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Question about PRs


So I am on cycle 3 week 3 of 5/3/1. Made great progress overall. One question though - how do I define whether or not a PR that I make is actually a PR? For example...

Last week on OHP, I hit 11x85 (week 2). This week I did 8x95 (week 3).
Last week with DL, I hit 11x185 (week 2). This week I did 6x195 (week 3).

So the reps went down but the weight went up. How do I determine if I'm stronger or weaker? Total physical work done in the set can only mean so much because I can easily OHP 50 lbs 20 times and get 1000 pounds of work, but I'd rather be able to put 135 lbs over my head once. So when nothing is constant between two "PRs", how do I tell which "PR" is... well... better? Is it common to do less reps on the final set of the third week of training? Are the weights eventually going to get heavy enough that I will only be able to do a little more than the prescribed reps?


hmmmm...it's almost as if, you should've read the book!


to compare PRs, (weight * reps) /30, + weight = estimated max

yes, the weight will catch up and youll have to reset eventually



or you could just not worry about it and just focus on being honest with yourself
and try to beat actual rep pr`s.

As an example: you did 95lb for 8reps on the 5,3,1 week this cycle right?, well if you push
up 9reps next time you encounter 95lb, you have made progress.

ps. have you encountered some weights more than one time during your 3 cycles and if so,
have you been able to beat the weight?


Yes, I've encountered the same weight and beat it in reps, and the same reps, and beat that in weight, for various lifts.

Thanks for the formula Chris, that's just the type of thing I was looking for.

I understand it's not a big deal really because in the long run I'm going to be getting stronger anyways. I was just wondering.


Well there you see, you have allready made progress. congrats with that btw.


I wonder where you got this formula , I did the math and according to this and my last bench workout (225*5)/30+225=262.5, if I put that much on the bench id be a pancake :slight_smile:


It's an estimate, after all. Also I've found that the stronger I get, the more accurate these things tend to be. Pretty common, from what I've seen.

However they are pretty useful for gauging progress, imo.


You'd probably surprise yourself.


Yeah I thought about it and I figured I should try for a max next time i bench , if all goes well it brings my goal of 315 that much closer :slight_smile:


Also, if you put a weight into the equation for one rep, it comes out as a bigger number. Thus you can increase your 1RM in all lifts simply by putting it into this equation over and over and over again. lol


This is straight out of the 5/3/1 book. Obviously its not perfect, but its pretty acurate the lower the reps are. And yes if you plug a 1RM into it, it will come out higher, so dont do that.


If you've been used to doing higher reps, your 1 rep max won't be very accurate because you have to build up to lower rep training. The intensity needs to be built up/learned.

It's not just a case of muscular strength per ce, you are preparing the nervous system and joints to handle (true) maximal loads. When worked up to it in the right manner, many are very surprised to see what their true 1 RM is


Am i the only one wondering why OP is hitting 9 reps on 5/3/1??

unless you're refering to assistance work...in which case its not really 5/3/1


The last set usually has a prescribed rep range ie. 5/3/1 - but on the last set you try to get as many reps as you can while leaving one good rep in the tank. So although 5 reps may be prescribed, if you can hit 9 reps with that then you should.

That is my understanding of the program atleast.


yes, you start light and go for as many reps as possible on the last set.


Pretty stupid question but..if you hit the same weight in another cycle and still hit the same reps you pretty much made zero progress at that point correct?


Yeah, but why are you using the same weight unless the %s happen to call for it? (and if so, you must have made progress on one of the other days of the cycle)

Either way as long as you are above the prescribed reps just move on. That's one of the things I like best about 5/3/1, if you have a bad day it doesn't screw anything up. Check your effort/diet etc, you should know if there's a reason you didn't do better, but basically no big deal.


Amazing the number of people that will not fork out $20 for a book that will last you years.

And answer all your questions if you actually read it.


2 things:

1- you aren't going to break a PR every time you lift, some days you will, some days you wont. You don't push the last set every time, pick your battles.

2-don't get focused on weather you made progress in a month. Lifting is a lifetime pursut, not a monthly one. Over time, your lifts will go up, don't put a lot of focus on week to week numbers.