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Is PR Stalling Normal?

New to the forum here with a question about 531. I’m a 40 year old novice who’s been lifting about 6 months. I’m in the 2nd week of the 4th 531 cycle. Up until now I’d been setting PRs weekly on the AMRAP set, however this week it just stopped. My estimated 1 rep max on squats is down 50 pounds from the 3rd week of last cycle and my bench is down 20. I’m still meeting the required minimum number of reps.

Is this kind of performance normal? Should I be alarmed at the sudden change? Do I keep following the program as is or change the 1rm?

It sure can be. Progress isn’t usually linear. I would reset your TMs to what they were 2-3 cycles ago when you were hitting PRs. Follow the 5 forward 3 back methodology.

Which protocol are you following?

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I’m following the standard 3x5, 3x3, 5/3/1, deload followed by boring but big 5x10 @50% of the same exercise.

How much are you eating?

I’ve stalled on 5/3/1 by being a dum dumb and not eating enough.

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If you’ve been doing BBB for 4 months, it’s most likely time to change the assistance work. You usually see 6 weeks as the blocks to run assistance templates before moving on to something else. You need to keep assessing and addressing weaknesses.

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My diet has been embarrassing. Just eating a lot with no direction

I was planning on trying the bbb for 24 months

Any particular reason?

I would highly recommend making sure you are conscious of your diet and doing the program as written. BBB for 24 months is not the program.

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My neighbor is a successful strength coach and he suggested it. I assume to establish muscle memory and strengthen the entire body before attempting more concentrated movements.

I mean, if you are following his advice on training, why not get his opinion on this subject and run with it?

In general, mixing and matching sources just leads to disaster.

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I don’t think Jim recommends BBB for beginners.


Good point. I was curious to hear other takes on it.

You probably overestimated your 1RM from the start. If you had an actual tested 1RM you’d probably be more accurate. Heavy lifting is as much physical as it is neurological (CNS). As you get closer to a 1RM your ability to hit multiple reps declines simply because you’re not used to it. I wouldn’t worry so much about your calculated 1RM. Just keep lifting until you can’t hit the required reps, decrease your training max by 10-20 pounds and start over. Of course, if your diet sucks, so will your progress.

You also should be prepared to have bad days. Just because you hit a certain number of reps with a certain weight one week, but on a subsequent week you’re struggling to hit the required reps does not indicate a lack of progress.

Using myself as an example, yesterday on 5/3/1 Squat day (week 6 of a cycle), I hit 395x4 on my 1+ set. That puts my calculated 1RM at 447.6 (445); however, I know my actual 1RM is 475, or even more. In fact, I’m certain I can hit 475 on any “squat” day.

I guess my point is, don’t get all jacked up about the numbers. Just keep at it. And since you’re a novice, keep it simple - think 5/3/1 and the triumvirate, or bodyweight accessories for a while until you start to get the hang of it, and by the hang of it, I mean after a year+ of training. I think BBB for you at this stage is a bit much. You’ll get a lot of progress out of keeping things simple - and your joints will thank you.

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Good advice. Maybe I’ll start the triumvirate next cycle. I got the impression from the book that the assistance program shouldn’t matter, guess I was wrong.

it’s the volume that you’re body isn’t used to recovering from. If you don’t recover from your last squat or bench session, you’re going to have a bad session. Best to start with the basic program and go until you stall, then start adding in assistance and accessories to compliment your program, as necessary, to address weaknesses and strengthen strengths. For now, stick with a few pulls for balance - like dumbbell rows to balance bench press, and chin ups to balance over head pressing; leg raises to balance deadlifts, and leg curls to balance squats. Basic, simple and effective. Beginners progress much faster than intermediates or advanced lifters - take advantage of this opportunity to really dial in on technique, and worry less about how much weight is on the bar than learning how to lift in the first place.

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Thanks for the advice. When you say to follow program as written, do you mean 531 pros fsl with 2 main lifts per day + assistance? Also, do you have a tracking software you recommend? I’m using big lifts 2

pad + pen = log book that’s all you need

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Yea I guess it’s more reliable.