T Nation

Suck at Reps


Squatted 405 at my last meet, decided to switch off of westside to 5/3/1 and holy shit i suck at reps, Barely got 5 reps of 285, 2 on 315,i almost feel like id be waisting my time on 5/3/1. should i just stick with westside?


I don't think so. A lot of the time, it's good to do what you suck at. If you, as a person who is really good at doing heavy singles, build up your ability to do reps significantly, your 1 rep will probably improve significantly as well. Same doesn't go for a person who can do just the opposite - squat 315 for a set of 10, but hasn't hit 405 yet.

Some people are great at reps, but need the heavy technique work and the heavy stimulus in order to improve their 1rm. And some people like you deal really well with the heavy singles, but would probably benefit from building up your work capacity with higher rep work, and really working on BUILDING strength and muscle with lighter weights for more reps.


It's not hard to raise the volume or work on reps on a westside split. Just choose compound lifts that closely correlate to the big 3, do them after your main DE or ME work, and do them for high reps. As you get closer to a meet or maxing out, reduce the number of reps and choose exercises more specific to the big 3.


Reps are not necessary. They might help, and volume certainly can, but I don't really agree with the idea of doing something non-specific simply because you are poor at it. If you are better at singles, be happy that you've found the right sport!
If you want to try some reps, just start with a lower weight until you can maintain tightness for that long, then increase the weight (as you are doing now).

I will add that I have used 5x8 or other high volume rep schemes a couple of times, just for a few weeks with progressive load, to develop a "base". I will also add that, while this has improved my strength a bit, I have just injured my QL warming up after tweaking it a couple of days before by doing 6x7 squats with a moderate weight (around 150kg / 330lbs I believe). Reps are more dangerous than singles. Be warned! Lol.


How do i go about getting better at reps?


If you want specific recommendations, the best options I can think of are:
1. Boring but Big 5/3/1 assistance
2. Smolov Base (use a low/comfortable training max. to allow for your lack of repping ability)
3. 5-10 sets of 5 with ~ 60% of your max. once a week, in addition to normal training (add weight as you adapt to the volume, as long as explosiveness is maintained)

Good Luck.


I have the opposite problem. I have the base strength, but cannot translate it to a 1rm yet. I did a set of deadlifts with 365. I stopped at 10, but maybe could have gotten one or two more. Regardless that puts me at around a 495 calculated deadlift. This week I got 405 x 5, which puts me at around a 450. If I were to max out right now, I would guess that my deadlift would be closer to 450 than 495. I tried a heavy single after a hard lift 2 or so months ago, and 465 hit a brick wall at my knees.

This is why I think 5/3/1 is great though. You will make new rep records, and eventually you will be hitting heavy triples and singles. Then, you will make new PR's at those rep ranges. You will deload, and continue to try to beat your rep records in all of your rep ranges and get stronger.


Coming from a guy that squatted a hell of a lot more than pretty much anyone here, I think 5/3/1 might have some merit for squatting big...




I think he was referring to JW, not himself.


So if i did 5/3/1 id have to use lower maxes since i cant do the prescribed reps for my own, right? lol,


I dont really have anything to back this up, more just an opinion: getting stronger at squatting reps means you are stronger. Getting a higher 1RM squat means you are better at squatting (With a huge amount of overlap both ways) I wonder if this makes any sense haha.

Anyways, if you only got 77% of your max for 2 reps, something is off there. Maybe you are better at squatting than you are strong? Sounds kinda silly but maybe its a weakness you can target with rep work. I dunno though, the extreme you described there makes me think something else is goin on.


I would recommend starting 531 with 90% of your actual one rep max. Not what your pr was at a meet. Do 90% of whatever weight you know you can go into the gym on any given day and hit no questions.

Also as a previous poster mention the Big but boring template kicks my ass and had helped me with reps. Start with 40%x5x10 next cycle 50%x5x10 next cycle 60%x5x10 then next cycle 70%x5x10 then go back to 40%x5x10 for your next cycle and work your way back up. This is what i did and it worked awesome. Good luck. Just my suggestion


I dunno. Read In a article that tom platz challenged a man to a squat competition, Couldn't squat as much as him (think it was around 600) but when they stripped a hundred pounds off the bar platz Smashed out 22 reps,while the other guy only got around 10,


boring but big.


Platz never trained for strength. Don't use the exception to prove the rule.

One thing that most intelligent people in lifting push is doing what you suck at. If you suck at reps, how would you not benefit from getting better at them? Would moving your 5 rep max up 30 lbs make you weaker?

Were you just hitting singles on singles or something before?

I was doing 10 rep maxes and gained 60 lbs, however now I am trying to bring up my 1rm by slowly adding weight and waiting until I stall out. 5/3/1 works fantastically for my situation.

It allows me to hit all kinds of rep ranges, maintaining my high rep goodness, and starting to move me toward heavier singles.

Again, Platz is not a powerlifter, and he is a freak of nature/outlier. Look at all the other 5/3/1 success stories.

I promise that eventually, you will stall on 5/3/1. I can almost guarantee that if you are eating, you will be stronger when you do start to grind/miss reps.


Heh, yeah I meant the author of 5/3/1. That one dude who squatted a grand. He probably doesn't know much about getting your squat numbers up.


This is basically supporting my point. The PLer was "better at squatting" and Platz was physically stronger. I can understand how that doesnt make sense though. PLing is not all about pure strength, its also about leverages and reinforcing motor patterns.

Also obviously Platz spent more time in that rep range than the PLer did, so clearly hes gonna have a relative advantage there.


The competition being referenced here was Fred Hatfield (Dr. Squat) vs. Tom Platz. Dr. Squat was one of the first guys to squat a grand and he did it in 1987 at the age of 45.


Well, this is simply a matter of definitions. What does it mean to be good at squatting and what does it mean to be strong? You defined it one way. So by your definition Hatfield was better at squatting and Platz was stronger. That neither supports nor refutes your point. You just assumed that your definition was correct and then used circular logic.