T Nation

Limiting Reps on Top Set: Gains or Spinning The Wheels?

Jim (or anyone else who’s tried and tested on clients)

I’m running my own 2 day per week program following the principles of 5/3/1 . I currently train 3 times a week MMA. I’m in my 30’s and I’m struggling with recovery of my lifting sessions effecting my MMA training.

So my question is . . . on the + sets , do you think by just hitting the original number i.e. 5 or 3 or 1 for a top set instead of max reps , will still see strength gains or would i just be ‘spinning the wheels’ at that point?

If it just delays the rate at which Id gain strength I’m all good with that , I’m here for the long hall , i just don’t want to waste time just ‘spinning the wheels’ if there was a better option

If recovery is issue do 5s Pro instead of original. Or you can do 5s Pro for deads and squats, and original amraps on ohp and bench.

5s Pro with a lower TM could work. Also, it’d help to know your supplemental and assistance volume, because you say you follow the 531 Principles, but that’s a bit vague to decide whether you may be overdoing something after your main lifts.
For example if you followed the Jack Shit template when you are feeling less recovered, it might helps with your problems.
Point is, the main lifts volume and intensity, while a big player, aren’t the only things impacting your recovery.

If you started with a TM of 100lbs for the press and used this approach, you’d finish your first cycle pressing 95lbs for 1 rep and, after 12 months, end up pressing around 130lbs for 1 rep. Keep that up for 5 years and you’re talking 275 for 1 rep. That’d be pretty awesome.


If only strength gaining was this simple!

2 day is split between Squats&Bench , Deads&OHP

After Squats i do FSL (3x8) RLD’s ( which % wise cmpared to my deadlift is ~40/50% - more to just engrain the hip hinge motor patern over taxing the actual muscles)
After deadlifts i do 5/3/1 for power cleans.

Then to finish both sessions i finish off with a circuit of mainly bodyweight exercises (e.g. abb roll outs, single leg lunges, dips, pullups maybe some hammer curls)

Not a tonne of volume or intensity compared to when i used to only lift.

Ill re-read 5s Pro ! cheers for replying

On its own this isn’t that much, but given your 3 MMA sessions it can be. If your main goal is MMA, weights are your GPP. That doesn’t mean it’s conditioning, it means it builds the strength you need to be strong where it matters.

3x8 FSL is pointless especially on lower body, if you are training for strength and general capacity to stay strong through a fight. 3-5 sets x 3-5 reps FSL. Especially on lower body. If your mechanics are better for squat than deadlift, do 5 reps on Squat FSL and 3 on deadlift FSL. If the other way, turn it around obviously.

In one workout you do Deadlift, Clean, and OHP, all in 531. Doable, but if you do all this, that’s your workout done. No curls, dips, nothing. MAYBE a couple of sets for core, done! Also, alternate. Look at the 531 Beach Body Challenge to see how Press, Squat, Deadlift, and OHP is changed between workouts. You can do that weekly instead. Say one week you do 531 on Deadlift, work up to TM on Press for either a single or a PR, and do 3-5 sets of 3 reps of Cleans on FSL, or even SSL if you feel fresh. Then the next week change it. Then again. That means by the time you get through a 3 week cycle for each lift it takes 9 weeks before you need to raise TM, and you still train and improve them all every week.

For Squat and Bench Day, again, you can interchange between one of them 531, the other FSL, or even cycle them on a 9 weekly basis like the other 3 lifts, that way you can alternate between 1 week squat 531, bench work to TM, next week both on FSL only, third week, squat TM, bench 531. For assistance, keep your RDL, sure, but after that don’t go crazy on assistance. A chin up or a row, pick one each week or each 3 week block, a hammer curl simply for bicep tendon health, and abs if you didn’t hammer them much on MMA training.

All 531 weeks on lifts can be replaced by 5s Pro at an even lower TM, 80-85%, if you wanna eliminate rep max sets or minimise them.

The only time you do sets of 8-12 is on RDLs, chin ups/rows, curls, and abs. If you want to do kind of a BB upper/Athlete Lower layout, then keep the low rep FSLs on lower lifts, and do 5-8 reps on FSL for Press and Bench.

Your progress will be slower, but a lot more solid, with the TMs raising slower, giving your body room to adapt while improving your main focus: MMA.

Also, look up Krypteia Redux. That’s a viable option, if you want to do it 2 days a week just roll the 3 workouts over the weeks on a 2 day split.

Disclaimer: These are only recommendations based on personal experience, not professional or medical advice.
Just to protect my ass legaly.

Hope I could help, good luck!

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Try doing minimum reps for deadlift and the rest as normal/AMRAP.
If still not fresh next step is squats terminate 2 reps earlier.
…Next step after that minimum reps for squats and or bench etc

Look into quality supps for recovery like hydrolysed whey, Surge products or even Plazma
Make sure getting in minerals like zinc/ZMA and plenty of vitd3 also

This was kinda like my initial approach to the matter - week1 i do 4x2@70% paused reps for squat and 1* week for deadlifts, then week 2 and 3 i do 3* and 1* for squats while 4x2@70% for deadlifts. This seems to have alleviated the issues with recovery, but within the last 6 weeks, 2 of these weeks ive also had to reduce my mma days to 2 from 3 due to life issues getting in the way . . . so this could very well also be the reason i dont feel so beat up! I will keep it like this for now and see how its goes over the next 6-12 weeks.

Supplement wise i think im pretty good, i take athletic greens every morning w/ cod liver oil and a glucosamine/chondroitine tablet. Take ZMA before bed, have a scoop of whey mixed with full fat milk and creatine after training , and on training days i consume 500g of mince to hit my protein needs ( I only weigh 77kg)

My 1RM’s last tested are
150 SSB
190 Deadlift
125 Bench