book I got the impression that one goes for Jokers if one feels great enough to do it. And since I am considering myself still a novice lifter (I'm not counting the 10+ years I wasted f***ing around in the gym without squats and deadlifts, and then we're talking a bit over a year of serious lifting so far) and I'm only on the fourth %/3/1 cycle, I've not yet had trouble doing at least some Jokers every time actually.

Some clarification would be greatly appreciated again, hehe


Because people can't help themselves - you push the PR's, you'll be fine. The problem with jokers is that it gives too much rope.


I've done the Jokers every 6th week like Jim recommended without really even thinking about it and I've hit a PR every single time. For me it makes that 6th week extremely exciting. Just keep going hard on those rep PR sets, even if it's higher reps.


You could try the Strength Challenge on page 88. That one has some programmed singles which I find reduces the urge to do "jokers" in the more traditional sense.


Thanks again everyone!

I really got the impression that Joker sets should/would be done frequently and just left out if one feels like crap, at least that's definitely what "Beyond 5/3/1" made me believe.
I guess it mainly boils down to listening to my body and figuring it out from there. Which ain't easy really!