T Nation

5/3/1 for PL, Goal Lifts?


When using the 531 for PL, what would you say was a good way of setting the 'goal' for the comp. (needed for the singles and, of course the competition.
Obviously it has to be a sensible number, would basing it on the recent calculated max be good, or perhaps working it back from the Training max, i.e. if the Tmax has worked up steadily (not reset) you could divide the Tmax by 0.9 to get an estimate of a max.


If you're doing 5/3/1 for powerlifting, you're probably doing heavy singles. Maybe base it off those.


The heavy singles are supposed to be based on the goal lifts!


Exactly! Thats why I'm asking. Planning to find my max DL at the end of this year.


OK I guess I'll go with current Tmax/0.9


Im guessing you are new to competing? If that's the case, your best bet is to shoot a little lower, try to make all of your attempts rather than hitting an absolutely optimal weight.

When I do heavy singles after my normal 5/3/1, 92-93% of my highest estimated max seems to be a sweet spot for something I will get for sure, but it will feel heavy enough. For instance my bench is estimated at 400, I don't think I have any business attempting over 375 in training. For me, heavy singles don't do much for increasing my strength directly, but I do em to get a feel for heavier weights, and to boost my ego with a PR, obviously.

For a comp, you can play it by ear a bit I assume, but personally I'd say Tmax/0.9 is a bit high. That comes right back to 100% of your estimated max, and if any tiny little thing goes wrong, you will miss it. Theoretically.


Tmax/0.9 doesn't really equate to Theo max, if you've been cycling without, resets, for a while


Right, if you haven't reset for a while, it depends how your progress has been in relation to your current training max. Odds are, it's pretty close, though. At any rate, your training max is a relatively arbitrary number, which is why I recommended using a % of your best estimated max.

Also, the formulae aren't perfect, and the weights at your gym probly aren't either, so whatever you do, it's possible that your goal is inaccurate. May as well be something that is a hair low, rather than a hair high, imo.


I see no problem with this considering it is your GOAL for the 3rd attempt...IMO, this should always be a lifetime PR and you should aim high...If you have any shot of hitting it, you will nail your opener and second attempt based on the given percentages...so that way all you have to do next is PR!


Isn't the general rule for comps something like this.
1st: What you can triple in the gym
2nd: Gym max or the most you can hit on any given day
3rd: New PR, somewhat planned and a number you should be able to get based on your training but saving it for competition.

So with 5/3/1 singles
1st: Most singles in this range
2nd: Some here but not every week leading up to comp, used to be confident in lift, not to wear yourself out with near max attempts every week.
3rd: None obviously


Its clear that many people offering advice in this thread have not read 5-3-1 for Powerlifting...


I agree with this in general, and as you probly have more experience in comps than I do, I suppose its probly good to follow. My concern is with a first meet, you might want to back off just a hair. My Training max bench is 365 right now, so that /0.9 = 406. I recently missed 370. Sure, I have some reasons (excuses) that I missed it, but that's kinda my point. 1RM estimations are not perfect, and consistently shoot too high, for newer lifters imo. Not to mention, this is still 36 pounds short of 406. I guess it goes both ways though, in a competition I'm gonna have adrenaline flowing, and the weights will likely be lighter. (I've weighed a couple plates, they both were 46)

Ultimately it's totally up to you, if you are comfortable going into your first meet with an easy opener, a decently heavy 2nd attempt, and a balls out PR 3rd attempt that you have a good chance of missing, go for it.


By training max bench, you mean the number you base all your lifts off of (90% of your actual one rep max)? Or training max as the most you've ever lifted during training?


It's certainly not my first meet (it'll be a gym test anyway, so I'll allow myself a 4th attempt) it is however some time sinc I did a comp, but I tested out DL last December (got 205kg). But that was using 531original and no singles. Due to previous L5-S1 disc probs I tend to be qautious at the moment, but I think there is a mental barrier that I need to smash through.
Anyway last time I only maxed on DL,details here:
cycle 15,Tmax=187.5kg (413lb)
5+: 160kgx8 (est max=202.6kg)
3+: 170kgx8 (est max=215.3kg)
1+: 177.5kgx4 (heaviest wt touched in years) (est max=201.1)
cycle 16, Tmax=190kg (419lb)
5+: 162.5kgx8 (est max=205.8kg)
3+: 170kgx3 only on purpose to not over do it.
1+: std warm up then: 142.5x1, 162.5x1, first attempt 180x1 good, 2nd 190x1 good, 3rd 200x1 good. Then added 205x1 good. Very happy.

This time planning to miss out the singles (haven't had time to set out 531 for PL program) and do this:
Cycle 23:
5+: 180x3
1+: warm up then, 150x1, 170x1, 190x1, 1st att200, 2nd 210, 3rd 220.
I will be changing gyms for the 1+ week (the Uni is relocating its gym, so nothing I can do)
The DL will be on a Tuesday and this time I'll peak the SQ on the following Friday.
Regardless of result I'll plan in a 531 for PL before Christmas.


But how many singles had you been doing recently? If your body is not used to singles, then your singles are going to be hard!!!

IMO, the 5-3-1 for PL has an excellent peaking plan for the meets where you start working heavy singles based on certain percentages of your meet goal....you will be hitting your opener and second attempt in the 8 weeks prior to your comp, so you should be able to confidently smoke those at competition time...your CNS and body are now used to heavy singles after 8 weeks of training, and you are well rested and confident at the meet...this equates to a huge new PR!

This also suits my mentality as well because I'd rather shoot for the moon and come up short than leave anything on the platform...as long as I've hit one of my lifts and not in risk of bombing, I will go for a huge PR on my 3rd attempt every. single. time


This looks like a damn good plan to get a feel of where you are at, imo.

I actually think lately I've been doing too many singles. I don't have a meet until late October, so I probly don't need to be doing many at all, but I've done a progression of singles after 5/3/1 6-7 times in the last few months.

I skimmed over 5/3/1 for Powerlifting again, and while I like the pre-meet peaking plan, and intend to follow it, it doesn't answer the question of how high to set your goal lifts. It gives you a plan to work off the goal, but not how to figure that goal. Unless I'm an idiot and missed it haha.