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Months for True 1RM to Increase Only by 5-10 lbs on Each Lift on 5/3/1?

Hey guys, I am really considering running the 5/3/1 for a few months. However, what I am concerned about is how many months it will take to really see a significant increase in my True 1RM and not my TM (90% of my true 1Rm) on all of the lifts. Let’s take my 1RM for the bench press which is 220 lbs. with full ROM. Going along with the 5/3/1 principles, my TM in this case would be approx. 202 lbs. So, I would based all of my 5/3/1 percentages on about 202 lbs. for the first cycle. Now each cycle takes 4 weeks to complete and according to Wendler, after you finish your first cycle you’re supposed to increase your upper body TM lifts by 5 lbs. Therefore, for my 2nd cycle I would use approximately 207 lbs. to base my new 5/3/1 percentages off of. After the 2nd cycle, I add another 5 lbs. to my TM again, which will come out to be 215 lbs. for the 3rd cycle. At this rate, it doesn’t seem like my TM will get to surpass or even equal with my current true 1RM max bench until after about 4-5 months of being on this program. Is it this correct?

Actually, a solid, 20 lb gain on the bench in four months is great. Look at what the long term gains could be.

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No, it is not correct. This is THE biggest misunderstanding of 5/3/1

The training max increase has almost nothing to do with your actual max and how it changes. Just because your TM increases 5 pounds doesn’t mean your real max will go up 5 pounds… Maybe more,maybe less

So many factors come in to play. Diet, genetics, training age, amount of assistance work and type, etc… The last thing on the list is increasing your TM 5 pounds having a 1:1 correlation with your real max

What if at the end of 4 months you bench 220x8 on your last week? Would that be an improvement? What if in cycle 6 you are benching 225x4?

The training max does not correlate 1:1


Wait, assumming all else is in check including diet, genetics, training age, amount of assistance work and type, etc., how would I be able to bench 220 x 8 or 225 x 4 or the like that at the end of 4 months, if I only increase my TM by 5 lbs.? Please elaborate.

The entire idea behind 5/3/1 is to train with sub-maximal weights, make them your bitch with new rep PR’s and eventually you’ll be repping your 1RM with ease. If increasing 1RM is what you want, I would run the BBB challenge, followed by 5x5, 5x3 and 5x1 assistance templates all in a row.

You could beat your RM in the first cycle already. Your 531+ for that is is by my calcs 192 pounds. 192 x 6 is 223RM, and youve beaten your PR.

Dont think too much, just do the program. Thousands of guys have already proven its worth.

How would you feel if on that 1+ week, you pulled out 10 reps at your current 1RM?

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Check out the book for more details. Also please read the article by Kevin Deweese about the TM on my website.


Read the books and check out the forums. Check out some of the 5/3/1 training logs. You’ll see how this isn’t about what you’re lifting in 4-5 months. It’s about crushing submaximal weights, progressing slowly and next thing you know you’re crushing weights well above your previous maxes in a year, 2 years, 10 years…

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Looks like you haven’t changed much.


Because weight training makes you stronger.

Lets say your your max is 225x1 and 185x8, if you can build up your base and make 185x15, its very very likely your 225x1 will become 225x3-5… Then your max is now higher too. Think of it like a pyramid, the more bricks you add to the bottom floor the higher the peak can be.

How quickly do you think you should be adding weight on your max? Would raising the TM 10 pounds a month add 10 pounds to your max in a month? Why not 20 pounds? Why not 50 pounds?

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Trying to stop Bull_Scientist from thinking too much is like trying to stop the rain.

Can’t be done.

It is not correct.

You are not going to analyze your way to strength. With experience and education, some people become great programmers and develop a keen understanding of the factors involved in getting strong. You almost certainly lack the intellectual firepower to ever get there. For instance, you miscalculated 90% of 220. Then, you suggested 207+5=215. You also fail to understand the concept of a training max, which is important for almost any strength training philosophy, not just 5/3/1.

Your best bet, therefore, is to allow yourself to be coached. If you cannot invest in someone to hold your hand at every step, at least follow the advice you’ve paid for. It is nice to understand the principles behind the programming you are using, but it is not necessary for success, particularly if you’re not very bright. Keep in mind, many successful athletes are morons.


its good to see so many people get it AND offer common sense solutions. Ramo said it best though and something I no longer have the patience for. Thank you to all.


In regards to that article on your site, there is a small typo…

“After 10 weeks of training you would be using a TM of 310 (up 5=320, back 3=290, up 5=340, back 3=310).”

I’m assuming that he meant to say “after 10 CYCLES.” Other than that, excellent write up.

Check this out:

Session A -
225lb x 5 reps x .0333 + 225 = 262 estimated max

Session B -
220lb x 7 reps x.0333 + 220 = 271 estimated max

In this realistic example, your estimated 1 rep max increases nearly 10 lbs from one session to the next.

Training max is nothing but a base to work around!

This is why 531 didn’t work for me. I did exactly what I was supposed to do, crushing the PR sets, 5 forward/3 back, deloads etc. But I found when I eventually reached near my real max, I was actually struggling with weight that used to be no problem for me.

My squat and deadlift got weaker and bench/mp stayed about the same. This was after about 9 months of starting with a light TM and working my way up using 5/3 technique. Repping out light weight just doesn’t increase my maxes.

If 1rm increase was your goal, were you using joker sets?

Yes some individuals do need more volume/frequency or even both to drive progress especially if actual 1RM is your absolute main goal. It is possible and even very easy to de-train your capability to handle heavy singles with a program like 5/3/1 when using the basic progression and template without joker sets or anything else.

To counter these, you can add heavier volume with 5x5, 5x3 and 5x1 assistance progression, add frequency by doing squats as deadlift assistance and vice versa. You can also do both by doing the heavier volume assistances like that.

Whenever I hear or read someone say that a program didn’t work for them I always wonder how hard they were training and what their sleep and nutrition was like.

Just out of interest.

What are your lifts?

What was your diet like? Did your body weight increase, decrease or stay the same?