T Nation

PR Set, 1+ Week. How Many Reps?

I have a question about the last set (PR set) on the standard 5/3/1 protocol.
As a read in all the wendler book and on t-nation article, the last set is an all-out set to hit personal records, but is possibile also to reach the prescribed reps at the prescribed percentage if you don’t feel good or have a bad workout.

As Wendler says:

“With 5/3/1, you accomplish a goal every workout. Some programs have no progression from one day to the other.
Another unique feature is that final balls-out set in each workout. You don’t have to go beyond the prescribed reps if you don’t feel like it, but there are real benefits to doing so.
I’ve always thought of doing the prescribed reps as simply testing your strength. Anything over and above that builds strength, muscle, and character.”

But in this forum (and nowhere in wendler’s book) i read that on the last set of the third week (the 1+ set at 95%) you must hit at least 5 reps, if not you can’t add weight on the next cicle or you have to reset TM.
So this is not a 1+ set, but a 5+ set and in all the 5/3/1 programming you will never train under the 5 reps!!

After 3 or 4 cicles i just can hit 3-4 reps on the 1+ set at 95%…so in this case i need to reset my TM or not increase weight until i reach 5 strong reps?


I’d say after a reset you should be able to get 5 strong reps on cycle 1. After that each cycle gets progressively harder to get that 5 and eventually goes below 5. Its completely up to you on when to reset, you definitely don’t want to get as low as 1 or 2 reps. Base it on how you think your overall progress is going, if its good then keep going, if you feel like you are stalling out AND not getting your 5 reps then maybe its time for a reset. It also varies per lift, maybe 3 reps on OHP is okay but 3 reps on bench you start regressing on progress if you get that low.

I personally repeat the cycle until I hit 8-10 strong reps on my 1+ weeks. As you have read, Jim advises to hit 5 solid reps.
I am not training for a powerlifting meet, so I am fine with not going below 5 reps at this time. I focus on beating those rep maxes and gaining strength. High rep maxes (12+) have been a serious test of fortitude by the way. Going into my 3+ week and seeing that I need 12 to break a pr is a gut check haha.

So you should be able to hit 5 solid reps on the 1+ set just on cicle 1 after a TM reset or even after several cicles (and eventually do not increase the weight until you hit 5 reps)?

Wow! So in the 5+ set of week 1 you can hit 20+ reps?!?!
I am not a powerlifter too, but I like low reps (<5) with high intensity, so after some cicles on the 1+ set at 95% I hit 3-4 solid reps and i feel good and ready to increase the weight in the next cicle. Is it wrong?

Why do I say “5 reps @ 95”?

As explained on this forum/in the Forever book, this assures that your TM is solid; i.e. built for speed. I didn’t make this up one day - this is a result of training/working with people over the past decade. The ones that made the greatest success have the greatest bar speed. If you don’t think bar speed is necessary for you, then ditch the idea.

If you want to train heavier and do singles, then there is a built in feature called “Joker” sets that are done as part of Anchor protocol.

This is all in the Forever book.

I believe the highest, non-widowmaker PR set that I have is squats, and that is currently at 13 reps for 5+ week.
I do track all my rep maxes, 1-20. Lowest rep max I have at the moment is 9 I think?
I used to do higher intensity as well, but joints started hurting and it was hard to recover from.

Thanks Jim!

Usually when I start from cicle 1 i can easily hit 5 reps (even 7-8 reps) at 95% TM with a good bar speed…after 3-4 cicles the TM increase a lot and it became more difficult and in sometimes I can only hit 3-4 reps at that percentage maintaining a good bar speed. In this case need i to repeat the cicle until I reach the five reps on the 1+ set? Or can it be considered a good work also 3 reps with a good speed since it is a 1+ set?

  1. Make smaller jumps on TM.
  2. Do a better job with making progress; i.e. find new/different ways of manipulating the assistance and supplemental - this is why I wrote the Forever book and why you should learn how to program. It allows you to experiment with different means, within the same program and balance each part of training.

As I said before, if one of my athletes can’t get 5 strong reps at 95%, we back up, reassess and try something slightly different. I don’t know if I can make this any clearer. Again, you may not enjoy or think this is correct; that is fine. So do whatever you think is necessary.


Thanks Jim!
I perfectly understand what you say.
I had this doubt just because in this way it seems to be a 12/8/5 training more than a 5/3/1…

I think you are 100% missing what I mean. Please read the book and understand principles.