T Nation

Pushing Non-PR Sets for More Reps Closer to Failure?

Hey guys,

I’ve been noticing, a lot of my sets leading up to the PR set have felt light, and quite frankly, it feels half assed. My question is, why not make EVERY set close to failure? Wouldn’t this lead to size/strength gains? You can’t grow if you don’t push yourself…I know this goes against “the program” but Jim has stated you have his permission to change the program to your goals

Those sets should be priming you to work hard on the topset. Same reason a boxer’s coach doesn’t hit him with a chair in the warm up room to brace him for getting hit, but instead holds the mitts and lets his boxer practice succeeding before the match.


I think your suggested change goes beyond the leeway for altering the program. There are other programs that have you take several sets to near failure, but the rest of the program accounts for this. In my opinion, you’d be changing the very essence of 531 if you made that change.

1 Like

How long have you been on the program? I promise the first sets won’t feel light for much longer, especially on the 5/3/1 week.

1 Like

One thing I have done just because I find it is a time saver is having prescribed higher reps with your ramp up. So my 5’s week is 45,55,65,75,85 of 15,12,10,8,6. So I get my volume before my heavy set alot like old style body builders. I use an 80 percent training max and treat my assistance the same as 5x531. This is only because I enjoy higher reps before my heavy set especially on squat and bench day to loosen my hips and shoulders. But I wouldn’t advise going near failure on those sets

The whole point of the program is to start light and progress slowly to build strength. It works if you’ll just have the patience to do it. And like someone already said, those sets probably aren’t going to continue to feel too light as you move up, and if they do, that’s proof that you’re getting stronger. You don’t have to lift maximally, all out to get stronger. That’s actually what holds a lot of people back. Just concentrate on using good form and performing strong, fast reps.