T Nation

Back 3 Cycles and Strength Has Decreased

I ran 5/3/1 for five cycles, making steady progress in my “calculated maxes” throughout (with normal dips here and there). On the fifth cycle, my 1+ set was getting me around 4 reps only, so I jumped back 3 cycles.

I am repeating a set/rep scheme that I was doing 2-3 months ago, and my reps are LOWER for every given weight on all my + sets. For example, today was week 1 of Deadlifts, 2 months ago I did 365 x 9 reps (on my 5+ set). Today, I struggled to get 365 x 5.

This has been consistent with all my lifts, not hitting the same number of reps as I did a few months ago. So I don’t believe it’s “Just a bad day”.

I’m running FSL x 3 sets, no Joker set, and BBB alternating exercises (OHP + Bench BBB, Deadlift + Squat BBB, Ect.) I even backed off on the number of BBB sets, doing only 4 sets, then down to only 3 sets with no change.

I felt good on my heaviest cycle, not particularly beat up or over trained, so I can’t understand why I’m not hitting at least the reps I achieved previously. My diet and sleep hasn’t varied.

Any advice, or is it time to re-test 1RM and reset?

Anyone want to point out the huge, glaring problem?

Doing FSL and BBB after main work??? No wonder lifts are in the shitter

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Not sure if any of these are what you are talking about Jim, but these things jumped out to me:

  1. You hit 4 reps on your 1+ and you reset? Just hitting 1 means you are allowed to move onto the next workout. Never mind the fact that 4 reps is pretty good that far into 5/3/1.

  2. You have been struggling for a while, thats fine. As @Jim_Wendler mentions in several of his books: having even months of mediocre workouts isn’t bad. A practiced and experienced lifter knows that the good ones are right around the corner.

  3. Not totally sure running FSL and BBB for that long is a good thing. BBB makes you sore AF, and FSL gets pretty hard after a while. At least in my opinion, I think that is a lot of work.

The point of 5/3/1 is to work the shit out of your 5/3/1 sets, hit PRs, and get stronger. After that, the template you pick is secondary (as long as you aren’t a total idiot about assistance).

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FSL + BBB = Overkill

UGHHH…I thought it was okay to run FSL with BBB? I know I have seen Jim say NOT to do it, but I thought I read you later changing that statement somewhere along the line to saying it’s okay. Not to argue, just to point out that it is something I was concerned with, and did research, but I must have misunderstood something along the way. A simple fix if that’s the case.

Hawkeyeia - I didn’t ‘reset’ after hitting 4 reps on my 1+ week. I would have kept going forward, but my intent was to follow the 5 cycles forward, 3 cycles back template.

I probably do need to heed your advice and just consider these ‘bad weeks’. I felt like my lifts were progressing so steadily, that it’s tough psychologically to see them receded. And drop the BBB + FSL

Thanks for the replies guys. I love this program and Jim’s straight forward approach.

The FSL + BBB is quite obvious.

But About the 4 reps in 1+ week thing: your TM might be also too high. You should be getting 5 reps with 100%
So your TM was too high already, and now you’re not backing of enough (this is not probably enough to cause failure, but can affect in the big picture).

Make sure your TM is around 85%.

Cycles 1-2: 5’s PRO for all lifts then either BBB or BBS for each lift.

Assistance = Push x 25-50 total reps, Pull x 25-50 total reps, core/single leg x 25-50 total reps (this is per workout)

Cycles 3-5: 5’s PRO + PR set, FSL 5x5. You can 3/5/1 and only do pr set on first and third week.
Assistance = 50-100 total reps of all three categories for each workout

this is a very bare bones structure that doesn’t include every facet but you can get the idea.

Rattus and Tsantos can probably answer every question here - so thank you to both of you. The stronger you get, the lower your TM %. Once you’ve been lifting for a bit, each lift will have a sweet spot for the TM. For most, the deadlift is the lowest as speed needs to be maintained for each rep for optimal carryover. This can be for other lifts but seems to be true for DL across the board.

It’s OK to repeat and repeat the same 5 cycles over - I did that for years and got stronger and stronger. My press went up for about 2 years just blasting the same TM’s. This is when my press went from 205x3 to 275 x3 and did 300x1 two different times.

Keep chipping away at the rock: sometimes it takes 1 hit for it to break. Sometimes 1000.


Thank you so much for the advice and taking the time guys!

I have actually thought about repeating same tm at times for different lifts but thought it was against the program so now you have said this thanks jim.

I can only interpret this as you sometimes miss reps. I just never see this as productive. I don’t want to tell you how to train - especially if you’ve been successful but how does missing a 1 rep lift make you stronger?

Think about the purpose of the TM and what it means if you are training with a weight you can’t lift once. Remember the principle of progressing slowly and thinking about the long term, not how you perform in a particular training session.

@tsantos, let me provide some more context as to what I meant. I was not implying you should train maximally.

If he comes in feeling shitty - like he has been - and can hit four reps, that ok, because like I also said, a string of bad workouts does not mean you’re weak, it means you are having bad workouts. What I was trying to say was that even if he felt SO bad that he could/wanted to lift it only once, that’s OK.

Friend of mine running 5/3/1 could only squat 385x3 on a 3+ day, but came back the next week and nailed his 1+ for 6.

Summary: don’t reset after a bad day.

[quote=“tsantos, post:12, topic:216382, full:true”]

“I can only interpret this as you sometimes miss reps. I just never see this as productive. I don’t want to tell you how to train - especially if you’ve been successful but how does missing a 1 rep lift make you stronger?”

I am not totally sure what you mean “missing reps”. He didn’t miss it. If he did, then he would need to reset.

Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but in my mind, if my 1+ set yields 4 reps, and the last couple are grinders, I’m lifting too heavy, and I need to take a step back - not progress to the next cycle, and add 10 pounds. Seems like continuing on, without making a change, is only inviting future failure.

And I’m not talking about a total ‘reset’. I’m talking about taking 30 lbs off my TM (for lower body), and continuing on with a weight that allows me to lift explosively and with better form.

You adviced that if he hits 1 he can move to the next cycle, increasing his TM?

Doesnt that then mean that he only lowers the TM if he cant get a rep? That seems like a bad strategy to me. Apologies if i misunderstood.

Yeah that’s not what I meant.

We can just let it go.

Some good info here especially going back and we doing a cycle at the same TMs.

I think some of the confusion stems from what Jim originally wrote In the book. I know even when I first started 2 to 3 years ago even on these forums Jim was talking that if you are heading about 7/5/3 for your + days you were okay. Lately he’s been talking more about being able to hit five good reps with your training Max and using 85% as your training Max which is I think a slight change from a few years ago but a change that makes much more sense.

I know I for one really like the idea of reusing training Maxes especially right now as I’m trying to cut some weight and finding that it would be better if I could set my weights back to where I started my last cycle and just repeat them all again rather than really trying to keep moving my weights up.

Aim to get a fast 5 reps on 1’s week. you are strongest when your around 85% so when you start light, use 5/3 or run the same tm for a few cycles if you have to your always progressing slow and keeping tm at an arms length then when you feel like it you work up to something heavy (jokers usually around cycles 4/5). 531 keeps evolving so best to read up on jims work and take notes because he has put in years of trial and error to see what works and what dosn’t so we don’t have to.

I want to start this new plan this weekend, but don’t want to screw it up out of the gate. Just to clarify-

Cycles 1-2: 5’s PRO for all lifts then either BBB or BBS for each lift.

Are these to exclude + sets/AMRAP on the final set? I ask because you specified “Cycles 3-5: 5’s PRO + PR set”, but did’t mention + sets for cycle 1-2, so I’m guessing it’s hit the required reps and move on.