5/3/1 Testimonial – Are You a Knucklehead?
Hey, Jim. I’m sure you get at least a dozen of these kind of messages a day, but I wanted to say thanks for making your program.
I always thought I was a “badass” in the weight room, because I could overhead press 225, rep out 315 for 10+ on squats, and bench 315. Unfortunately, that overhead press only came down to my nose, the squats were half-reps, and that 315 bench only ever happened once…after grinding it out for nearly a minute and using every last ounce of energy in my body.
My deadlift was at 405, which I always felt was low compared to my other numbers, so I excused it by thinking that I just didn’t understand how to deadlift. In retrospect, my deadlift was the best indicator of my actual strength, because there aren’t any ways to trick yourself and others into thinking you can pull a lot more than you are actually capable of.
When I first gave 531 a try, it was a humbling experience. Aside from vowing to use proper form for all of the exercises, I ignored just about every guideline in the book. I set my training maxes too high, barely warmed up, and didn’t really have any sort of plan for assistance exercises. I remember my first workout, the 5-week for overhead press, I didn’t even finish 3 reps. I stopped using 531 for that exercise after that workout. Bench went a little better, I just finished all three weeks by the skin of my teeth. Then I skipped a deload week and fucked up the next cycle completely. My first cycle for squats went fine, and it went fine for deadlifting, too. For those two lifts, I guess I set more appropriate training maxes, and my strength is starting to catch up to them, too. They are closer now to 90% of what I am probably capable of than when I first started the program. As for overhead press and bench, I restarted with more realistic training maxes and didn’t kill myself with the assistance work so I could actually make progress.
I’ve been using 531 (properly) since mid-August, and in that time I’ve improved my overhead press (full ROM) from 165×3 to 185×3, and my bench from 300×1 to 315×1 (and that one rep doesn’t feel like I am fighting to not die). My best real squat when I began was 355×1, which I can now do 5 times, and my 405 deadlift, I can now do that at least 5 times, too.
I’m starting to stall out again on bench, because I’m a fuckin’ knucklehead and still set my training max too high, and haven’t really been eating enough lately. I plan on competing in my first powerlifting meet in about 5 weeks, so once I finish that up I am going to start over with lighter weights and work back up again. I’d do it now, but I really want to stay focused on that meet. Since I don’t usually pause my reps when I bench in the gym, I plan on attempting to bench weights that are 15-20 lbs lighter than I can do without the pause, at least for my first two attempts. Other than that, I’m gonna squat and deadlift weights I am confident I can do, and then try to set some personal records on my third attempts. I’ll be 23 years old, and I weight about 195 lbs. My goal is to total 1200, but I’ll be happy if I even get 1100, being that its my first meet and all. I’m looking at it as the beginning of my journey, and I have a long way to go.
So anyway, thank you for reading all of this. Like I said, you probably get this crap all the time from people who have used your program, but that is because it really has taken an effect on the people who use it. For me personally, it humbled me, gave me more motivation, and more direction in the gym. I now know what I am really capable of, not what I was able to fool myself into thinking I was, I look forward to my last big sets on the main exercise, especially since I’m now lifting weights I’ve never done before, and lastly, I’m not just wandering around the gym doing random shit now. I come in with a plan, and I stick to it. Thanks.