T Nation

Building the Monolith: Failing Sets in Weeks 1-2

Just started my first cycle of BtM after a long cut
Weeks 1 and 2 went well, but been failing the 85% / 95% sets for Squats/OHP/Bench in Week 3
Haven’t quite gotten nutrition right as I’m trying to reverse diet to avoid fat gain (currently almost the same weight since I started)
When I finish Week 3, if I reduce my training maxes, do I restart the program? (i.e. Restart the 6 week process)
Or just do another 3 weeks of it and move on to 1-2 cycles of Anchor like PR/5x5 FSL ?

After week 3, up training max and do weeks 4 through 6.

Do I adjust the TM back if I start failing? Or does that defeat the purpose of the program?

I would wager this is a big part of failing the heavier lifts. Pretty sure you need to be eating over maintenance to succeed on that program.

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You should not be failing in the first place. One of the key principles of all 5/3/1 programs is to pick the right TM. You should also eat to support the training you are performing.

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Yes I know that the nutrition is the problem and I’ve only just found my maintenance since I was on a long cut which affected my metabolism. I’m just wondering how it affects the program if I don’t make the gains to increase the TM for Weeks 4-6 (since it’s only meant to be run for 6 weeks)

If you’re failing your lifts and you admit your diet is not at least a slight excess, you are not getting out of BTM what you should be getting out of BTM. Come back when you are ready to set an appropriate TM and ready to eat similar to the guide Jim gives on the explanation to the program.

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It defeats the purpose of the program. I just looked up what a reverse diet is. It didn’t sound very monolith-y.

BtM isn’t designed to accomodate dietary restrictions, but rather you’re meant to do whatever it takes to be able to do the program.

In other words,

BtM is the kind of programming that requires adjusting your diet and lifestyle to support the training demand.

There is another kind of programming, where the programming is adjusted to work around/fit the diet/lifestyle.

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Does your reverse diet include (emphasis added):

at least 1.5 pound of ground beef a day and ate one dozen whole eggs a day. That’s the only thing I required via diet


I would recommend SSL for 3 week cycle then deload for 1 week.

Gives you heavier more intense weights and during this time slowly ramp up your diet to meet requirements of BTM.

You should be good and ready to face BTM after those 4 weeks of diet / SSL prep.

My opinion…

Thanks everyone. Might stop the program after this week and do something else while I get my diet/metabolism right before starting again.

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Good idea. If you want to stick with 5/3/1 you can probably get away with 5’s Pro first set last. Will likely have to adjust training maxes, but it’s pretty hard to fuck up nutritionally unless you’re actually starving yourself.

Yeah, BTM is definitely NOT the program to be using while trying to do some kind of diet or eating at maintenance calories. Jim specifically says over and over to eat as much as you possibly can.