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5/3/1 for Powerlifting. Determining 1st, 2nd, 3rd Attempt Numbers for Meet?

I am 12 weeks out from my first meet and was wondering how and when I should be determining my attempt numbers. With 531 for powerlifting, part of the prep are performing singles with percentages of meet goals, I was hoping for some help in determining how I should come up with those numbers.

What are your goals for each lift at this meet? Figure that out and you are golden. Other than that, I don’t know how anyone here can tell you what you should lift.

Good luck; open smart and you will be fine.

A good place to start is with a weight that you can hit for three clean reps with good bar speed any day of the week, no matter how good or bad you feel. I did my first meet last year and made my opening weight selections very conservative. Use your first meet as a learning experience and that way if you have any troubles with the warmup room or the time between attemps, etc. you’ll still be able to go nine for nine.

Thank you for your time and advice.

I am currently following 531 N.O.V, would you recommend switching to 531 Powerlifting, since I have a few months to prepare? Or should I just mix in some heavy single days to my current program, stop overthinking, and just train.

Thank you, I definitely will use this advice. I am planning on being conservative for this meet because I want to get the most out of this experience, but I also don’t want to cut myself short. I’d like to have some conservative openers and base my strength for the day off that. I have realistic goals in my head this far out of what i know i could hit, so im going to keep training and just focus on getting stronger.

Agree with JNorton. I did my first meet a couple of years ago and aiming for an opener I could hit for a triple any day of the week is great advice. There are so many variables that you will run into that day. The last thing you want is to fret about is your numbers and being able to nail the first attempt is a big deal. I would generally go with an opener you could hit for three, second at a solid number you’d be happy walking away with, then if you’re feeling good, try to match or best a PR on #3 but don’t go nuts. Leading up, I did the older “Beyond” program 1.1-1.4 and timed the finish to a week before the meet, with a couple of weeks built in there for “life”. That worked well, but really wasn’t that important in the grand scheme for someone doing a first meet. You have the right attitude- go pretty conservative, learn, and enjoy it.

I started competing about a year ago and have done 3 meets so far. I will give you a rough idea of how I prepared for my competitions and how I do attempt selection.

This is a 12 week training block, competing at the end of the 12th week:

Before starting set a 85% TM for all lifts and figure out how much weight you will add to your TM’s before the meet. This can give you a rough estimate of what your meet goals could be and where to target your openers (you will confirm your meet goals and set all your openers in week 8). This is best done using a TM Test Week as found in Forever, but as long as you know your TM’s are correct you should be fine.

Weeks 1-6:

For 2 cycles follow 5’s pro with some kind of Supplemental (could be FSL, SSL, BBS, or BBB, choose whatever you think will drive your lifts best)

Week 7:

Deload week.

Week 8:

Work up to your TM for 3-5 reps. Whatever you manage to get, use that to calculate your true 1RM. 90% of that should be your opener. Basically if you can hit your TM for 3 reps that is your opener.

Week 9:

Here we switch over to 5/3/1 for powerlifting programming (ie. 3/5/1 scheme).

Start with 3’s week with only a PR set. This PR set should also give you a rough idea what your true 1RM is and can give you an indicator if you need to adjust your meet goals.

Also do 4x5 FSL and assistance.

Week 10:

5’s week for minmum reps and 3x5 supplemental and assistance.

Week 11:

5/3/1 week for mimum reps (ie. no PR set) and then work up to your opener for a single. No supplemental, a bit of assistance.

Week 12:

MEET WEEK: Do a 5’s week for minimum reps for squat and bench with no assistance. You can do them on the same day or different days. It doesn’t matter as long as you are fresh for the meet.

This is a rough idea of what I have used to prepare and how I pick my attempts. Your mileage may vary. Regardless, have fun at your first meet and enjoy the adrenaline!

P.S. Make sure to account for fatigue from squat and bench on your deadlift attempts! For example my last meet I project a 635lb pull but when the rubber hit the road I could only get 605

I appreciate the advice, ill definitely refer to this when laying out my program for the weeks leading up to my meet. Thanks.

I’ve heard this recommendation so many times, and I just cannot make sense of it. You absolutely have to hit your 1st attempt, that’s obvious. But ‘3 clean reps’ just seems way too conservative to me. Mostly because it means you have to make an enormous jump in weight to have a decent 2nd attempt. The 2nd attempt should probably be something you might miss on a bad day, right? So if on that day, you do miss the 2nd, then you’re stuck with an absurdly low 1st attempt to carry on with. That sucks.

I think the 1st attempt should just be something you’re certain you’ll hit, and I think most of us are able to figure that out by how our warm ups feel. For me, it’s more along the lines of what I think I could hit a difficult double with.

Just some thoughts. If this is your first meet, then you could definitely make an argument for playing it more conservative than what I’m suggesting. It’s just never been the way I look at it. I want to leave my 1st attempt feeling like if 2 and 3 go bad, I’m not going to hat my overall meet performance because I left too much on the table with 1 for no good reason.

I was basing that on it being a first meet. It worked great in my first meet because I jumped the squat command on my first attempt so there was no doubt I’d be able to make my second. I also red lighted my second bench attempt because I forgot to take the thumb straps off my wrist wraps but nailed my third. My second meet I was less conservative and added over 45kg to my total.

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