Squat Form Check. Doing Too Much Assistance Work?

Hello. After maxing out on Starting Strength’s linear progression, I started Wendler’s 5-3-1 today! Today was squat day.

Below is my video of my last set at 85% for 5+ reps. My training max is 198 lbs., and if I am doing the calculations correctly, my last set was to be done at 150 lbs. (which I did). For background, I’m 49 yo, around 5’7" (maybe 5’8" if I stand ramrod straight), and weigh 162ish.


  1. Do the reps look deep enough? Some might be slightly high, but maybe I am being too critical.

  2. I think my bent wrists are getting a little better, but still not perfect.

  3. I did 20 reps on the last set (let’s assume they’re all good ones; see #1 above). Is that too many and/or am I starting at too light a weight? My one rep squat max is 220, so I hope I doing the calculations correctly.

  4. In terms of assistance exercises, I did the following. Is this too much?? If so, what do you suggest I delete or swap out from the below? Thanks!

a. Back squat: 75 lbs x 10 x 5
b. Front squat: 95 x 10 x 5
c. Bench press: 95 x 10 x 5
d. OH dumb bell press: 35 x 10 x 3
e. Lateral size raises (dumb bells): 20 x 10 x 3
f. Cable pulls at various height angles: 33, 37, 40 lbs x 10
g. Push ups: 20 and 20

198 x 0.85 = 168, fyi.

To answer your questions:

  1. Those look fine to me. Others have more experience and will give you better insight.

  2. if it doesn’t hurt, carry on. Disclaimer as above

  3. You didn’t do the calculations properly, see above. 20 reps on a PR set on week 1 doesn’t seem terrible to me but I reckon if you pushed it you had 30+ in you there. Correct your calculations then see what happens

  4. That’s a crazy amount of volume for my mind. Use one of Jim’s templates for a few cycles to get used to the style of programming.

Interesting re the calculations. Maybe I am doing them wrong.

My max single squat is 220, so I took 90% of that to get my training max of 198. Then in the app, I put 198 in the squat section and it took 85% of that figure, or 152.50.

Should I input the 220 into the app? That would get me to the 168 that you referenced. Thanks

You’re using the app wrong, or the app is wrong. If you’re max is 220lbs, a 90% TM is 198lbs, which puts your 85% set at 168lbs.

Feel free to plug the numbers into a calculator to double check my working.

I believe the app is asking for your actual max as 198 x 0.85 x 0.9 = ~152lbs as you say.

Jim has no affiliation with any app. It seems like whenever someone posts on here that they are using a 5/3/1 app, that is usually what is giving them any issues they may have. Just use a spreadsheet.

I am going to assume you got this from the app as well? In any case, go read one the 5/3/1 article on Tnation and pick a template from there to start. Or else invest in the books to ensure you are executing the methodology correctly.

Thanks. I made my own spreadsheet but maybe I am doing it wrong. I downloaded some app and it was coming out to the same numbers but maybe the app maker and my spreadsheet have the same mistakes. I will re-read the book and I thought I was doing the calculation correctly, but maybe not.

I do have the book, and I agree there are tons and tons of templates. The assistance above was my own doing. I will go back and pick something from the book. Thanks

When I first started 531, I did exactly what Jim suggests in one of the books. Got a pad, and on each sheet write out an entire workout, weights, expected PRs and all for the entire 6 week cycle. I used a calculator, not an app. And it worked.

Take a look at this.

The app is assuming you are giving it your true max. So it’s taking 90% of that (which is 178) and then taking 85% of that to find your working set weights (which is about 152 lbs). Just put 220 into the app, and it will then take 90% of that for your TM and then calculate percentages from that. Or don’t use the app and do your own calculations. I personally use an app, but you need to understand how the app is using the number you enter.

This is a crazy amount of assistance, and these aren’t usual assistance options. Follow a tried and true template, or simply pick a push, pull, core/lower move and do 50 reps of each.

Better assistance choices for squat day:
50 dips
50 pull ups
50 ab roll outs

For bench/OHP day:
50 rows
50 goblet squats
50 push ups or tricep push downs (if you feel like it)