T Nation

Is Your TM Based On Your True, Grindy 1RM? Or Your “Very Strong” 1RM?

if your TM is 90% of your 1RM, then the 1+ day of week 3 has you lifting essentially your 5RM weight (rep max calculators say your 5RM is ~86% of your 1RM, and .90 * .95 = ~.86)

But 5 very strong reps at what is essentially my true 5RM weight is tough (tried it yesterday, was super grindy)— if I could do 5 very strong reps then I would be able to do more reps and then it wouldn’t be my 5RM.

So should my TM be a percentage of the highest weight I can do with good speed, and not my true 1RM? If so I will have to go find out what that number is, no big deal.

But am I wrong for thinking that that number is gonna be a lot lower than what my actual 1RM max is, so much so that it makes me think I’m wrong for thinking that’s what I ought to do. because if that is correct then people wouldn’t refer to 1RM so much when talking about 5/3/1, because it’s really not a 1RM.

Thanks for any help, I feel like an idiot

As you note, you’re obviously not going to get five clean, strong reps at your literal 5RM in the same way you’re not going to get a perfect, easy single at your true 1RM.

No. Principle no. 1 of 5/3/1 is “start too light”, after all.


I am insanely confused as to what the real question is.

Generally speaking, we take the weight a lifter can do for 5 strong reps and that would be his TM. This ALWAYS works…but apparently only in the London HS weight room in London, OH. “Start too light/Progress slow” = long term, awesome progress.

Don’t overthink this.


Thanks both of you for the replies. My bad for the confusion.

I know the answer now but just to clarify what I was asking:

Basically my question was, if your TM is based on a weight you can do for 5 reps, there is a big difference between my true 5RM and the weight that I can do for 5 fast, clean, strong reps. So in many inefficient words I was asking which one is preferable.

But it sounds like the answer is pretty clearly use the one you can do quickly, strongly, and cleanly. Thanks again for the help guys.

My understanding of getting 5 strong reps on your 1+ week is if you’re using an 85% TM. If you’re using a 90% TM, as your math shows, 5 reps would be difficult. This is the only thing that makes sense to me.

.95 * .85 = ~.81 You can probably achieve 5 strong reps here
.95 * .90 = ~.86 You can probably achieve 3 strong reps here