T Nation

2nd Month on 5/3/1

I understand this system is meant for more progress over time…
My concern is, following this to the ‘t’ seems like my lifts won’t progress much at all, considering my current lift and experience.

Quick stats: 19 years old, 5’9", 157 now (summer diet sucks living w/ parents) normally 165 during the year. My lifts have gone up, despite the weight loss, thank god.
I’m using different exercises, but feel they are still suitable. Most are estimates though, haven’t lifted for a 1RM yet b/c my reps are increasing (except bench).

Box Squat, estimated 340, was a true double at 285.
Bench, was 205, now true 1RM at 225 (did test this one).
Deads, 305, now is and estimated 355.
Push Press, 135, now estimated 160.

I say estimated based off the estimator Jim included (weight x reps x 0.0333 + weight). I know these lifts are stronger though b/c my old doubles and triples are now 5-8 reps or more.

Does it make sense to follow his rules and only add 10 lbs on big lifts and 5 lbs on the small ones? It just doesn’t make sense to me to limit myself THAT much b/c my new lifts are so much stronger… I plan on taking (my deads for example) to the 355, meaning using a fake 1RM of 320 now, instead of making my deads 10lbs stronger from my lifts 1 month ago.
Ideas?

Read the book again. He stresses a few times how gradually your supposed to move up to help you avoid hitting a plateau.

[quote]solidkhalid wrote:
Read the book again. He stresses a few times how gradually your supposed to move up to help you avoid hitting a plateau.[/quote]

exactly. and please for the love of god, do not bump up the weights 30 lbs in 1 cycle. I did that with my bench (10 lbs a month) and my bench hit the skids within 2 cycles. DO NOT go against jims word. just do exactly as the book says. ud be amazingly stupid not to listen to the book and jims advice. ur supposed to make progress of long periods of time. the results that people want think that they come within a 8 week program. u can’t get as strong as Jim or Dave within 8 weeks ok? it’s taken both of them 20+ years to get there. it’s not easy and it’s really tedious. but just do what the fuckin book says and do it. did u start with 90% of ur 1rm?

oh and ur not even supposed to test your 1RM

Jim wendler > your thoughts on jim’s program. follow to the letter and talk to us in a year.

People always seem to forget that just because you only increase your training max 5 or 10 lbs. for calculation purposes doesn’t mean that your lifts will only improve by 5 or 10 lbs. per cycle. You’re not limiting yourself by following a slow, steady progession.

This especially true with this system since you are challenging yourself by doing max reps on your last set. Thus you are still getting a quality training stimulus even if your 1RM has increased by more than 5 or 10 lbs from the last month.

Besides that, if add 60 lbs. to your BP and OHP and 120 lbs. to your SQ and DL in a year that is absolutely fantastic progress for 99% of the training population.
OP, it sounds like you have made good progress in only a month or two on the program and yet you want to start messing with the basic premise of the system. You’re making good progress, so don’t get greedy. There’s a reason Wendler has answered this question the same way about a million times.

I never said anything about 8 week 2,000lbs gains…

I guess I would consider these my noob gains, and it only makes sense to take advantage of them. I’ve been training bodybuilding style for 2 full years now (why? I haven’t a clue, weighed too little for that shit).

The transition to strength vs. aesthetics made a big difference. I guess I’m comparing the gains in a way that is irrelevant…
Also, yes I started w my 4RM, as requested, that’s what I was referring to as my fake 1RM.

Thanks. I’ll stick w/ the program as stated. I guess it’s just odd he includes ppl on elitefts and his book who made huge gains, that clearly strayed from the program. Makes his point of using small weight increases less powerful…

oh and ur not even supposed to test your 1RM

You can test your 1rm as long as its incorporated within the program and do not perform an extra workout for your 1rm. If you hit a plateau its also a good time to establish a new 1rm #. There is nothing wrong with progressing too slowly as long as you are progressing. Your question is very valid and possibly you started with a 1rm that was too low or had incredible beginner gains.

However, if you are hitting 5 - 8 reps on your 3+ set I do not think that is out of the ordinary for a beginner / intermediate lifter. Now 8 - 12 on your 1+ set would be a different story and I could probably justify making an adjustment to my 1rm if that were the case.

The more slowly you progress the longer you will continue to progress without plateauing and the better long term gains you will likely achieve. Is it possible to start too low??? I say yes, but that’s for you to decide.

[quote]HERC410 wrote:
Jim wendler > your thoughts on jim’s program. follow to the letter and talk to us in a year.[/quote]

haha so true.

[quote]gbouge1 wrote:
You can test your 1rm as long as its incorporated within the program and do not perform an extra workout for your 1rm. If you hit a plateau its also a good time to establish a new 1rm #. There is nothing wrong with progressing too slowly as long as you are progressing. Your question is very valid and possibly you started with a 1rm that was too low or had incredible beginner gains.

However, if you are hitting 5 - 8 reps on your 3+ set I do not think that is out of the ordinary for a beginner / intermediate lifter. Now 8 - 12 on your 1+ set would be a different story and I could probably justify making an adjustment to my 1rm if that were the case.

The more slowly you progress the longer you will continue to progress without plateauing and the better long term gains you will likely achieve. Is it possible to start too low??? I say yes, but that’s for you to decide.[/quote]

Thanks for putting it into perspective. I just may increase my push press and box squat then. On week three I hit a 9 rep max on the squats and 12 on the push press… Just looked through my log.
If I don’t adjust those (maybe due to shitty diet that day, or the ridiculous amount of stress during this summer) would my gains be that good still? Meaning, on such low weights (I consider them that) would repping it out be of any benefit? My point I’m getting at is I don’t want muscle endurance for low weights (like 115lb push press), my goals are strength. I would feel a little different on the reps if the weights were higher like 200lbs for 12 reps, more taxing and damaging to muscles.
Thoughts?

[quote]fmaurice wrote:

[quote]gbouge1 wrote:
You can test your 1rm as long as its incorporated within the program and do not perform an extra workout for your 1rm. If you hit a plateau its also a good time to establish a new 1rm #. There is nothing wrong with progressing too slowly as long as you are progressing. Your question is very valid and possibly you started with a 1rm that was too low or had incredible beginner gains.

However, if you are hitting 5 - 8 reps on your 3+ set I do not think that is out of the ordinary for a beginner / intermediate lifter. Now 8 - 12 on your 1+ set would be a different story and I could probably justify making an adjustment to my 1rm if that were the case.

The more slowly you progress the longer you will continue to progress without plateauing and the better long term gains you will likely achieve. Is it possible to start too low??? I say yes, but that’s for you to decide.[/quote]

Thanks for putting it into perspective. I just may increase my push press and box squat then. On week three I hit a 9 rep max on the squats and 12 on the push press… Just looked through my log.
If I don’t adjust those (maybe due to shitty diet that day, or the ridiculous amount of stress during this summer) would my gains be that good still? Meaning, on such low weights (I consider them that) would repping it out be of any benefit? My point I’m getting at is I don’t want muscle endurance for low weights (like 115lb push press), my goals are strength. I would feel a little different on the reps if the weights were higher like 200lbs for 12 reps, more taxing and damaging to muscles.
Thoughts?[/quote]

2 serious questions - it might sound like I’m being a smartass, but I’m not trying to be.

  1. How do you plan to get to 200x12 reps if you don’t work your way up to it?

  2. When you are able to do 200x12 reps, don’t you think that your 1RM will be considerably higher and you’ll have the same question about why you aren’t working with a weight closer to your 1RM because you won’t feel at that point that 200x12 is doing enough damage.

I don’t think I see what you’re getting at w/ 1)…

  1. I’ve been told repping light weights doesn’t have the same effect on the muscle as the heavy stuff, even if it’s relative in percent maxes to different people. I’m not saying it from a perspective of ease, but a perspective of muscle tension, if that makes sense.
    This may be false info (read it here a while back, from Tate I think) or logic, but for an example: If a guy could only dumbell row 20-25lbs for 12 reps, i would have him focus on higher weights, like 35-50lbs low reps and assisted if needed (assuming his goal was strength), where as if a guy w/ a huge/strong back, like kroc, the higher reps of HEAVY weight would work great b/c they can damage more fibers.
  1. How do you plan on getting to 200x12? 5/3/1 or what?

  2. If a guy can row 20-25 for 12 reps, next time he uses the heavier increment weight i.e. 25-30.
    I’ve seen what your talking about and honestly people can’t deal with the retarded increase in weight. Going from 20-25 to 50 is too much of a shock unless you’ve worked up to it.

“Heavy” is subjective. 50 lbs row is light as hell to me, not even a warm up, but for someone just getting started or weak back or whatever they might only be able to get a half a rep. So is 50 a heavy weight? Depends on who you ask.

"Countdown to 5/3/1

Ready to take 5/3/1 for a test drive? To ensure your success, Jim Wendler cautions to avoid these four common rookie mistakes.

Don’t customize: This probably applies to any program published on this site, but it especially matters for 5/3/1. You must do the program the way it’s written.

“People ask the craziest shit,” Wendler says, his voice getting louder again. " ‘Can I combine 5/3/1 with Westside for Skinny Bastards?’ Why not just do one or the other and make progress?

“These same guys then bitch three months later on some message board that the program didn’t work. That’s like complaining that your girl got pregnant despite you using a Trojan condom, except you forget to mention you were wearing the condom on your freakin’ fingers.” "

Just call me Khalid Wendler, lol

I guess I took that article into consideration too much back then, the one referencing stress on the muscles…

I understand what you’re saying, I used the same thing for myself, i guess it’s all just individual anyway.

You gotta think man. Slow and steady is where you want to be. A year on this program and if you can actually keep the 10 lb progression, youll be 120 pounds stronger on your main lifts. THAT IS HUGE. I have no idea how you don’t think thats amazing progress.

fmaurice: The overall advice so far is to go back, reread 5/3/1, acknowledge its principles and stick to them for a period much longer than you have.

I agree, but with one caveat.

I think there’s value to knowing your one-rep max on each of the main lifts when beginning 5/3/1, and basing your program on hard, current numbers, not estimates. Estimates, to my reading of Jim, are for when you’re well into 5/3/1 and and your reps are increasing along with small (very small) weight increases.

But you should begin with established numbers.

I’d say that after your next deload, take one week to determine your one-rep max for each main lift. One lift per workout, four workouts; this is taxing and I don’t think you should do more per workout than this. Do a search for a good method to ramp up to a 1RM – there are articles on this site describing methods.

After you’ve determined your legitimate maxes, recalibrate your 5/3/1 program accordingly and work it, sticking to Jim’s parameters.

[quote]fmaurice wrote:
I don’t think I see what you’re getting at w/ 1)…

  1. I’ve been told repping light weights doesn’t have the same effect on the muscle as the heavy stuff, even if it’s relative in percent maxes to different people. I’m not saying it from a perspective of ease, but a perspective of muscle tension, if that makes sense.
    This may be false info (read it here a while back, from Tate I think) or logic, but for an example: If a guy could only dumbell row 20-25lbs for 12 reps, i would have him focus on higher weights, like 35-50lbs low reps and assisted if needed (assuming his goal was strength), where as if a guy w/ a huge/strong back, like kroc, the higher reps of HEAVY weight would work great b/c they can damage more fibers.[/quote]

5/3/1 is for slow/steady progress. If you feel that you have some newbie gains to make and you can’t make them with 5/3/1, then do something different. Don’t try to modify a slow/steady program to make it a faster pace. Find a program designed for what you want and do that. Come back to 5/3/1 later.

I enjoy 5/3/1, but I’m an older lifter. 5/3/1 isn’t for everyone. Some people use other programs. Some people use different programs for each of their lifts. 5/3/1 is getting a lot of hype from the people it works for. Don’t let that hype make you think it’s the only program to use, because then you’ll be trying to modify it into something it is not, just so you can “use” it. At that point, you aren’t using 5/3/1 anyway. Find the program that meets your needs.

I throroughly enjoy 5/3/1 and it’s pace. I’ve been lifting for 23yrs. In high school I lifted how my friends told me to lift. In college I was inundated with muscle mags and multiple routines. After college I still stumbled around and finally in the past 1 1/2 yrs I found what works for me.

I’ve tried to convince friends to follow 5/3/1 but with little luck. The program as it is written appears ineffective BUT I’ve gotten the best results I’ve ever gotten. I think the consistency of the lifts along with the average lifgt being 80% for 3 reps is what makes it work. I know too much math.

I started with 20% below my 1RM which was probably too low, but I’m still gaining strength 8 months later.

-Tredmark & C-Bear
I’ll have to consider that… There’s a lot to go into it all. I’ve got some true down time soon so maybe a break and stress reliever will allow my body to rest up nicely while I really figure out what the hell i need for myself.

I have to say, my goal is strength, that’s why this appealed so much to me. I’ll look into what else is available to me and see how they compare to this, once again, having gone through it for at least 1 round at least.