NOTE: This is from the Jim Wendler forum and written by Kevin Deweese - he explains it better than anyone I know.
"Once you've been using 531 for a while you should get to a point where your training max (TM) doesn't have a direct correlation (percentage) with your actual max. The 90% rule was the recommended starting point, Beyond 531 may mention 85% or 80% or whatever but the bottom line is you manipulate your TM based on current training goals, current programming, current level of strength, etc. There is no hard rule for your TM. In my opinion the more progress you can achieve out of a low TM the better.
I'm not sure I'm explaining this well so let me try one other way. Let's say you start 531 with a 300lb actual squat max so you set your TM to 270. You use a basic 531 format with some programmed resets or the 7th Week Protocol. If you use the 5 forward/3 back resets, after 10 cycles of training you would be using a TM of 310 (up 5=320, back 3=290, up 5=340, back 3=310). Now you go to a meet or NOV challenge and squat 360. You wouldn't (or shouldn't) automatically change you TM to 325 because you just had a 60lb PR doing what you were doing. You have just made amazing progress and have shown that you NEED a lighter TM in order to get stronger. Ignoring this fact and changing your TM is the wrong thing to do. To make it more simple; a higher TM does not equal more strength.
Do this for a couple of years and you can see how your TM becomes disassociated from your actual max. Now progress stalls and you look to change some programming. Instead of just starting over with a 90% TM, you manipulate your TM (because you know you can make great progress with a low TM) to fit your current programming or training goals. This is just one example of how things can progress, throw into that the ebb and flow of life, strength, whatever, and the TM simply becomes the way you control your programming to fit your needs and goals, and there are many ways to do this. I think sometimes this is hard to understand until you are there."
ConclusionI can't imagine this being explained any more simply. This is why we use a TM - getting wrapped up in increasing the TM or comparing your penis length to your TM is pointless. Here's a couple more recommendations:
- Listen to Darkthrone, Coffinworm and Buried at Sea. Also check out this band from Oakland, Hands of Thieves.
- Training is NOT testing.
- Knowledge requires strength and there is strength in knowledge. Do NOT get your information from beginners, suspect training forums or from people who have not personally coached hundreds of athletes. If you take your training seriously, you should take your education in training seriously. If you choose to use others to further your knowledge, make sure they have the credentials to back up their claims.
- If there is doubt, there is no doubt.
Thank you Kevin.
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Maryland Deathfest Throwback Photo. From Left to Right: Will Ramsey, Corey Sias, Sean Donegan and the author. Lots of goddamn beefcake in this picture although I'm clearly the most "bear" of any of my asshole friends.