T Nation

Failed a Set of Squats

I’ve been using 5/3/1 since February and this is the first time I could not complete the minimum amount. I was scheduled to hit a minimum of 5 reps of squats and could only hit 4. What do I do when I fail? Take a couple days off and try again?

Have you reset your training max since you started? It’s probably too high.

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Make sure you can do your TM for 5 reps. If not - lower it.

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Yeah I’ve been adding 5lb to upper body and 10 lbs on lower body every cycle. Was doing great until now.

you need to change the training max you’re working from, not take days off. taking a few days off might get you your reps this time, but you’ll be failing everything soon enough.

5 3 1 will not have you progressing at the same rate forever. You have to reset regularly.


I’m dropping 20 lbs but have increased my protein intake. I have a meet in August but after I might try increasing my calories to see if it makes a difference.

Be careful with the protein! I give my girlfriend a protein shot every morning and all it’s doing is making her fat.

wtf kind of nonsense is this comment? lol

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It’s ok, she says it’s paleo. haha

To the OP, as everybody else says drop your TM and progress from there. One step back = 3 steps forward. You’re not less of a man because you reset. Think macro not micro. Git er done.


I believe Wendler says that when this happens, you take 90% of your current estimated 1RM, and start over again. If your stalling on multiple lifts, take a deload week.and then recalc all your maxes and start over.

Its somewhat expected to have to reset somewhere between 5-8 cycles

personally, I give myself three attempts that day to make the lift before resetting. More often than not, I can make the lift on the second try.

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If you can only hit 4 reps your TM is too high. Set your TM to whatever you hit 5 SOLID reps on.

Could have been just a bad day that happened because reasons (i.e. you didn’t feel good, you were particularly stressed, whatever), you should take a look at your previous months and see how you did.
If on your 5+ weeks you did 10 reps every month then this time happened to hit 4, it might just be a bad day, happens.
Most likely, you need to tweak your TM. Pick a TM that allows you to do 5 good reps (85%TM, most recommended usually) or 3 good reps (90%TM).
You might not need to test it, if you keep your training logs (and you should) chances are you could have hit 3-5 reps in some “+” weeks PR, probably the 1+ week, so that’s your number.
Whatever you do, I’d finish the cycle you’re doing anyway so you can have the full picture with all numbers, PR sets and such.

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I was doing great every cycle, but feels like I hit a wall with this last cycle :anguished:. I might just be getting old

Squats have always given me a hard time - first an injury (I discovered I have IT Band Syndrome…yay) plagued me last year and now that I’m over it I have weeks where my squat capacity diminishes and recovers with no rhyme or reason.

Before recalculating your max and rebooting the 5/3/1 weights, I would try taking a deload week and monitor your diet. I’ve found that caloric deficits can plague the squat more so than my other lifts - maybe it’s not what your eating that is the problem.

Because of last years set back, I am very much a beginning-intermediate squatter. But hopefully what I’ve said here helps.

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