T Nation

5-3-1 Newbie: Getting High Reps in "Plus" Sets


#1

I've read the original 5-3-1 book, and then bought the 5-3-1 for Powerlifters book, and think I am following it correctly. I just finished my 2nd cycle of it, after doing the Texas Method for 4 months. Upon finishing w/ the Texas Method, I tested my 1RMs in all four moves, and then took 90% of those as my working maxes for 5-3-1 cycle 1:
Press: 120
Deadlift: 310
Bench: 185
Squat: 265

In week 3 of the first cycle, I achieved the following reps in my last (1+) set:
Press: 155x4
Deadlift: 295x8
Bench: 175x7
Squat: 250x8

I was surprised to have gotten so many (all clean reps), but stuck to the program and increased my working maxes by just 5# for the presses and 10# for the deads & squats:
Press: 125
Deadlift: 320
Bench: 190
Squat: 275

I just finished cycle 2, week 3, and achieved the following reps in my last (1+) set:
Press: 120x5
Deadlift: 305x9
Bench: 180x8
Squat: 260x9

And again, I am surprised. I am training to be a Masters powerlifter (after a 6 year hiatus into other sports), and want to get back to low-rep work. Would folks suggest sticking with the formula, and going up by just 5#/10# for cycle 3, or doing a reset and taking 90% of my new (estimated) 1RMs? No doubt, the program has been very effective, and I am getting stronger, but it seems I am getting stronger at high-rep work, and am wondering if that will translate into getting more powerful in low-rep work?

Kind regards,

Michael, age 50


Squat Form Check
#2

Your reps are lower than most get when they train at my gym. Once we mentally strengthen our lifters - some of these guys get 15-20.

If you can't get 5 reps at your at your TM - progress and bad speed usually slows down.


#3

Respectfully, now I'm really confused. I'm talking about the last work set of week 3, which in the book says 1+ reps at 95% of our training max, which for my first cycle (per the book recommendation) was 90% of my tested 1RM. Are you saying some guys get 15-20 reps at that weight after three weeks? I must need to get my head out of the math and just move more weight.


#4

Remember that nowadays most of the lifters using 5/3/1 will use 85% (or lower) TM.


#5

The TM, if you use it correctly, rarely coincides with your "real max", especially after doing the program for a year or more. Read Kevin Deweese's article on my web site about the disassociation. Kevin is a long time friend and understands as well as anyone, that the TM is a TOOL, nothing more.

The people we train here - training isn't just about getting a stronger squat - I want to train more than that. And part of that is training these kids to be "comfortable being uncomfortable" and to be stronger mentally. I do this so that the kids have something to fall back on in there every day life - knowing they can overcome challenges. I want to rearrange the attitude of weakness and being a victim to one of strength and overcoming fear. It's off topic but training in our home is much more than just doing squats.


#6

Sorry -- what's that mean? I set my TM to 85% (or lower) of my actual 1RM, or, my weight for week 3 last set is 85% of my TM (instead of 95% as the book says)? Thanks in advance.


#7

Keep increasing the weight as you have been. By your own admissions you have been going great, no need to change.

You can put in a cycle where you work up to your TM if you want to feel heavier weight.


#8

What you posted is entirely normal. If you set it up right (which sounds like you have) you shoudnt be close to 1 rep in the 1+ week for like 6 months if that.

Youre making good progress so keep it up!


#9

Michael, Keep at it mate your getting stronger and i would probably reset after 4 cycles and go back 2 instead of up 5 back 3 this time round to keep that tm low and bar speed high as Jim has said. Keep repping up until last cycle then you can get more specific to your sport (PL) and do heavy singles in 3/1 weeks. Good luck as a masters lifter im 28 and i hope im still healthy and lifting heavy at your age.


#10

Your numbers are fine Michael. I always made my best gains when I blew away my minimums and with that in mind I'd say never rush to a reset.

"No doubt, the program has been very effective, and I am getting stronger, but it seems I am getting stronger at high-rep work, and am wondering if that will translate into getting more powerful in low-rep work?"

It should. I learned this lesson in practice when I injured my shoulder last year. I was forced to reset my TM low, and I mean PATHETICALLY low, when I began to rebuild my bench press. Six months later I beat my previous best 1RM by 20 pounds and two months later I beat that one by another 10, despite having done the majority of the work with what I considered to be very low weight.

Jim is dead on when he says you don't have to operate at your max to increase your max.