T Nation

How Can I be Sure 85% TM is Right for Me?

So, I’m in the third week of my first cycle of BBB. I’ve been running it 5/3/1 (percentage and rep scheme) and I think I’d like to switch over to the 5s Pro rep scheme, still running the 5/3/1 percentage programming. I understand that instead of 90%1RM TM, with the 5’s Pro, I should be starting with 85%. I was reading a thread on here from last year where Jim replied to someone’s question similar to mine, citing that this person should start with 85% for all 4 lifts, then adjust as necessary. He said maybe for one or all lifts, they would end up dialing down to 80%, or maybe even ramping up to 90%. What was not present in the dialogue however, was what exactly would this person be looking for to determine if he needed to go up or down, or stay at 85%.

So, how will I know if 85% is my sweet spot? Should I I be looking for my final week three final set to be more or less almost to failure at 5 reps? I know Jim is big on bar speed, so I’m trying to figure this out in my head as to what exactly I’m looking for.


Good rule of thumb for TM is to set it to a weight you can get for 5 solid and clean reps.

For 85% or for 90%? I figure, if I can hit 5 clean reps at 90% of my 1RM, then in theory, I’d hit more than 5 clean reps at 85% of 1RM. I never was good with math and percentages :frowning:

it’s just a starting point. If you find you need to add weight at some point, add weight. Starting light is never going to hurt you. If you’re in your 18th cycle of 5/3/1 and still hitting 20 reps on your 5/3/1 week, then yeah you may be too light.

Just start at a weight you can do 5 reps with and stick with the program for a year+. You’ll get stronger. And for my earlier point, if you start with a 225 deadlift on your 5/3/1 week and hit 20 reps and hit 405 for 20 in a year or so one your 5/3/1 week, you’re stronger. And if you care about top end strength (1-5 rep strength) you’re just a shortish peak away from hitting a new max. Training is really easy, and should be. No need to complicate it.

1 Like

If I’ve understood things right, during your TM test you should be able to perform three clean reps with a TM set at 90% and five with a TM set at 85%. This is written in 531 Forever.


“How can I be sure…”

You can’t be sure of anything. That is why you start light, progress slow and keep a detailed training journal.


I did find this in the book, but I guess just because I’m new to 5/3/1 training, there’s sort of a lot to learn, and there are a ton of percentages. I know it’s simple, and to the more experienced 5/3/1 trainee, I can see that, but for me I’m still in sponge mode. I think I’ve got the hang of it now. Thanks!

Thank you for the input. Also very cool that you’re active on the forums. I’ve got a lot of respect for a guy as well known as yourself, still breaking bread with the commoners lol. It’s good leadership.

1 Like