Boring But Big: What is 'Training Max'?

After getting some much needed criticism on my current workout I decided to start the Boring But Big program.
I’m just having trouble finding a solid definition for “Training Max”.

For assistance work the program calls for 50% of TM. Does that mean it’s 50% of my 10 rep max or my 1 RM? Or is this just a concept to feel out subjectively so that I feel like I’m doing about 50% effort? Very confused.


The “Training Max” is the basis for the whole program. If you’re not sure what a Training Max is, then you really need to do some research or buy the books. 5/3/1 just isn’t going to work well without a solid understanding of this basic concept. There is enough information in Jim’s article [5/3/1; How to Build Pure Strength] to get you started. Better to buy Jim’s books though for a more complete understanding.

If this is important to you then you won’t mind doing a little leg work (pun intended) to become better educated in the 5/3/1 system. Besides, none of us can explain it better than the actual creator of the system. Go read…

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Fair enough. Thank you. I think I have a handle on it from the article you suggested but I think I will give the book a read through.

I haven’t done a 1 RM for many years. Looks like this week I will have some fun going heavy and seeing what those numbers are so I can do appropriate calculations.

Thanks for your input.

You can use a 1rm calculator too. Jims is:

Weight x reps x 0.033333 + weight

So if you did 275 for 3 reps it would be

275 x 3 x 0.033333 + 275 = 302

Take 85% of that and you have your TM. BBB 5x10 sets are done with 50% of that TM

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Thank you. That’s a really helpful tip.

Man 50% of that TM seems incredibly light but I will trust the process.

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Quoting scripture:

90/85% (~of 1rm) TM = 3/5rm@non-failure


When doing the 3rd set at 85% is it “better” to stick with 5 reps only or to do as many as you can do? I don’t respond well to max effort lifts. My strength likes to stagnate early. It might be easier on the nervous system to hold back a bit. Thoughts?

Research 5/3/1 “leaders” and “anchors”.

Leader (higher volume / lower intensity)
2 cycles (6 weeks)
5s Pro, BBB or FSL 5x5


Anchor (lower volume / higher intensity)
1 cycle (3 weeks)
3/5/1 PRs, FSL 3x5



I apologize for such a remedial question but by 2 cycles you mean going through 3x5 twice in the same workout? Then the FSL being 5x5 at 65% for the first week and progressing accordingly?
I’m assuming I also do the assistance work with what you are suggesting?

I’m barely hanging on with the lingo. I have to dig into the book more.

This is worth emphasizing. For BBB, a training max set to 85% is generally recommended. So, instead of working up to a 1RM, one can just work up to something approaching a 5 rep max with solid, strong, fast reps (not a set of grinder reps).

In general these days, Wendler seems to recommend using the 5’s progression (5’s Pro) when doing BBB supplemental work. On 5’s Pro, your work sets are all done for 5 reps, no matter the week, and no pushing for extra reps there. You can push for personal records and such on cycles when you are not doing high volume supplemental work.

Which book do you have?

531 Beyond is needed for the Wendler-terminology.
5314eva is needed for complete awesomeness.


Ok that makes more sense. That’s how I interpreted it initially. Then I started reading his book and saw an example workout of doing AMRAP and doing 10,11, 12 reps on the 3rd set and I was like “what the hell?”
Thanks for the clarification.

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Example of 3 cycles with the leader/anchor format

Leader (Cycle 1-2) = Accumulation phase

TM = 85% of 1rm first Cycle

Week 1 (Cycle 1-2)
Warm ups: 40% x 5, 50% x 5, 60% x 3
Main set’s: 65% x 5, 75% x 5, 85% x 5
FSL set’s: 5x5 x 65%

  • Assistance

Week 2 (Cycle 1-2)
Warm ups: 40% x 5, 50% x 5, 60% x 3
Main set’s: 70% x 5, 80% x 5, 90% x 5
FSL set’s: 5x5 x 70%

  • Assistance

Week 3 (Cycle 1-2)
Warm ups: 40% x 5, 50% x 5, 60% x 3
Main set’s: 75% x 5, 85% x 5, 95% x 5
FSL set’s: 5x5 x 75%

  • Assistance

Week 7: Deload

Anchor (Cycle 3) = Intensification/Realization phase

Week 1 (Cycle 3)
Warm ups: 40% x 5, 50% x 5, 60% x 3
Main set’s: 70% x 3, 80% x 3, 90% x 3+
FSL set’s: 3x5 x 70%

  • Assistance

Week 2 (Cycle 3)
Warm ups: 40% x 5, 50% x 5, 60% x 3
Main set’s: 65% x 5, 75% x 5, 85% x 5
FSL set’s: 3x5 x 65%

  • Assistance

Week 3 (Cycle 3)
Warm ups: 40% x 5, 50% x 5, 60% x 3
Main set’s: 75% x 5, 85% x 3, 95% x 1+
FSL set’s: 3x5 x 75%

  • Assistance

Week 11 (Deload or TM test)

This is atleast how I understand it after reading this forum for a long time.

Hope it was helpfull.



Thanks florelius. That is extremely helpful. Now to throw a wrench into everything. My goal is really to add about 10lbs of muscle while maintaining bodyfat levels. I’ve never really focused on strength. So how does this compare to Westside for Skinny Bastards program?

I have no idea, since I have never run WFSB before. If your main focus is hypertrophy, then perhaps this could be just what the doctor ordered:

Yea I was looking at that as well. Hmmm… do you think it would be helpful to sub in dips somewhere to that program? If so, where would you put them?

Dips is not a part of that program (3 month Challenge). If you want to do dips, use another 531template.

I’d run the simple leader/anchor a few times to get the feel for everything, and then you can tackle one of the harder challenges. Learn to walk before you start running. You will get plenty big and strong with the basics.

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Good advice. I’m really strong in dips anyway which is why I like doing them. So, I’ll leave the ego at the door and focus on the basics.

Thanks guys