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  1. #1
    Registered User Wilsontennis23's Avatar
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    wendler 531 on cut

    Hey can anyone give me advice on wendler 531 during a cut. All of my lifts have been going up very well (ohp, deadlift, squat) however my bench has seen marginal gains at best. When I compare the estimated 1 rep maxes to all my lifts, the first 3 went up around 30% or more over 5 cycles however my bench went up around 10%. I just started squatting 6-7 months back so its been easy to go up in weight and even my deadlift (started 1.5 years ago but never really progressed in weight like I should have) have been increasing 4 weeks into my cut. My bench is pretty weak (well im weak overall but imroving slowly with this program), and I'm just wondering if I should just focus on maintaining strength with the bench press until i start bulking again this summer or do I have hope to possibly gain a little strength or lose no reps reall on my cut. Currently my 1 rep max is around 180 which is lolbad and I know this but I'm new to the lifting game. Should I just take my 1 rep max and go down 90% like wendler advises in his book if I can tell I'm prolly going to fail in one of my cycles?

    Sorry for this long rant but just want some solid advice. Also my typical bench day looks like this

    Bench press 5/3/1 reps
    3-4 sets at around 50-60% 1 rep max for 12 reps each
    flys 3-4 sets at 12 reps (go really light)
    incline cable flys 3-4 sets at 10-12 reps (go really light)

    Thanks for any advice I'm given. I know wendler 531 isn't ideal for my strength level as I'm weak and fairly new to lifting (1.5 years into lifting), but I like the structure of the program and I'm a big fan of hitting pr's every workout. I really just hope to get big + strong 2-3 years down the road so I'm not looking to get huge right away bc I know its not likely. thanks for any advice
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  2. #2
    Registered User DetMatthews's Avatar
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    You really are better off going with a program that progresses more quickly. But there are a couple things that could be up.

    Bench is the most advanced lift for a lot of people because they spend all their time doing it. Maybe the other three are just catching up quickly and bench progress is slowing down. What are the other lifts?

    How's your benching form? Benching with poor form (back not tight, little to no arch) often leads to an increased ROM and thus a lesser max.

    How does the schedule go? If you have bench day a day or two after ohp you could still be fatigued from the shoulder and tricep work.

    Also, it's probably not related to your stagnation, but how much pulling do you have? You don't have any pulling for bench and I'm guessing not for ohp either. What does deadlift day look like?

    That's all I got. Let us know some more deets and it should be easier to figure out the problem.
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  3. #3
    Registered User JSNeves's Avatar
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    Start treating 531 as an upper lower split (the way it was originally laid out) with a proven template and continue your cut and strength gains will keep coming

    I agree with really looking at your form as well
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  4. #4
    Registered User Wilsontennis23's Avatar
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    idk about my benching form but id says its prolly average to below average. I should probably watch some youtube videos bc like you said, I think my back is probably tight and my ROM seems to be high (ive seen other guys in gym benching but moving the bar a lot shallower in height in comparison to me and I feel like I go to full lockout when i go up). Also with my schedule, I typically start the week with bench and then do ohp 2-3 days after it (so normally my bench day, i'm extremely fresh). My days kinda change a lot but I keep my assistance work very light. Typically on a leg day, I'll do my main lift (squat/deadlift) and throw in an ab workout, leg/back hypertrophy lift (low weight but 10-12 reps). On my ohp/bench day, i'll typically throw in 1-2 lifts relating to the muscle I did my main lift for (light hypertrophy 4-5 sets for 10-12 reps), and throw in an arm lift like bb curls or tricep pushdowns.

    I feel like I should be able to put some weight on my bench even though I'm cutting bc my press is pretty weak and my program isn't high on volume so I should be able to go hard on my final wendler set.
    Last edited by Wilsontennis23; 02-21-2013 at 08:00 PM. Reason: re word something
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  5. #5
    Registered User JSNeves's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Wilsontennis23 View Post
    idk about my benching form but id says its prolly average to below average. I should probably watch some youtube videos bc like you said, I think my back is probably tight and my ROM seems to be high (ive seen other guys in gym benching but moving the bar a lot shallower in height in comparison to me and I feel like I go to full lockout when i go up). Also with my schedule, I typically start the week with bench and then do ohp 2-3 days after it (so normally my bench day, i'm extremely fresh). My days kinda change a lot but I keep my assistance work very light. Typically on a leg day, I'll do my main lift (squat/deadlift) and throw in an ab workout, leg/back hypertrophy lift (low weight but 10-12 reps). On my ohp/bench day, i'll typically throw in 1-2 lifts relating to the muscle I did my main lift for (light hypertrophy 4-5 sets for 10-12 reps), and throw in an arm lift like bb curls or tricep pushdowns.

    I feel like I should be able to put some weight on my bench even though I'm cutting bc my press is pretty weak and my program isn't high on volume so I should be able to go hard on my final wendler set.
    This sounds like an incosistant mess!

    Go to www.strstd.com and look at those templates to see how its supposed to be laid out, or better yet get jim's book!

    Also look up dave tates "so you think you can bench" on you tube
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  6. #6
    Registered User DetMatthews's Avatar
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    Search for "so you think you can bench". It's a video with Dave Tate. I don't agree with such an aggressive arch as he advocates, but everything else is pretty much irrefutable. Go all the way up to lockout, all the way down until it touches your chest. Anything different and you'll never be able to undeniably track your progress. If you increase weight, did you actually get stronger, or did you just not go down as far, that type of thing.

    You should really do it as an upper/lower split like JSNeves said. Right now you have no horizontal or vertical pulls (rows or chins/pulldowns), and your unbalanced pressing will undoubtedly lead to some unbalanced posture and musculature. Take a look at some of the original templates for Wendler. Buy the book if you haven't already, it will clear up a lot. Again, this probably won't really deal with your bench stalling, but right now your routine is pretty jacked.

    Again, what are your other lifts? What is squat, deadlift, and press? It's possible you just think your bench should be higher, but it's actually proportional to your other lifts.
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  7. #7
    O.G. (Original Guido) Jasonk282's Avatar
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    You probably should not be on 5/3/1.
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  8. #8
    Registered User bmontgomery87's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by DetMatthews View Post
    You really are better off going with a program that progresses more quickly. But there are a couple things that could be up.
    .
    If he's cutting, this would be a terrible idea.

    5/3/1 isn't really intended for people to be cutting weight. The program is for getting bigger and stronger.
    But I have cut weight while doing it before, just don't expect your lifts to go up much.


    Cutting is about changing your diet
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  9. #9
    Registered User DetMatthews's Avatar
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    His bench (we don't know the rest of his lifts) maxes out at 180. He's 170. I'm going to go out on a limb and say he has a lot more linear progression left, even on a cut. He doesn't have to do a 5x5, he can do Allpro's which progresses slower than 5x5, faster than 5/3/1, and is often recommended on a cut.
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  10. #10
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    If your current 1RM bench is 180lbs, you take 90% of that as your training max(just like all the Eastern Europlen weightlifters), and just like Wendler tells you to do. So use 160lbs as your training max.

    Everything is then calculated from your TRAINING MAX, not your real recent 1RM. That is the way 5 3 1 is programmed so that you can make progress for YEARS.

    Of course your squat and dead went up quickly. You had been neglecting them.

    What is your current 1RM for squat, dead, overhead press?

    So your bench went up 10% in 5 cycles. Keep that rate of progress going.......for the next FEW YEARS, if you can. When you are benching three plates(315), you won't be whining about your bench. Your squat and dead have much bigger poundage potential, so they will be more like four and five plates......

    To do that, you'll probably have to give yourself permission to get bigger than a buck seventy, just sayin'.

    5 3 1 is not some "increase your bench 50lbs in six weeks" bollocks. It is a great long term program that actually works, because it is properly programmed to keep the 5 and 10lb gains coming for a long long time.
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  11. #11
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    Originally Posted by DetMatthews View Post
    His bench (we don't know the rest of his lifts) maxes out at 180. He's 170. I'm going to go out on a limb and say he has a lot more linear progression left, even on a cut. He doesn't have to do a 5x5, he can do Allpro's which progresses slower than 5x5, faster than 5/3/1, and is often recommended on a cut.
    I agree.
    But strength clearly isn't his primary goal or he wouldn't be cutting weight while only having a 180 pound bench press.

    All pro's might be a decent idea.
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  12. #12
    O.G. (Original Guido) Jasonk282's Avatar
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    170 and wants to cut weight...da fuq?
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    One should be focused on strength while cutting, so I don't see why something like 531 would be a problem. It's low volume, especially if you cut back on accessory work.
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  14. #14
    Registered User Wilsontennis23's Avatar
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    I haven't updated my stats in sometime. I'm currently at 5'8-5'9 at 180 lbs (pic is not updated). I bulked up to 185 from 168 and my gains on wendler 531 have been solid. Obviously I lift for aesthetics but I realize to get there first I have to be strong and lift heavy which is why I'm doing wendler. Only reason I'm cutting is because I'm at around 14-15% now and I want to look solid for the summer. Also I don't mind taking it slow with wendler. I have the book and I do 3 week cycles with deloads not very often as I don't need them imo. My deadlift and squat have increased very well on the program and my 1rep max for all lifts has been going up so I have no problem with the slow progression of the program. Thanks for the advice in this thread though. All good information.

    1 rep maxes are the following (I'm weak but making a lot of improvements compared to 1 year ago)
    squat- 255-260
    deadlift- 280
    ohp- 115-120

    1 year ago, I had trouble deadlift 175-200 for 1 rep and now I can easily deadlift 225 for 8 reps. I'm weak as fuark but I believe that if I run wendler for the next 2 years and my next bulk is slow with 2lbs/ month gain, I have the potential to get strong if I stay dedicated.
    Last edited by Wilsontennis23; 02-24-2013 at 04:02 PM. Reason: add
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  15. #15
    Registered User mcmoon's Avatar
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    As far as bodyweight and height goes we are very similar(I am also 23) and I bulked to about 185-190 and am now cutting back down to 170 using 5/3/1(used it before the cut as well with great success). The big difference between us are our maxes.

    Take the 90% of your actual max and use it to calculate your lifts. Should work alot better for you. I havent deloaded or missed any lifts yet and have been on 5/3/1 for about 7 or 8 months
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