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Resetting Training Max Question

First of all, I want to give a huge thank you to Jim. A little bit about me, I’m 38 and a former MVP of my football team in high school (it was a small school), never played college. I’m 5’10" and have always been fairly small weighing anywhere between 160 and 200. I’ve stayed fairly physically active throughout my life as a professional plumber, etc. About 4 years ago, I finished my college degree and moved to teaching middle school full time. Needless to say, I got out of shape fast. It was embarrassing how fat and lazy I became.

So, I decided to change things. I lost my fat, got into shape, and weighted 172 with around 18% body fat. It was then I decided I wanted to get stronger and stumbled across 531 and Wendler’s book. I fell in love instantly. I downloaded the app in March of 2017 and began seriously exercising. When I began, my lifts were extremely weak.

Overhead Press - 85 pounds
Bench - 205
Deadlift - 135
Squat - 185

Real manly stuff, I know. But here it is November and my lifts are up to

Overhead Press - 135
Bench - 250
Deadlift - 400
Squat - 275

Everything is going great, but on squat and deadlift, in the 3rd week of the program, I am only getting 6-8 reps and it is usually 2 reps less than the prescribed lifts. Now in the earlier weeks, I’m still busting PRs, and then when that 3rd week becomes the weight for the first week, I usually bust that PR by 3-4 reps.

My question is, when do I know when to reset. The book said, “when the reps and the weight become too much”. When is that? Do I reset now? I guess, because I’ve never had a true strength coach and I’m just going off of what I read from your book, I’m not sure when to lower the training max.

Also, I want to give you a big thank you, Jim. My wife, who is a tiny thing at 5’0" and weighing in at 130 started your program about a month after I did. She has never lifted weights in her life, except for the cute little pink ones that all her friends throw around. But she is benching and deadlifting like a beast and her gains are growing as well. I took your advice and just increase her training maxes by half each cycle. Her deadlift has went from 65 to closing in on 200. She couldn’t be prouder of herself and I’m proud of her as well!

Thanks Coach!

I would keep going as is. But that’s just me.

5/3 is another decent concept.

Make sure you are eating to keep up.

^ This. In my experience, you can go for many cycles without resetting as long as you are keeping up with your diet, especially as a beginner (I’m a beginner too). As the weights progress, you’re going to need to eat more. I’ve noticed that how well I perform during a given cycle is directly proportional to how much protein I eat & water I drink in the days leading up to each session. I’m on my 7th cycle currently and I’m getting more reps now than I was when I started (started around 6-10 reps, now I’m getting 7-14 even for my 1+, which is on the lower side, but still).

To answer your question directly, reset your training max when you can no longer get more than the prescribed reps. Eventually you’ll be at the point where you need to deadlift 315x5+, and if you only get 5, chances are your body needs a break. Same with any other lift. If your 1+ for bench is 225 and you only get 1, it’s time to reset. 90% of 95% of your true 1rm should is about 85% of your 1rm; if you aren’t able to do more than one rep with 85% of what you THINK is your max, then it isn’t your actually 90% of 95% of your max. I hope that makes sense. Eventually you and I both will get to the point where the weight has progressed and passed our physical adaptations/strength gains, and that’s fine. That’s why we reset. I hope I answered your question

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This is a very simple question to answer:

If you can get five strong reps @ 95%, you are good to go. If not, back it up so you can.

You follow that rule and the other PRINCIPLES OF TRAINING THAT I EXPAND ON (5 OF THEM), you will be fine. Somehow, miraculously, over 50 kids never plateaued in 18 months in the squat, bench and deadlift when I coach them.

I’m guessing it MIGHT be doing things correctly OR the laws of gravity cease to exist in London, OH.

Also, we BUILD strength, we don’t test it. Or as I said in the Forever book about 1000 times “Training is NOT testing.”


Thanks so much for all the replies. And thanks to Jim for that very specific answer, that is exactly what I was looking for.

I haven’t read the Forever book, it is on my wishlist and hopefully the wife grabs it for me.

Ohio, eh? I’m your neighbor here in Hoosier country. The laws of gravity definitely exist here.

But anyway, thanks so much to everyone that replied. Time to go train!

Just wanted to give a quick update.

It is about a month after Christmas and Santa brought me the 531 Forever book. I have already read it a couple times and while I’m excited to try something new, I have reservations to deviate from the basic 531 that has served me so well for almost a year now.

Maybe after everything stalls out and I get sick of, I’ll give something like Coffinworm a go.

Thanks everyone!

Just an explanation Jim.
In the standard 5/3/1 protocol, 95% is the percentage used in the third week for the 1+ set. At the beginning of the training, is easy to reach 6-8 reps whit this percentage on the 1+ set, but after some cicles it would be more and more difficult.
As you say, if i can’t get al least 5 reps with this percentage i should reset the weight: but in this case the 1+ set on your standard 5/3/1 protocol would be a 5+ set, since i should never never go under the five reps.
Is there a point, after some cicles of a 5/3/1 training, where can be considered a good result also to reach just 2 or 3 solid reps on the 1+ set at 95%?

You’re not going to keel over and die if you only get 2 or 3 reps on your 1+ set. But it’s a sign you’re over-reaching and about to stall. In this case, you should probably use the 5 forward 3 back protocol.

In other words, you should drop your TM back for that lift by 3 cycles (30 lbs for squat or deadlift and 15 lbs for bench or press). Work on some volume and come back stronger.