Number of Reps to Increase Load for Next Cycle

Jim - love the logic and simplicity of the 5/3/1 program. I’ve been using your program for past few years and have seen my strength return to near college levels. How many reps should we reach for push/squat (4-5?) and pulls (3?) on our 5/3/1 week +1 set to increase weight for the next cycle? I use 5 forward/3 back when I stall, but just wanted to know what you or others are using for your triggers to increase weight for the next cycle.

I’m 6 feet, 203 lbs., and working with TM of 90% for loads of 320 squat, 285 bench, 365 dead lift, and 165 press for my training. I’m 49 years young and not looking to set any records, but my bench is stalling pretty hard while the squat and deads keep climbing. I have been using 4-5 reps on press and 3 reps on dead lifts and cleans (no straps and double overhand with hook grip) to trigger an increase for the next cycle. Just wanted to see if there were any set rules or guidelines out there. I may try switching to Beyond 5/3/1 program (Training Maximally) for a few cycles to change things up. Thanks for the time, effort and programs. Got both books and looking forward to the next one.

For a long time prior to learning of Jim’s 5/3 recommendation, I would basically just push until I stalled out. This would usually mean I would MAYBE get 1-2 extra reps on the 1+ days. Then, I read about the 5/3 programming, and also started to realize that the TM is a tool in my toolbox instead of a measure of my strength. I dropped my TMs significantly, and started focusing on getting a lot of quality reps on the PR sets. It has made a world of difference for me.

If there’s any doubt that your TM is too high, just drop it down. You’ll likely benefit from the lighter weights. I like the idea of choosing a weight that you can hit at least a solid 5 reps with for your TM.

This has made a world of difference in my training.

For you, and this applies to majority of people: if you can’t do five strong, fast reps at your training Max - it’s time to lower your TM.

Every single person I train, without exception, gets better when this is followed (along with proper periodization and following the five basic principles of the program.)

Jim - thanks for the feedback. I’ll drop it down 3 notches and work my way back up. Rather be slow and steady, than fast and broken.