How Do I Modify 5/3/1? I Am Not Strong Enough for It

My 1 rep maxes are:
Overhead Press: 50 lbs
Bench Press: 100 lbs
Deadlift: 95 lbs
Squat: 85 lbs

According to the table, the deload week requires that I use 40% of my 90% of my one rep max. The least amount of weight you can lift is the empty bar (45lbs).

.40*.90 (x) = 45
.36x = 45
x = 125

I need to have a one rep max of 125 lbs on all 4 lifts to even do the program.

Should I modify by using dumbbells that add up to the lower weight range? For example, for overhead press, 40% of 90% of my 1 rep max is 18 lbs. Should I use 5 to 10 lbs dumbbells?

Start with 5/3/1 for beginners (google it).

After some months, when you understand the principles (using the correct training max, increases etc.) buy straight the Forever 5/3/1 -book. There are tens and tens of excellent 5/3/1 programs.

For the lightest lift, overheard press, you need at least a TM of 50kg to have 20kg (bar) as your 40% deload BUTTT deload week you can just do light dumbell version of the exercises instead.
THe 5/3/1 for begginers mentioned doesnt have a deload week in it and thats good for your level.
At this stage i think Goblet squats are great to learn the movement also.

The percentage on the deload week aren’t going to be important at your level of strength. Just do something that gives your body a little break. Deloads actually probably aren’t even all that important at that level, as you’re not going to be able to cause a bunch of structural stress to your body. I’ve found that for me personally (this does not mean it will work for everyone else), I just use the last week of the second cycle as my “deload.” I just do my man barbell work as normal and cut out assistance and any hard conditioning (other than maybe some face pulls or something like that).

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Your gym doesn’t have an ez curl bar or technique bar?

Yeah it does. I suppose I could use it for overhead press and bench press. I can’t for dead lift and squat. I guess I might to dumbbells for each exercise. It seems to be what people are suggesting.

Is no one asking why his bench is higher than his lower body lifts??

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I honestly have no idea. My bench progressed really fast from not benching the bar to 100 lbs. I progressed from 5 lbs dumbbell overhead press to the 50 lbs on barbell for 1 rep. I progressed the squat from 55 lbs to 85 lbs. It is all about balanced. When I go high I tend to fall backward. I can leg press 135 lbs. For deadlift, I started out doing 65 lb rack pulls and progressed to a 95 lb deadlift. For the row I am working with the power rack. I started benching first before everything else so that could be it. There is no size difference. The legs and upper body look symmetrical.

All his lifts are still very low so it does not really matter.

OP, like I said - pick a beginner program, eat, condition and watch the gains come in. Make also sure you’re lifting with efficient form. Deadlift is a good example from a movement which should progress pretty fast at
first when you get your setup even remotely right.


I would suggest that you followed StrongLifts for a few month before 5/3/1, at least until you have a one rep max of 125 lbs on all 4 lifts.

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For people not strong enough for the press (for example) - we just use the press as a supplemental lift. The other easy thing to do is use 5x5/3/1 for the squat, bench and deadlift.

Easy to do, simple as hell to work with.


Could I not worry too much about deload week?

For my lowest lift, the squat (85 lbs) using 65% of my 90% training max is 49 lbs, which is definitely doable for week 1.

However, using 40%, 50%, and 60% percentages in deload week will result in a number below the 45 lb bar.

  1. The deload week doesn’t matter. See ‘deload’
  2. There are leaders/anchors, etc now. It’s different
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In case you were unaware, Jim Wendler is the creator of 5/3/1 and just commented.

There are plenty of articles that say you can go straight into the 5s week. I think Boring But Big is magic for beginners

SOunds good