T Nation

Who Else Sucks at Reps


585 deadlift a month ago, first week of 5 3 1 and I get 450 x 6. Next week 475 x 5. Maybe six or seven in the tank if I pushed.
For app 12 years I did a westside style conjugated approach when I was able to lift.

Example, deadlift style movement 45 x 5, 135 x 2,3, 185, 225 x 1-2, 275,315,365,405,455 x 1, 500+ x 1, 1 or two sets. This took me from mid 400s to 585.

Notice the lack of reps. Other lift maxes for reference: 4" deficit 500, 1st pin pull 545, against doubled minis, 410-430.
Max dl, 585.

Word to the wise, nothing works forever. I'm weak now at reps, but strong high end. I'm hoping reps gets me 15-50 pounds over 3-12 months. But you you 5 3 1 guys, after some time you might need a few cycles of heavy singles. Then the reps and so forth.

Btw, when I started I did an approach like 5 3 1 with good results. This was 1981-1988 for reference .


Elementary knowledge. Principle of Specificity.

Train a lot of low reps, and you become good at them. Train a lot of high reps, and you become good at them.


Yes, and sort of. In my experience more experienced lifters can bring more horsepower, or they have a higher top end. For instance s guy who has pulled 500+ a few hundred times or more might have a higher top end than a guy with strength levels close to him who recently got there. Maybe.

But hard work is hard work and I'm hoping it pays off with more on the top end.

There's also this: you increase your top end, you will increase your reps to some degree. If you do 500 x 1 for a max and you're now at 550, sure your max will be up.


Yeah, I've noticed that too with 5-3-1 after doing Westside for about 3 years. However, to save my joints, I cycle my workouts anyway -- almost following Tate's year breakdown.


Yep, lifting heavy stuff works, you just need to organize it for yourself do it jeeps working.


This happened to me when I switched from about 10 years of Westside style training to 5/3/1. I particularly sucked on the deadlift reps for some reason (bench and squat were okay). This is also why I don't think resetting as soon as you start struggling to hit the prescribed reps on 5/3/1 makes sense for someone that competes. I, for one, need to ensure my body remembers how to strain with 95%+ on the bar. If I reset my maxes on 5/3/1 when I hit weights on my 5/3/1 week where I couldn't double or triple the last set I'd never get to 95% (and I'm talking about 95% of my true max). High end singles every now and again are necessary to keep that ability to strain with near max weights.


Yep Burt. You have to know where you're at. If you're at 315 it's different than 600.


275x7 RM squat vs. >345 Max


i've noticed this as well, sets of 1-3 are fine, but 4+ with any decent weight seems to be way harder than it should be.


I agree ( to a degree ) , however fact IS that the use of low rep/heavy load whilst instilling form and feel for the heavy loads , will see one maximise their F/T muscle fibre activation & subsequent fatigue thereof ( Fast twitch being responsible for explosive high effort but being of low endurance & slow recovering ) but not the slower/intermediete twitch fibre type ( responsible for more endurance based / higher rep training format and being of quicker recovery than the aforementioned FT fibres )
Whilst utilising a somewhat higher rep format with lower/moderate load one will realise more activation in these intermediate/slow twitch fibres , however unless the effort is high ( over 85% ) then the FT fibre activation will not be optimal & in the long term strength can/will suffer as a result.
We all vary in our share of fibre type , some individuals being F/T dominant ( elite level sprinters , powerlifters , Oly lifters etc ) others being predominately Slow/intermediete ( marathon runners etc ) .... and obviously the in betweeners who have a fair share of both.
Obviously for purposes of powerlifting one should be focusing primarily on explosive low rep/high effort ( F/T fibre / HTMU orientated training ) and instilling form , but the slow/intermediete type fibres also have a role to play , as during maximum effort ALL fibre type is activated ( but ST & Intermediete not optimally ), the degree of activation being determined by the degree of effort.

One way of optimising all fibre type in powerlifting training is to use a low rep/heavy load format thru the warm up stage and obviously into our working sets at our desired % of effort , then use a drop back set that allows the performance of 8+ reps at the conclusion.

This type of format will see activation of ALL fibre type ( & Motor untits ) without compromising the need for heavy load/low reps in training , and is more of an energy saver than the typical pyramid of reps ( high-low ) that some may feel the need to perform in order to reach their desired % of resistance.

Best wishes , T.


So go heavy or go explosive with the main lift of the wo, then go high reps with it is what you're suggesting?


Each rep light/heavy in resistance from warm up to working sets SHOULD be explosive during the concentric phase when performing any of the powerlifts ( & sets should be of low rep format ) , but YES a drop off set of 8+ reps after your working set(s) is adventageous to near optimising ALL mu`s and subsequent fibres without negating ones strength prior to or during the working sets of your main lift.



Very true Turpin, I was just kind of lazy. It's easier to pull one hard one, haha!


LOL Too true , I am/was as guilty at letting my ego run the show for me and low reps were ( still are to a degree ) my mainstay .
Its always very easy to over analyse ones training ( HTMUs , Fast twitch , slow twitch etc ) However if more trainees were to learn the basics of the nature of adaptative / physiological response to exercise performance then I feel progress for the majority would be more forthcoming.