Tailoring Training Max to Meet Goal, Resetting After Each Meet

Hello Jim and forum members,

I’ve asked a few questions on ways to run 531 for powerlifting in the past, and I’ve had absolutely excellent results with the program.

For the last 2 years I’ve essentially hit a wall though. I’ve not had a meet PR since 2018. I find that I work my way up in weight until my training max is basically my comp max, then deload as the weights become a grind, then repeat the same process over and over with no real gain on the platform. I’m thinking that I’m basically working with weights that are too heavy all the time. From studying my workout notebooks, my best results were when my training max was 80 - 90% max of my eventual meet max.

My latest plan is to set my meet target, and work backwards so that my final cycle before the meet has a training max of 90% of that goal. So I’m peaking out at 90%. I would then work backwards in 2.5kg increments to whatever point I’m at now in the calender. So if I was 5 cycles from a meet I’d take 12.5kg off the training max and work back up through the weights and hit that 90% for the final cycle.

Is that madness? There’s no point telling me to adjust the training max on how heavy the weight feels etc, because I’m one of those people who will push myself to the point where the bar is nearly crushing me, and I’ll still convince myself I’m within my limits. This rather convuluted plan is an attempt to save myself from myself really!

Truth be told, I think the weight is getting in your head and it would be a good idea to find a way to break out of that. 5/3/1 is a program that works if you’re focused on general progress, rather than fixating on hitting certain weights. I would suggest to try a program that has a lot of submax volume and try and break your plateau that way. Something different from what you’ve been doing.


This is madness. You need to leave a rep or two in the tank, even on PR sets. I have a no-grind rule, and every time I ignore it, I hit a brick wall in my training.

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