T Nation

Struggling with Deadlift Reps on 5/3/1 1st Cycle


I’ve recently started 531, on the 3rd week right now but my deadlift reps are extremely low and difficult to complete.

Before i started I tested my 1rms, deadlift was 147kg and I’ve been working off an 85% tm for all my lifts.

1st week last set was 5x+ at 106kg and I was expecting to get at least 10 easy reps as this was relatively light. Only managed 6 and it was very hard, I genuinely thought I was just having an off day as a few weeks back I did 125x5 after squats so that was that and I moved on.

Next week was 3x+ at 112kg, got four reps and again it was shit. This week 1x+ at 118kg and got 3 reps… these are all lower than my working weights that i was previously doing on stronglifts after squats so I know I can complete them especially fresh.

So what I’m getting at is why has my deadlift dropped so much and should I on my next cycle change my deadlift tm to the first weeks weight where I got 6 reps at 106?

All other lifts are about 8-12 reps depending on lift and week.

Hopefully it’s in the correct section, didn’t want to post in the 531 specific as it’s not about the program but instead me sucking


Your TM is too high. You shouldn’t be struggling to get reps so early.

My TM is 85% of my 1RM, did I calculate something wrong?

I’m far from an expert, but maybe your form deteriorates too much after the initial pull, or maybe you are not conditioned to do more than 5 reps having done a 5 x 5 program. Maybe the day you tested your 1rm you were very strong. Are your DL reps touch & go or do you reset each rep?

Easy solution is to lower your TM.

I’m not sure it’s so much the conditioning as I can get high reps with squats not too bad, my 1RM form wasnt perfect but it certainly wasn’t awful. They’re complete reset reps too, Ill reset the TM off what I can get 5 solid reps with and work up from there

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Lower your DL TM. Do 5s pro + 5x5 fsl for 2 cycles. Do total 50 reps of abs and total 50 reps of back raises (preferably weighted) during the workout. Deload and do a cycle of 5/3/1 OG. Make PRs and prosper.


I’ve just started triumvirate and enjoy how it is, short with three sets plus assistance. Is this far inferior to what you’ve mentioned or is not recommended to do? As for back extensions I dont have the means to do them, at least correctly.

You can do Triumvirate with other lifts. Just do 5’s pro + 5x5 fsl for a couple cycles for the DL to get some quality volume. When the other lifts start slow down (sooner or later), just back down to a 5’s pro + volume for a while.

After you get stronger and if you like the 5/3/1, I’ll recommend the 5/3/1 Forever -book. There is stuff about how to program the method long term.

As for back raises: DB SLDL, KB swings etc. are fine too. Something to make your “posterior chain” bulletproof.

Ah I understand thank you, am I right in saying 5s pro is always 5 reps on all 3 sets no matter the week, and will the plus set still be included or not with 5s pro? I’m currently doing good mornings after deadlifts and rdls after squats, also as for my dl tm is setting it to what I got 6 reps with on the first week a good starting point?

5’s PRO is always 5 reps. No plus sets. You should be able do your TM (100%) for a set of 5.

The GM and RDL are good. Keep banging those.

So I’ll do 5s pro and 5x5 fsl on dls for couple cycles and after that continue with triumviate, once I stall on another lift will I go straight onto what I did with the dl? Does the tm of 5s pro have to be lower than normal because of the reps or just the same as regular 531

TM should be 85% of 1RM (actual or estimated is fine). This means on week 3 when your doing 95% you should be able to get a bit more than 5 reps. So doing exactly 5 reps should be good clean reps and doable even on a bad day.

I had similar experience as you. What I did is I listened to Jim, and lowered my TM even further. Sweet spot for deadlift TM is now 77-80%, and this has gotten me MUCH stronger.
Test you 5RM instead of taking the 85% off of your 1RM, because these numbers will be mucher different.

Also, if you tested your 1rm shortly before you started, you dug yourself into a recovery hole. Doing a 1rm is terrible for your body and strength most of the time. Unless you took a little time off after you tested and before you started, that probably contributed to your perceived loss of strength.

I’ve now lowered my tm to 100kg which is about 70% of my max, I can get at least 5 clean reps with that weight. From my dl pr to my first dl day on 531 there was just under a two week break, after dl the other three lifts were tested on later days but there was still a good break from my last lift pr to when I started 531.

Yes this is highly recommended, the program has a lot of sets of 5 reps, so your TM should be based on a set of 5 not a 1RM. Other programs might work more as a peaking cycle where you eventually do a new 1RM so an actual 1RM is a better starting point but not 5/3/1.