T Nation

How Often to Test Lifts (Suggestions)


Hi guys. Just a quick question for Jim and the rest of the 531 users.
I have been doing 531 for about 4 cycles now. Have been using the standard 531 with rep maxes and 531 pyramid variation. For my main assistance after the main lift I have been using Boring But Big. Goal is to increase my 1rm for powerlifting.

My question is, how often can one test the main lifts? I own all the books but have not yet used joker sets. Just wanted to get some opinions. How often do you guys test the main lifts and how do you go about doing so? Im not talking about maxing out here, just wanting to know what time frames do you guys generally use to take some heavier singles to gauge your real max increasing. I use the 6 week cycles, and am looking for some suggestions for a sustainable way to keep track of small increases in my max. I am going to do the strength challenge later this year perhaps leading into a meet.

I was thinking maybe every 6 weeks after the 531 sets and reps of doing some jokers depending on how I feel.
Any suggestions and experiences on this topic, please feel free to share.
Thanks guys.


This all depends on how you set up your cycles and training age (and a dozen other factors) - the shortest time is every seventh week (following the poorly named Seventh Week Protocol) as described in this program. Don’t do Joker sets.

I think 1rm’s are so damn pointless for anyone that isn’t a PL. So use the 7Week and follow that to a T. It’ll also tell you if your TM is correct.


Hey Jim. Thanks for the answer. My aim is to use 531 methods to become a powerlifter. Maximal Strength is the goal.
Thanks for the suggestion of the program, I will look into it. Im assuming that it is on your private forum which I have been meaning to sign up to.

Would you suggest something different to someone who is looking to be a powerlifter?

Also, I look forward to purchasing the new book when its out. Thanks again for the help.


Jim did do a whole book on powerlifting , I would say he will suggest do what’s written


Thanks Westie, I own all the books. Was just seeing what other Powerlifters do as far as testing (not maxing) in a sustainable way when no meets are planned out.
The reason being, that way I can find out what assistance movements are working to increase my main lifts, what templates are working for me , am I getting more out of good mornings or reverse hypers, that sort of thing.
I like to keep detailed notes on my spreadsheets.
Jim suggested the 7th week protocol which im looking into. I was thinking maybe to work up to my training max every 6 or 12 weeks and keeping track of bar speed and feel maybe?


And that’s why I suggested 7th Week Protocol.


Hey mate i work up to 1rm on 1’s week cycle 5 before going back 3 this way you can plan your next 5 cycles based off your strengths and weaknesses. You can do some jokers on 3’s week cycle 5 and 3/1 weeks cycle 4 leading up to it if you want but entirely up to u and how you want to plan your 5 cycles. I would’nt get too caught up with doing 1rm too often the beauty of 531 is everytime you go for rep pr you are testing and building strength.


Ah ok I see what you mean about knowing what supplemental work is carrying over to you main lift

If you already knew what works for you then you can get away without doing the main lift testing , I think Dave Tate said before at westside he never performed any of his competitive main lifts , it was all supplemental work , if he got stronger in those he knew on meet day his lift would be up

Then you can plan your accessory lifts to improve those supplemental lifts

If you’ve got your technique mastered in the main lifts then why train them for volume when all you need is 1 good rep on meet day

Something to think about


Hey mate awesome suggestion there. That sounds like the thing im looking for . A very nice and simple way of going about it.


Yea I have seen that video of Dave’s on supplemental work. I dont think im anywhere close to that level yet where I can gauge my main lift based on supplemental or indicator lifts. I also feel that for me personally being a raw lifter using 531 that my improvements should be tested via the competition lifts. What do you guys think?

I definatly like the idea of testing or going for a few heavier lifts on cycle 5 before going back 3.


Thanks Jim, still looking into what the 7th week protocol is haha.
I need to sign up to your forum.

7th Week Protocol?

It’s on the Tnation forum.


Thanks Jim I will look for it. Much appreciated.


Sorry for the silly question but I have been trying to find the info on the 7th week protocol, found one thread.
Bit confused, but is the 7th week protocol when one would work up to the training max on the deload week and perform 5 reps? Sorry if this has already been answered.


This is what I managed to find on the 7th week Protocol
"Yes, it can be that. We do this as a way of knowing the TM and if one has the “right” to move on. Since we often use this as a deload week OR a test week, it kind of depends on what you use it for. Most of the time we do it for a set amount of reps: 5 being the usual goal for most lifts.

As you know, after you do the program for awhile, the TM becomes less relevant to your actual max. The most progress in our weight room comes from people using at the most, 85% TM. Especially once they’ve been training for awhile and know how to push PR sets and know bar speed for their supplemental work.

It’s a nice balance between stupid and smart."

Just a question, in the above reply you mention that the 7th week is used as a deload week OR a test week. What do you mean when you say test week and how is this implemented? Sorry again if this has been explained.

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