Started Too Heavy Even Though I Calculated Correctly?

I started 531 today w my mate and got 8 reps on the 5+ set of the first workout, bench week one.

8 reps is too low right? It was a f**kin grind too. If it’s too low, how should I set my TM maxes?

I used the correct 90% of my true max which I got from a calculated max of a balls out practically failure set I did to test them a few weeks ago. If I were to lower my weights to start out I would be setting my TM lower than the 90% that is recommended. I wouldn’t want to lose size or muscle as I worked my way back up to what I was at before.

Any help would be great, and no I have not read the book but i am planning on it.

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Also I am not intending to come across ignorant or sound like a dumb uneducated BRO teen guy. I’m serious about fitness and I will do whatever it takes to get stronger, even if it means lifting lighter weights and hurting my ego for a bit. I just want confirmation that it is the right choice to make.

  1. Jim recommends starting low and slow. Many programs are 80 or 85% instead of 90%

  2. the higher rep range your balls out set is the less accurate it will be.

You would be best served taking the time to actually test your 5 rep max.

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Would you recommend an 80% TM or an 85% TM? (if would hit 8-10 reps on a 90% TM)

When I started 531 I aimed to beat the max reps set by at least 3 reps. You will build stamina as well as strength.

For example I struggled deadlifting 120 for 8 at the start of the year and now I can hit 200 for 8.

Consistency is the key.

Just responded to you in the other thread you asked me.

Im a different breed, as at this point in my lifting career my AC and SC joints along with my ankles are basically held together with bubble gum and scotch tape.

For AMRAP sets(keep in mind not all of his plans have you hitting the last set this way) I always shoot for 10 reps on the 5+, 6-8 reps on the 3+ and 3-5 reps on the 1 plus. Haven’t missed a lift yet, but when I do I will reset my TM to 90% of it and start again instead of wait until I can barely him them or grind reps. Just my opinion but the progression is more important to the relative amount of weight lifted in a session. Hope this and the other helps, good luck and love your attitude.

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In your case as a newb the 5/3/1/AMRAP set can be a good tool to learn to grind and go deeper within yourself so could stick with 90% for a couple cycles.

Then again going down to 85% fine also

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When I started I found 85% to be my sweet spot.

The real point is start low and slow. He says all the time to drop your ego at the door. Better to low than too high. Your TM will eventually catch up.

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Don’t do that. The TM is based off a gym max: something you can hit on any given day at any given time. Don’t psyche yourself up, don’t go “balls out”, just establish a max.

Your TM has zero bearing on how much muscle or strength you gain. It’s just a number.


If you said u tested your a true 1 rep max and took 90% then that first week would be 75% of your true 1 rep max I think you are fine to hit 8. Honestly you probably aren’t used to hitting higher reps I was the same when I started doing lp programs with only hitting 5 reps or less all the time.oops this was meant for op. But I also agree with everyone that mentioned starting too low is never a bad thing if u dont feel confident hitting those rep maxes yet.

Actually after reading the principles for the first time I was kinda wondering this too. If you “start too light,” doesn’t that mean the first weeks you aren’t going to work as hard and hence make little gains?

No. This is not how training works.

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For the original poster…the answer is simple. Start too light. We always can smash the TM for 5 strong reps.

What’s weird is that people I personally coach somehow, someway always get stronger. It’s literally a miracle since the laws of gravity never exist where my corporeal being is around.



Great to hear that. I’m currently working with Paul Carter but once my coaching period with him gets to an end I would like to do 5/3/1 BBB, as recently I have felt the need to do more strength work aside from pure hypertrophy training because I think my lifts suck and I want to get stronger.

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BBB is my favorite program hands down. After the first week you’ll be surprised how ‘light’ weight will kick your ass. First two months on it was like putting a dry sponge in a bucket of water.


for what its worth

week 1 5x5s amrap number was 8
week 2 3x3s amrap was 15
week 3 5/3/1 amrap was 10
week 5 5x5s amrap was 16

to give you an idea of progressions

Since you’re calculating 90% from a balls-out set, I don’t think it’s incredibly accurate. You won’t have that same intensity every single time you work out, so like some others said, I believe 85% of that would be better.

You can easily start your TM lower and you won’t have to worry about losing size or muscle, so don’t worry about having to “work your way back up.” As long as you’re lifting weights, you will not lose size or muscle. Especially since within 1-2 months you’ll be pushing weights that you previously weren’t able to rep.

My first day benching on 531 about a year and a half ago, I had 190 for my 5+ and I wound up getting about 11 reps. After about 2 months, I had 220 for a 5+ and I got 13. You WILL get stronger without realizing it. Don’t sweat any of this, it’s a great program.

Pro tip: you want to aim for at least double the prescribed reps. So 10+ reps for a 5+, 6-7+ for a 3+, and 2-3+ for a 1+. For the first 3-4 months I was consistently hitting my 1+ sets for 5-8 reps, 3+ sets for 7-10, and 5+ for 10-15 and my 1RMs were still going up. Have faith. My squat went up 90lbs in 5 months and my bench went up 30lbs in 4 months. Expect similar results if you eat a lot (I also gained 20lbs). Good luck dude