T Nation

531, Beyond 531


#1

I will start off saying i am still a beginner, i am definitely not strong and i have a lot of technique to improve on.

I am not looking for negative reactions, to get flamed or for "just do the fucking program" kind of answers.

I am genuinly interested in the thoughts behind the actions, so even while i understand sometimes a just eat just do the program etc kind of answer is exactly what someone need, in this case i havent already made up my mind
and i havent predetermined what i am going to do.

I am looking too maybe get educated more on the subject, because seeing my current level it is very possible that i am just misunderstanding or missing things.

That being said i am very dissapointed with both 531 and beyond 531.

I will write down my views on the programs and i would really appreciate constructive criticism, opinions or people pointing me where i am wrong.

Again i know i am not experienced and i am not pretending to be, but i want to vent my opinion here and maybe see where it is wrong or right, by getting feedback.

So i was stalling on 5x5 and switched to the old 531 program, with nothing extra. I kept training frequently, did soms deloads as prescribed but i kept feeling weaker and weaker. weight where i previously did warm up sets with started to feel heavy as f*ck. My 1rm slowly went down.
Now i monitor my food by the calorie and my rest is also very stable, so i firmly believe food or rest wasnt an important factor here.

Fact is i went from doing 25 reps in and around the 90% of 1rm range.
too 5 reps at 85%, now light weights started feeling heavier and heavier.

My first thing is i dont see how a program that has you doing 5 reps @ 85%
and i even forgot to mention that it's not even 85 of my 1rm but of my tm as the program has you doing.... so basically in the first weeks of the cycles i was doing 5 reps with around 75% in the 2nd and 3d week this doesnt get much better. How am i supposed to build strength with this?

So i obviously started beyond 531, what i understand is that Wendler changed the program (added Fsl and jokersets), but isnt that basically admitting the original program was a bad program? Are there people that actually got strong on the basic 5/3/1 program?

Anyway i added fsl and jokersets and as Wendler pointed out to me in another topic the rule of 10.

But Still after months i am still weaker than i was before i switched from 5x5 to 531. My lifts are stalling and or going down, while i keep monitoring my food and rest. I gained weight (not muscle) during these cycles.

The explanation seems logical i went from a very high volume in the high % of my 1rm to much less. And all the options of fsl, jokersets and rule of 10 combined with autoregulation to me basically is nothing more than "do some work in 80-100 % of 1rm".

The whole 531 basic template is becoming 2 extra warm up sets and 1 workset and now i add some extra worksets in the form of jokers and fsl. The only difference is starting to be in one week i do 5reps the other triples and in the last i do singles.

As i move up the tm weight every cycle the lifts basically start feeling heavier and i am now even failing on some lifts, so i definitely havent gained any strength.

I feel my body needs more volume in the higher % range, which i am still not getting with jokersets.( If i add 5-10% per jokerset i can usually do between 1-3 jokerset keeping the total volume still pretty low) And if i where to keep tweaking/ autoregulating this i will end up doing basically 5x5 on week 1, 5x3 on week 2 and 10x1 or something on week 3.

Basically everything in the program seems so random to me, why the first work set with 65% of you tm? thats even lower % than needed for hypertrofy while i am looking for strength.


#2

I’m not sure I’m understanding you correctly. You’re supposed set rep PRs on the last working set of 5/3/1. Are you doing that?


#3

[quote]dt79 wrote:
I’m not sure I’m understanding you correctly. You’re supposed set rep PRs on the last working set of 5/3/1. Are you doing that?[/quote]

I do max reps on the last working sets yes. But since my strength isnt increasing these reps systematically get lower as the weight increases per cycle, so for press for example my 3+ set was 3 reps last workout, so i am not getting much extra work from that or any records.


#4

I’ve read both books. I’m considering jumping ship and starting 5/3/1. Whether it will work good, great, or poorly for me is something I won’t know until I try it, but one thing is very clear to me.

I sure as hell would not get weaker running it. If you, a presumably healthy person, are losing strength while running a strength program, the fundamental problem definitely lies somewhere with your execution.

Diet, rest, intensity, consistency, new methamphetamine habit. Something like that.


#5

[quote]twojarslave wrote:
I’ve read both books. I’m considering jumping ship and starting 5/3/1. Whether it will work good, great, or poorly for me is something I won’t know until I try it, but one thing is very clear to me.

I sure as hell would not get weaker running it. If you, a presumably healthy person, are losing strength while running a strength program, the fundamental problem definitely lies somewhere with your execution.

Diet, rest, intensity, consistency, new methamphetamine habit. Something like that. [/quote]

Agreed. If you’re a beginner eating in a caloric excess, there’s no way you can’t be setting PRs weekly even with a normal bro split.

If you truly believe that you have covered all the other variables including hard work, go back to doing what was working for you before doing 5/3/1.


#6

[quote]Respeezy wrote:
Fact is i went from doing 25 reps in and around the 90% of 1rm range.
[/quote]

Think about this.


#7

I don’t understand what you wrote.

I mean,

"Fact is i went from doing 25 reps in and around the 90% of 1rm range. too 5 reps at 85%, now light weights started feeling heavier and heavier. "

Wtf is that supposed to mean? 25 reps with 90% of your 1rm range? What? Wtf? If you do 25 reps of a weight (be it singles or doubles or reps of 5 or w.e.), then it cannot be 90% of your 1rm.


#8

[quote]twojarslave wrote:
I’ve read both books. I’m considering jumping ship and starting 5/3/1. Whether it will work good, great, or poorly for me is something I won’t know until I try it, but one thing is very clear to me.

I sure as hell would not get weaker running it. If you, a presumably healthy person, are losing strength while running a strength program, the fundamental problem definitely lies somewhere with your execution.

Diet, rest, intensity, consistency, new methamphetamine habit. Something like that. [/quote]

It’s not that hard to imagine i think, that you can lose strength while having all those things in check, but dropping hugely in volume.
I think my body is used to needing a great volume for stimulation by doing many months of 5x5.


#9

[quote]dt79 wrote:

[quote]twojarslave wrote:
I’ve read both books. I’m considering jumping ship and starting 5/3/1. Whether it will work good, great, or poorly for me is something I won’t know until I try it, but one thing is very clear to me.

I sure as hell would not get weaker running it. If you, a presumably healthy person, are losing strength while running a strength program, the fundamental problem definitely lies somewhere with your execution.

Diet, rest, intensity, consistency, new methamphetamine habit. Something like that. [/quote]

Agreed. If you’re a beginner eating in a caloric excess, there’s no way you can’t be setting PRs weekly even with a normal bro split.

If you truly believe that you have covered all the other variables including hard work, go back to doing what was working for you before doing 5/3/1.[/quote]

I am not a beginner beginner and i wouldve taken up on your advice if it wasnt for the reason i stopped 5x5 and looked for other programs because i started stalling on all lifts too much.(and it just got too heavy/demanding in terms of volume) So i felt i needed something like 5/3/1 where the progress is per month instead of per week.


#10

[quote]Rednose wrote:

[quote]Respeezy wrote:
Fact is i went from doing 25 reps in and around the 90% of 1rm range.
[/quote]

Think about this.[/quote]

I dont understand where you are getting at.


#11

[quote]magick wrote:
I don’t understand what you wrote.

I mean,

"Fact is i went from doing 25 reps in and around the 90% of 1rm range. too 5 reps at 85%, now light weights started feeling heavier and heavier. "

Wtf is that supposed to mean? 25 reps with 90% of your 1rm range? What? Wtf? If you do 25 reps of a weight (be it singles or doubles or reps of 5 or w.e.), then it cannot be 90% of your 1rm.
[/quote]

You seem hostile with that “wtf” , no need for that, but i’ll answer you anyway. Lets take bench, my last workouts before i stopped 5x5 i did 5 sets of 5 ( failed the last rep of the last set) with 92.5 kg. I never lifted any weight heavier than 92.5 kg’s so i estimated my 1rm around 103 kg/ 92.5kg is just a little below 90% of that, therefore i said around the 90% range. I’m sure it is off some, so the working weight was actually always “below 90%” was that your point?

That was my workload, which was pretty huge (for me) and i took long rests between sets to be able to complete the sets and the workouts were grueling and took several hours. (thats partly why i wanted something else.)


#12

Seems like you have already decided that you don’t like 5/3/1, and you ‘need’ more of what you did before.

Everything said here that doesn’t agree with you will be ignored.

What’s your point? You aren’t really asking a question. You don’t seem to want help. Is this just a rant that we should ignore?


#13

[quote]SevenDragons wrote:
Seems like you have already decided that you don’t like 5/3/1, and you ‘need’ more of what you did before.

Everything said here that doesn’t agree with you will be ignored.

What’s your point? You aren’t really asking a question. You don’t seem to want help. Is this just a rant that we should ignore?[/quote]

I dont think that is a fair thing to say, i am seriously responding to every reply and i am definitely not ignoring anything.

My point is that i would just like to run my disliking and bad experience so far with the program by people and see if there are people that either might agree, people that maybe had the same experience and have advice for me, people that can point me to a fallacy in my approach/thoughts or people that might be able to explain some of the science behind my problems with the program to me especially on the volume for example.

So i definitely want help in the form of opinions and advice and i appreciate every reply when its from someone that takes the time and effort to read through my whole rant and doesnt just read what he wants to read.

It is definitely a rant but you are mistaken in my intentions here.
I am at a point where i have no idea what i am going to do (continue the program, look for another etc.)and i am not prejudiced on the program in a way that whatever people will say i will keep hating it, like i said a couple of times now i realize that i could be misunderstanding things so i keep that option open at all times.


#14

[quote]Respeezy wrote:
I am not a beginner beginner and i wouldve taken up on your advice if it wasnt for the reason i stopped 5x5 and looked for other programs because i started stalling on all lifts too much.(and it just got too heavy/demanding in terms of volume) So i felt i needed something like 5/3/1 where the progress is per month instead of per week. [/quote]

If you were getting weaker when you were doing 5x5 and you were getting weaker when you were doing 5/3/1, maybe it’s time to do something completely different? Look into DoggCrapp, Westside, John Meadows Mountain Dog Training, bulgarian style high frequency, etc etc. Use different movements than the core ones. Get out of your rut.


#15

You reduced volume and frequency. The result is, at first, a slump. that’s normal. Serious question: for how long did you run 531?


#16

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]Respeezy wrote:
I am not a beginner beginner and i wouldve taken up on your advice if it wasnt for the reason i stopped 5x5 and looked for other programs because i started stalling on all lifts too much.(and it just got too heavy/demanding in terms of volume) So i felt i needed something like 5/3/1 where the progress is per month instead of per week. [/quote]

If you were getting weaker when you were doing 5x5 and you were getting weaker when you were doing 5/3/1, maybe it’s time to do something completely different? Look into DoggCrapp, Westside, John Meadows Mountain Dog Training, bulgarian style high frequency, etc etc. Use different movements than the core ones. Get out of your rut.[/quote]

Just for the record,i wasn’t getting weaker on 5x5, but i was stalling and in the end i was stalling, deloading, stalling and deloading etc again and at least not progressing anymore. Just to clear this up i am not getting huge drops in strength or anything on 531, but some lifts have been going down some.

Thanks for the suggestions, i will google all of them in the next days and see what they are about.


#17

[quote]Respeezy wrote:
Just for the record,i wasn’t getting weaker on 5x5, but i was stalling and in the end i was stalling, deloading, stalling and deloading etc again and at least not progressing anymore. Just to clear this up i am not getting huge drops in strength or anything on 531, but some lifts have been going down some.

Thanks for the suggestions, i will google all of them in the next days and see what they are about.[/quote]

I guess I don’t see why you would have left 5x5 if it was getting you stronger. I imagined that you abandoned it because it was making you weaker.

Use what works for you, regardless of what works for everyone else.


#18

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
You reduced volume and frequency. The result is, at first, a slump. that’s normal. Serious question: for how long did you run 531?[/quote]

I just checked my logs and i think i started 3 months ago with 5/3/1 with bbb and after about 1.5 months i started to add extra work (jokers,fsl and dropped the bbb).

After looking this up i on one hand feel that i have only been doing 531 WITH jokers and fsl for 6 weeks, so on that note i probably will give it some more time to see what happends, on the other hand i think 3 months total of consistent training and litterally no progress is a little too much.


#19

What are your lifts? (you have already mentioned your bench press)

If you plan on continuing to use to use 5/3/1 it might be a good idea to post on the 5/3/1 forum on here as Jim Wendler will reply.


#20

Lots to cover here. Here are some ideas and answers in no particular order:

  1. Yes, people do get stronger using the original 5/3/1 format. I am one of those people.

  2. The fact that Wendler later came out with changes in Beyond does not make 5/3/1 a bad program, it just makes Beyond 5/3/1 a BETTER program in Wendler’s opinion, in most cases. Personally I’ve run cycles of the original and with the changes made in Beyond (FSL and Jokers) and both worked for me.

  3. “so basically in the first weeks of the cycles i was doing 5 reps with around 75% in the 2nd and 3d week this doesnt get much better. How am i supposed to build strength with this?” Firstly, you’re supposed to do as many reps as possible with 75%, not 5. Secondly, you can get stronger while using sub maximal weights, provided that you push yourself and add weight over time.

  4. What do you mean that your were doing the program with “nothing extra?” Which template were you following?

  5. Why were you doing 5 reps in your 5’s week? Im pretty sure my first cycle had me hitting around 10 reps in my first 5s week, as you’re meant to push the last set.

  6. “The whole 531 basic template is becoming 2 extra warm up sets and 1 workset and now i add some extra worksets in the form of jokers and fsl. The only difference is starting to be in one week i do 5reps the other triples and in the last i do singles.” You’re doing things wrong.

  7. “As i move up the tm weight every cycle the lifts basically start feeling heavier.” That’s what happens as you increase the weight you’re lifting. Heavy weights feel heavier.

  8. I really think you’re doing some pretty fundamental things wrong and therefore not actually doing the program. If you’d like some help, post an exact workout you’ve done and briefly outline the format of your cycles and deloads. That said, you also sound like you don’t really “believe” in the program, so its unlikely to work for you anyway. There are lots of other programs to chose from. It sounds like you have a pretty clear idea of what you’re looking for so I’m sure you’ll find something.