T Nation

5/3/1 for Powerlifting and 7th Week Protocol



Started using 5/3/1 about 3 years ago. Somewhat “lost my training way” when I began competing in powerlifting 2 years ago with different high frequency programs and all that bullshit. Want to get back to just training hard and simple. Recently had to take some time off training almost all summer due to Army requirements and I’ve built a base back up and am ready to start hitting it hard again.

My question to you is if I am looking to run the 5/3/1 for Powerlifting template (3/5/1) with the off-season for strength program, would you apply the 7th week protocol and do 2 cycles in a row, followed by 7th week as deload/test, or would you just keep the standard “3+ singles, 5, 1+ singles, deload” so it’s heavy, medium, heavy, light like what was written in the powerlifting book. Where I get confused is if you did 2 cycles in a row without a deload in the middle, then you would be doing heavy singles two weeks in a row (1s week first cycle and 3s week 2nd cycle). Was also thinking that the “SVR” from Beyond would be an option too since it’s balls out last set on 3s week, 5x5 waving up and back down on 5s week, and singles on 1s week. That way you’re not doing singles 2 weeks in a row on a 6 week cycle.

I own 2nd edition, Powerlifting, Beyond, and Forever, and at this point I’m mind fucking myself trying to stay up with the latest methods. I love the idea of the powerlifting template and I want to just keep it as simple as possible so I can stop playing mind fuck games with myself.


Not sure how others run 5/3/1 for powerlifting but this is my rough plan for my next meet:

Week 0: Run 7th Week Protocol: TM Test. This is to ensure all your TM’s are correct and I also get a rough projection of what my goals will be for the meet so during training I can see how I am progressing.

Weeks 1-6:

Run 2 cycles of a Leader template like BBS or SSL.

Week 7: 7th Week Protocol: Deload

Week 8: 7th Week Protocol: TM Test

Weeks 9-11:

3/5/1 Format with Jokers and PR sets on 1st and third weeks. FSL on all weeks

Weeks 12-14:

3/5/1 Format with Jokers on 1st week minimum reps on 2nd week and on third week use Jokers to work up to openers for a single. **No FSL for this cycle.

Week 15:

Squat on Monday 3x5, Bench on Wednesday 3x5 and then compete on Saturday.

Kind of a rough idea of what my plan is. I think I am going to do the BBS Challenge for my Leaders and then do the Anchors roughly what I just typed out. But I am sure there are many other ways to program for a meet.


What the “Bomb” guy above sayeth be thy truth.


Hey @bigbadbombs,

In the sequence you outlined above, if during weeks 9-11 you were still getting 5 or more reps during your 1+ week, would you still bump up the TMs before starting weeks 12-14, or would you keep them the same, planning for weeks 12-14 to be more of a recovery phase before the meet?



I wouldn’t necessarily say its one or the other.

I think that depends on your meet goals and how your training has been going. If your feeling good and bar speed is excellent I say bump the TM, if you think you would rather keep it conservative and not increase your attempts, do that instead.

Personally, I plan this all out in my TM Test before I hit my Anchor/Meet Prep Phase. You should have your meet goals and attempts planned out at that point. You won’t get much stronger during your Anchor/Meet Prep, but its just about practicing your competition style lift and tapering off your volume to allow your body to supercompensate.

Now is not the time to be wishy washy. You had best know where your at strength wise, because woe is he who steps on the platform for his first squat and misses the attempt.




One more question, @bigbadbombs -

When you do the TM test after leaders but before anchor, do you cap it (5 reps at 100%TM if you are using an 85% TM for example) or do you go for a rep max to see how strong you are and choose your meet goal?



You are not using the 7th Week Protocol correctly.

It is literally in bold face on page 23.


You would only ever do a max of 5. The only time you ever would do more is if your doing a program that actually calls for you to do a PR set at your TM. There a couple in Forever that do, but that’s the only time.

When I ran it I only hit 5 for my deadlift, all other lifts were 3 or 4. That is ok though since you can use a 90% TM for Anchors, and all that tells you is where to set your openers and goals for the meet.

One thing I am thinking of doing for my next meet is instead of doing the TM Testing on Week 8 just starting the Anchors that week and using the PR sets to get a better indication of where I am at. The only downside is that from what I have read, PR sets at lower intensities don’t give you as accurate a idea of where your 1RM is.


The boldface on page 23 seems to indicate that either is done.

In any case, bigbadbombs had said that he planned out his meet goals and attempts in part as a result of the TM test he did between leaders and anchor. It occurred to me that if you cap the reps it is hard to know for sure what you are capable of, so I asked him to clarify, and he did (thanks).


I think what Jim was referring to was that you are NEVER supposed to go above 5 reps on a TM Test Week. The exception is (like I stated earlier) is if you were to do a TM PR Week if a program specifically calls for it.


7th week protocol between leader/Anchor is a DELOAD.

This is in bold face.