T Nation

Going back to 5/3/1


Hi Jim,

I am about to start 5/3/1 again after a few years hiatus. (I trained using the main lifts during this time, just using different methods). I know where my maxes lie and will set up the program as you developed it. My question lies on the last set. I have been training the big lifts in the lower rep ranges (mostly <5) over the last few years and am unsure what my rep records would be for higher reps. How would you recommend I set my goals? Hit the last set hard on the first week/cycle leaving a few reps (2-3) in the hole and set my numbers for the following weeks to best those results? Using a rep calculator? Another option?

I loved the results last time and they could have been better if I didn't eat like I had an eating disorder and if I played more attention to recovery (extra mobility sessions and salt baths have made a huge difference!!)




I don’t understand why you would need to know your rep records? if you’ve been away from 5/3/1 for a while, just start it again as you did originally. you said you know where your current maxes are, so take 90% (OR LESS, 85% is smart) to establish the Training Max, and begin training.

If you have been training in the 5 reps or less range for a while, there’s going to be an adjustment period anyway. For example, you may struggle to hit many more than 5 reps on your 85% set the first week, but by the time week 3 rolls around, you’re hitting more reps with higher weight, just by getting acclimated to the higher rep sets again.


I would look for something like 8-10 on 5’s week, 4-6 on 3’s week & 1-3 on 5/3/1 week, as a range to shoot for. Like you said keep a few reps in the tank(1-2) and don’t go to absolute failure on the PR set. This will keep progress going upwards for awhile and allow PR’s to be set. Like Dez said above, hitting reps above 5 may be challenging at 1st but as long as you set your TM at 90% or even 85% to start you’ll be fine as you go