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Need 5/3/1 Help Please
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GetStrong21
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Join date: Dec 2012
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Posts: 8

So I have just started my 3rd cycle of 5/3/1, and I have a couple of questions/problems I am hoping some of you can answer as I dont feel I have gained any strength yet. I will use my "press" workout as an example, but the same essentially applies to me dead, squat and bench days...

I started 531 with a max press of 155, therefore making my training max 139. This is what my first cycle looked like:

Week1(5+): 115x7
Week 2(3+): 125x6
Week 3(1+): 130x5 (152)*see below
Week 4: Deload

Now, in the ebook it said that we should estimate our 1RM using the calculator, and then try to beat that the next week. This sounded awesome and fun to me, except it is freaking impossible for me to do when trying to beat a previous cycle, especially considering he says to not go to failure, and leave one rep in the tank. As an example, I put 152 in parenthesis in week 3, this is what my 1RM estimate is. But in week 1 of the 2nd cycle, my 1RM estimate was 149, and that was with me going all out to failure, because I thought I should be able to beat the previous PR. Turns out its not that easy. I just wish Wendler would have mentioned how there will be a problem with this, instead of just simply saying "beat the previous PR calculation" as if the calculator is exact and also in the same page say "dont go to failure." So basically he wants me to beat a previous PR that was probably overestimated by an equation (because of lower reps), with a number that will probably be underestimated by an equation (because of higher reps), while also not going to failure? Great....

My other problem is pretty simple. In week 2, cycle 1 I hit 125x6...I am now in week 1 of cycle 3 and it was time to use 125 again, and how many times was I able to hit it? Yep, only 6. Thats FOUR press workouts, and a total of SEVEN weeks in between workouts, and my lift went exactly nowhere! On top of that, I put on one lb every week for those 7 weeks, so diet and weight is not the issue. Anyone else have this frustrating problem??? I am wondering if this means the program is just not working for me, or if I should continue and it will get better? Thoughts? Advice?

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black_angus1
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Join date: May 2009
Location: Iowa, USA
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...so what, exactly, is your problem?

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GetStrong21
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Join date: Dec 2012
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black_angus1 wrote:
...so what, exactly, is your problem?


Ha, okay...

Basically, after 7 weeks total, my 125x6 PR for press improved to.........125x6. I have gained weight and worked hard. Does this mean the program isnt working, or could I start to see improvement once I get into a higher % of my true 1RM?

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Drake37
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Join date: Jan 2011
Location: West Virginia, USA
Posts: 731

Just keep swimming friend. Press is the slowest to progress.

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asooneyeonig
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Join date: Jun 2011
Location: Nebraska, USA
Posts: 612

you did the program not quite right. you stated your max to start was 155. which as you stated starts the program with a 139 training max. from there it seems you did not follow the increase correctly for the next cycle. you jumped up way too much.

you stated the start of the next cycle you used 125 for the top set. that is incorrect. if you increased your training max by 2.5lbs as the program states you should do it would be 120. the only way that you would be doing 125 on the first week is if you used your estimated max as your training max which is completely wrong. you only increase the upper body lifts by 2.5lbs and the lower body by 5lbs each cycle.

this program is not a sprint. it is meant as a marathon and can be done over a long period of time. there are plenty of examples online of people doing this for a year straight. one of my training partners has been on it for well over a year and making progress still.

do you actually have the book or are you trying the program from some online review of it? i know the book explains this thoroughly and so does the 2nd edition as i have both and read both many times.

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GetStrong21
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asooneyeonig wrote:
you did the program not quite right. you stated your max to start was 155. which as you stated starts the program with a 139 training max. from there it seems you did not follow the increase correctly for the next cycle. you jumped up way too much.

you stated the start of the next cycle you used 125 for the top set. that is incorrect. if you increased your training max by 2.5lbs as the program states you should do it would be 120. the only way that you would be doing 125 on the first week is if you used your estimated max as your training max which is completely wrong. you only increase the upper body lifts by 2.5lbs and the lower body by 5lbs each cycle.

this program is not a sprint. it is meant as a marathon and can be done over a long period of time. there are plenty of examples online of people doing this for a year straight. one of my training partners has been on it for well over a year and making progress still.

do you actually have the book or are you trying the program from some online review of it? i know the book explains this thoroughly and so does the 2nd edition as i have both and read both many times.


Im sorry but you are mistaken. You increase upper body by 5 lbs, and lower by 10. I dont know where you got 2.5 from...I read the book multiple times..

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black_angus1
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Location: Iowa, USA
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black_angus1 wrote:
...so what, exactly, is your problem?


The hell, I edited this post.


Well I don't feel like typing up everything again.

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browndisaster
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Join date: Jun 2009
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Posts: 2767

*urgent* 5/3/1 help needed. I would post it but I don't feel comfortable discussing my assistance work with everyone.

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GetStrong21
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Join date: Dec 2012
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black_angus1 wrote:
black_angus1 wrote:
...so what, exactly, is your problem?


The hell, I edited this post.


Well I don't feel like typing up everything again.


No worries, I read your post.

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asooneyeonig
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Join date: Jun 2011
Location: Nebraska, USA
Posts: 612

GetStrong21 wrote:
Im sorry but you are mistaken. You increase upper body by 5 lbs, and lower by 10. I dont know where you got 2.5 from...I read the book multiple times..


aye, he does talk about using my recommendations under the section of even smaller increments. i guess due to me seeing way too many people fail by increasing too much weight each cycle i became a believer of the smaller increments and started to ignore the larger increments.

i do still wonder if the smaller increments may be better for this person especially seeing how small his strict press is. at least that is how i have done it when i used weights under 200lbs.

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GetStrong21
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asooneyeonig wrote:
GetStrong21 wrote:
Im sorry but you are mistaken. You increase upper body by 5 lbs, and lower by 10. I dont know where you got 2.5 from...I read the book multiple times..


aye, he does talk about using my recommendations under the section of even smaller increments. i guess due to me seeing way too many people fail by increasing too much weight each cycle i became a believer of the smaller increments and started to ignore the larger increments.

i do still wonder if the smaller increments may be better for this person especially seeing how small his strict press is. at least that is how i have done it when i used weights under 200lbs.



Just FYI, this person is me lol. But anyways, wouldn't you increase less as you got stronger and not the other way around??? Meaning, someone with a 250 max OHP would only increase in increments of maybe 1 pound, where as someone with a 135 max OHP would increase in increments of 5. I doubt people with 800 lb squats are adding 30 lbs at a time and people with 150 lb squats are adding only 5...or am I mistaken?

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mkral55
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Join date: May 2010
Location: Minnesota, USA
Posts: 859

I think you just need to step back and look at it in a proper frame of reference. The difference between 125x6 and 125x7 is maybe 5 pounds on your 1RM. So your situation simply means you gained less than 5 pounds on your max. Everyone can understand how less than 5 pounds is frustrating, but think of it this way:

Theoretically lets say you added 3.65 pounds to your press. Thats 3% of 155. Lot of lifters wouldnt mind adding 3% to their max in 7 weeks.

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tattoo'd'popeye
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Join date: Sep 2006
Location: Missouri, USA
Posts: 586

Maybe you could tell us a little back ground info: Male/female, age, weight, height etc.

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forbes
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Join date: May 2008
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Switch to push presses on your last set or two. Do strict presses for all your warm up sets and your first work set. That way you'll be able to lift more weight during your toughest sets while still maintaining your strict press strength by doing them during your warm up sets and first work set. Once you get really strong at the push press, transition back to the strict press. You'll be much stronger.

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Malaka79
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Join date: Apr 2010
Location: Michigan, USA
Posts: 143

I think you started too heavy.

In my opinion you should get at least 10 reps on the very first week of the program, and build from there. That is when 5/3/1 works.

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VTBalla34
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Join date: Mar 2009
Location: District of Columbia, USA
Posts: 7534

You people telling him to change exercises, switch up other shit, lower his training max, wanting to know if he is male/female and how much he/she is eating can't see the forest for the trees.

Do all of you really expect to set a new fucking PR every single time you step into the gym? Holy shit. If you do, then you are way better at this than I am.

The real advice that needs to be taken here is this:

OP, lighten the fuck up. You are too busy over analyzing this shit. You hit 125x6 for two workouts 6 weeks apart, who gives a shit? Hit it next time. Maybe 125x6 was a struggle and a PR for you the first time you hit it, and the second time you hit it easier but just didn't have enough to get 7? THAT WILL FUCKING HAPPEN!!!!

You are not going to increase your calculated PR every workout. If you did, people who have been running 5-3-1 for 3 years would all be totaling 3,000 raw. It doesn't work like that. You are moving forward, as evidenced by your overall strength gains. You can't let one or two workouts where you remain stagnant, or even slightly regress, cause you to lose focus of the overall upward trend.

If you need Wendler to tell you that you can't hit a PR every workout, you might want to consider a new program. but if you can accept this, and are busting your ass when you step into the gym, then you are on the right track.

Now stop whining and get to work.

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VTBalla34
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Join date: Mar 2009
Location: District of Columbia, USA
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forbes wrote:
Switch to push presses on your last set or two. Do strict presses for all your warm up sets and your first work set. That way you'll be able to lift more weight during your toughest sets while still maintaining your strict press strength by doing them during your warm up sets and first work set. Once you get really strong at the push press, transition back to the strict press. You'll be much stronger.


This advice sucks

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VTBalla34
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Malaka79 wrote:
I think you started too heavy.

In my opinion you should get at least 10 reps on the very first week of the program, and build from there. That is when 5/3/1 works.


He followed the exact Rx for setting his working weights. Who gives a shit what you "think in your opinion" somebody should get on the first week? Are you Wendler?

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VTBalla34
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Join date: Mar 2009
Location: District of Columbia, USA
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mkral55 wrote:
I think you just need to step back and look at it in a proper frame of reference. The difference between 125x6 and 125x7 is maybe 5 pounds on your 1RM. So your situation simply means you gained less than 5 pounds on your max. Everyone can understand how less than 5 pounds is frustrating, but think of it this way:

Theoretically lets say you added 3.65 pounds to your press. Thats 3% of 155. Lot of lifters wouldnt mind adding 3% to their max in 7 weeks.


This and Drake's post are the only two in this thread that don't suck.

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The-German
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Join date: Feb 2012
Location: Virginia, USA
Posts: 124

If 1 lift is not increasing and the rest are while you're gaining weight it could come down to a few things:
#1 You are not making the lift a priority
#2 Your form needs work(you are not able to recruit the muscles you need to move the weight)
#3 Your assistance exercises are poorly chosen for YOU
#4 You need to realize this process is not linear
#5 simply might not an easy lift for you, give it more attention

My advice is take a video of your ohp and post it here and let us know what you're doing for assistance.

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burt128
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Join date: Apr 2003
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Posts: 639

VTBalla34 wrote:
You people telling him to change exercises, switch up other shit, lower his training max, wanting to know if he is male/female and how much he/she is eating can't see the forest for the trees.

Do all of you really expect to set a new fucking PR every single time you step into the gym? Holy shit. If you do, then you are way better at this than I am.

The real advice that needs to be taken here is this:

OP, lighten the fuck up. You are too busy over analyzing this shit. You hit 125x6 for two workouts 6 weeks apart, who gives a shit? Hit it next time. Maybe 125x6 was a struggle and a PR for you the first time you hit it, and the second time you hit it easier but just didn't have enough to get 7? THAT WILL FUCKING HAPPEN!!!!

You are not going to increase your calculated PR every workout. If you did, people who have been running 5-3-1 for 3 years would all be totaling 3,000 raw. It doesn't work like that. You are moving forward, as evidenced by your overall strength gains. You can't let one or two workouts where you remain stagnant, or even slightly regress, cause you to lose focus of the overall upward trend.

If you need Wendler to tell you that you can't hit a PR every workout, you might want to consider a new program. but if you can accept this, and are busting your ass when you step into the gym, then you are on the right track.

Now stop whining and get to work.


Well said and something that I still have remind myself of from time to time.

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GetStrong21
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Join date: Dec 2012
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VTBalla34 wrote:
You people telling him to change exercises, switch up other shit, lower his training max, wanting to know if he is male/female and how much he/she is eating can't see the forest for the trees.

Do all of you really expect to set a new fucking PR every single time you step into the gym? Holy shit. If you do, then you are way better at this than I am.

The real advice that needs to be taken here is this:

OP, lighten the fuck up. You are too busy over analyzing this shit. You hit 125x6 for two workouts 6 weeks apart, who gives a shit? Hit it next time. Maybe 125x6 was a struggle and a PR for you the first time you hit it, and the second time you hit it easier but just didn't have enough to get 7? THAT WILL FUCKING HAPPEN!!!!

You are not going to increase your calculated PR every workout. If you did, people who have been running 5-3-1 for 3 years would all be totaling 3,000 raw. It doesn't work like that. You are moving forward, as evidenced by your overall strength gains. You can't let one or two workouts where you remain stagnant, or even slightly regress, cause you to lose focus of the overall upward trend.

If you need Wendler to tell you that you can't hit a PR every workout, you might want to consider a new program. but if you can accept this, and are busting your ass when you step into the gym, then you are on the right track.

Now stop whining and get to work.


I appreciate the advice, and I see what you are saying. I have no problem excepting this...I guess the reason why I was so focused on increasing every time was because in the book Wendler made it seem as though the progress is made by breaking each previous weeks PR. I just felt that I was not doing well because I found this to be nearly impossible. I will continue to work hard and let you guys know in a couple of months where I am at and how it went.

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lift206
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Join date: May 2012
Location: Washington, USA
Posts: 75

GetStrong21 wrote:
VTBalla34 wrote:
You people telling him to change exercises, switch up other shit, lower his training max, wanting to know if he is male/female and how much he/she is eating can't see the forest for the trees.

Do all of you really expect to set a new fucking PR every single time you step into the gym? Holy shit. If you do, then you are way better at this than I am.

The real advice that needs to be taken here is this:

OP, lighten the fuck up. You are too busy over analyzing this shit. You hit 125x6 for two workouts 6 weeks apart, who gives a shit? Hit it next time. Maybe 125x6 was a struggle and a PR for you the first time you hit it, and the second time you hit it easier but just didn't have enough to get 7? THAT WILL FUCKING HAPPEN!!!!

You are not going to increase your calculated PR every workout. If you did, people who have been running 5-3-1 for 3 years would all be totaling 3,000 raw. It doesn't work like that. You are moving forward, as evidenced by your overall strength gains. You can't let one or two workouts where you remain stagnant, or even slightly regress, cause you to lose focus of the overall upward trend.

If you need Wendler to tell you that you can't hit a PR every workout, you might want to consider a new program. but if you can accept this, and are busting your ass when you step into the gym, then you are on the right track.

Now stop whining and get to work.


I appreciate the advice, and I see what you are saying. I have no problem excepting this...I guess the reason why I was so focused on increasing every time was because in the book Wendler made it seem as though the progress is made by breaking each previous weeks PR. I just felt that I was not doing well because I found this to be nearly impossible. I will continue to work hard and let you guys know in a couple of months where I am at and how it went.


It can be disappointing not to PR whenever you attempt to but you have to realize that you are making progress. The longer you can stick to the training program without resetting, the more progress you are making. Your minimum training intensity for the 3 weeks increases over time. Say my actual bench max was 245 where I had to peak to hit that. After being on 5/3/1 for awhile I'm now at a training weight where I hit a calculated max of 260 for 3 weeks (5x225,3x240,1x250). Have I gotten stronger? Hell yeah I did if I can hit a 250 max 3 weeks in a row. 5/3/1 is a very flexible program because all you really need is to hit the minimum number of reps. The program is meant for long term use because you gradually increase your minimum strength over time. It makes it easier to predict what you can lift. I used to analyze every calculated max of each training day and that lead me to failure. Give yourself a green light if you hit the minimum reps because the long term goal is more important.

If you really love hitting PRs, back off and do the minimum reps on certain lifts so that you have more juice for the next week. Also space out max efforts for lower or upper lifts, e.g., don't go all out on a deadlift workout and then on the next squat workout unless you really feel fresh. I've done the minimum reps on workouts 1,2,4,5,7,8,10,11 and do max efforts on workouts 3,6,9,12. So far I've made consistent progress.

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