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My Last 9 Months on 5/3/1. Progress/Stalling

Hey everyone. First off let me thank everyone for all the info i read on this forum. Very helpful. I just finished my third cycle of 5/3/1. Love it, it’s been working well for me and i have been making good progress. I’m 39 years old and found this a great routine, however it is beginning to get tough.

I do a Beginner 5/3/1 routine from Jim’s blog. Basically 3 days a week, ABA/BAB - Squats/Chest and Deads/Military @ 5/3/1 followed by 5x5 FSL and then Push/pull/abs or legs assistance.

At this point my numbers are the following:
Deads - 95% 1+ set is 265lbs - i do 10 reps, put the weight down for 40 seconds, and do another 10 reps. I feel i am still progressing well with deadlifts and i’m not feeling the stall yet.

Squats - 95% 1+ set is 250lbs - i did 5 reps and had to rack the weight. Took a minute to breath and did another 2 reps that were quite tough. I believe i’m starting to stall on the Squat.

Military - 95% 1+ set is 150lbs - did 3 reps, it was really tough. Went back and did 1 more rep. Been definitely feeling the stall on this lift!

Bench - 95% 1+ set is 190lbs - i did 6 reps, racked it, went back and did another 4. Feel like i’m still progressing with Chest Press and it’s going pretty well.

I’d like to get some of your input on how to go forward. Should i be looking at a different 5/3/1 routine than i’ve been doing? Would it be better to do a 4 day routine with one main 5/3/1 lift per day rather than 2 ? Should i reset/lower my TM for squats and military press ?

I thank you for your time and help!

It toook 9 months to do 3 cycles?

Where does it say to do this? As far as I am aware Jim has never said do 2 531 sets. This is not part of the program.

Anyway move on to another template, this is great…

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You have found what your maxes are tm is high for press should have gotten at least 5, need to do the math on your squat, bench and press to get the right tm and maybe for the press use a 80% tm and keep working follow the 7th week protocol

I have no idea what version of 5/3/1 I didn’t write that you currently follow - it is all over the place.
But in keeping with the tradition of current trends, just do whatever you want.

However, your squat TM is fine. Everything else is way too high. I can’t stress that enough. WAY TOO HIGH.

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Sorry, i probably should’ve explained what i consider a cycle. 12 weeks = 1 cycle in my explanation. So for the 531 portion, i do the following:

Week 1 - Squat/Bench 3X5 (mon), Deads/Military 3X5 (wed), Squat/Bench 3X5 (friday)
Week 2 - Deads/Military 3X3 (mon), Squat/Bench 3x3( wed), Deads/Military 3x3 (friday)
Week 3- Squat/Bench 5/3/1 (mon), Deads/Military 5/3/1 (wed), Squat/Bench 5/3/1 (friday)
Week 4 - Deload

After Deload my lower body lifts go up 10lbs, upper body 5 lbs and i’ll do the same thing as above, but i will begin with Deads/Military. After every compound 5/3/1 set, i do 5x5 FSL and assistance work after that.

Jim, thanks for replying, i appreciate it. I got this version from your blog. Here’s the link:

Should i change what i’m doing and go with a different version, what do you recommend ? And what do you recommend i change my TM’s too ?

Thanks again guys!

I think you’ve misunderstood the program.

when reading your first post you do the topset of the 531 work as a rest pause, that is NOT what you’re supposed to do.

I don’t quite understand what Jim means by sets/reps. It could be with +sets ie amrap/pr set on the top set or it could mean on 5’s week do 5 reps no +set and 3’s week 3 reps no +set and 5/3/1 week do 5-3-1 rep and no +set.
I don’t think it matters that much. You could do 5’s pro as well.

1 cycle is 4 weeks, NOT 12. you do every week sq/be - DL/OHP - sq/be and not aba bab style.

You’re understanding of 10/5 pounds increase is correckt.

You TM for DL is good,
Squat and bench might be good for another cycle, you should get at least 5 reps on the 5/3/1 week.
OHP you should lower the TM to a weight you could do 5 good solid reps with.

Stop the rest pause stuff.

you could continue the beginner version, do the template Rampantbadger suggested, do the hardgainer or my favorite OG with FSL 5x5.
Just pick one do it as it’s supposed to.

Good luck

I made a mistake. Your deadlift TM is good. All other lifts must be adjusted. You should be able to hit 5 strong reps with your TM.

I don’t really do a rest pause, on my PR sets i just try to get as many reps as i can with the set i do the most weight with. I don’t really count the reps i do after rest-pause, but just a way for me to get some extra reps in with the most amount of weight.

Thanks for the explanation of the cycles. Since thats the case, i’ve done 12 cycles so far. I’m not quite sure what you mean with the no +sets, i thought that the last set of each weeks 5/3/1 was a PR set. Am i wrong ? And from reading about the beginner routine on this forum, it was said to do it A/BA … B/A/B style … maybe Jim can shed some light on this.

These are my TM numbers when i started and now …

Squat: @ start 160/ now 260
Bench: 140/195
Deads: 165/275
Military: 100/155

Can i continue with this routine but make it a 4 day instead of 3 ? So to give each compound lift it’s own day … monday (squat), tuesday (bench), thursday (deads), friday (military) ?

I will definitely be adjusting my numbers on the lifts i’m stalling on and take it from there. Like i said, Deadlifts and Bench i still feel i’m progressing on and don’t have trouble getting to 5 reps. Squats and Military will need to be adjusted.

I literally got an account so I could reply to this thread…

Recommend switching to a 4 day lifting schedule with one main lift a day if you’re going to stick with a monthly deload.

If you stall (hard), reset your TM for that lift 2-3 months back and work your way back up.

Eat, sleep.

Thx a lot guys for all your help! I will reset my TM for Squats and Military. I will keep my Bench and Deads the same as i can still get to 5 reps without much problem on my 1+ days. I’d love to go to a 4 day, but will have to stick to a 3 day as my schedule doesn’t allow 4 right now. Come June, i will move to 4 day.

Once again thx for the help and your time!

At what point do you guys recommend using a belt ? I haven’t used one up to this point. Should i be consider it at this point ?

Use one whenever you want. There’s no set time to do it.

No one can really tell you when and how to use a belt, but I can share with you how I currently use mine.

I have started going beltless on the majority of my work when I know my training max is 85% or lower. As it increases and I transition into a phase of setting PR’s I will begin using it on PR sets when I am pushing it hard and would like my belt to act as more of a force multiplier rather than a crutch. I like to train without a belt most of the time to reinforce good technique with as little equipment as possible.

As for when to start using a belt, experiment. Maybe start working with it when your squat gets up around double bodyweight. Try an entire session with it and try an entire session without it. See what works for you.