531 BBB Upper and FSL the Lower

College athlete here and wondering if that is a good way to mix up templates to improve size and strength

New here and was wondering if I’m on the right track here with programming

But it depends on what else you’re doing.


@B20M That could work great. But as @oscare said. It depends on what you’re doing. Jim gives his athletes a lot of leeway in the template ‘Krypteia Redux’ you can find it on his site/blog and may help you.

Yea, you can mix those up for each lift if you wanna. In fact, most people who get good results on 531, have found that different supplemental plans work better for each of the lifts.
I do stick to the same tho, but i dont like 5x10 or FSL original variations at all tho.

Thanks for the reply appreciate it, mind me asking why you don’t like 5x10 or fsl original variations? Which ones do you personally prefer?

Thanks man!

I checked it out thanks for telling me about it!

Nowdays, exercise science has done a lot of research so we dont have to guess anymore. 5x10 BBB or FSL is built upon volume principle which is correct but it is taken out of the context with intensity. So we do know that muscle is being stimulated to grow when we work at least 5 reps below failure, but it is stimulated more when we work 2-3 reps below failure, etc. On acessory movements we could even go as far as 1 rep to failure.
So lets take BBB 5x10 @ 50%… 50% out of a true max would be 20-30 reps. 50% out of a training max of 90% is even more. So doing first sets of 5x10 @ 50% dont do absolutely nothing except teach you the movement(for beginners this is good tho).So you need 3-4 sets to reach the intensity to START to stimulate something. You could have just done 3x10 @ 75% and start it right away, when all sets count.

Simmilar thing is with FSL. So in 3 weeks, FSL sets are 65%, 70% and 75%. In week three you are supposed to be able to do 75% FSL, right? Ok. So…why the fck are we doing 65 and 70? If i can ALREADY DO 75%, then doing anything less is just not optimal at best.
Im not saying this doesnt work - if Wendler wrote it, it DOES work, i am sure. Its just that i believe you can achieve more stimulus doing FSL Amrap after top set, than doing 5x5 where first 4 sets do nothing and you waste 10-15mins on those.

I really like FSL paused variation(In beyond). After top set, you do Spoto bench/press or Paused dead/squat for 3 sets of 5 reps. Now this variation is epic, because when you add spoto or pause, that increases intensity and now that shit is actually hard + it targets different points and gives you well rounded training, while still doing FSL in that time, so you get GOOD intensity and you practice weak points. This is written in beyond, and it also raises a question - if we are supposed to be able to do paused squat FSL, why regular squat(much easier) FSL is a thing as it is much much easier?

As far as BBB goes, in Beyond there is a variation of BBB… 5x5@80% , 5x3@90% or 5x1@TM.
This also doesnt make any sense as why he suggests 5x5 FSL @ 65% and later 5x5@80% is also a thing? Now 5x5@80% is friggin hard.
I suggest u be carefull with 5x3 and 5x1 because training over 90% is risky but its a good way to prep for meet maybe.

Anyway - options i like :
1)FSL Pause/Spoto
2)Pyramid with amraps on all downsets
3)BBB 5x5 variation
4)FSL amrap (after top set of 531 you do FSL set for an amrap).
5)You can also just go to assistance work and do 3x10-12 with intensity that makes it hard from the first set. This is good like after heavy deadlifts, and you shouldnt keep doing deadlifts after this so 3x12 on GoodMornings is an excelent option.

But thats just my opinion. I am sure that everything works as many people have reported that, its just a matter of - optimal time spending.
I know Wendler suggests you superset your BBB or FSL but then again we have studies on the fact that 3min rests between sets produce best strenght and hypertrophy therefore superseting also is not optimal as it only makes your BBB sets harder because you just did rows, not because it is actually hard enough to stimulate anything.

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Not trying to correct you or your experiences with 531, obviously you are doing great with it.
But I feel that ppl are missing one key point when it comes to submaximal training variable of 531, which I feel is force or more accurately acceleration.

A 5x10 routine of a big compund can surely increase mass and strength even with a relatively low weight, if each rep is performed with maximal speed, or atleast with the intention.

It is partly built on the volumeprinciple, but I would say that if the reps are done in a regular controlles bodybuilding style, the benefits will be dimnished, where as if they are done with acceleration in mind, as Wendler recommend with pretty much all reps, the benefits will be far greater.

Again, ypur post is excellent, but this same point comes up alot when ppl talk about 531, and I do feel that this point is severely overlooked.

Just my 2 cents.


5x10@50% might also be good for tendons and connective tissue, no? Might build less muscle during that time, but if it allows you to train harder later without injury, then those cycles might have been a worthwhile investment.

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Sure, yes - you both have good ideas about when and why it could be beneficial.
I just dont think it should be the first option tho.

But also, Forever is built around the idea of having different blocks of training, so the observations that you have made builds in to that “whole” aspect of programming quite well IMO.

Solely relying on either is probably not the best overall practice of the program, but keeping in mind all points allows for gains to come “forever”. Lol

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Sorry to revive a thread from a few months ago but i’m trying to figure this out myself as i plan to start 5/3/1 on Monday and i’m building my program.

I see that lots of people use FSL, but since i’ve been learning 5/3/1 I’ve been making slight adjustments to my own programming until I finally absorbed enough information to want to jump in fully.

I was doing 5x5 at 90% and then doing 5x5 80% (on different days of the week) and I haven’t felt recovery has been an issue at all. I understand the sub maximal thing and love that it could lead to long-term progression. I do wonder about the points made here though. Perhaps my understanding isn’t quite good enough yet.

90% of what? Your actual max for a single? Your training max? Your actual max for 5 reps?

Actual max. I know it’s not what I should be doing, this was before I joined here and started to learn about 5/3/1.

As hankthetank89 said, whats the point in FSL 5x5 65%,70%,75% if Wendler is then going to suggest that 5x5 80% is okay? Or this purely from a if you’re doing lots of other stuff so that it’s easier to recover? Even on my cut after doing 5x5 @ 90% and then 5x5 @ 80% on a different day (lots of people seem to run their assistances on a different day and is even suggested as an option for BBB) it still seems a little too easy. I would understand about the nature of 5/3/1 and it getting harder over time but this is my bullshit program before I even heard of a training max. 25 reps @ 90% max and 5x5 80% a few days later still feels like i’ve barely done anything. As i say, i know why 5/3/1 does the things it does, just don’t understand why you’d do fsl 65% if 80% feels easy enough to recover from…

Are you sure you have a good grasp of what your max is then? Do you know how to strain hard? I find it hard to fathom that you can do 5x5 at 90%. When you tested your maxes, what did that look like? How did you ramp up to your top sets?

Because, if a friend of mine said they just did 5x5 at 90% I’d reply to them with this

Also, you seem so in your head over this. You are questioning the merits of something that has worked for so many people. If 531 is not for you, fine, its rarely for me either but it seems like you could invest your energy in buying into a program you wouldn’t question as much. Asking questions is healthy, to a point, but I feel like you’ve belaboured if you should do 531 a ton on these boards over the last few days/weeks.

Why not just run it for a few cycles and learn from it and see what works for you?


It might be, but whatever it is doesn’t matter that much. Even less so if you actually do start 531. I’ve heard Jim suggest in a few podcast episodes to work up to a weight that you can do for 5-8 reps and use that as your training max.

If I were to start 531 anew I’d go off of a hunch, so let’s say I think I can do 150kg for 8 on a lift. Then I’d do some reps with the bar, and then start doing sets of 8 beginning at ~50% and jump up in increments of ~10%. So,


If I think I can do another weight bump (at least 5 kilos on upper body, 10 on lower) I might go for it. As fatigue accumulates between the progressive ramping sets I’ll for sure not set a TM that is too high and thus adhere to the principle of starting too light.

It is worse on you than on me so apologise to yourself instead.

This is cringeworthy. Get off the internet and into the gym. That will answer your questions better than any random ass people online.

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Totally agree with this, 5/3/1 works if you do it as written, stop overthinking it, pull in your numbers and get under the bar, look back in a years time and you will be happy

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