I posted this in another thread, but I feel it deserves a little more attention because I see it EVERYWHERE and it is always stated as gospel:
“5/3/1 only increases your max/strength by 5-10 pounds a month”
This is usually stated to newbies or early intermediates who are wondering which program is best, and they are being advised to use Starting Strength or 5x5 which more aggressively drive the load up.
Indeed, 5/3/1 adds 5-10 pounds to weight you are basing your percentages off it (the Training Max). That DOES NOT mean you will only gain 5-10 pounds of strength in that month. You might gain 20 pounds, you might gain 5, and if you are very advanced you might not gain any.
Do you think a 900 pound squatter is going to add 120 pounds to his Squat this year by simply increasing his training max 10 pounds every month? Obviously this is an extreme example, but it drives the point home that the Training Max is not a 1:1 predictor of strength gains.
Just because your training max goes from 200 to 205 doesn’t mean 205 is definitively 90% of your new 1RM. There are many examples online of people using 5/3/1 and gaining well more than the 5-10 pounds per month… And I’m sure there are many out there that haven’t gained 60-120 pounds on their lifts this year as well.
Again, it just adjusts your training weights, it does not dictate how much absolute 1RM strength you will gain.
Perhaps offering this observation is me patting myself on the back a little too hard (although I have no elbow tendinitis as many other seem to, so perhaps not), but this idea is never challenged and it seems to be the source of much confusion in the 5/3/1 discussions I have seen.