Using Meets to Recalc Training Max?

Hello everyone. For competitive powerlifters, should or could the training max be recalculated following meets? I compete bench only, so I’d be speaking specifically for the bench. Right now, my bench training max is actually pushing quite close to my real max. Should I deload it down to 90% of the meet max, which is my most recent check of an actual 1rm?

I don’t go for rep records on the top set, so hitting the required reps for that set are challenging, but manageable. But I do work with heavy singles at 100% training max every 2 weeks, and they are now very very close to my actual 1rm, so much so that I missed one last week - I also had a rough day before hitting the gym though, so that could have had an impact of course. But maybe I’m starting to train too heavy too often with this training max almost equaling my actual max?

I compete roughly every 3 months, but with maybe just two priority meets a year. I’d look at the priority meets for an actual 1rm, rather than the lower priority meets as I often use them to trial new things and experiment.

It’s like one of the first thing he addresses in almost every book. No. Stay linear with the +5 increases after a training cycle, if you plateau then adjust down by resetting your TM by 90%. If you can do more, stay the course and ensure linear progress.

Progress slow is one of the main principles of 5/3/1.

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I think my problem is the opposite. My training max is virtually my actual max. AMRAP top sets are not practical, because 95% is basically a genuine 95%. If I recalc the training max off my last meet, I’ll actually be shaving kilos off it, rather than adding to it and speeding the progress. I’ll actually be slowing the progress.

Switching to the advanced lifter template in Beyond is another option I’ve been thinking of. I haven’t worked with top set rep records in quite a while anyway, so maybe that would work for me.

Either that, or deload to 90% of top lift from last meet. Perhaps put AMRAP top sets back in again then because I’d be working with more suitable weights for them. Could work with 100% training max singles too, whereas right now I’m considering switching the singles to 90% actual meet max, which is less than the training max, and therefore more manageable for week-to-week training.

I think you know the answer here and when I said ‘no’ I meant to your question of should you competition max be at or near your TM. He uses a few examples of people whose competition max was sometimes over a 100 lbs heavier than there training max.

Having a TM too high will effect not only your ability to hit the reps but your bar speed as well. My guess is that you either started too heavy with your TM, did not adjust downwards when hitting a plateau or you are not using a low enough percentage of your TM to calculate your rep numbers. Remember if your TM is 200 for example, depending on the program you should be calculating your numbers off of 80-90% of that. I think a lot of people forget that part.

Instead of 75% of 200, it really should be 75% of 200 x 0.85 for example.

Take what you are doing now, multiply it by 90% to ‘reset’ your new TM keeping in mind you want to ‘Start too light’. Then use 85% or 90%(depends on the template) to use as your baseline for reps. Again the arbitrary 200 number would look like this:

200 x .9 = 180
Now take that number, and use 85% or 90% depending on the program recommendation for that template.
180x .85 = 153

153 is the number you use now for your baseline. so 5 x 75% would be 5 x 115 for that set.

I hope that made sense.

Not sure that this is correct?

OP, pick a weight that you can get for 5 strong reps, this is your TM.

Im pretty sure in Forever one of the 7th week protocols goes over ‘testing’ your TM. Honestly the lighter you go the better. I’m not sure why people think that using a lighter weight with better reps will make them weaker.

All good advice, thank you to both of you.

Yes, I’ll deload the training max.

I have to get Forever. Postage is steep for western Europe though. Is there good stuff for competitive powerlifting in it? Beyond was quite strong for that.


This is talked of extensively - there is a difference between a TM and a CF (Zatsiorsky’s abbreviations, I believe).


It’s worth it. Standard postage took a week / 5 working days to get to the UK. There are strength programs that people have successfully used for powerlifting, however Jim takes a more holistic approach to strength/size/speed/overall conditioning and the programs generally have a 1:1 ratio of Bench Press/Press. Obviously he did the PL book too.

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I will definitely have to check it out. Right now I base most of my stuff off the powerlifting and Beyond books. I’ve also taken on board what the guy from powerliftingtowin has said about the programme too, but I think any of the concerns that he raised about using 531 for powerlifting, Jim has addressed them at some stage anyway.

I think most of the 531 stuff has concentrated more on the holistic bigger picture than any other popular program out there. That’s what I love about it. I’ve used 531 as a boxer, then alongside aerobic work during an ill advised dabble in endurance stuff, and now as an actual powerlifter. I think it can be adapted to near enough any goal. I like the balance between power, mobility and conditioning. Pick your goal, and turn up or turn down each of those three variables to suit said goal, and away you go. A great program.

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The last deload at the end of a program has you testing your current/next TM for 3-5 reps depending on what new program you’re starting.
I found that if you’re doing PR sets and/or Jokers at the end of the last Anchor, it’s not really necessary to test the TM.
I.e. last week I got 15 reps at my “1+” set in squats, so I won’t test the new TM, I know it’s fine. But I got 5 reps in the press, so that “1+” set weight is becoming my new TM for the next cycle. While today I’m gonna push the deads towards a heavy single with Jokers and I’ll take 85-90% of that number for my next program. Then next week will just hit a normal deload week.

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Yeah I read that site too. Sounds like you should pick up Forever as it has a ton of programs and other detailed material, more than Beyond.