T Nation

5/3/1 Problem


I don't know how much of a problem this really is but i'd like to fix it. i have been following 5/3/1 for a few phases now and after each deload week my press is always weaker then i finished up with and the weight just feels like a ton. on week 1 i'm struggling to get 5-7 reps, week 2 i'm usaly able to get a fairly good 6 then on week 3 i'm able to get at least 5. does anyone else have a similar problem or know a fix/cause or do you see no problem and think i should just stop worrying about it?


I am just a 5/3/1 rookie and just on my 2nd cycle. But a couple of things come to mind.

Are you really deloading and taking it easy on everything including assistance work?

Are you underdoing/overdoing your warmup?

Are you still moving forward overall and making gains in the big picture?

It's no secret that gains in this movement are slow.

If you see overall gains, don't worry about it just keep pressing forward, or in this case, upward.

Not much, but hopefully something.


Not sure, but I have had issues with it too. Bench seems to be slowly making progress as well as squats, but deadlift and shoulder pressing haven't been as good. I've been doing the powerlifting version where you do the weeks as 3/5/1 instead. Almost wondering if the deloid is necessary. Been thinking of adding in some speed work. Hope you figure your issue out.


i deload the main lift as Rx'd and generally cut any pressing movements down and lower the intensity but up the volume on back work. i think my warm ups are pretty solid. and i am making some good progress, so nothing is terribly wrong, i'm just finding it odd that my progress only ever moves forward in week 3 still its good progress so i'm not sure if i should really concern my self at all


It seems like weeks 2 and 3 are going pretty well. Maybe you could just do the prescribed reps on week 1, then go for broke on 2 and 3. Try different things and see what happens.


As long as you are well rested from your deload week and being consistent with everything, I can't think of anything.

You are making gains, so don't stress.


Agreed. 5/3/1 is great because there's a lot of flexibility. Like Strijdlust said, just switch some things up and see how it works.



What does your pressing day look like at the moment?


I've been thinking about giving the powerlifting version a try, i'll probably stick with the original for at least a 2 or 3 more cycles though.

my pressing day is currently set up as the press 5/3/1 then drop down for 4 or 5 sets of 7, at least double pull ups but usually more bc i love doing pull ups, i end the day with a set of kroc rows and maybe add a couple band pull pushdowns if i'm feeling peppy.


I always find the first week of the 5/3/1 cycle is the hardest and I have to really grind to get the reps on the last set. When I get to weeks 2 and 3 I usually can do more than the required reps and consistently set a rep PR. I think the culprit is not the deload week, that leaves me pretty rested and revved up to hit things hard again. I think it is the 5 rep range at 75% then 80% that leaves me a bit tired for the 85% set. In weeks 2 and 3 I feel fresher on the last sets because the first two work sets don't feel that hard to me.


That's why I like the powerlifting version. Spreading out the lighter weeks.


when i was doing 5/3/1, i never took a 'deload' week. i was fine, because i did a ton of smr and mobility crap everyday. listen to your body, do you relly need these deload weeks?


This. In my experience you'll know when you need to take a deload week.


Agreed. The first time i did this program and did a deload week my press and my bench went down the following week. For my "deload" week i usually just go for a 10+ rep record.


I don't think the problem is with your deload week, I think you just set your 1 RM too high. Did you use 90% of your actual max? I started even lower than that so I wouldn't stall out. On my 7th cycle, this week was my 1+, got my deads x10. Key with this program is to start low, perfect your form, and then keep plugging away. I might do a deload week every 2-3 cycles but that's only if I feel I need it. Listen to your body.


So you're on your second or third cycle already? I don't think you should be struggling to get the goal reps. I think you started too heavy in hopes of bigger numbers. What worked for me, was using a weight for all exercises that allowed me to get double digit reps on the first two weeks. I was able to do this for at least the first 3 months.

In short, I think you started too high.


Deload is to repair your body and get ready for a new cycle, u shouldn't be going for more than 5 this week.


I found i didnt need this after 3 weeks. I take it when i need it. Listen to your body. Sometimes i might feel like shit, and just dont feel like going to hard in the gym. Thats when i use a deload workout for just that day. Why would you bother taking a deload week when your body feels great? Not everyone needs to deload after 3 weeks, especially when your not at a very high level of training. Many different factors come into play such as diet, age, training experience ect...


And why can i not do more then 5?


Because it was written on a stone tablet ...

I know my body well enough to know when to rest. I'm guessing you do too.