T Nation

Not Sure Where to Go from Here

Hey everyone, been a few months since I last posted.

I’ve been doing 5/3/1 for just about 10 months now, starting as a total beginner to lifting. I’ve seen my lifts go up much more than I could ever have anticipated and am extremely happy with my results so far. Also I have gained roughly 18 lbs and am nearing my short term goal weight of 205.

I’ve run 5/3/1 for beginners and switched to 5/3/1 w/ fsl, and have been running that for the last 3 months or so. I haven’t really been deloading the majority of the time since I haven’t felt the need to but recently my lifts have been stalling. I’ll hit a PR, and then have to seriously grind out reps for a couple weeks, then eventually my strength will come back and hit a new PR. It’s almost cyclical in a sense. Does anyone have any idea as to why this is? I feel as though I’m eating enough during the day and around my workout to allow me to continue progressing, and I’m still gaining weight.

As for the deloads- after the deloads I have done I have to work a couple weeks to get back to where I previously was. I don’t know if it’s mental due to an “off” week or what but it’s somewhat demoralizing taking steps back when progressing forward is so much more fun and rewarding, not to mention I feel like after a less intense week I should be refreshed and at nearly 100%.

Any suggestions as to what couple possibly be happening/ solutions?

First, congratulations on making big gainz. You made the commitment, put in the hard work, and have seen results.
Here’s where the game changes a bit. Remember that progress is not linear. Staying the course and patience will pay off from here on out.

My own early experience mirrors yours, and as time has passed, new PRs and growth seem to come in waves.

Keep working. Stay patient.

That is odd that you come back weaker. when I took a deload I came back stronger.

Jim talks in his books about decreasing tm when you stall. Maybe reduce your training max and start working your way up again. Also, going up in weight isn’t the only benchmark to watch. If you’re getting more reps on your + sets, you’re getting stronger. Do you record how many reps on your plus sets?

Another option for a deload week is also just to hit your TM for each lift and shut it down. So, your deload is a drop in volume rather than in top end intensity. What is happening is that mentally you are “forgetting” how to demonstrate strength, and it takes a bit of time to ramp back to that combination of physical and mental ability to move the most weight you can. This happens to me, too, even after taking a few lighter days.

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Thanks for the replies- yes I make sure to record every rep, even warm up sets. I always hit the + sets hard and typically get well over the prescribed amount. Maybe I’m a little too overanalytical but I calculate out the estimated 1rm after each week and aim to beat that with the higher tm/ rep amount. I don’t know if this hurts me in a way because even though I’m lifting a weight I have never touched before, I still want to aim to get my e1rm up. Sometimes I do, sometimes I can’t. For example, a few weeks ago I did squats 190lbx11 on my 3+ week. The next week I did 200lbx6. Even though I hit a weight PR (as I have never squatted 200 before) I still feel as though I failed due to not increasing my e1rm.

I like the idea of taking a volume deload as opposed to dropping the weights. I will start doing that. Also I agree that possibly dropping my tm might help me in the long run right now.

You still hit a PR and that shows progress. I view the 531 program as an either or PR to keep me motivated. If i hit a rep PR then I’m happy. If I hit a weight PR then I’m happy. Either way, I’m making progress.

Edit: I don’t even calculate my 1 rm anymore. I just go up 5-10 lbs as stated in the book and go for prs.

Went to add edit and hit delete on accident lol.

Yeah I hear you. I guess I just have to get used to not getting the weight/reps PR consistently. I was also thinking of possibly switching from fsl to BBB for a few months. Doesn’t Jim say to only hit the 5 3 and 1 rep on respective weeks and just stop there due to the added volume of BBB?

Now in days jim doesn’t do 5/3/1 + sets with BBB its instead done with 5 pros wich is 3x5 every week with the weekly percentages no rep prs .

hello boilerman,

that sounds awesome that you made so much gains, congratulations! Can I ask please if you did any other program before 531 or do you really started with 531 as your first program?

what were the training maxes for every lift you started with?

Where can I find the 531 beginner template, in which book?

Thank you very much for your time and your help!!!
Best regards!

Hey trucker. Yes, 5/3/1 was my first program, and I guess technically it was the hardgainers template that I started with that I found on this site.
After a few months of that I bought and read the second edition book and am planning on buying forever soon.
I don’t have my notebook with me but I started light on all lifts and focused on form. I have never been athletic and since i had never done the movements before I wanted to make sure I was doing them correctly. I work out at home for convenience, so I took a few trips to a gym with a friend who has been lifting for 7-8 years for him to check my form and test strength levels a couple months ago. I plan on continuing to do so every once and a while as the weights go up just to make sure I’m still doing them correctly.

hey boilerman,

thank you very much for taking your time and responding to my questions!

Can you tell me if it was the template where you train full body 3x per week, the “531 for beginner”

or the “531 for hardgainers” where you train 4x per week and perform every lift only one time per week?

Thank you very much for your help and your time!

So the one that I started with was the hardgainers template, sorry for the confusion. The 20 rep squats that end the squat day were by far the most difficult thing to get used to in my opinion. Especially keeping acceptable form throughout. I started so light that I was able to focus a lot more on form and I’m glad I did because the weight goes up a lot quicker than you think.

I also did deadlifts in a defecit for just about 7 months at the beginning. I only had a small barbell and 25’s. At home I was deadlifting 215x11-12, all overhand grip, and when I went to the gym with my friend (which had a deadlift bar, 45s, and my friend urged me to do over under grip) I hit 255x9. That was a few months ago and my deadlift has gone way up since then. It’s by far my best and favorite lift.

I’ve read a lot of the threads here trying to gain as much knowledge as I can about what to do and what not to do and it seems like you’re trying to find a place to start from. I’ve heard it a million times from posters here who have way more experience than me and I believe it’s true, and I’ll pass it on to you. I don’t think it matters what program you choose to start with (to a point). Pick something that gets you excited and interested and stick with it. I’m positive any one of the 5/3/1 templates will work. Pick one that looks cool and just do it.