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Training Max Guidelines, Not Getting Many Reps on Plus Sets


I have my 17 year old son following the 5-3-1 program, I set up the program exactly like stated, setting his training max at 90% of true 1 rep maxes, the problem I’m having is he is not getting alot more reps on his last sets, just wondering is his training max to high or is 1 rep maxes wrong.

Thanks in advance


How was the 1 rep max determined? Was it based on a true 1 rep max OR a calculation using max reps (like doing a max triple and calculating a 1rm based on those numbers)?

If it’s the later, try different online calculators/calculation methods. Jim includes a formula in his books as well.

Other than that, all I can say is it’s not the end of the world - your son will eventually hit a plateau (as we all will) and you guys will have to recalculate then, which may end up giving you a better 1rm approximation anyway.



True 1 rep max was used


Set the TM to something he can hit for 5 clean reps. This is what Jim recommends in 5/3/1 Forever.


So really like your 6-8 RM. And since the last week is 95% of that you should get 8-10 on the PR set, typically every 5% is 2 more reps.


I have no idea really. I try not to get too wrapped around the axle on rep maxes.


I wouldn’t really worry about it then. Your son is young, and thus he is by virtue of that fact alone a new lifter. Jim has said elsewhere that max reps aren’t the best for new lifters - partial rationale for 5s Pro.

Just keeping going with the current numbers and reset the TM when it is required.



“he’s not getting a lot more reps on his last sets”

Does this mean you’re on your 1st cycle, and he’s not getting many more than 5/3/1 reps on each “day.” Like the absolute 1st workout, he only got 7 reps on a 5’s day?

Or does this mean you’re 2-3 cycles in and he’s not getting many more reps on this 5’s day compared to the first 5’s day, 3 or 6 weeks ago?


I think you made a mistake. The training max is not based off of a competition max or true 1RM; it should be based off a max you can hit on any given day after warming up. So maybe for a competition with perfect nutrition and rest a person could squat 495, but really, on most days in the gym they might be maxing out at 465 Take that 465 and use 85-90% of that as the training max. If you’re using the original book, I think this change to the training max happened when Beyond came out. Backing off the training max this way should get some more reps on the last sets. Remember, starting too light is one of the basic principles for 5/3/1 and making long term progress.



The TM is not based off a lifetime PR or competition lifts. It’s a % of the weight you can do any day at the gym—not most days, not two out of three, ANY day.

And don’t be afraid you use 85% of that number. I’m actually using 80% right now.


Every athlete should be able to get 5 strong reps @ 95%. In other words, you should be able to 5 reps on the final set of the 5/3/1 week.