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    5/3/1


    I have been looking into the 5/3/1 program and have a quick question for those of you that have used it or are familiar with it. This applies to each workout but for example on bench press day the percentage of my 1rm that I'm supposed to do for either 5, 3, or 1 rep is nowhere near what I can do. The program wants me to do 65%, 75%, and 85% at 5 reps when I could easily do 10 reps for each of those percentages. So my question is, should I adjust the weight to fit the reps it wants or leave as is?

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    If you can easily do 10 reps of your 85% lift, your 1RM might not be accurate.

    Do you lift with a spotter?
    If not, run and find one the next time you max out.
    If you do, let em know you're going all out and try for something you've never hit before.
    You could also try and do as many reps at your previously calculated 85% lift, then use a 1RM calculator to come up with your new 1RM and change up your percentages.

    Also, if I'm not mistaken, 5-3-1 ad programs like it, work with gradual progression. The total weight lifted increases gradually, so the first coupe weeks might not be as taxing as you'd think, but as you go up in weight incrementally, so do your gains.
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    I'm sure my 1RM is accurate and I always make sure to use a spotter. Like you said though the program is made for gradual progression. I'll give it a month like they say and adjust if need be. Thanks!
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    The best thing you can do is start TOO light. Yes, read that again....start TOO light. By rushing into heavier weights that you can FEEL taxing your body, will have your stalling out much much quicker. The slower, more consistent and progress increments will have your 1RM increasing all along the way, allowing you to stall out much further down the line. At that point, you drop your 1RM down 10lbs or so, recalculate, and go back at it.

    It really takes a different kind of discipline in this case, one that few people have. The discipline to resist doing heavier work, and more work. Another good idea to do is, use these first few cycles of 5/3/1 with the lighter ways as an opportunity to get your GPP up because your CNS will be safe, and you wont run the risk of going to far inroad into recovery.

    Good luck.
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    There is no way your 1rm is accurate if you can rip off 10 at 85%, and when I say no way I mean impossible. Are you using a full range of motion? Post some vids please, that will help us assess what's going on.

    <----has been doing 5/3/1 for over a year
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    My 1RM is 210 like I said above but with the program you're supposed to use 90% of that as your 1RM for the program. That makes my 85% out to be 160lb which i can do 10+ no problem. I agree with Dave though, I guess it's better to start out too light and gradually increase instead of going too heavy and eventually peaking too soon. Appreciate all the info!
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    And I'll see what I can do about the videos over over the weekend.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Hatchett
    My 1RM is 210 like I said above but with the program you're supposed to use 90% of that as your 1RM for the program. That makes my 85% out to be 160lb which i can do 10+ no problem. I agree with Dave though, I guess it's better to start out too light and gradually increase instead of going too heavy and eventually peaking too soon. Appreciate all the info!
    Bingo, start light and be patient.

    Good luck,
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    I was also curious about the advantages of this program. I'm not in it for powerlifting, just looking to increase my lifts. But what I don't want to happen is to lose my shape/tone of my muscle by only doing the main lifts and an accessory exercise if that makes any sense? I guess what I'm trying to ask is, if I quit doing all of the accessory work I do now (example for back- lat Pulldown, pull ups, rows) will I lose my shape and become more bulked instead of cut?
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    Question-did you read the book? I'm not being a jerk, I'm serious.

    The reason I ask is because Wendler specifically addresses this very issue. The lighter work sets aren't necessarily supposed to be taxing-they're there to get you mentally and physically primed for the last work set.
    Don't worry, man, someday I'ma be nobody too.
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    Bro, you won't lose any 'shape/tone' to your muscles. If you do the program correctly, you'll get bigger.

    BTW, muscles don't have 'tone'' they are only 'stronger or weaker'
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    I guess I meant will some areas be more defined than others but alright haha thanks again
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    And Swanson no I didn't read the Ebook, just some articles online going over the basics of the program. I'm not starting it for a few weeks though so I'll continue to research.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swanson52 View Post
    Question-did you read the book? I'm not being a jerk, I'm serious.

    The reason I ask is because Wendler specifically addresses this very issue. The lighter work sets aren't necessarily supposed to be taxing-they're there to get you mentally and physically primed for the last work set.
    totally correct. get that book. as it answers near every question i ever see on 5/3/1. for the cost it is worth it and a lot more.
    you can call me "ozzie" for short.
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    Definitely read the book. Wendler's recommendation is actually "worse" than you realized. You are supposed to take 90% of your 1RM and treat that lower number as your 1RM for all the weight calculations. This is called the "Training Max".

    When I first calculated all my workout weights I also thought "No way, too light". BUT...when I put it into practice with the "Big But Boring" addons, I was very impressed with how right Wendler is. The weight progression is perfect, in my opinion. Wendler is a smart dude; knows what he's doing for sure.

    Also keep in mind that on the last (and heaviest) set of your main workout, you are supposed to do as many reps as you can. This ensures that you leave it all in the gym.

    I find the "Big but Boring" Deadlift day absolutely brutal as written. Give it a try without changing it and see if you agree.

    Good luck.
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    Don't think too much about it, with the 5x10's at the end you'll get the burn you desire every day, every week. You will get bigger and stronger every week. I wish I had found out about this program years ago. Just use the calculator and do the exercises. Give it 4 weeks without trying to adjust any of the numbers because your ego is bigger than that. Trust in Wendler.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Est1969 View Post
    Definitely read the book. Wendler's recommendation is actually "worse" than you realized. You are supposed to take 90% of your 1RM and treat that lower number as your 1RM for all the weight calculations. This is called the "Training Max".

    When I first calculated all my workout weights I also thought "No way, too light". BUT...when I put it into practice with the "Big But Boring" addons, I was very impressed with how right Wendler is. The weight progression is perfect, in my opinion. Wendler is a smart dude; knows what he's doing for sure.

    Also keep in mind that on the last (and heaviest) set of your main workout, you are supposed to do as many reps as you can. This ensures that you leave it all in the gym.

    I find the "Big but Boring" Deadlift day absolutely brutal as written. Give it a try without changing it and see if you agree.

    Good luck.
    Agreed. Some of my work sets were too light...or so I thought. I blasted the final set, hit the accessory work and was GASSED.

    Love me some 5/3/1!
    Don't worry, man, someday I'ma be nobody too.
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    Sounds like I have chosen the right program with all of the positive feedback! I hadn't planned to start for a few weeks but I'm going to start it Monday so I have atleast a month or 2 before my cycle. Thanks again!
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    Also you asked about accessory work. Pull ups and rows are two things Wendler suggests doing for accessory. Get the book, it is more than worth it.
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    I'll keep that in mind. I'm definitely getting the book. Would it hurt to throw in a bicep/Tricep day at the end of the week?
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    I throw in a few curl sets and weighted dips on my OHP day.
    Don't worry, man, someday I'ma be nobody too.
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    Awesome thanks again
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    So I just got done with my 1st day of this workout and honestly I hardly feel like I was at the gym. Did the workout like I was supposed to and I'm having doubts already haha. Here's what I did though incase I missed anything:

    Bench press
    Warmup
    Set 1- 130x5
    Set 2- 145x5
    Set 3- 160x13

    Bench press
    Set 1- 105x10
    Set 2- 105x10
    Set 3- 105x10
    Set 4- 105x10
    Set 5- 105x22

    Then I did 1 accessory workout which was cable crossover. Did 4 sets of 10 and 5th set of 16. I'm going to continue the workout and see how it goes but I definitely don't like how it's starting.
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    Matt,

    So if you did Set 3 @ 160#, that implies a 1RM of 210#. Is that really your 1RM? The standard 1rm algorithm would suggest that your 1rm on the bench is at least 220# if you can do 13 reps at 160.

    Thoughts?
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    How do you make this complicated? Why is this thread 2 pages long? Read the book, if you dont have it buy it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Hatchett View Post
    So I just got done with my 1st day of this workout and honestly I hardly feel like I was at the gym. Did the workout like I was supposed to and I'm having doubts already haha. Here's what I did though incase I missed anything:

    Bench press
    Warmup
    Set 1- 130x5
    Set 2- 145x5
    Set 3- 160x13

    Bench press
    Set 1- 105x10
    Set 2- 105x10
    Set 3- 105x10
    Set 4- 105x10
    Set 5- 105x22

    Then I did 1 accessory workout which was cable crossover. Did 4 sets of 10 and 5th set of 16. I'm going to continue the workout and see how it goes but I definitely don't like how it's starting.
    BUY AND READ THE BOOK.
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    I have heard "buy the book" over and over, I get it. I purchased the book and I'm reading through it. I simply posted today's workout to get input from someone who has used the program because after leaving the gym I felt like I had barely been there. I followed the program the way I understood it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Est1969 View Post
    Matt,

    So if you did Set 3 @ 160#, that implies a 1RM of 210#. Is that really your 1RM? The standard 1rm algorithm would suggest that your 1rm on the bench is at least 220# if you can do 13 reps at 160.

    Thoughts?
    Yeah my 1RM is 210 as of about 2 weeks ago. My 1RM never seems to equal out to what the 1RM algorithm thing says I should be able to do, it's always less. I've always done better lifting lighter with more reps if that makes sense?
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    Yep. Absolutely does. I look forward to watching your progress as the weeks add more weight.

    I would also consider doing some "pull" exercises as accessories. Maybe rows on bench day and chins on military press day. Just a thought...

    Keep up the good work!!



    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Hatchett View Post
    Yeah my 1RM is 210 as of about 2 weeks ago. My 1RM never seems to equal out to what the 1RM algorithm thing says I should be able to do, it's always less. I've always done better lifting lighter with more reps if that makes sense?
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    He's saying buy the book because the questions you're asking are answered in it, and your posted workout does not really reflect an understanding of the program nor of having read the book. Like, I havent referenced the book since 2011 but I'm fairly certain ALL the answers you're looking for are in the first 20-30 pages or so (~40 minutes reading).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Hatchett View Post
    Yeah my 1RM is 210 as of about 2 weeks ago. My 1RM never seems to equal out to what the 1RM algorithm thing says I should be able to do, it's always less. I've always done better lifting lighter with more reps if that makes sense?

    Considering training with the weights suggested in 5/3/1 protocol sort of drove me away because I am in a similar boat. I can do 235 once, 225 twice or 205 10 times or more. I don't know if it is muscle fiber composition related, cns related, or purely mental. Either way, it is a very interesting topic that I'd love to see discussed further.

    Quote Originally Posted by Torobestia View Post
    He's saying buy the book because the questions you're asking are answered in it, and your posted workout does not really reflect an understanding of the program nor of having read the book. Like, I havent referenced the book since 2011 but I'm fairly certain ALL the answers you're looking for are in the first 20-30 pages or so (~40 minutes reading).
    It looks like the "boring but big" variation that I've seen referenced all over. I haven't read the book, maybe this isn't even in the book.

    I think the main issue here that people are overlooking is that some people don't fit the prototypical 1RM paradigm at all and that is what is causing the confusion. If you use a 1RM max calculator and it models your 3RM and 5RM etc very well then 5/3/1 is going to make sense as it is laid out in the book. For what seems to be a minority of us, the simple program becomes confusing because we don't match documented norms.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lutztenways

    Considering training with the weights suggested in 5/3/1 protocol sort of drove me away because I am in a similar boat. I can do 235 once, 225 twice or 205 10 times or more. I don't know if it is muscle fiber composition related, cns related, or purely mental. Either way, it is a very interesting topic that I'd love to see discussed further.

    It looks like the "boring but big" variation that I've seen referenced all over. I haven't read the book, maybe this isn't even in the book.

    I think the main issue here that people are overlooking is that some people don't fit the prototypical 1RM paradigm at all and that is what is causing the confusion. If you use a 1RM max calculator and it models your 3RM and 5RM etc very well then 5/3/1 is going to make sense as it is laid out in the book. For what seems to be a minority of us, the simple program becomes confusing because we don't match documented norms.
    Exactly right.. I finished the book last night for all of you telling me to buy it. I was doing the boring but big program and I followed it like it said except on the 5 sets of 10 I did as many as I could on the last set. I'm just saying the formulas and 1RM calculators don't work for me. My max sucks, it always has. But I have more endurance in my opinion. After I started the program I read that there was another option for the weight %'s so I'm going to try that. Thanks to those who didn't just post to say I need to read a book.
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    I wouldn't worry too much about it. I would however, go through all four exercises at the prescribed weights and then tinker with the percentages after that. For me, Flat Bench day is the easiest (least tiring), and Deadlift day kicks my butt (doing Big but Boring).

    I think Wendler would just tell you to do whatever you want. Keep posting your progress!
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    I'll definitely keep going, going to take the rest of this week to make sure my maxes are correct and start again next week.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Hatchett View Post
    Yeah my 1RM is 210 as of about 2 weeks ago. My 1RM never seems to equal out to what the 1RM algorithm thing says I should be able to do, it's always less. I've always done better lifting lighter with more reps if that makes sense?
    It's likely a technical deficiency.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lutztenways View Post
    Considering training with the weights suggested in 5/3/1 protocol sort of drove me away because I am in a similar boat. I can do 235 once, 225 twice or 205 10 times or more. I don't know if it is muscle fiber composition related, cns related, or purely mental. Either way, it is a very interesting topic that I'd love to see discussed further.

    It looks like the "boring but big" variation that I've seen referenced all over. I haven't read the book, maybe this isn't even in the book.

    I think the main issue here that people are overlooking is that some people don't fit the prototypical 1RM paradigm at all and that is what is causing the confusion. If you use a 1RM max calculator and it models your 3RM and 5RM etc very well then 5/3/1 is going to make sense as it is laid out in the book. For what seems to be a minority of us, the simple program becomes confusing because we don't match documented norms.
    The formula included is just an estimate and it becomes more inaccurate with each rep. The main thing to take away from it is as a gauge to compare your efforts from week to week. I personally like the Periodization Bible assistance template as I feel as though it is more diverse and balanced.
    M.Ed. Ex Phys
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    I'm just going to have to play with the different parts of the program and see how it goes. If nothing else, I can try something different.
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    May have been said already, but the last set is always a "sell out set" meaning you push it for as many reps as you can get with that weight except the wk 4 deload.
    Evolutionary Muse - Inspire to Evolve

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Hatchett View Post
    Exactly right.. I finished the book last night for all of you telling me to buy it. I was doing the boring but big program and I followed it like it said except on the 5 sets of 10 I did as many as I could on the last set. I'm just saying the formulas and 1RM calculators don't work for me. My max sucks, it always has. But I have more endurance in my opinion. After I started the program I read that there was another option for the weight %'s so I'm going to try that. Thanks to those who didn't just post to say I need to read a book.
    Your assistence work sucks in the first workout. The bench press is NOT a chest movement. Use the truvient or whatever it is in the book. Not the boring but big. You do not build your lifts by doing more of the same. Follow bench and ohp with tris/delts/back work. Follow deadlift and squat with hamstring/post chain/abs work with a lil quad work. It is suppose to be easy at first. Take thest of this week to max on the 4 major lifts. Take 90% of your maxes then use that new number for the percents. Rep out the last set till 1 rep short of failure. Add 5lbs to your bench and ohp each month and 10lbs to your squat and deadlift each month. Eventually this will get hard after 6-10 waves. This program is best used for about a year minimum.
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    Until today I didn't even know that the bench press is not a chest movement and I really still don't understand how it's not but you guys obviously know more than I do so I will take your word for it. The plan for the rest of the week is just like you said though, to figure out my true maxes and go from there. Was also thinking of using the Triumvirate that you referred to.
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    Do yourself a favor and go to Youtube and look up Dave Tate's instructional videos on all of the big 3.
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