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Progressing on TM or True Max?

You intelligence isn’t based on how much you bench. Hah. So no credibility is lost.

And yes, how you use it, is exactly how I would like to see it used.
And the only problem I have with it, is the fact that Jim has numerous times stated NOT to change your TM upwards based on PRs anymore than 5-10lbs at a time.

Ok good deal, glad we’re on the same page. There could be situations where you progress quickly on a low TM and then want to start on a higher TM program, but I’d think those are few and far between the norm. I guess if you’re starting out, you could outrun your TM with success in the program, and in this case I would say Jim’s rule of only increasing 5/10lbs would need to be followed. If you were coming back from injury, and know what you’re doing, there would be times when larger TM jumps could be ok, as you gradually work back to where you were.

Sounds reasonable.

This all seems besides the point lol.

Since you always TM test between programs, you use the tested weight you got 5 clean reps with for the start of the next program.
There’s literally no need for any calculation

You’re figuring out a TM, not how much fuel you need to return from the moon. The TM does not need to be perfect and the principle of starting light continues to apply.

You only bump your TM by 5/10lbs. If you dont hit your 7th week reps then you have numbers from your previous cycle to guide you.


Just hit 5 reps on your test and call it good.
Too high TM = Bad
Too low TM = Fine n Dandy

Haven’t read it all but this is basically how it works:
-you already have your current TMs that you tested when you began the program;
-at the end of this cycle, be it a Leader or Anchor, you increase the TM +4kg on lower body lifts and +2kg on upper body lifts, and recalculate your %s;
-you do the same at the end of every cycle, increasing the TM of this fixed amount, a full macrocycle would look like: week 1-3 Leader 1 > increase TM > week 4-6 Leader 2 > week 7 deload and increase TM > week 8-10 Anchor > week 11 TM test

So if you start a program with, say, a 200kg TM on deads, at the end of Leader 1 you increase it to 204kg; at the end of Leader 2 you increase it to 208kg and at the end of Anchor 1 you test it.
When you test it, you have two options: you can test the same TM you just used (208kg) or you can test the one you’re about to use in the following program (212kg).
It’s not hard, just use common sense. If your PR sets numbers on Anchor were good, you can go straight to test 212kg and start the new program with 212kg.
If you have any doubt about your TM, test 208kg, if your test feels very good and you feel you could have got more reps, rest and then test 212kg.
You want 5 strong reps for an 85% TM and 3 strong reps for a 90% TM, if you want to get 5 reps but you fail and get 4 or 3, take it as your 90% TM. If you get 1-2 you really messed up the weeks before and scale back your TM 2-3 cycles (take off 8-12kgs, in this instance).

That’s really it. So the full picture, say you want to run 2 programs, ok? Program 1 with a 90% TM, Program 2 with an 85% TM. You do this way:

  1. TM test week, get 3 strong reps that give you your 90% TM;
  2. Weeks 1-3 Leader 1 of Program 1
  3. Increase TM (+4/+2kg), weeks 4-6 Leader 2 of Program 1
  4. Deload week, increase TM
  5. Weeks 8-10 Anchor 1 of Program 1
  6. TM Test Week, the new program needs an 85% TM? Keep the TM you just used in the Anchor, test it to get 5 strong reps - keep in mind that, previously, that was your 90% TM, so if you keep it the same as an 85% TM and can do 5 strong reps, you DID progress. If you can, good, that’s your 85% TM. If you can’t, rest and drop the weight a bit until you get your 5RM
  7. You now have your 85% TM, start Leader 1 of Program 2, do the same thing you did from point 2 of point 6 of this paragraph;

Just keep in mind that you ALWAYS increase the TM. You don’t increase your old 1RM, you can go months and years without even testing your 1RM so you always work with your TM. And it doesn’t matter if you can get more than 3 or 5 solid reps on your TM test - you don’t increase the TM more than the usual 4/2kgs. This is stressed out in Forever.
If your current TM on deads is 200kg and you do a TM test week, and you can do 5 perfect reps feeling you could do 2-3 more - you stop there anyway and keep the TM at 200, then increase it 4kgs at the end of every cycle.
This is because it will even out. Maybe you can do 8 reps at 200kg now, but eight cycles later you will be able to barely get 5 good reps with 232kgs - that’s how strength works, it’s not linear.

Side note: the PR sets on your Anchor weeks should give you some feedback on your TM before you do the TM test week. For example, if you get 8 strong reps with 95% of your TM, well you can expect that you will be able to get 5 strong reps with your TM+4kgs on the TM test week.

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This is actually pretty well explained.
After first cycle we can forget about old “1rm”, and work from the training max weights forward.

Lets say the TM from start is 100kg (90%of1rm) and we add 5kg per cycle for easier calculation.

Weeks 1-6 +10kg,
Weeks 8-10+5kg

Now our TM is 115 kg. Its test week, we decide next peogram calls for 80%. Now we can’t really calculate this, because of earlier clear problems. So we test the 115kg TM for reps. Say we get 5 good reps, now that means 115kg = to a 85% TM.
But our program calls for 80. So isit 115-5%= next training max of 110kg?

Then you work for 3 cycles again, end up at 125TM, test it again, reach 125*5, start next program at 90% TM, add 5 kg and voila 130TM for further cycles?

NOW this makes sense, and falls in line with what Jim has been saying.

True, not going to the moon at this time. But if I were, I would probably want to, not only know how much fuel, but where to put it, what kind of fuel etc I wouls need.

If I only bought a rocket ship, I probably wouldn’t get to the moon, right?

Same with a whole program, way of training, like 5/3/1, why the fuck would you buy it, but not learn how to PROPERLY use it and all of its tools?

Some things matter a lot and some things are less important than you think. Giving equal weight to everything will get you nowhere very quickly.

In the grand scheme of things, setting your TM 15lbs too light is not going to make your penis fall off.

Probably not. But it might also equal to 3 months of unnecessary working back up, IF not needed.
Not very economical, unless you train for shits and giggles.

And also, you really don’t need a training system to just wing it.

Hi Brian
The biggest principle in 531 is to start TOO LOW, so basically you can’t start to low :slight_smile:
You will still increase your strength even if the TM was lower than what you expected.
For your question.
If your program calls for a 90% TM use the weight you could get 3 strong reps, 85& 5 strong reps and for the program you obviously are about to try 80% 7 strong fast reps.
It’s NOT rocket science. It’s about getting to the gym, lift som weights, feel good. rest. Get back to the gym.
It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Sometimes life throws shit at you, and you’ll use a deliberate low TM. Because you know it’s the right thing. Sometimes you have a bad day, and just do the main work and then you go home. No suplemental no assistance.
Sometimes you are in the groove of life having a great day. DON’T tell Jim, and you might even do a joker because today i’m awesome. Even though you know next time you might suffer, but can’t help it, because it’s training.
Got of track here.
Good luck with your new program :slight_smile:

Good answer.

It’s fairly easy. I think there’s maybe two programs total that require 80% TM (going by memory, 5x5/3/1 and one of Kripteya’s phases), but in case you can:

-just to the normal TM test week, shoot for 7-8 solid reps. A 7 or 8 RM sounds about right for 80%;
-when you do the Anchor phase, on your heaviest week, note down your PR set on 1+ sets. Use the 1RM calculator, formula is: (weight lifted x reps x 0.0333) + weight lifted. This give you an estimated 1RM that usually is fairly accurate. Let’s say you do 5 reps with your deadlift at 150kgs on your 1+ week. Estimated 1RM is 175kg. You take 80% of that, which is 140kg. That’s your 80% TM - you want to make VERY sure, when you head into the TM test week after the anchor, work up to 140kg and see if you can hit 7-8 solid reps.

If you want to make sure, use the 1RM calculator and check a few numbers, you’ll see that 7-8 reps falls into 80% of your 1RM, give or take.
150kg x7 reps; 1RM = 185kg, 80% would be 148kg
150kg x8 reps; 1RM = 189kg, 80% would be 152kg

Do the math with different numbers and you’ll see that 7-8 reps is as close to 80% as possible. 7RM is a bit more than 80% (81%) and 8RM is a bit less (79%), if you’re really really OCD about it just take 1-2kg off from your 7RM and add 1kg to your 8RM but it’s really splitting hair at this point :slight_smile:

EDIT: forgot to add a few points
-you COULD do, for example, a 5RM (85%TM) and take off 5% to get an 80%TM, as you mentioned. I personally just prefer to test thest the actual number of required reps because I’ve noticed that some people tend to be stronger in lower rep ranges or vice versa - i.e., in your previous example, you could to 115kg for 5 reps, then take off 5% which is 110kg. But you might not get 7-8 strong reps at 110kg if you TM tested it - that’s why I’d rather do the actual 7-8RM test.

-yes after the first cycle you can forget about your 1RM for quite some time. I’ve started with a 1RM (not TM, I mean an actual max) of 140kg in the deadlifts, picked a 90%TM of 126kg and added +4kg per cycle. Six months later I was doing 140x10, followed by a 2x3 at 152kg of Jokers. I knew I had it in the high 170kg range, but I’ve never handled weights close to that amount. The base of long term strength gains come from submaximal work, mostly. That’s why, usually, if your TM is set lower, you’ll STILL make progress. Obviously, not 50kg lower than it should, but if you need an 80% TM and it’s closer to 75%, it will still work.

This is pretty much what I was looking for, a clear way to progress.

That was one of my questions. If you are following a program with rep maxes (like 3+/5/1+ for powerlifting) then why do you need the 7th week PR test? Why not just use the calculated max from the 5/3/1+ week and then use the 7th week for a deload?


Two reasons:

-TM test for the following cycle. I.e., if you’re doing an Anchor with a TM of 100kg on the bench, when you finish and go into the TM Test I think you should test 102kg (+5lbs), which is the TM you’ll use when starting the following program. Yes, the numbers you got on your 1+ week should give you a generic idea, if your 95% AMRAP set with a 100kg TM you did 95kg x 10 reps, then most surely you’ll be able to do 102kg x5 on your TM test week for an 85% TM. If you got 7 reps at 95kg, you might want to test 102kg x5 just to make sure;

-at some point, calculators get less reliable, especially on deads and squats, where you’re moving a lot more weight and doing one rep less or one more can throw off the estimated 1RM by a good margin. Example, one trainer in my gym did 178kg x7 on deads, which would put his estimated 1RM to 220kg, but when he tried his actual 1RM he did a bit less than 210kg, I seem to recall it was 206-208kg. Above that, the bar wouldn’t move from the ground. Doing your AMRAP sets with solid, smooth reps and stopping when form starts to break down minimizes this difference. See the example above, if the guy did 6 reps at 178kg, his projected 1RM would have been 213kg, which is much closer to his real 1RM. Let’s say he did 6 clean reps and the 7th was a bit more of a grind but he decided to count it anyway, using the calculator that’s enough to screw off your estimated 1RM.