I think everyone is right.
And no, I'm not copping out just to get along.
Cop out! ;)
Every time I have done high volume work, I've come back to high intensity work and made gains. But the gains came after coming back, not during the high volume cycles.
Sure. The question is, though, why?
- the high-rep work was deload?
- the high-rep work gave you the extra endurance you needed to sustain a hard set of heavy reps?
- the high-rep work gave you some hypertrophy?
- the high-rep work was practice, allowing you to refine your technique before getting back to heavy reps?
I ask these honestly. It's, "did the 1RM go up because of the high-rep work, or despite it?" Had you taken the time completely off and then come back, would it have hurt your strength? Would you have benefited from more volume time, or was the amount you had enough?
This is stuff I think about a lot as I'm programming for a lot of people past any easy, "more weight on the bar every week" type of gains. Not all that many 400+ lifters, to be sure, but everyone hits that wall of being unable to go from 5 x X lbs to 5 x X+5 lbs simply by trying to ram through it.
One of my problems with 5/3/1 is that even the "5s" week is like a deload. Basically you're warming up to a single work set. That may be good for some people, but doesn't move you on to greater strength very efficiently.
Early on, the 5+ week is always light. I tend to treat it, mentally, as a volume week. It's a chance to set some rep records on something that used to be heavy, and practice for the heavier weeks. So:
Kinda heavy week, but I get to do less lifting overall.
Repeat, repeatedly. It helps that I think of "strength" rather broadly, and that I think more like, "How can I get the most training effect out of these sets?" instead of "How can this help me?" or "It's too light." It's light, thank Jim Wendler for making it light, and get some quality reps in - that always worked for me.
There are other programs, though, for people who don't like the slow-and-steady, rep-record heavy approach of 5/3/1. So if it frustrates you to lift "light," it's probably better to grab a different approach. There are so many to try, and it's not like 5/3/1 is going to mentally, emotionally, and physically work with everyone. So find one you like - and it's not quitting to change programs if one isn't working for you the way you need it to work.