T Nation

Adding Weight with 531


I tried this program out over a year ago now, however when adding weight after each cycle I added 2.5 kgs/ 5lbs to the upper body lifts and 5kgs/ 10lbs to the lower body lifts.....it then appears that I should have been adding these jumps to my 1 rep max and then calculate the lifts for each cycle rather than to the weight used for each given week, now this is where it doesn't make sense to me.

Example ( using a wendler calculator app on my mobile )

Using 5's week for all examples

Cycle 1
Plug in 75kgs 1 rep max for bench top set = 58kgs round it to the nearest small plate at the gym I would use 60kgs

cycle 2
plug in 77kgs 1 rep max for bench as the app doesn't do .5 top set 59kgs round it to the nearest small plate at the gym I would use 60kgs ie the same weight

cycle 3
plug in 80kgs 1 rep max for bench top set = 61kgs round it to the nearest small plate at the gym I would use 60kgs ie the same weight

cycle 4
plug in 82kgs 1 rep max for bench as the app doesn't do .5 top set = 63kgs rounded down I can now finally add 2.5 kgs to the bar.

going by this it would take me 3 months before I got to add any weight to the bar........I know I must be missing something could anyone shed some light for me as I'm confused ?

Thanks for any replies in advance....although I don't use this program anymore and use something more linear I really like the programs structure and the principles and hope to return to it when I'm more advanced.


The way you were doing it was right. Add 5/10 lbs to your TM, not your 1RM (page 27 of 5/3/1 2nd Ed).


" using a wendler calculator app on my mobile"

And there is the problem right there. Please read and follow the book.


1) The calculator you are using is not from Jim but someone else's app that is, it seems, not good.

2) I just did the numbers manually. If you use 75 as the training max for the first cycle, you will have 82.5 for the last, with for your 5's sets at 85% of training max will be 63.75 and 70.125. For your 1+ week at 95% of training max, the weights should move from 71.25 to 78.375. I'm not sure what plates you have, but my numbers are showing a wider deviation than your numbers and I suspect you would find more plate changes.

3) You will sometimes be repeating the same weight in some weeks with the rounding. I think I have that very often, though I do not think I have ever had a whole cycle just repeat -- always at least some weeks at least round up where in a past cycle it rounded down. I think it is good to have the chance to do the same weight and try to get some more reps out of it.


Am I misreading the book as on page 27 it say and I quote in the second four week phase, the lifter will increase his maxes no more than 5 pounds per upper body lift, and 10 pounds for lower body lifts. These increases are to the max that your basing your percentages on, your NOT increasing the weight for each set.

The wendler calculator app is simply a means of doing the percentages for you after you have put in the 1 rep maxes so I can't see that as the problem.

As I said I really like the structure and principles of the 531 system and have the 531 second edition, 531 for powerlifting and beyond 531 on kindle.

All I want to know as is do I add 5 lbs to my upper body training maxes and 10lbs to my lower body training maxes ? if so then as I said when the numbers are rounded down to the smallest discs in a commercial gym it would take 3 months to add weight to the bar.

Or do I add 5lbs to the upper body lifts and 10lbs to the lower body lifts so bench would look like this for example

bench based on 5's week only weights done in kilo's

1st cycle
1st set 45kgs 2nd set 50kgs 3rd set 60kgs all weights rounded to nearest discs in gym

2nd cycle
1st set 47.5kgs 2nd set 52.5kgs 3rd set 62.5kgs

As this makes more sense ?

I just want to make sure that I understand it correctly sorry if this sounds stupid but I'm a believer that no question is stupid if you don't know the answer.


Thanks for your input but having done the math myself and comparing it to the app there is no real difference that is why I use the app, with the figures you quoted to me you forgot that you take away 10% so your percentages are based on 90% of your 1 rep max and not your true 1 rep max.

Thanks for your help though it is truly appreciated.


Your percentages are based off your training max.


At the end of one of those books, Jim gives an Excel example and uses the CEILING function, which ALWAYS ROUNDS UP to the next number - so 61kg would round up to 62.5kg or whatever discs your gym has to makes this happen.


If you read my post I do actually say training max further on down from my quote from the book but I appreciate your help anyway thanks.


Thanks I must have missed that bit at least that way I would only be repeating the first cycles weights once which is a step in the right direction.


Buy some micro loading plates, and add weight to the bar each cycle. Don't overcomplicate things. If you start with a light enough training max, and you are following 5 forward 3 back, it won't hurt to just add 5/10 lbs to your lifts each cycle.


Your missing the point I'm trying to interpret the book, yes micro plates solve the problem though and when I become more advanced I will try the program again, thanks for your input.


You got it wrong both ways. You don't add 5 or 10 pounds to your max, and you don't add 5 or 10 pounds to your sets either. You add 5 or 10 pounds to your training max each cycle. That is different then adding weight to your actual max.


In the description I gave I was using the training max as the wendler app on my mobile does this for me.....apologies for not making this clear.


Or, if you want the simplified version....

Not really sure what part you're not getting here...


Your app is not calculating those numbers as training maxes. It's calculating those numbers as actual maxes. If your training max is 75 then your top set rounds to 63, 75x.85=~63. Your app is taking 90% of 75 to calculate a training max then multiplying that by 85% to get 58, (75x.9)x.85=~58.


In other words your app is only good for the first cycle. After that you'll have to do the math yourself or find a new app.


Or just add weight to the bar, keep lifting and eating and getting stronger. No need to overthink things.


I'm going to have to change the sub-title of the book.


A simple answer to the question would have been enough lol but never mind thanks for every ones time and input enjoy the rest of your day.