T Nation

Combining RPE & 5/3/1

What are your thoughts on incorporating RPE into 5/3/1? This new video by a Rippetoe SSC compares 5/3/1 to RPE. Curious if it might be beneficial to combine both? https://youtu.be/AS3BpGXnhBk

I’m of course not Jim, but 531 already incorporates RPE. From the beginning Jim has said to leave one or two in the tank for the PR sets, so 8-9 RPE.

Never heard of it - sorry.


and I’ve (and most people really) always use RPE on supplemental and Assistance.

To be fair another way of saying RPE is common sense xD :smiley:


You have percentages… how are you going to add RPE to it?

If the work is too light add heavier sets and if it’s too heavy not do the work?

You’ll adjust the TM. Supplemental volume should usually be easy.

Session to session?

It is not 100% the same, but the autoregulative principles are there.

Jim basically uses same idea as RPE for the athletes he’s coaching, since he does not use%, but observes bar speed and other factors for determining the TM. Again, this does not change from session to session, but I personally think it does not really matter.

I liked how someone called the RPE as common sense. It is just another way (a good way, I admit) to deal with autoregulation in training. I mean that I’ve seen RPE based programs before tje term was not even used.

I think that closest equivalent for RPE would be the Beyond training.

1 Like

If you want to be “as strong as you can” then do a powerlifting routine. 5/3/1 is a performance training program. There are variations that are strength based that include plenty of volume to achieve your goals if being as strong as you possibly can is said goal.

Once a person gets to the point where they are squatting and deadlifting 2-3X body weight, I hope they are experienced enough to know what works best for them and their goals. Me personally at almost 40 years old, am very happy benching 350 (260 TM) and squatting 530 (390 TM) while being able to run a 6 minute mile at a body weight of 220 pounds (my press max). I only use 5/3/1 and lift only twice a week. My TMs are clearly below 80% of my 1RM.

Could I get stronger with more volume and intensity and eating and sucking at life? yes, but for what? I’m not a power lifter.


Mark -
Excellent! Very well said. Nice numbers too. I’m 44 years old and would love those numbers.

btw it’s a pretty bad video from Alan (normally I like his videos).

He is just talking about 531 doing jack shit and wants to compare the volume of this to his personal training log. That can’t work. He has no clue about the different programs and the assistance stuff.

So, bad video, but RPE is still very interesting for intermediates.

1 Like

I agree. Alan did not really do an apples to apples comparison between 5/3/1 and RPE. I actually question if Alan has a true understanding of 5/3/1.

He probably does not. He seems alright, but I don’t get the point comparing individualized PL meet peak program to the bare minimum (jack shit) 5/3/1 program.

About the RPE. It is excellent in paper, but just like beyond training in 5/3/1 - it leaves lot to the lifter. I see RPE efficient mostly for experienced or for coached people.